(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, November 7, 2011

CD review - The Wednesday Club, So Claw/Sour Crow (2011)

Double release supports short attention spans, but offers indie pop gems

When the Wednesday Club simultaneously released So Claw and Sour Crow, they intended the two albums to be appreciated separately. Reading between the lines, though, it's more likely that the three members had each written a folder full of songs and this reduced the number they'd need to cut. Despite their unwillingness to triage the material, the songs are all fairly solid, albeit short.

Stylistically, the twenty songs bounce around between a few distinct approaches. Their 80s new wave pop influenced songs play like brief homages to the Cure and Modern English. The pop psychedelic tracks might merit a tip of the hat to Guided By Voices, but the influence is less overt. Similarly, the edgier indie rock songs might evoke bands like Pavement, but that's more of a point of context than a direct reference.

Regardless of influences or style, the Wednesday Club is adept at creating idealized pop music that goes beyond being merely catchy and memorable. Their songs all have an aura of familiarity. It may just be the vagaries of my taste, but Sour Crow is a bit stronger.

Sour Crow's opening track, She Eats Brains, plays like Robyn Hitchcock and Pavement teamed up. The opening starts out like the Jam's That's Entertainment. Garage rock, new wave slickness, and punk energy are stirred together into a satisfying amalgam. The little guitar jam is all too short, but wonderful nonetheless.

This leads into Duet, whose intro and verses channel Modern English's I Melt With You, with lyrics reminiscent of the Cure's Friday I'm In Love. Bouncier than either of those two songs, the lyrics seem catchy but don't stand up to much scrutiny:
These sheets are canvases
On which I'll paint my thoughts

Though they are, they're all I've got
Until I put them in the washing machine...
It may be nonsensical, but it's foot tapping perfection.

The best example of the Wednesday Club's pop psychedelia is Rat Facts on the So Claw side. It start with a Velvet Undergrounds-style understated beginning. The mundane lyrics get subsumed by the building layers of sound that push the song into a headier space.

Cleansing the pop palate, The Punchening (So Claw) melds odd vocals to a Pavement oriented song structure. The vocal arrangment pairs half spoken lead lines with conversational "harmonies". Jerky rhythms transform hesitation into something more visceral.

The genre hopping song flow and shorter song lengths seem geared toward an ADHD audience. It might have been better to cut the songlist by a third and explore the remaining songs more fully. Still, despite the differences in writing style, the three members of the Wednesday Club muster plenty of enthusiasm for each others musical visions. That energy makes So Claw/Sour Crow worth checking out. Grab a free download here. I also recommend the lyrics sheet, which puts the songs into some kind of context.

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