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The Full Threats of Julius Bragg
By Ben Ohmart
(more articles from this author)
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...their power-rock music kicks like a chariot full of Charlton Hestons. Of course even a remake of Ben Hur will never have the rhythmic scope and blasting electric guitar orbit of just these four guys.

Competition in the year 2002 means having to toot your own horn, furnish proof that you built that blower yourself, and make sure the LA Times is slipped a packet of pictures of your band rescuing dying Inuits from an offending oil slick while you're in Alaska opening for Sting. It's much easier, and therefore harder, just to be yourself and play kick ass music. If you haven't got the talent, you gotta do what Julius Caesar used to do when friends, Romans and countrymen would come around from miles away: brag.

Julius Bragg may've taken their name from an infamous ruler of the known world, but for good reason: their power-rock music kicks like a chariot full of Charlton Hestons. Of course even a remake of Ben Hur will never have the rhythmic scope and blasting electric guitar orbit of just these four guys.

Timothy James, guitar/vocals, b. July 31, 1975; Robert Shirley, guitar/vocals, b. August 17, 1978; Aaron Jerome, drums, b. August 13, 1981; and Ty Anthony, bass guitar, b. March 9, 1978, are rockin' their wares in an unlikely corner of earth called Battle Creek, Michigan. You might expect Michigan to want to hear the radio & the hits played live. But the best compliment a band can receive is the gift of constant screams for your own sweet stuff.

RealAudio: "Where You Hide"

"We will play Living on a Prayer, or Gin and Juice," says Timothy James, "...sometimes Surfwax America by Weezer....but that's about it."

One listen to the samples on their well-produced website will alleviate all fears as to the hype going on in this article. The mp3s you can sample are some of the cleanest you can FIND for free, and though some of them ain't complete - well, that's why people release cds.

The cd release party for their newest disc, Transceiver, was held at The Club Soda in Kalamazoo, MI. Fans ate it up. That's because their fan base around there is so strong. They've played Music Express in Kalamazoo, Lakeview Links in Chicago, Garfield Lake Tavern in Olivet, and Frankie's in Toledo, Ohio. Those are just the recent dates.

Sneaking a peak at Aaron's band diary from September 16, he writes, "Last Thursday we played with 19 Wheels at Rubbles in Mt. Pleasant. They write really good songs and they rocked. The crowd was also very gracious. Late night. On Friday we played at Czars with Rev. Right Time and the First Cousins of Funk. They kicked ass. Fun to drink and dance to. They were funky and super tight. We played a good set and the club was packed."

RealAudio: "I'm a Lot Like You"

Is that Julius bragging again? Nah. The music, baby, listen to THE MUSIC. Clears away all doubts. This is more than an up and coming band. They are HERE and they are peering down over the clouds.

"We have recently signed a record deal with Maniac Records," James explains, "that was step one. They have absorbed the day to day costs of being in a rock band, including recording, mailings, tour support, equipment, etc., making it easier for us to 'make a living.' Of course our goal is to be successful in the music industry. I think all bands desire a degree of success, but we know it takes time, and are prepared to do what it takes."

Citing influences from The Smashing Pumpkins, The Rolling Stones, The Meat Puppets, The Beatles, Julius Bragg is Doing what it takes. They don't just cite these hard-tone influences, they work them into the deep bass, large high hat/electric guitar kick that goes into newbie hits "Where You Hide" and the cranky guitar lick of "I'm a Lot Like You" which blends vocal harmonies and wild band movement into something more than unforgettable. It's major label luncheon meat, dangling out in the open. Won't last long on the indie circuit sounding like this. Watch your back, Maniac Records.

RealAudio: "Mrs. Green"

But until Mercury Records starts sobering up, Julius Bragg is happy jamming to the Michigan dudes. Their authentic, heavy rock sound is decidedly POP and more on the mainstream side than anywhere approaching alternative definitions. If they are out for world domination, it shows more in the music than in the egos.

Still, ya gotta have fun with the tunes before fame and fortune calls. James remembers one stand-out night, during a Chicago gig. "Our drummer Aaron Jerome, after a night of drinking, ended up naked, wandering around an upscale hotel in downtown Chicago. I think he was even in an elevator when an older couple was prepared to enter. Nevertheless, they declined."

You'll hear it on the CD. Sometimes the music gets naked and shakes this crazy. But never once will you decline the sounds. Julius Bragg is the primal source into which the Beatles tapped so mercilessly. About time another super group had a crack at the id of pop.

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