Reticent Melbourne Pop-Rock Singer/Songwriter SIMON JULIFF Releases ‘Stars’

Reticent Melbourne pop-rock singer/songwriter SIMON JULIFF releases JOEL SILBERSHER-produced album STARS

The former member of The Roys and obscure ’90s GOD/Hoss/Powder Monkeys-associated band The Evil Dead releases his debut solo album – with help from members of Hoss and Kim Salmon & The Surrealists – following month-long residency with band

New album and single combine brightly dappled glimmers of classic pop-rock melodicism and echoes of Big Star, T. Rex, The Who and Neil Young with a darkened, frazzled vibe and guitars that crunch and spangle 

LP/CD and digital download available here

Reticent Melbourne pop-rock singer/songwriter Simon Juliff, who was singer/guitarist/songwriter for Melbourne band The Roys in the ‘00s, and obscure God/Hoss/Powder Monkeys-associated band The Evil Dead in the ’90s, has today released his Joel Silbersher-produced debut album Stars. The album is out on the newly revived Dog Meat label (Hoss, Powder Monkeys, Cheater Slicks, Billy Childish, Pretty Things, Bored, Dirty Lovers, Dead Moon and more) and is available on LP, CD and digital formats.

 The album combines brightly dappled glimmers of classic pop-rock melodicism and echoes of Big Star, T. Rex, The Who and Neil Young with an occasionally darkened, frazzled vibe and guitars that crunch and spangle. The feeling is sparky and electric and the performances powerful but not over-rehearsed; the album captures a delicious looseness and follows the old Alex Chilton idiom of trying to capture the moment that it comes together rather than the one when it’s been done to death. 

The album features Juliff’s recording band – Silbersher, fellow Hoss guitarist Jimmy Sfetsos and Kim Salmon & The Surrealists’ drummer Greg Bainbridge – which has since become his live band. The album’s release was preceded by a month-long residency at the Merri Creek Tavern, and more live work, including an album launch, will come in the new year.

The album’s release was preceded by two singles – the album’s title track came first and was followed by the gorgeous current single “Til Next Time”.     

Simon Juliff has spent most of his adult life – since his mid-teens in fact – writing songs and making music in private. Because it’s what he loves doing. Rarely has he felt the need to go public, but for a few years in the early 2000’s he gave it a crack. At that time, he and his brother Felix fronted a band, unassumedly named The Roys, who played around Melbourne’s pubs and released an EP and an album on In-fidelity records, a label run by Melbourne indie scene guru Bruce Milne of Au-go-go Records fame. Bruce wasn’t the band’s only fan – long-time Paul Kelly drummer Peter Luscombe produced The Roys’ records. Pre-fame Dan Sultan was into it too; he was the band’s drummer at one point.  And Sultan’s original guitarist and song-writing partner Scott Wilson was in The Roys as well.

Simon Juliff – Til Next Time (Official Audio)  

Going back another decade and a half or so to the start of the ‘90s, Simon was part of an even shorter-lived band called The Evil Dead, who played only a couple of shows and recorded a single that was never released. The Evil Dead formed out of the same bunch of mates that spawned the much-mythologized earlier group God, of “My Pal” fame. Simon and Evil Dead harmonica-player Jed Sayers had gone to school with Tim Hemensley from God, Bored! and The Powder Monkeys (Jed was later a Powder Monkey himself) and he was good friends with Joel Silbersher, from God and Hoss.  It was Joel who produced and played on The Evil Dead’s unreleased single (“Just An Idiot”/”Reefer”) in 1990.  Dog Meat – which worked with Hoss, The Powder Monkeys etc – was going to release it but didn’t. Now, over thirty years later, Joel has produced and played on Simon Juliff’s first solo record, and the newly restarted Dog Meat is finally stepping up to the plate.

Which is enough background; what matters now is the music. Drawn from a large cache of material that Simon has written over the years, and knocked into shape by Joel, fellow Hoss guitarist Jimmy Sfetsos and former Kim Salmon & the Surrealists drummer Greg Bainbridge when the opportunity to make a record presented itself, Stars (the album) is a beautiful heap of a record that takes the guts of what Juliff did with The Roys and goes a bit deeper into it. Simon’s thing, loosely, is pop-rock. Guitars and tunes. Slightly skewed. He tends to like classic and organic-sounding stuff. Big StarThe BeatlesT.RexThe WhoNeil YoungLed ZeppelinTeenage Fan ClubThe Saints; and he’s got a singular sensibility in his writing that often evokes a hazy internal monologue, a mile-wide sardonic streak and perhaps, unexpectedly, an outdoorsy vibe that maybe suggests too many camping trips gone wrong.

The album’s first single “Stars” evokes all of that, including that frazzled outdoorsy vibe (dig the refrain “the stars look brighter when the lights go down”) with a moseying melody, a loping beat and guitars that crunch and spangle.

The second single “Til Next Time” – a reworking of Simon’s label boss’s favourite Roys song – is maybe more straight-ahead Big Star style pop (with added Townshend power chords) – power pop more or less – and a glorious example of the genre.

Simon Juliff took time out to play his first solo gig proper with a band in between lockdowns in late 2021 at Joel Silbersher’s belated 50th celebrations at the Westwood in Footscray, with Joel on bass, Jimmy on lead and the record’s engineer Andrew “Idge” Hehir of Soundpark Studio sitting in for Bainbridge on drums. It was Simon’s first time on stage for over a decade, but he and the band nailed it with a set of killer tunes and a sound that jangled like frayed nerves and rocked crisply. A surprise lone cover of Cheap Trick’s “Downed” made perfect sense.

With the record finally out – after a couple of years of record company inertia – and lockdowns hopefully now a thing of the past, Simon and band are set to get out and play more shows. Audiences are going to knocked out by their smarts and class and Simon’s great tunes. As will anyone who gives Stars a listen. Check it out.   

Simon Juliff - "Stars"
 Simon Juliff “Stars” (Official Audio) 

Simon Juliff’s Stars is out now on Dog Meat Records on LP, CD and digital providers through Forte Music Distribution (UK/Europe), Midheaven/Revolver (USA) and Rocket (AUS)

LP/CD and digital download available here

Check out Simon Juliff Facebook

Dog Meat Records is a division of Grown Up Wrong! Records

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