Release Date: Jul 24, 2015
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
There was a time in the offices of Sub Pop Records when they strictly carried the flag of their little corner in the Pacific Northwest. If an electro-pop act like Niki and the Dove sent its demos to the fabled Seattle label back in, say, 1989, chances are the tapes would have been returned to them in a sandwich baggie smashed into five easy pieces. Indeed, Sub Pop has spent the last two decades diversifying its roster enough to include such bold new voices beyond the realms of that classic Washington sound such as Low, Shabazz Palaces and Daughn Gibson.
There’s catharsis when letting out anger or pain - it’s healthy. But what happens such an emotional purge doesn’t lead to release? Well, you probably sound tortured and insane. In other words, you get stuff like Strange Wilds’ debut album, Subjective Concepts. The album cover for Concepts pictures a woman either running or playing (both?) at the edge of a tall building.
If you were making a movie set in Seattle in 1990 and you needed to cast a band to play the grunge act rocking out in some small club, you could hardly do better than to hire Strange Wilds. While this band favors the leaner, more punk rock side of the signature Pacific Northwest sound over the sludgier, metal-influenced components of grunge, if you were going to imagine a three-way crash between Nirvana, Mudhoney, and Tad, it's a fair guess it would sound something like Strange Wilds' debut album, Subjective Concepts. It's not unfair to say Strange Wilds are a bit derivative, but they also do right by their influences, and they unleash a cranked-up onslaught that's tight and ferocious, with a judicious use of dynamics and an effective application of the traditional cheap Fender guitar run through the right effects boxes.
There’s a Bush circling the White House, there are a lot of plaid shirts around, David Lynch is making a bizarre television drama set in a small, fictional town in Washington state and nearby a ferocious power trio are recording their first album for Seattle’s Sub Pop. It must be 2015. Grunge is not dead, it just smells funny: not to mention the recent reunions of the likes of L7 and Babes In Toyland, you don’t have to look too far at the moment to find young, would-be heirs to the (un)iron(ed) throne once occupied by Mudhoney, TAD, and Melvins, with fellow Sub Pop signings METZ, hailing from Canada, Nashville’s Bully and UK act The Wytches all lining up to stake their claims.
Strange Wilds' debut full-length is rife with the fury Sub Pop's beginnings are associated with. Their Northwest hardcore sound may be derivative, but it represents the tendencies of its origins with convincing force, as their unrefined grunge tones and twangs almost make Subjective Concepts feel like an overlooked album from back in the day. In your face attitude is delivered through painstakingly tuneless vocals and unapologetic lines like "I'm not really like that, except for that I am," from "Pareiodolia.
It’s very difficult to listen to the debut album from Strange Wilds and not think about Nirvana. As a punk rock trio based out of Olympia, Wash. signed to Sub Pop Records, the band can hardly escape the comparison, but the tendency is all the more irresistible given how closely they mirror the sound and aesthetic of Nirvana's earliest work. All of the key elements are present within the first 30 seconds of the opening track "Pronoia".
Upon hearing the battering ram of bar-chord riffs that greet the listener on the opening track of Olympia, Washington punk group Strange Wild’s debut record Subjective Concepts, those familiar with the Northwest punk scene of the 1980s and 1990s will be instantly transported to one of the dozens of dingy, all-ages night clubs that lined the I-5 corridor between Portland and Seattle a few decades ago. The track, “Pronoia”, is textbook Northwest punk, that junction where the shouty, spiky anthems of the L. A.
A renamed version of Wet (the west-coast four piece, not the Brooklyn synth-pop trio), Strange Wilds are an Olympia band in both sound and spirit. Their debut album is firmly embedded in the Pacific north-west’s grunge tradition and the wider west coast’s hardcore roots. Tracks reference the scuzzy repetition of Nirvana and Mudhoney (Pronia, Autothysis, Oneirophobe), while others veer into the unapologetic hardcore of Sub Pop labelmates Metz and Sacramento malcontents Trash Talk (Egophillia, Pareidolia, Lost and Found).
You know about the big releases each week, but what about the smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar? We’ve rounded up five of the best new album releases from this week, from the cubby post-punk of Evvol to Creeping Pink’s white noise: don’t miss out. Hyde & Beast – Hard Times Good Times EPWith The Futureheads quiet since 2012’s a capella album ‘Rant’, drummer Dave Hyde continues his ’70s revival with Hyde & Beast. The duo’s new EP follows the glam-tinged shuffle of last year’s second album ‘Keep Moving’.