Andrew Judah
Gig Seeker Pro

Andrew Judah

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Alternative Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Album Review - Monster"

The toughest part of writing about Andrew Judah‘s Monster is trying to figure out how to explain the thing in genre terms. Is it OK Computer-era rock without the guitars? The Decemberists’ indie-pop having a nightmare? Lushly orchestrated trip-hop? Genre labels aside, it’s a whirlwind ride of unusually-juxtaposed instruments that knit together perfectly under Judah’s careful composer’s ear.

Judah is a highly sought-after commercial composer; you’ve probably heard his work without knowing it. His third album of artistic compositions sets wild, intricate foreground elements on top of cinematic backdrops for maximum immersion. Judah works mostly in minor keys here, building brooding, intense landscapes that build to bursting. “I Know You Know” turns a smooth, cascading guitar line into a stuttering, bewildering footrace; the song culminates in a furious maze of arpeggios surrounded by glitching keys, layered vocals, and complex drumming. It has a visceral, physical quality to it; I can almost feel the sounds happening to me.

“Better and Better” amps up the ominous qualities of the record, starting out with heavy pad synths (although he notes in the liner notes that this might be a banjo played with a violin bow), muted piano, and gurgling bass. This is an album where sounds take preeminence over the instruments that make them: it could be a banjo or steel drums, keys or guitar, bass or keys, electronic or live drums. The performer isn’t important: the fact that the sounds mesh perfectly takes precedence.

Back to “Better and Better”: Judah’s voice is digitally manipulated to sound alien and yet comforting, which is the same sort of tension that Radiohead perfectly captured in OK Computer. But Yorke and co. didn’t try to make that into the eerily joyful soundtrack for a dark carnival, as Judah does here. It’s a profoundly unexpected turn. The title track draws some musical composing tricks straight out of old horror films, with wavering theremin sounds floating uncomfortably above the acoustic guitar before unveiling some of the most delicate, tender work that Monster has to offer.

Judah revels in the abrupt shift; many of the tunes here move from this to that unexpectedly. Sometimes it’s quiet/loud/quiet; other times the tone or mood shifts. Sometimes the time signatures change. “What Now?” draws on a relatively disorienting use of syncopation to throw you off. Yes, he employs a variety of tricks to keep you interested, and it works really well. The biggest element that draws me, however, is how it all hangs together. You can listen to Monster beginning to end without necessarily marking the titles of songs. You’ll definitely look back to see what the names of “Morning Light” and “I Know You Know” are, but you may find yourself feeling that the ballad “Willis” just kinda runs along with “Twitch & Shake” and “Better & Better.” You can enjoy it that way if you’d like–more power to you.

Monster is a dark record, but it’s not a grim or hopeless one. It explores brooding territory without getting overwrought, which is a tough balance to strike. Some albums feel like the songwriter is talking to you; this one feels like watching a movie by a director friend of yours. It’s not impenetrable, and you can see flashes of your friend’s hand, but it’s more about the unique experience of that particular media than the person behind the curtain. Andrew Judah gets out of his own way here, letting the intricate, complex, fascinating songs tell their tales. It pays off in spades. - Independent Clauses

"Album Review - Monster"

'enough layers and tangents, hidden threads amongst the songs to continually arrest the ear' - Dara Higgins on Andrew Judah's forthcoming LP, Monster

First impressions on listening to Andrew Judah’s Monster, is that I think I’ll be putting it on again. Which is a rarity when given various, hitherto unknown artists to listen and assess. Second impression is, in order give the man due credit, I’m going to have to figure out why that is. That’s the reviewer’s bane. It’s why nobody likes us.

There’s not much to be found about Judah online. Shock horror, no Wiki page, and the press release gives us little succour, referring, as it does, to Hitchcockian intrigue and referencing “early Randy Newman.” Good Old Boys this is not, by the way. In fact with the lack of any barrelhousing comedic invective, it’s hard to imagine where that inference comes from. All I can tell you therefore, is that Judah hails from British Columbia, has a couple of other records, and plays a mean banjo.

As for Hitchcock, well, there’s certainly a cinematic feel to the music here, and it’s clear there’s attempts at a narrative. Starting with the creepy uneasiness of the Intro, which leads into Morning Light, a song build around the aforementioned banjo. In The Sun, introduced with a choppy synth, veers into pop territory, the sort occupied by Grizzly Bear or their many offshoots, but without that credulity. When it raises itself into its chorus, and flips from light to dark, one feels as if there’s something half decent at work here. Judah has a timorous tone, but one he’s in control of. It flies like Thom Yorke’s might, but never loses its vulnerability.

I Know You Know is tantamount to a sing along hit. The martial drums propel it along, and when the bass chunks its way in in the second verse, we’re somewhere between late Radiohead and Mr. Mister. I’ll take them odds. Twitch and Shake sounds more like an ELO b-side, replete with some insistent guitar work over the staccato drum-piano figure, which pre-empts into a chorus that feels as if it’s falling down the stairs.

There’s a gooey, dark centre to the record, with so many corners turned that songs begin to meld into one. Better and Better brings us back to that Radiohead reference, stealing various elements of OK Computer and sticking them together in a cheeky way, a snippet from Airbag here, the motif of Karma Police there (Which they lifted from Elvis Costello, so it’s all fine) before wandering off into a mid period Genesis prog-flap. Again, this is all GRAND. The final track, Runaway, is a plucked, slow ditty, that ends abruptly, suggesting that there’s more to come, or that the denouement we were seeking will never be reached. It’s fitting that the album is cut off before the resolution, it fits with the overall intrigue.

It appears Andrew Judah is master of his domain here, with all instruments and voices, bar the drums, authored by himself. The drum work, by person or persons unknown to me (or press release) ["It's one Paul Clark, actually" - Google] , is excellent, and Judah manages to vary his own playing throughout, avoiding the kind of sameness of attack and modulation that often happens with artists who insist on doing it all themselves. Although this tends to lead to a repeated overworking of a song’s coda, I get the impression this all part of the narrative that Judah’s weaving. What that narrative is, I can’t rightly say, but it doesn’t distract.

There’s enough layers and tangents, hidden threads amongst the songs to continually arrest the ear. If atmospheric, referential rock-pop is where you’re at, you could do much worse. - Thumped


Still working on that hot first release.