It’s no secret that Julia’s War has been slowly but steadily building an arsenal of artists since its inception in the spring of 2021. The brain-child of Philly’s Douglas Dulgarian of They Are Gutting A Body Of Water, their ranks have come to include releases from heavy hitters like Feeble Little Horse, Wednesday, and of course hometown heroes such as Hooky. Their latest maneuver in this self-waged war against the stagnation of the music scene is Free Treeway, a triple split featuring Bleary Eyed, Sun Organ, and Euphoria Again, out now.
The trio of artists isn’t too concerned with genre constraints. Across a nine-song set it’s clear they feel comfortable experimenting, each band bringing with them their own take on the melancholy tone that is so deeply enmeshed in the music you can feel it in your chest. They seem to share some telepathic connection that allows them to create such a cohesive vision despite differences in approach. Whether it’s Euphoria Again’s pensive acoustics or Bleary Eyed’s lingering emo origins, they give the listeners a collage of styles that all feel like alternative ways to stare down the void.
Opening with “Birds,” Bleary Eyed hint at the scope of the sprawling LP through sparse percussion that spirals into an ethereal outro. They forge ahead with the signature subtle luster that decorates their recently released self-titled EP and push it into overdrive on “Upset.” The first glimpse of the project they dropped features Margot Whipps’ vocals that feel like a flash flood as they flow over a crashing backtrack. Still, they never sound claustrophobic, allowing for the occasional chink in their armor that proves underneath the layers of noise and computer-coded glitches rests an obscure warm glow.
Seamlessly shifting gears, Sun Organ follows with their somber slowcore. The vocals seem caught in a snowstorm like they’re being transmitted from a blizzard of downtempo beats and guitars that possess a Codeine-esque chill. They conclude their selection with a remix of their song “God Loves His Little Things Pt. 1” lifted from Candlelight Showertime, their May 2023 LP (also released via Julia’s War). The band tacks on an additional two minutes that gives you goosebumps, their religious allusions serving as icy insinuations that God might not be as merciful as He seems.
Euphoria Again takes these heavenly references to heart, their third of the record rife with Bible references that evoke a deep sense of reverence for the easy grace they exude. “Take My Devil” pairs John Klein’s soft twang with sedated strumming which accentuates lyrics that read like a prayer. Infused with the Southern nostalgia of Townes Van Zandt, “Angel Band” radiates a wispy stupor. In its last half, the meandering accompaniment falters to reveal a raw final plea, “Bear me away on your snow white wings to my mortal home.”
Free Treeway keeps you spellbound from start to finish, as each song on the star-studded completion feels like a profound revelation. While everyone is quick to smack the shoegaze label on every Julia’s War release (which yes, they do release a lot of), the split plays to the strengths of their genre-bending roster. Armed with some of the most groundbreaking artists in the game, Julia’s War once again emerges victorious.
Order your copy of the split here, and listen below. Bleary Eyed, Sun Organ, and Euphoria Again will be playing a release party show for Free Treeway at PhilaMOCA tonight. You can snag tickets in advance here.