“Toronto’s music scene has a lot to offer!”
That’s what everyone kept telling me since I had freshly arrived in Canada. Well, it hit me last Saturday, May 3rd, after their show at Lee’s Palace.
My obsession with July Talk started a few weeks back, when I asked for some recommendations for Toronto-based band. It was love at first listen when I heard the hit song “Paper Girl” from this atypical band, revolving around dual singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay. I can’t tell whether it is the low-pitch voice of the Torontonian Garou* (as I like to call him) or the dulcet-toned voice of the sweet but cheeky Leah, or the combination of both–but I’m absolutely smitten with their music.
Let’s rewind a bit. The band started in 2012, on one random night Dreimanis stumbled upon Fay in a bar; he heard her pretty voice and immediately felt inspired by what she conveyed. Add guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton and drummer Danny Miles, and July Talk was born! Their self-titled debut album came out in 2012 and an expanded reissue was released a year later including for new songs. After their nomination for the 2014 Juno Awards for “Breakthrough Group of the Year”, the band signed a few record contracts across Europe, the U.K., and the U.S.. It all bodes very well for their musical future worldwide!
Call it fate or coincidence but it’s definitely for the best that Dreimanis and Fay found each other and became one. It’s beyond a sexual level, as they absolutely complete each other artistically and have managed to create their own sound identity – a creepy fusion of the vulnerability of cutie Fay and the beastliness of lion Dreimanis. Despite a fairly recent union, the band has that osmosis that makes them so passionate and intense, which is the reason why each song sounds like a conversation; it feels like there is a real exchange between each musician.
So, why not try to put a name to their genre? Okay, I’m not gonna lie, they don’t make it easy. Bluesy indie-rock is just not good enough to describe their musical universe. I think July Talk are simply a very unique blend mixing quirkiness in their live performances with professionalism worthy of big talented artists. And it’s not a coincidence that the Dreimanis-Fay duo are often compared to the charming duet of Johnny Cash & June Carter with a tad more craziness. With all of the band members’ differing musical backgrounds, you can go from a sweaty, alcohol-soaked song to a soft lullaby, yet either will be pitched with exhilarating choruses. They don’t play with shades of grey, things are either black or white. That’s what characterizes July Talk in my opinion.
On stage, they manage to pass on their energy to the audience like no other young band. Their concerts are actually banging parties where everyone is dancing like loons (drunk or not!) while singing their head off! The live show was an epic night of sound with a series of magical moments from visual wonders to outright foolishness. At one point, Leah’s foot was stabbed with a staple, upon which Peter duly removed it and spat on the wound with some water. How so very rock n’ roll!
Plus, it really feels like they are trying to make each performance a very unique experience. Leah and Peter strive to have their audience step out of their comfort zone and become much more a part of themselves, with her driving the men crazy, and him making the women scream. But in all of their rough sexiness, they delivered a blissful sound on all of their tracks. I left the venue with the biggest smile on my face, mind freshly blown and “Paper Girl” stuck in my head.
Each song is inspirational and tends to reveal a new aspect of July Talk’s broad talent. Take in the anthem “The Come Down Champion” (one of my favorite songs) and let yourself go with the flow while they’re taking you on a high cloud of musical heaven. Or allow yourself to fall for the sizzling “Don’t Call Home”, the smooth vs. aggressive contrast of “Paper Girl” and the stormy “Guns & Ammunition“.
Now, go put on your “Summer Dress” and dance along!
Check out July Talk!
Author: Julie Gossart