A veteran of the Lafayette music scene and something of a journeyman who has spent time in bands as far flung as Lil’ Nathan & the Zydeco Big Timers, the Howdies (vintage hillybilly/rockabilly/country) and Sanity’s Mask (1980s stylized metal), Julian Primeaux has spent a lot of time in the background of the stage and in the smaller typeface on gig posters. If there is anything right about rock these days, that should change dramatically with This Guilded, Swaying Heart, a stellar, retro-ish alt-rock album.
Somehow, although pulling from multiple influences, This Guilded, Swaying Heart remains unique. Primeaux is influenced by T. Rex and it shows throughout in a grand-scale rock format that is raw, crunchy, catchy and retro all at once. Opener “Like Lightning” is a shot across the bow, a distorted guitar-driven cut powered by gusty bravado. Primeaux conjures up something along the lines of a far less crazy Captain Beefheart covering a song similar to Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile.” With a classic rough guitar crunch and a bongo beat, Primeaux boasts, “I could be your jagged edge, if you know what I mean” and compares himself to various forces of nature. Hearing it for the first time is akin to a close lightning strike.
From there, Primeaux switches into and sticks with an alt-rock vibe that is a bit like a danceable indie pop version of the Replacements fused with early alt-rock guitar rhythms and aesthetics. The intro and recurring lick of “Bangs & Winter Boots” is a bit of the Pixies having a go at a Cure riff. A hip-shaking rocker, it will never see the light of modern rock radio. And that is both a good and a terrible thing.
“Fading Star” is a catchy and fun sing-along cut, employing a classic rock feel. Every rock album needs a rock ballad and “Mansion in My Heart” is it, with a weird (and perhaps unintentional or completely intentional) nod to “Mansion in the Sky.” A thumper, “Sell Me the Resurrection“ has an underlying rockabilly rhythm but takes off with an ’80s pop-rock-covering-classic-rockabilly feel. “And the Fall” and “Christmas Lights in June” explore moody rock and feature great classic rock solo work.
On “To Move In The Night”—a rocker with old-school flair—Primeaux laments he’s not what he used to be. He’s getting old and unable to do the things he used to, he seems to think. Whether or not that is true, on This Guilded, Swaying Heart he is still tearing it up like a much younger man.