Music

Julie Ocean: Long Gone and Nearly There

This power pop quartet's debut is tasty enough, but suffers slightly from a song-to-song sameness.


Julie Ocean

Long Gone and Nearly There

Label: Transit of Venus
US Release Date: 2008-05-29
UK Release Date: 2008-06-02
Amazon
iTunes

The following paragraph is a metaphor for the experience of listening to Long Gone and Nearly There, the debut album by D.C. power pop quartet Julie Ocean. It might also be an allegory that perfectly illustrates the happy tedium and benign disappointments of life. It might also make you want a snack.

You have a bag, and on this bag is written: ten assorted cookies. Nice! You reach inside the bag and pull out your first cookie. It's a chocolate chip cookie. You snarf it down, and it tastes pretty good. You've had better chocolate chip cookies, but you've also had worse. The next cookie you withdraw is also a chocolate chip cookie -- virtually indistinguishable from the last -- which is enjoyable in the eating, as well. After four nearly identical chocolate chip cookies, your taste buds begin to fatigue from the sameness. You begin to wonder if every damn cookie in this supposed assortment of cookies is really just going to be another chocolate chip cookie. Finally, upon drawing out cookie number five, you are treated to an extra-large oatmeal raisin cookie. Excited, you practically inhale the sucker and plow on, only to find that the remaining five cookies consist of four more chocolate chip cookies and one peanut butter cookie. The bag now consumed, you feel mildly satisfied, and yet you still long for more, even though you've just had your fill of a treat you generally enjoy.

The chocolate chip cookies in this metaphor are buzzing blasts of guitar-saturated pop/rock tunes from former Velocity Girl guy Jim Spellman, now fronting a band (not a solo singer, nor an Undertones song) called Julie Ocean. The first of these, "Ten Lonely Words", is the best. The extra-large oatmeal raisin cookie is the five-minute "Here Comes Danny", a welcome permutation of the band's usual recipe. Instead of plowing out of the verse and into the chorus with a steady stream of fuzz-toned eighth notes, they find a delectable, succinct, punchy riff that makes for the record's biggest hook. Track nine, "There's a Place in the Back of My Mind" (our peanut butter cookie in the batch), sounds like it was lifted straight off a British Invasion pop album circa 1964, including handclaps and falsetto "ahhh"s. These classic elements are an undercurrent throughout the album, and it's fine that they don't consistently stand at the fore. If they did, we'd merely have a different issue of sameness. Only the hardcore power pop fan will be able to distinguish the subtle differences between the majority of the songs on Long Gone and Nearly There. For the rest of us, it will make for a 25-minute sugar rush, and then we'll move on.

6

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image