Squeeze Right album review
Squeeze Right album review
By Chris Alfano
November 16, 2007
A self-described “eclectic punker in a suit,” Julz-A might best be characterized as a fringe artist who seamlessly combines his musical prowess with showmanship and an offbeat sense of humor. Squeeze Right is the second release by this accordion-toting rapper, and I must express my thanks for his willingness to provide a genre tag (“squeeze rock”) where none other exists. While hip-hop rarely tops my list of beloved musical styles, Julz-A has somehow taken my preconceived notions and scattered them to the wind.
Referring to his instrument of choice as an “axe” (despite us guitar players thinking we had a monopoly on that one), Julz-A has an uncanny ability to play with such ease and conviction that you forget he’s a skinny young redhead with an accordion. Squeeze Right sees him throwing down four tracks of his patented style that mixes equal parts of Beck, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Outkast into a simmering amalgam of alt-rock bliss. Tracks such as “Sunshine Decay” capture the essence of Julz-A’s twisted genius, as he alternates between rapped verses and catchy choruses with a certain cleverness dictating the overall flow. On the flipside, “Where (In the Words)” emphasizes skillful wordplay to create a rhythmically engaging piece that is familiar in its overall effect, and yet strange in its methods for achieving it. The song itself isn’t all that odd, but the accordion runs combined with the vocal phrasing make it stand out as one of the disc’s more unique moments.
Upon first listen, it sounded as though Squeeze Right was recorded with ample bass, keyboard, and drum accompaniment. However, research indicates that all sounds (except for the drums) were created by nothing more than an accordion. Over the years, Julz-A (real name: Julian Hintz) has perfected the art of sound manipulation by running his squeeze box through a series of effects pedals. While certainly creative and interesting, one would think that such a medium has a limited range of possibilities. Nonetheless, Julz-A wards off naysayers by producing tones that closely emulate guitars, basses, and synthesizers. Despite the fact that most people can only name Weird Al Yankovic when pressed for the names of contemporary accordion players, be assured that Julz-A will join the list in due time.
As a final note, I found it rather interesting that Julz-A resents those who refer to his music as a novelty. After all, his artistic platform and physical appearance might easily compel the lesser-informed to draw such a conclusion. But after listening to Squeeze Right repeatedly and finding something new with each spin, I have a better grasp of why such a description is objectionable to him. This may be just one guy laying down multiple accordion tracks with a drum machine running in the background, but the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Anyone who writes him off just for the fact that his lead instrument is more commonly associated with polkas than rock concerts is missing out.
[Chris Alfano is a North Carolina-based journalist who alternates shifts as a parent, musician, and estranged husband to several dissatisfied women.]