Julie Christmas – The Bad Wife

Julie Christmas - The Bad Wife

Julie Christmas, of the Brooklyn-based band Made Out Of Babies (and formerly of Battle Of Mice), released her debut solo album on Rising Pulse Records this past autumn.  Although Julie’s raw and riveting vocals and emotions are at the forefront of The Bad Wife, the creation of the album was a team effort, with Julie gathering the talents of John La Macchia (of Candiria) on guitar and some songwriting, the late Troy Young, Mel Lederman (of Victory At Sea), Joe Taormino (of Dub Trio), Oddity (of Dalek), Tony Maimone, and producer Andrew Schneider, who also contributed some bass tracks to the album.

Julie possesses a highly expressive voice, conveying both fearlessness and fearful unease, delivering emotional catharsis in spades on each song, including two covers, “If You Go Away” by Jacques Brel and “I’ve Just Destroyed the World” by Willie Nelson.  Julie’s changeable vocals morph from light, curling, sweet ‘n’ sour entreaties to heavyweight shouting and wailing as she creeps about and freaks out on the 9 melodic, but intense tracks.

Julie’s vocals on the verses of “July 31st” hit just the right balance between breathy fragility and tense menace, while the highly-charged chorus sections rock out with full-on exclamations that are matched by fiery riffs of guitar.   Julie breaks out the battering ram on “Bow”, coming across like a hybrid of KatieJane Garside (Daisy Chainsaw, QueenAdreena) and Kat B’jelland (Babes In Toyland).  She alternates between sharply tart vocals pattering “…the sign says lay down just this final time.” and end-of-tether snarling and bellowing while supported by heavy slabs of guitar and occasional cymbal crash.

Somber disillusion pervades “Secrets All Men Keep (Salt Bridge Part 1)”, a low-key affair with a measured beat, liquidy strummed acoustic guitar, and eventual globular keyboard notes.  Julie sings in a delicately regretful tone “…cuts on your cheek say you’ve been somewhere wrong…” as her ghostly, Hannah Fury-like vocals float around a rising, shining guitar line.

Ominous piano notes fill out the oddly-titled “Six Pairs of Feet and One Pair of Legs” as distorted guitar growls amid the clank and clash of metal and clack of wood, calling to mind the work of Hannah Fury, Jo Gabriel, and Bitter Ruin.  Julie sing-talks in a mid-range tone, then boils over into an emotional roil, fiercely shouting on the chorus as constant guitar fuzz and heavier drums build up with her breakdown.

The intense and tense “Headless Hawks” contains a key theme to Julie’s modus operandi as she reveals “…I prefer that darker road / and tunnel under solid stone.” A slowly-loping tempo is pitted with stings of guitar, cymbal crash, and Julie’s sinister vocals that are augmented with scattered layers of secondary vocal lines.  Release comes in the form of Julie’s defiant vocals as she lets loose on the chorus, wailing away against harder guitar riffage.

The change-of-pace “The Wigmaker’s Widow” has an old-fashioned sound with a marching drum beat, sustained accordion pulls, and piano notes, as Julie belts out in torch singer fashion “…on streets that echo love’s lost faded screams…”  The imagery of the lyrics is violent and visceral as Julie, on the verge of a meltdown, describes the demise of a relationship where the grist at its center is “…to claw and grab / I grind with small white teeth.”

On album-ender “When Everything is Green” Julie pushes a more hopeful note, but never loses her passion as she swims in piano, cymbals, and distorted guitar.  Julie brings in themes of renewal and growth as she exclaims “New air in your chest / breathes long winter’s death…” amid electronic ‘new-day-dawning’ sonics.