Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Julian Fulton and the Zombie Gospel, Heart & Arms, 2012

Wednesday EP Review

On the most recent season of The Walking Dead, one of the characters conducted an experiment to determine whether "walkers" retain any memories of their past lives once they re-animate.  I won't spoil that for you, but you can probably guess the answer.  Julian Fulton and the Zombie Gospel, a Jersey Shore collective of musicians led by singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Julian Fulton, definitely draw from memories of pop music's past lives on their debut EP.

Heart & Arms is a six-song EP that sees the band bringing together influences ranging from jangle pop to garage rock to Beatle-esque psychedelia.  The cacophony of distant voices and altered instrumentation of "Prelude" concludes with "a-one, a-two, a-one, two, three, gooooo..." and leads immediately into the jangly, opening guitar riff of "Lie."  The voices of Fulton and the rest of The Zombie Gospel, the guitar, the drums, and the handclaps give the song a (very organized) communal sing-a-long feel.  "Kiss the Sun" goes for an unmistakably Strokes-ian sound, though the instrumentation and additional vocals result in a much more complex arrangement than the usual Strokes song.  Closer "Wishing Well (A Fool's Waltz)" is a psychedelic waltz through the sounds of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Wilco's Summerteeth.

Heart & Arms makes it difficult to pin Julian Fulton and the Zombie Gospel to a particular style or genre.  The EP is a pastiche of sounds from indie pop's past, but young Julian Fulton is a unifying force.  He succeeds in connecting each of these very different songs through his subtly meticulous production and arrangement.  It's the controlled chaos of The Zombie Gospel that's Heart & Arms's unifying theme.

Julian Fulton and the Zombie Gospel are nominated in the "Top Indie Rock Band" category of tomorrow's Asbury Music Awards.  You can catch them at The Stone Pony's "Nightmare Before Christmas -- An End of the World Party" on December 21st, and you can stream or purchase Heart & Arms over at Bandcamp.

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