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Posted at 12:56 PM ET, 10/17/2008

Julie Ocean Calls It Quits

By David Malitz

Julie Ocean: Long gone and, well, just gone.

Whenever I wrote about local indie-pop band Julie Ocean it usually included a long list of bands that the members used to play in: Velocity Girl, Glo-Worm, Swiz, the High Back Chairs, Saturday People, etc. Well, now Julie Ocean itself is one of those former bands. The group that quickly became one of the best on the local circuit in a little more than a year together is officially done. The reason? Singer/guitarist Jim Spellman is leaving D.C., heading to Denver for work-related reasons. (He works for CNN; perhaps you remember seeing him get tasered on the air?)

So work is more important than indie rock?

"Nothing is more important than indie rock, but adventure comes in many forms and this new gig out West is too cool to pass up," Spellman said. "Julie Ocean is a great band. I really love playing with Terry and Hunter and Alex, and I am really proud of our record. It was a very tough decision to make this move. It is very tough to leave D.C., my home for all my life, but others have done it and survived and I am sure I will, too."

"It's just kind of a practical thing," Terry Banks, the band's other singer/guitarist said. "You can't be a band if you don't all live in the same city. Julie Ocean was a blast while it lasted. We made a record we all love and played a bunch of cool shows, so no complaints here, although it's a bummer to see Jim go. Our record got a lot of great reviews, which was nice, and I think we did 20 shows in 15 months -- May '07 to Aug '08 -- which, while it hardly makes us hardened road warriors, isn't too bad for the modest terms under which we set out." Some of those shows included opening sets for the Dirtbombs, Apples in Stereo and Half Japanese (one of my favorite shows of the year), while the band's lone album, "Long Gone and Nearly There" received positive reviews from national outlets such as Allmusic and Pitchfork.

For those of you hoping to catch the band one last time, well, you're out of luck. There will be no farewell show, as the band's scheduled appearance tonight at the Rock and Roll Hotel is off. In fitting fashion for a band of D.C. scene veterans, Julie Ocean's final show ended up being at Fort Reno in August. You can still enjoy the adrenaline rush of an album, a half hour of brisk indie-pop songs filled with bright guitars, big hooks and sweet harmonies. And you can get all nostalgic with the podcast interview I did with Banks and Spellman back in June.

Don't feel too bad -- everyone knows that all good indie-pop bands dissolve after a year or so, only to be discovered by and beloved by new fans many years later.

By David Malitz  | October 17, 2008; 12:56 PM ET
Categories:  Music  
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