Julian Calendar
Crimson Static #4

Charlotte, NC’s Julian Calendar are back with their fourth and final instalment of their Crimson Static series this month.  I have to admit, I’m a little saddened to see the end of this series of four eps.  We listened to #1 here, #2 here, and #3 here.  #4 begins with the very subdued ‘Lost Lost Lost,’ which, over a muted electric guitar, frontman and lyricist Jeff Jackson half whispers his lines, with Hannah Hundley, who also handles vocals, adding emphasis.  The lyrics are haunting, as Jackson’s character takes stock of a dissolved relationship, 20 years in:

The night of shattered glass
I still hear your laugh
Twenty years now past

Dark houses on the lake
Rows of windows to break
I played along to keep you safe

Now you’re gone
You paid the cost
Lost, lost, lost

The edge of the map
You stepped straight off
Never mind the gap

The street was your home
Your hours on loan
The things you loved left you all alone

That’s your bet
The dice are tossed
Lost, lost, lost

It’s fine, fine, fine
walking the dotted yellow line
drunken steps, no regrets
this is the wrong fucking

An empty field
Nothing revealed
A patch of mud
That never healed

All your life
An early frost

The song is perhaps made all the more haunting by the blank noise of the studio in the speaker, intentionally left there.

‘Last Transmission,’ released as a single, follows, which begins in the same haunted feeling, the background noise made to sound like crickets, as Hundley counts, 1, 0, 1, 1′ over and over before the drums arrive and Jackson speaks his lyrics.  On Crimson Static #3, Julian Calendar began to explore new sounds, not that they weren’t adventurous enough to start with mind, and found themselves standing in the post-punk landscape created by Talking Heads.  They return here, particularly in the bass and angular, erratic guitars.

‘The Soundtrack of Our Lives’ begins in a squall of feedback and guitar reverb, made to sound metallic and cold, as Scott Thompson’s bass slowly comes to life, and then Lee Herrera’s drums give us an insistent beat.  Jackson is coming at us from a distance, another nihilistic look, ‘This is the soundtrack of my life’ and Hundley screaming ‘Nothing Nothing Nothing Nothing!’ and then rinse and repeat with ‘your life’ and ‘our life’ and the panicked search for an escape with both Jackson and Hundley sounding increasingly unhinged.  And then it ends.

We end with ‘Cut a Hole,’ built up around a deranged bassline and a B-52s guitar, as Jackson and Hundley continue their collective lyrical breakdown, looking to cut a hole to breathe.  The discombobulation of the music in this post-punk manner, both dark and mysterious, adds to the paranoia building in Jackson and Hundley as the vocals and the music built to a crescendo and then we start all over again before building to the end with Jackson yelling ‘I can’t breathe.’

Jackson wrote the lyrics to ‘Cut a Hole’ over three years ago, long before the return of Eric Garner’s last words to our collective psyche, through the murder of George Floyd.  The overlap was unintentional, but Jackson does report in performing this song live that the overlap is flat out eerie.