Wails, Wails

Wails, Wails

There’s a bit of a head-fake going on with “Lucky,” the opening track for the self-titled debut EP from Houston trio Wails. The song starts off fuzzy and hazy, with rising-falling guitars and staticky drums that sound like they fell right off a Darling Buds B-side, but just when you settle back to relax and drift off, the band clicks in and starts hammering away (delicately, mind you) at an awesomely drone-y guitar line and a serious, driving-at-night rhythm.

Suddenly, you’ve left behind the late-’80s Brit-shoegaze realm behind and headed sharply southeast, all the way down to Dunedin, New Zealand. While Wails do owe quite a bit to fuzzed-out forebears My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus & Mary Chain, they hew closer, in the end, to the detached, punk-edged, jangle-drone sounds of The Chills or The Verlaines.

And trust me, that’s a very good thing, because as Wails unfurls, rolling along beneath vocalist/guitarist Bruno Galli’s confident-yet-cool art-rock delivery (which makes me think of Underworld’s Karl Hyde at points, particularly on the swirling, shimmery “Echo Chamber”), the music breaks loose of both sets of influences to become its own impressively-crafted thing. The songs are serene and serious but still loose enough to rock, with just enough distortion and punch to snap you out of your heavy-lidded reverie.

While “Lucky” is by far the strongest track on here, it’s hardly alone — the overfuzzed guitars in “Elegant Sabotage” roar quietly like waves beneath the ocean’s surface, balanced nicely by the quieter parts in-between and Galli’s understated vocals, while “October Radio” is driving and sweetly nostalgic, making me think of Belle & Sebastian at times (until, of course, the guitars come blazing in).

Taken all together, Wails is one hell of a debut; it shows a band that honestly already seems to know exactly what it’s about and can just sit back and smile, working through its own unique, intriguing sound, uncaring what anybody else thinks. If it’s not already clear: I want to hear more, y’all.

[Wails is playing 12/2/10 at Rudyard’s, along with Stephen Rawlings & Stone Face.]
(self-released; Wails -- http://www.myspace.com/wailsmusic)
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Review by . Review posted Thursday, December 2nd, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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3 Responses to “Wails, Wails

  1. Bruno on December 15th, 2010 at 1:21 am

    Wow. We had totally missed this review! Thanks for the kind words, Jeremy. Hope to see you at a show soon!

    All the best,

    Wails

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