Wolf People - Tidings [2010 / VBR~220 / 57 Mb]
Do you love steely, noodly psychedelic guitars? Do you like getting your ears injected with brain-altering disharmony but also love the glockenspiel? Do you miss the British accents and Renaissance vocal influences of ’70s rock? What about sitar? Do you love tape hiss? If you say yes to all of these questions, well, have I got an album for you!
Tidings, the first full-length from Jagjaguwar’s new UK discovery Wolf People, is pretty damn awesome. It’s a total throwback, but no one should mind, because it never apes trippy ’70s rock the way most throwback bands do, getting more into the vest-no-shirt attitude than the actual musicianship and experimentation.
I should warn that Tidings doesn’t exactly rock. Unless you turn it up really loud. More like it rolls. It’s a sweeping tide of constantly moving instrumentation, strutting guitars, flitting flutes, swampy harmonicas, vocals that march alongside the instruments rather than shouting above them. Many of the songs hover around the one-minute range and act as interludes between the “actual songs,” but they all blend together so well that it’s not terribly easy to tell where the songs begin and end unless you are looking at your player as it’s happening. Some of these interludes are actually labeled “Interlude” and some take the form of serials—album opener “Season Pt. 1” and closer “Season Pt. 2.”
As far as song highlights go, “Black Water”, Tidings’ first “official” song, sets the mood with its languid gang vocals and cushiony opium den feel. “October Fires” is the album’s brightest burner, a great, chunky groove that makes good use of the Bedford, England accent and sweet riffs. It’s careful in its use of influences (please pass the Cream), and because of that, the song narrowly avoids cheesiness. But subject matter—a sacrifice ritual—might be taking things a bit too far.
Ultimately, what matters most about Tidings is the relative lack of pretense. When Wolf People talk about ’60s and ’70s psych rock, they are talking about most peoples’ influences’ influences. But they don’t come off sounding like that guy at Earwax who makes scrunchy faces at you when you buy Yardbirds reissues. The elements of English folk and watery, cerebral blues that Tidings rides on could become either too hoity-toity or too hip to stomach in the wrong hands. In the hands of Wolf People’s Jack Sharp, however, they seem new and interesting, and (dare I say it) subversive again
Release Date: February 23, 2010
01. Season Pt. 1
02. Black Water
03. Interlude: Plains/Banjoe
04. Cotton Strands
05. Interlude: Circle/Viking/Colours
06. Storm Cloud
07. Interlude: Grandfather
08. Interlude: Scraps
09. October Fires
10. Interlude: Mercy Fragment
13. Interlude: Cotton Fragment
14. Empty Heart
15. Season Pt. 2