The Wiggins, The Myth of Man

The Wiggins, <em>The Myth of Man</em>

Believe it or not, the songs on The Wiggins’ latest full-length, The Myth of Man, are pop songs. Trust me on this; once you scrape away the noise and grime and work your way past one-man-band Jon Read’s snarling/sneering vocals (which I like, don’t get me wrong), what you’re left with is a set of classic, classic pop songs.

Okay, so they’re not all exactly hummable, but some of Read’s compositions here are damn catchy, particularly lead single “Golden Age” — it’s noisy, sure, but alluringly sing-song-y, too, with a subversive melody lurking beneath the dirt, layered down there almost subliminally so only the back half of your brain really notices the first time through.

There’s also a very strange resemblance to Underworld’s “Born Slippy” in the vocals, but that’s kind of beside the point; for most of the song (and album), Read comes off rather like The Dutchess and The Duke’s Jesse Lortz if he got hammered and covered Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died,” or maybe like ex-Fatal Flying Guilloteens/current Weird Party vocalist Shawn Adolph in a less-volatile state. In case you’re unsure, by the by, those are recommendations, at least from where I sit.

Throughout The Myth of Man, Read seems to stagger and lurch, but he never loses his grip on the song, instead using the layers of distortion and garbage-can drums as a smokescreen behind which he can just stand and blaze through song after song of Spector-esque tunes, like the snapping, bumping “Under,” or the slow-moving, surfy/gritty (yet still friendly) “Widescreen.” Imagine The Wiggins as the Bizarro-Universe, dirty, messy version of The Raveonettes or Glasvegas, and you’ll get somewhere close.

At times there’re heavy hints of the Velvet Underground, too, as on “Fly Right,” with its folky, woozy jangle, or the sleepy, drugged-out “Cat,” which is practically the soundtrack for trudging alone down a darkened, muddy alleyway near a nameless factory somewhere. More apparent than that, though, is Read’s love of old-school rock, as on bouncy, almost cheery track “Puddle,” with its hypnotic chorus, or “TV Summer,” which incorporates some seriously Chuck Berry-sounding guitars and ends up sounding like fellow Houston-based noisemakers Indian Jewelry playing The Sonics.

Then there’s the grimy, overfuzzed “Turnaround,” where Read channels Dion’s “The Wanderer” — after first setting it on fire, admittedly — and the noisy but vaguely countryish waltz(!) of “Tame,” both of which sneakily incorporate influences you wouldn’t guess existed at first listen. And hey, it works; Read’s subversive tactic of coating it all in a heavy layer of raw, scratched-up noise allows him to take those influences and make them all his own.

For his final move, then, Read stagger-stomps into “The Last Thing I Need,” a pained, bitter anti-love song that’s boozy and belligerent and full of regrets all at once. It’s a great, great microcosm of a song, encapsulating the hurt of romance gone bad and the desperate need to have somebody take you by the hand and show you how the hell to get past it.

And with that, Read/The Wiggins topple off the barstool and stumble out into the night, heading on out into the darkness because they’ve got nowhere else to go.

[The Wiggins are playing 12/1/12 at 1PM at Cactus Music.]
BUY ME: Bandcamp

Review by . Review posted Friday, November 30th, 2012. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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2 Responses to “The Wiggins, The Myth of Man

  1. Birdman on December 1st, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Finally, someone gets the beauty behind the noise. Thank you for a thoughtful review. The Wiggins is possibly the most overlooked and underappreciated rock act around. Let’s get the word out.

  2. matt on February 21st, 2013 at 11:48 am

    been listening to this guy for about 6 years. really glad to hear this.

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