Retire the Fences: Brooklyn’s juicer Unleash Waves of Dreamy Indie Rock Wonder in Their Debut Album

juicer © Barrett Shuler
juicer © Barrett Shuler
A dreamy indie rock reverie, juicer’s debut album ‘Retire the Fences’ is a soothing, stirring record of reflection and reckoning, ready to soundtrack our hot sunny days and long summer nights.
for fans of Hovvdy, TOLEDO, Runnner
Stream: “Trickin” – juicer

From the moment their debut album begins, juicer wrap listeners in a blanket of dreams.

I hate coming down, down from the high, I love when you’re ’round, cranky and tired,” frontman James Pratley Watson sings, gentle guitars strumming next to him as a bass licks bob up and down. “Who’s trickin who? Who’s trickin who? Who’s trickin?” His voice is a tender tempest – soft and hot all at once, like he’s whispering right into our ears, rather than into a far-off microphone in some Brooklyn studio.

The funny part is, while he’s tracking the comedown, our high is just get started: A dreamy indie rock reverie, Retire the Fences is a soothing, stirring record of reflection and reckoning, ready to soundtrack our hot sunny days and long summer nights. Quiet and loud, calm and hard-hitting all at once, it’s a high that never gets old – offering more and more to its listeners upon repeat listens.

Retire The Fences - juicer
Retire The Fences – juicer
We’re all in the room of endless decay
If I had to choose I’d keep it the same
Contemplate, feel the weight
Endless days (Who’s trickin?)
Heal the pain, feel it break
How long will it take? (Who’s trickin?)
Sell the paint, keep it safe
One more day (Who’s trickin?)
Confiscate, one way plane
Take it away
Who’s trickin who?
Who’s trickin?

Independently released May 10, 2024, Retire the Fences is without a doubt a diamond in the rough. juicer’s debut album arrives less than a year after the Brooklyn indie rock band introduced themselves, and finds the four-piece of James Pratley Watson (guitar/vocals), Donovan Edelstein (drums), Carlo DiBiaggio (bass) and Greg Crotty (guitar) doing their best to balance a bevy of musical influences that includes (but is not limited to) ’90s alternative, shoegaze, slacker rock, dream pop, indie sleaze, and more.

juicer © 2024
juicer © Barrett Shuler

What initially started as Watson’s solo project has evolved into a vibrant team effort, and Retire the Fences captures that beauty in spades.

‘“When Greg and Don joined the band, I had already finished a version of the record. It was mixed, mastered, everything, even had artwork,” James Pratley Watson tells Atwood Magazine. “When we started playing as a band though, it became clear that some songs worked for us as a group and some did not. Even the songs that did work needed a change on the record, because we were starting to form our own sound and way of expressing the songs at our shows. So in the end, I only kept half of that old record, and what I did keep I totally reworked along with the band to make it feel more like how we sounded live. Those songs are ‘Trickin,’ ‘Family Man,’ ‘Heirloom Crimes,’ and ‘Strawberry Life.’ The rest of the record are songs we built from the ground up as a band – ‘Let Go,’ ‘Why Don’t,’ ‘Bomb,’ and ‘Dream.’ I like both sets of songs, but I think the latter is more indicative of where we’re heading as a band.”

“[The vision] changed completely,” he continues. “I scratched the record halfway through amidst a rediscovery of the music I love. When I made the first version of the record it was as a solo act, and I wanted it to be this highly produced thing. I hired some friends to act as producer and mixing engineer and we made something that we were all proud of, but at the end of the day it didn’t sound like the music I listen to. I was coming off of a couple years making pop music, where you’re trying to appease some imagined expectation of a mass audience, and this first iteration of the record felt like I still hadn’t shed myself of that pressure. All of that went out the window when Greg and Don joined, and juicer became more of a band. Making decisions together and me letting go of control was just what this project needed.”

Closed his eyes in the fog
In an instant, touched the face of god
Presence in decay
Now his only living son
Fights the absence with a quiet tongue
But in his eyes there’s something
So sweet, so sweet, I can understand
So sweet, so sweet like a family man
In the eyes of widows’ sons
There’s a light surrounding everyone
Presence in decay
Guess that’s why we aligned
A compassion written in our eyes
Memories of something

juicer © Barrett Shuler
juicer © Barrett Shuler

The album’s title itself is a Beach Boys lyric from their song “Free Flows,” featured on 1971’s Surf’s Up. “For me the phrase was so encouraging amidst all the change I was going through when making the record,” Watson explains. “I had just moved from LA to NYC, I had essentially quit all my old music projects and I was reconnecting with the kind of values that first drew me into music – being in a band, seeking community, letting go.”

For Watson, this record feels like an authentic rendering of juicer’s collective identity: The sounds they achieve, and the emotions they evoke, are all a testament to their strengths and talents playing together as a collective unit.

“It feels like a very focused album, at least I hope it comes off that way,” Watson smiles. “It was definitely less focused before we reworked it. We started getting to the essence of what we are with this album, what makes us tick and what we really want to be hearing from ourselves as a group.”

“As far as our artistry, this album and project is just one of many things each of us are involved in as artists. Everyone in the band has a rich musical life of their own. Donovan plays in a touring Gamelan Orchestra and produces music for films. Carlo plays almost every night of the week and has a residency with his Jazz trio at all & sundry. Greg writes incredible songs under Bloodweiser. I’m a composer writing music for films and putting out instrumental music under my own name. Not to downplay it, but I think Retire the Fences is just one of many things that we are expressing as artists.”

juicer © Barrett Shuler
juicer © Barrett Shuler

Highlights abound on the enchanting journey from the glistening, golden-hued album opener “Trickin” to aptly-titled closer, “Dream.”

