The Wild Moccasins, “Gag Reflections”/“Summer of Love”
It’s been a little while since I’ve run across The Wild Moccasins. I dearly loved 2010′s Skin Collision Past, but I’ve been sorely missing them in the intervening couple of years, not even managing to catch the band live at Summerfest this year.
Happily, I did run into Moccasins singer/guitarist Cody Swann at the festival, as I tried in vain to get close to the stage for Two Door Cinema Club; he and his bandmates were hiding out in a tent off to the side, and after we chatted for a bit, and I apologized for not being able to see/hear their set, he was kind enough to gift me with a copy of their new 7″.
One listen, and boom, I’m right back to where I was when I first heard Skin Collision Past, marveling at how nonchalantly this band spins out these picture-perfect little pop song gems. They honestly make it look downright easy — and speaking as somebody who’s attempted it himself, trust me, it’s anything but. The Wild Moccasins have it down to a science, and with this two-song single, they’ve proved it once again.
There’s a distinct ’80s feel to the A-side, “Gag Reflections,” seemingly more than the band’s displayed on past releases. The rhythms in the verses sound like they belong in a Modern English song, all serene-yet-driving, low-key sweetness, while frontwoman Zahira Gutierrez’s delivery makes me think of Debbie Harry’s absolute best moments.
The guitars chime and rumble beautifully, digging into these little melodic nuggets you don’t even necessarily notice the first time through but that sit in the back of your mind until the next time the song plays, and you go, “oh, yeah — I’d competely forgotten how awesome that part is…”
I feel compelled to note, by the by, that I’ve honestly got no idea what a “gag reflection” even is (and gags in general tend to have some unsavory connotations), but the band makes it not matter. Actually, better yet, they’ve got me singing along in spite of the fact that I have no idea what the meaning is behind what I’m saying. It’s addictive and eminently sing-along-able, and pretty soon, I don’t even care what the words mean.
On the B-side, the Moccasins take on the quasi-classic B-52′s tune “Summer of Love,” and it fits like a freaking glove, both with the band’s gently-bumping, sweet/sultry style and with our hazy, melt-your-brain hot summers here in the sweaty Houston swamp. In the Wild Moccasins’ hands, this song makes me envision walking in the scorching sun down the desolate Downtown streets, watching the heat come off the pavement in near-invisible waves and trying to dodge into the shade before I burst into flames.
This little slice of Wild Moccasins goodness comes as a welcome reminder of what the band’s capable of, and at the same time seems to be trying to tell fans like myself, hey, I know we haven’t been around much lately, but don’t fret — we haven’t gone anywhere, and we’ll be back soon with something even better. Keeping my fingers crossed for that, y’all.