Listen Up: Wednesday, May 25, 2005
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PHOTOS: 1
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Juliette & The Licks

You’re Speaking My Language
(Fiddler Records)

By Jimmy Fowler

“This one goes out to the entire world — that’s right!” And with these words, actor-turned-sneering-skank-rocker Juliette Lewis kicks off the opening cut from Juliette & The Licks’ first full-length album, You’re Speaking My Language. If the world hates anything more than movie stars dabbling in politics, it’s movie stars dipping their gold-banded big toes into rock stardom. The bias is easy to explain — fairly or not, we associate film actors with privilege; and fairly or not, privilege destroys the street cred that we demand of nascent rockers. (Even Keanu fans who’ve taken up part-time residence in The Matrix won’t consider flying within a light year of Dogstar). And yet Language ranks with Gina Gershon’s fictional bar band Clam Dandy on the Prey For Rock ’n’ Roll soundtrack and John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch as beguilingly tattered musical forays that are energetic, ferocious, catchy, and authentic — or, at least, authentic-sounding. Lewis — who looks like the pretty little sister of Gilda Radner’s comic creation Candy Slice — has received strong notices for her live shows, and as co-producer with her bandmates on Language, she has wisely emphasized hook-laden songcraft over frayed punk excess. As a result, the title track as well as “Money In My Pocket” and “Love To Kill” are filled with the giddy pop-trounce of Plastic Letters-era Blondie. Not content to use a nasty pout as a crutch, she evinces surprisingly soulful vocal muscularity on the ballads “This I Know” and “By the Heat of Your Light.” There’s a more credible dynamic at work in Juliette & the Licks than just a restless creative urge, but only time — and the unresolved issue of Lewis’s dedication — will tell.


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