“‘Let Go,’ ‘Bomb,’ and ‘Dream’ are favorites and they kind of feel like where we’re heading for the next record,” Watson says. “But the lyrics in ‘Trickin’ stand out for me. Ever since I came to NY I’ve been grappling with mortality, I guess that’s what the city does to you. There’s this line in there that I never get tired of singing: ‘We’re all in the room of endless decay. If I had to choose, I’d keep it the same.’ The sheer amount of people I was encountering in NYC compared to LA was shocking and made me feel small and insignificant. With that lyric I’m trying to say that maybe if you surrender to that feeling there’s a light on the other side.”

While “Trickin” is a personal favorite, Watson hopes folks tune into what is easily juicer’s most “explosive” tune. “I hope people listen to ‘Bomb’ on some good speakers or headphones,” he adds. “Stoked on how the guitars sound on that one, especially at the first chorus. These songs will accrue meaning the more people interpret them in their own way. I’m definitely dealing with some heavier, more complex themes on this album than I have in the past – especially on ‘Family Man,’ ‘Heirloom Crimes,’ and ‘Strawberry Life’ – so I’m curious how people will gleam meaning from them. I’m looking forward to people breathing life into these songs through their own understanding of them.”

juicer © 2024
juicer © Barrett Shuler

Wherever you press ‘play’ on Retire the Fences, you’re sure to be met with a world of dreamy indie rock warmth and wonder.

While juicer recall the dusty sounds of bands like Hovvdy, TOLEDO, and Runnner, they are clearly an entity unto themselves, and one we can’t wait to hear more from in the years to come.

“Someone left a comment on our Bandcamp saying how they loved the flow of the album. I hope listeners feel the record is a cohesive world that we made,” Watson shares. “We went through lot of curation and stripping away to get to the essence of what we wanted, and I think that comes through. The ideas in this album – breaking through things holding you back, surrendering to the hard facts of life, finding your footing in a new world – aren’t the most easygoing themes, but I hope that listeners can find some kind of encouragement in them.”

“As far as what we are taking away – this was a hard record to make. We scrapped songs, reworked mixes, and went through a whole transformation as a band. We released it independently too, so we’re acting as our own label – funding the production, promoting it, securing press (shoutout Atwood for having us!). I can’t say the next record will be easier, but at least we’ll have been through it and can know what to expect. Beyond the business stuff though, I’m personally, creatively just so proud of this album. This might sound dramatic, but it feels like my whole musical life has been leading to making an album like this.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside juicer’s Retire the Fences with Atwood Magazine as the band take us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their debut album!

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:: stream/purchase Retire the Fences here ::
:: connect with juicer here ::
Stream: ‘Retire the Fences’ – juicer

:: Inside Retire the Fences ::

Retire The Fences - juicer

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My partner and I spent a winter in LA at my friend’s place in Echo Park. I have these fond memories of writing this song and ‘Family Man’ on her porch, which overlooked the back of Peter Sellar’s studio. This song propelled me into writing the rest of the album because it felt like it was an entryway into a larger world.

Family Man

This was another one I wrote during that LA trip. I was reading Leonard Cohen’s book, ‘The Flame,’ at the time which has his drawings alongside his poems and lyrics. I’d flip through it before writing to get inspired. I have a few friends whose Dads passed away when they were young, this one is about them.

Let Go

Greg has this tiny nylon string guitar that I pick up and mindlessly strum while we’re hanging out at his place, this song was born from some of that strumming. We recorded it and ‘Why Don’t’ up at his childhood home in Bridgewater, Massachusetts over the course of a few Dunkin’ Donuts-fueled days. Donovan created this washy, driving sound and Greg wrote these huge guitar parts that really glued everything together. This was an apt one to track in suburbia, since the lyrics are from the point of view of someone looking out the window of their suburban home, longing for more.

Heirloom Crimes

I wrote the melody and chords for this on piano years ago, I don’t even know how long, it’s just one of those things I would always play and sing. On piano it was more of this Zombies-esque pop thing, but then I translated it to guitar and it felt more a part of the world of the record. This one sounds way different live, Carlo does these wild bass harmonics and Greg creates a wall of distortion which aren’t on the record. We keep developing the songs after we’ve recorded, so things are always going to be a little different between the recordings and the show.

Why Don’t

This is also and old tune that I used to play and sing on piano. I brought it to Don and Greg as I was putting it to guitar. It was originally this very heavy, dark, almost math-rock thing, but when we played it together it transformed into this “driving down PCH” vibe. We were all happy about that.

Strawberry Life

This one started out as part of an instrumental album I was making. I had Preston Fulks track some drums over these minimalist loops I had made. I kept layering things in until it started to take the shape of a song. When I got Covid I’d take long walks in the park and work out lyrics in my head. Somehow this one ended up being about a pig who loves strawberries.


Our horniest song.


We used to have this ballad in our set that I would play solo. Don and Greg and I were at Hartley’s and I was talking about how it didn’t feel like it was fitting with the direction we were going. Don had the idea to play it twice as fast with the full band and it totally worked. I saw The Feelies play with Yo La Tengo last December during their Hanukkah shows at Bowery Ballroom. It was my first time hearing them and I fell in love with their sound. They totally influenced how this song turned out.

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:: stream/purchase Retire the Fences here ::
:: connect with juicer here ::

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Retire The Fences - juicer

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? © Barrett Shuler

:: Stream juicer ::

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