Julie Meckler

Air Date: 09-20-13

At times, French songstress Julie Meckler's story can sound almost cinematic. Leaving behind a life as a theater actress in her native Paris, Meckler immigrated to the US in early 2008 and bought her first guitar in New York City. There, the music began, as did her journey across a country she'd never seen before. After visits to Buffalo, Detroit, Portland and Vancouver, she settled in Chicago. Over the past three years of honing her craft onstage - from gallery lofts to songwriter circles to packed venues such as Empty Bottle and Schubas - she's assembled a collaborative group of Chicago veterans that includes bassist Brett Bakshis (Wooden Rings, Musikanto), guitarist Will Phalen, guest guitarist Ryan Anderson (Go Long Mule), trumpeter James Davis (ALDRIC, Zing!), and drummer/percussionist Shawn Rios (Stolen Silver, Dick Prall).

Touted in the Tribune's Metromix as one of "15 Chicago Artists to Watch" alongside The Disappears and The Smith Westerns, Meckler and band have spent the last two years hard at work at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio with producer/multi-instrumentalist Will Phalen (The Stereo Addicts, Musikanto, Bailiff). The result of their labor, the aptly-titled Queenshead, offers a rather diverse collection of songs narrated by her hauntingly unique voice, vulnerable storytelling, and climactic intensity. Her youthful curiosity and playful dance into the unknown is matched with a wary wisdom gained only from risks taken and lessons learned along the way. Reggae, 70s AM radio vinyl, Mariachi, lush reverbed-out Blues, orchestral Pop and Post-punk all have a voice in the mix. It's all there, imbedded in the arrangements. Standout tracks include the pulsating guitar rocker "Forest," the despairing yet thorny Dub cut "Bitch," and the dancey Graceland-infused title track "Queenshead." And while the album will draw listeners with potent genre-spanning singles, it's a record created to be absorbed in its entirety. Each piece is a vital element of the story, yet mystery and unanswered questions still prevail; every tune portrays a different character, unpredictable and sensitive yet blunt in their nature. 

As the release and tour support for Queenshead are still in the works, momentum and fanfare continue to build. The group has already dropped their video for the single "Manhattan" (shot both in France and the US) and is now working on a second - their Bossa Nova-infused take on David Bowie's 1968 Ziggy Stardust cut "Soul Love." Inevitably, new material is emerging as a part of their live show. While hometown fans can expect more headlining bills in early 2013, it won't take long for those everywhere to have their chance at seeing Julie Meckler on the road, performing with the same intimacy that can be achieved through a pair of headphones and a record player. Her soundtrack is our movie.

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