by Joshua Hoey (@reflectiveDIY)
Washington DC's Julian began as a solo project and evolved into an understated indie trio led by songwriter Julia Leiby. The five songs that comprise Real Distance, which unfold in just over ten minutes, combine the best aspects of American lo-fi and Scottish post-punk into something powerful and quite special.
The first single "Low" begins with a few seconds of scratchy indie pop strumming before the crystalline lead guitar figure takes center stage, matched by a subtle inside-out drum part. Leiby's upper-register crooning evokes the wonderfully ethereal texture of the Cocteau Twins' or the Sundays' approach, while keeping things mostly grounded rather than aping those singers' tendency toward the operatic. There's perhaps a pinch of Rose Melberg's conversational vocal style mixed in, giving the whole thing a bit of a less-cloying American indie pop feel.
"Car" and "S", in all their one-part brevity, rely on bashed-out indie rock rhythms and chord progressions right out of early Merge band Butterglory's playbook, with those elliptical Sundays guitar lines allowed to float freely on top. The slower-paced "Asleep" might be their best tune, opening with a single-note guitar part rising above incidental tape hiss before the minimal drum and post-punk bass figure comes in. The song ends with that yet another wonderful clean lead guitar part, just in time to start the song over again.