The End of Julia – Sunday Driver

The End of Julia
Sunday Driver

So one day you head out to the record store and buy yourself a CD. You head home excited, tear the shrink-wrap off that baby and pop it in the stereo – only to stop, turn your head after the first 30 seconds and say to yourself, “Hey – Haven’t I heard this before?”
Congratulations, my friends! You’ve experienced what has come to be known as the ‘déjà vu’ effect of the music world. Now, how is this relevant to The End of Julia? It probably has something to do with the fact that Sunday Driver is a first-degree, black-belt, “level seven Chinpokomon master” ‘déjà vu’ experience. Fortunately for the band, this disc is like a really cool roller coaster – it only gets better with each and every ride.
The disc opens in typically ’emo’ fare with “What Happened to Forever?,” which starts with a thin-sounding guitar and frail vocals. Heavier rhythm chords kick in, carrying the song into a nicely done ‘quiet-but-slowly-getting-louder’ break. The song does take quite a twist at the end, with some “doo-doo-do-do-doo” vocals, and an accompanying piano track closing out the track. “Sail Away” is pretty fast and furious – think Sarge with balls. The vocals strike me as slightly odd, with a simple (yet, somehow strange-sounding) dual voice effect that really threw me off guard when the first verse started. Just after the two-minute mark of this one, a really fly guitar lead starts up in the left speaker (for everyone at home listening on headphones).
“Favorites” kicks off with driving stun guitars and a bounding bassline, before settling down for the first verse. The guitar rhythms really stand out on this track, especially during the verses. There’s another really delicate break here with amazing dual-guitar interplay that makes the whole song worth a listen. The break builds up into a Penfold finish here, with intense-but-still-intricate guitars and lyrics that sound more vented than sung. Songs like this are the reason that I’ll probably never get tired of this sound. “One Last Sunrise” literally sounds like Camber Jr. Intricate guitars give way to a darker tone for the chorus on this one. I must say that I’m digging the hints of Casio that pop up here (as well as throughout the rest of the disc). The vocal parts on this track are appealing in a very unique way – they aren’t in-synch enough to be harmonies, but they stand out without making the track uncomfortable to listen to. With the exception of the *GASP* guitar solo here, this one’s pretty solid (but standard) ‘quiet, loud, quiet’ stuff.
“Maintaining Radio Silence” is a boppy 3 ½ minute pop/punk/emo song that your little brother could have written in the garage with his friends, while “An Elevated Man” sticks to the established formula with some exceptional dual vocals and an effective dual-guitar spot. “Canvas” takes on an edgier guitar sound and features yet another *GASP* guitar solo over the expected song structure. “The Blue Period” starts with slow, delicate guitars and gradually builds up to a rush of thick chords before deciding to head the emo-pop route with a bouncy beat and some sweet backing vocals. The rhythm guitars are crisper than a new dollar bill here, and the vocals really add a nice touch to what could’ve been a throwaway track. The track winds down slowly and segues into the instrumental “Long Awaited December,” which ends the album on a very soft and emotional note.
The obvious comparisons here are to the Deep Elm roster, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that The End of Julia’s “Landmine” was featured on Chapter 5 of Deep Elm’s Emo Diaries Series. Still, no one ever said that lack of originality was a crime, an opinion that I’ll voice heartily for this release. For some listeners, Sunday Driver may be just another ‘déjà vu’ experience, but for me, it’s one that I’ll gladly keep re-living.