I’m not sure why Juliette and the Licks’ label thought it would be a good idea to release an EP early in the year (…Like a Bolt of Lightening) when the full-length album was expected to be released just a few months later (You’re Speaking My Language). In any case, I had the luck of hearing them both for the first time at the same time. The EP is short, by its very nature, and it’s probably a good thing. Juliette Lewis’ lyrics and delivery exudes an aggressive sexuality that would be described as cock rock if she was a man. There is so much frenetic energy coming out of the speakers that by the end I found myself sonically exhausted, but ready to go for it again, and again, and again. A few of the stand-out tracks are “Shelter Your Needs,” “20 Year Old Lover,” and “American Boy.”
The full-length album, You’re Speaking My Language, provides a bit more variety than the EP. The energy from the EP is still there, but occasionally Lewis channels it into a quiet intensity and vocals that could almost be described as pretty. The mellow track “This I Know” even sounds a bit like an Edie Brickell cover, unlike the more riot grrl style tracks on the rest of the recording (my review copy doesn’t include the liner notes, so I don’t know who wrote the song).
“American Boy” from the previously released EP gets a new take on You’re Speaking My Language as “American Boy Vol II.” The second version starts of with an open, 60’s rock feel. I’m having visions of tie-dyed hippies rocking out at Woodstock, and then the chorus shifts into a more modern punk grind. The original version off of the EP has a modern punk grind the whole way through and as a result is a bit more “in your face” with the militant political wakeup call.
On both the EP and the full-length album, “Got Love to Kill” has an ear-catching disco punk groove throughout, which is one of my favorite genre mash-ups. Most of the rest of the album is entertaining, but nothing really stands out to me. All in all, it’s not bad for an actress who’s first major music debut was playing a mentally unstable woman in a Melissa Etheridge video (“Come to My Window”). At this point, the band is likely to have more of a live music appeal than as solid songwriters.
The band is currently on a break while Lewis is shooing a movie, but they’ll be back on the road at the end of the month starting in Tokyo and then on to Europe through September. Hopefully fans in North America will be able to catch them later on this year. Meanwhile, you can treat yourself to some tunes and videos on the band’s website.