In a time when every artist/band is trying to mix multiple genres together to create their own unique sound, Julian Taylor Band has already figured out their niche sound: a deliciously weird fusion of jazz, funk, soul, rock/pop comes together on the band's Tech Noir and the homey sound fits like a glove for a band that only continues to get better.
Haunting piano riffs, sweet brass, solid guitar riffs, and pure vocals lend a satisfyingly full sound to the rich tracks, without sounding too overly produced, and allow the tracks to maintain an authentic and acoustic feel throughout as "Be Good To Your Woman" sinks into a slinking guitar riff and steady piano rhythm that drags you down into the alluring track and "The Other Side" features brass so big and piano riffs so soulful that Gulf Coast blues seem to drip from its every pore; each placing as much emphasis on the instrumentation and production as on the vocals and lyrics.
Tracks ring out with an honest grace throughout, filled with sweet endearments and melancholy nostalgia, but never any hate. Even tracks that question your actions ring out with pure goodness, with lines "why would you do that? I thought you had my back" and "why does it hurt me so bad, you're just a memory of the past" being the most snarky among them ("Why Would You Do That" and "Hurt Me", respectively). Choruses "travel light and know that you're my hero, sail away to a brand new day, light comes and goes, still as stone, carry me home, where I will never be alone" and "do you remember way back when, we used to chill with all our friends, hanging out on those downtown streets, finding a way to beat the heat, we didn't have a care at all, do you remember way back when" ring out with gorgeous soulfulness and appreciation, rather than plaintive bitterness, offering a refreshing take on love and loss that feels so right on nostalgia filled tracks "Carry Me Home" and "Do You Remember".
"No Guns!" takes a soft approach to a political issue while maintaining a bluesy feel and fun lyrics that lie far enough from the song's title that it just feels like good funk music here to make you dance, while the album's opening track, "You Say", reads like an introduction to the sound awaiting you on the rest of the album, featuring heavy brass, fun piano melodies, solid bass, wandering guitars, and a satisfyingly wide vocal range, all waiting to suck you into whichever song you choose.
Of course, there's the band's inexplicably addictive "Never Gonna Give You Up" that has the same mental staying capacity as Rick Astley's own song of the same title, but so many times better that I've lost count. The track features a sweet organ, chiming horns, a fun chorus, and a rhythm that you just can't help but move to. The track's everything you want and will never grow tired of, all wrapped up in one.
"Heatwave" feels like a trip back in time that focuses on that big brass band sound and the solid vocal harmonies of the '40's, with a playful guitar riff thrown in; while "Love Connection" goes for the bare bones feel of a softly played acoustic guitar, hesitant piano, and pure vocals that nearly overtake the instrumentation in an '90's alternative/soul "Fast Car" sort of feel (minus the soul crushing lyrics); and "Zero To Eleven" sinks steadfastly into a groovy funk feel, fun guitars and heavy horns included. The point is, the album cannot be pinned down to one genre, time specific influence, or even seasonal feel (summer vibes, crisp fall production, etc.); it's amazingly refreshing.
Tech Noir feels like a sweet spot for a band that has been steadily making its move upwards in the business. Honest lyrics sound articulate, smart, and effortless, jiving perfectly with full productions featuring soulful melodies and pleasantly solid rhythms, perfect for relaxed listenings or dancing around. The album's impressive diversity gives it everything you could ever want and everything you never knew you had to be listening to, right now.
Every track is spectacular but, if you don't have time for a full listen, make sure to give yourself enough time for "Do You Remember", "Hurt Me", and "Never Gonna Give You Up". Nothing is sweeter than a nostalgic jazz sound nonchalantly mixed with sweetly relaxed lyrics ("Do You Remember") and the steady down-strokes of "Hurt Me" offer up a superb support for lyrics that work to maintain their optimism. And "Never Gonna Give You Up" is just eternally great.
Get Tech Noir from iTunes now and head to the sites below to find out more about Julian Taylor, the band, and their music.