A friend of mine once sent me a multi-layered package full of assorted and random goodies, all to lift the spirits of a broken-hearted girl on Valentine’s Day. Within the treasures and trinkets was the token of every good music-based relationship—the mix tape. The first band that spooled out through my car stereo, off of this musically gifted cassette, was Eric’s Trip, and from that day on I would always associate Eric’s Trip with both Valentine’s Day and my fellow lonely-hearted music friend from across the Canadian border.
Eric’s Trip was the first Canadian band to be signed by the definitive indie rock label of the ’90s, Sub Pop. Key amongst their roster was Julie Doiron, adding her touch via a jangly bass line and slightly left of center vocals. Even through all the riffs and layers of feedback and male counterpoint voices in Mark, Chris and Rick, Julie’s eclectic charm stood out and cast a spell of little girl innocence, yet came off as tough enough to play with the boys. I remember playing a copy of the EP Love Tara, which I fished out of a bin at Amoeba Records in San Francisco, noticing that Julie’s voice worked as part of the backbeat in songs like “Sunlight” to an almost greater effect than her basslines did; Julie Doiron was impossible to ignore.
Eventually Julie left Eric’s Trip behind to carve her own stories and chase down her own muses without the safety net, or constraint, of the band. And her career from that point has grown, along with her fanbase, and she has worked with varying bands and labels through her journey. Julie’s newest release, Woke Myself Up, is a bit of a making peace album, as she reunites with most of the members of Eric’s Trip to bring to life a collection of remarkable and startling indie folk songs which showcase her personal velocity of style with a dip back into her rock roots. The coming (back) together of old friends and connections of sound are best displayed in the rebellious and edgy “Don’t Wanna Be/Liked By You,” a track that both captures where she once was while it screams out loud as to just where she is now. The lyrics speak volumes of how much Julie has grown up and moved on, with lines such as “and I never wanna be in your bed and I never wanna be in your books, but I might play music for you.” The artist rises like a phoenix, brushing her wings around her past to somehow build a bridge between; the results a feeling of release and strength that is wrapped up in something infectious, that sort of musical thing that you cannot help but sing along with.
One of my favorite songs on the album is the opening title track. It is a perfect morning song, one that makes me want to dance around with my too sweet cup of coffee pressed to my lips, or blast out of crackling car speakers as I sing loudly out the open window with a dangling cigarette from my left hand. I love the way the lyrics to this song fight a battle between having to embrace the morning, and not wanting to do anything but drop back into a dream. “So maybe this coffee is a bad idea and maybe this might not work out for me / Maybe a walk or a nap could win forces all about now,” are the words Julie sings, with the jangly guitar strumming alongside with her, creating the same sound my caffeinated bloodstream makes when I am trying to convince myself that getting up is a good idea. Do we not all have mornings such as these?
“I Woke Myself Up,” along with “The Wrong Guy,” have already made it to three different mixes of music I have made for friends, bringing Julie’s voice in my life a bit full circle in the month in which Valentine’s Day falls, and I recall that first trip into her music found originally within the contents of a music mix. This album seems all too appropriate to be a part of some Valentine’s Day love affair, or bandage for a scraped up heart; whichever the need may be, this album will satisfy both, gifting the lessons learned of moving on and healing, of loving again and holding musical hands with some sense of forgive and forget.