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Julian Bachlow – Family Ties – Album Review

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Julian Bachlow’s album Family Ties is a testament to the ingenuity of a new generation of songwriters and music makers. The album was released in September of this year and exhibits the maturity of a seasoned musician with the innovativeness fresh blood tends to bring to the table. Very reminiscent of The Cure, it’s an electronic indie rock re-visioning of the classic pop album blueprint.

Bachlow hails from Schomberg, Ontario, which is on the Western outskirts of Newmarket about an hour drive North of Toronto, figured I would save you the trip to Google Maps. His first record Paradigm came out in 2009, followed up by the single “Caveman” in 2013, the track was then rereleased on the 2015 record. Bachlow’s biography says that he promotes advocacy for mental health and cancer prevention/awareness, which is pretty cool I guess.

“I Say Hello” starts the album off on a chill note, with a lax beat and catchy vocal harmonies performed by Kathryn Kearns. The vocal contrast creates a light, airy atmosphere and baits the listener closer to the Family Ties boat. “Wanderer” begins with a noticeably Torontonian synth riff, not unlike those found on the latest Lights record or even a softer Metric song. Track two is a playful jaunt onto Bachlow’s poppy side, and in that fashion unfortunately the lyrics fall far short of substantial. On the plus side, the song sounds like an old Owl City tune with Tom DeLonge doing back up vocals in the chorus.

The third song “Can You Feel It” starts off like a cliché 80s pop tune, but it has got to be one of my favourites on the album. More in-depth lyrical content, a perfect foundation to highlight Bachlow’s range, and there’s just something intangible about the way he pronounces “Can you feel it in your bones?” during the chorus that gives me shivers. That was a tough act to follow and the album’s title track does its best to keep up. Instrumentally “Family Ties” does not start strong, however it ends with a cool breakdown and a soft, apathetic solo on the keys. Also the story told by Bachlow, through lyrics, is by far the best on the record. Near the middle of the album, Family Ties flattens a bit. The lyrics hit their lowest point with “Caveman” and “Don’t Go,” each song just beats their words to death with repetition. “Caveman” starts off with some cool vocal hooks and a very upbeat, brisk paced backbone, whereas “Don’t Go” is a more emotional outcry starting with timeless piano sounds. “Don’t Go” all together is just too long but annoyingly catchy, you will not stop singing it anytime soon.

“Do Whatever I Want” is the album’s party anthem. The track boasts Bachlow’s rapping skills in the most dad way imaginable and it’s just great. It reminds me of some of the side projects from Eels frontman Mark Oliver Everett in its experiementalness. “Temporary Love” is so happy that it could be the best track on the album. It’s like when you first got your license and your mom would let you borrow her car on occasion. On those days you would pile with all your friends into the car, roll the windows down, and escape. You can really feel the love. The finale, or denouement, if you will, closes off the album nicely and wraps everything up with a neat bow. There is some wicked guitar tone; particularly the solo has that late night, redeye sound. “Run” is a groovy indie rock track the gradually slows the record to a soft ending and puts the listener carefully to sleep.

Overall Family Ties is a low-key feel good electronic pop rock experience. With fun synth melodies and an ear for dynamic vocal parts, Bachlow has created a sound you could have sworn you’ve heard before but still can’t get enough of. The lyrics, regrettably, are far from stimulating and Bachlow could benefit from some ghost writing for future releases. I have a love-hate relationship with multi-instrumentalists. Though the ability is thoroughly impressing, there is something to be said about the diversity of having the feel of other musicians on the record. It certainly sounds like Bachlow through and through. The addition of Kearns was a stroke of brilliance (or maybe just good fortune) that could have been paraded more on the rest of the album. Each track is an incursion into the mind of Julian Bachlow, leading to new doors that are ready to be opened and new sounds that are ready to be tasted. Family Ties grows on you. It’s an accomplishment for Bachlow, and one of many I hope.

12138402_10153719449684390_6431284090148171969_oGriffin Elliot

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