IVAN JULIAN –  ” Swing Your Lanterns “

Posted: March 26, 2023 in MUSIC

Labels don’t stick to Ivan Julian, although the various and sundry stamps in his passport are more permanent. Embedded in New York City’s late-1970s punk tribe as a founding member of Richard Hell & The Voidoids, his visceral, off-kilter guitar graffiti and insurrectional songwriting left arty scars all over the blighted scene. Also fabled for his work on The Clash’s Sandinista LP, as well as stints with Shriekback and Matthew Sweet, such highlights only tell part of his story.

Dig a little deeper and culturally diverse experiences with Afro-beat dynamos The Outsets and hip-hop/DJ legend Afrika Bambaata, as well as Bernie Worrell of Parliament/Funkadelic, come to light. As a young man, the son of a Navy officer, Julian resided in far-flung places like Guantanamo Bay and Macedonia, hooking up with U.K. R&B heroes The Foundations, of “Build Me Up Buttercup” fame, while living in London.

It’s not surprising then that his latest solo album “Swing Your Lanterns” – steeped in seedy late ‘70s/early ‘80s New York City chic is born of an adventurous, wide-ranging musical palate, but troubled by the mood and compromised sanity of a country seemingly coming apart at the seams. The slow-burning shuffle “Love is Good” is wrapped in rich, velvety soul and swaying gospel, going to church with its sermon of universal kindness and understanding. Themes of obsession, desire and betrayal simmer in the dark, bluesy seduction “Can’t Help Myself,” the flowing gypsy folk of “Tell Me Lies” and the haunted psychedelic noir of “Love Affair,” while the woozy and weird “VooDoo Christmas” is nightmarishly trippy affair.

In keeping with the more celebrated parts of Julian’s past, as he wrestles contorted guitar solos to the ground, the edgy, explosive funk of danceable, post-punk moshes “Cut Me Loose,” “Wild” and the skewed, jittery title track turned inside out, percussive bottles clinking together – bristle with energy, all hot and messy. It’s where the hard, gritty disco of The Rolling Stones’ Some Girls clashes with The Talking Heads’ oddball musical geometry, as the stylish and romantic ballad “Cazalla” clings to Johnny Thunders’ memory. “Swing Your Lanterns” lights the way.

the full length album “Swing Your Lanterns” on Pravda Records.

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