Release Date: Aug 26, 2014
Record label: God?
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Garage Punk, Neo-Psychedelia
The insert that comes with Ganglion Reef, the debut album by Los Angeles’ Wand, is printed with the kind of map that might appear in the front of a fantasy novel, full of fanciful coastlines and tidal whorls. It seemingly depicts Ganglion Reef itself—an imaginary island that the members of Wand might just frequent from time to time, perhaps transported there by the same psychotropic substances that fuel their music. Travel, after all, is what Ganglion Reef is all about: the passageways between one place or state of mind to another.
There’s a lot to be said for a band’s name, but there’s also a lot we should learn to ignore. Thankfully, Los Angeles garage rock/neo-psych act Wand ditch the implement of their namesake, grasp the mysticism of magic, and instead wave their guitars about in an effort to find their place in today’s comically large umbrella of modern psychedelia. Opening with a trippy drone croak is Wand’s way of saying that there’s no real footing on Ganglion Reef, their debut album.
After a handful of singles, Los Angeles power psych band Wand arrived with Ganglion Reef, their debut full-length and a nonstop parade of acid-dipped, pop-minded forays into both heaviness and wavy folk detours. The band was handpicked by garage godfather Ty Segall for release on his God? record label, and the two have toured together as well as worked in other capacities, so the similarities between Segall's tuneful mind-expanding garage and Wand's are understandable. Both approach songwriting with a fearless love of exploring guitar tones and unexpected dynamics, but where Segall builds up walls of guitars with layer after layer of fuzz to achieve his mind-bending sounds, Wand relies more on time-honored techniques of trippy '60s production.
Los Angeles-based four-piece Wand contribute to the revitalized psych rock genre with their debut album out on Ty Segall's Drag City imprint. It's got the light touch of Tame Impala (or the Zombies) without the pronounced studio inventiveness, the hooks of Temples without the overt 60s retro-ness, and some fat guitar tones that counterbalance Cory Hanson's airy vocals with sweet heaviness. (Hanson has spent time in Pangea, Meatbodies, WHITE and Mikal Cronin's band.
Wand are a perfect alchemy of two significant recent styles within, for grave want of a better term, the broad cathedral that is modern psychedelia. The Los Angeles four-piece have a true sense of something shuddersome and darkly penetrating oozing through their absorbing debut, at its best recalling the menace through repetitive minimalism of Wooden Shjips. The fiery first moments of opener 'Send Receive (Mind)' set a marker for the fact Wand have a proclivity for distorted riffs and noise.