Leechjul is a Washington, D.C.-based duo consisting of husband and wife Phil and Cheongah Gray. On their Bandcamp, they describe their music as “new songs that evoke spirits of the past,” with nods to a number of different genre inspirations. Most notably found throughout their debut EP Tunnel are traces of folk, funk, and psychedelic rock — though each track is a delightful blend of multiple genres.
Track one, “Chamoon,” has remained one of my favorite tracks over multiple listens. The irresistibly catchy, repetitive chorus is an earworm that’s sure to get stuck in your head, and the funky bass makes for an energetic opener. Added filters and reverb enhance the 60s/70s sound of the track while maintaining the freshness of the sound. It’s a track whose instrumentals reveal something new with each listen, and it serves as a great opening hook.
“Gusaram” slows it down a little bit but retains that groovy, psychedelic rock sound. It helps show off the other side of Leechjul’s sound so far — retro, easy listening tracks that complement their more high-energy ones. It also establishes a trend in the EP, where, when listened to chronologically, the more fast-paced songs are separated by a mellower track. While doing this, they also establish a signature sound that appeals to a modern audience as trends begin to cycle back around (Harry Styles’ current discography speaks to this, I think).
Smack in the middle is “Tunnel,” the titular track, which is energetic and fun with drums as the track’s driving force. Cheongah’s bright vocal color and the fast-paced, almost chaotic sound make it another earworm. It leans more into the rock of psychedelic rock than the previous tracks, likely because of the drum-forward sound. Sonically, this is easily the song with the most going on, and I think it earns its spot as a title track. The music/lyric video is good fun and matches the energy of the song – bright, colorful, and a bit trippy.
“Cloud Dream” boasts a lot of synth with another funky bass riff to mellow it out. In this track, Cheongah’s vocals remind me of OOHYO, although their genres are generally pretty different. Her harmonies here allow her to flex her range a bit more, which is refreshing. I think this might be their most “modern”-sounding track, which I say neutrally. It may be due to the sleekness of the synth in comparison to the audio filters on some of the other tracks. Regardless of why this track sticks out to me and feels most similar to something that would pop up in my current recommended music feeds.
The final track, “Hanmadi,” was a pre-released single with a gently groovy sound. It has sentimental, sweet lyrics that suit its sound and is perfect for laid-back listening. It’s currently the most popular track off of the EP, I think for a good reason. It feels perfect for a drive or a walk in the slowly-warming weather, with its heavy, gritty filters and repetitious chorus. There’s a subgenre of songs that feel like they should be in coming-of-age movies, and “Hanmadi” certainly belongs there. Effortlessly enjoyable regardless of the time or place – which can be said for their whole discography at this point.
If you have a taste for nostalgic sound with a subtle modern twist, then Leechjul is likely a band you need in your life. And even if you don’t have a particular attachment to the bygone 60s/70s sound, their polish and clear enthusiasm for the genres they emulate are infectious. Cheongah’s lyricism and vocals and Phil’s multi-instrumental talent shine in every track and leave me optimistically and impatiently awaiting their future releases.