Release Date: Mar 17, 2015
Record label: In the Red Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Garage Punk, Neo-Psychedelia, Noise-Rock
Wand's debut album Ganglion Reef was an impressive neo-psych statement that weaved together various elements like folky guitar sounds, tricky arrangements, duel guitar wanderings, and, above all, hooky pop melodies into an entrancing whole. Their second record, 2015's Golem, cuts out anything folky, paves over some of the fragile psych weirdness, and instead piles on the heavy, heavy noise, stomping into protoplasmic Black Sabbath territory at times. Tracks like the pummeling "Self Hypnosis in 3 Days" and the heavily phased "Cave In" sound like they were lifted directly from the set of a band that might have opened for Sabbath in 1970.
There doesn’t seem to be much at stake for the modern psych band, whose members are free to wander through a structureless haze of feedback and reverb, indulging every whim with the half-assed enthusiasm of the chronically stoned. There are lots of emperors hiding behind those curtains of distortion, but not nearly enough clothes to go around. That’s why it’s a minor miracle to come across a band like Wand, one with a backbone and some actual meat to chew on.
In Jewish folklore a golem was a creature created out of clay and one can easily imagine the sludgy second offering by Los Angeles’ Wand emerging out of the ground in the same way. It’s a good time to be a fan of heavy psych and Wand plough much of the same ground that Hookworms, Wooden Shjips et al have treated us to recently: it came as no surprise when they released their 2014 debut via Ty Segall’s record God? label. On Golem the band take a tour through much of the familiar reference points: Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, The Velvet Underground etc.
The heavies of glam and garage rock past loom large over Golem, the second full-length from Los Angeles-based psych-rock quartet Wand. It’s not a nostalgia-driven record, but you can definitely catch a whiff of David Bowie, T. Rex, and eyeliner-era Brian Eno wafting through the band’s heavy riffs and stoned melodies. However, Wand’s most obvious touchstone is a little more contemporary: Ty Segall.
On the surface we may be living in a shiny digital world full of exponential growth and leading edge science. Some way to the left of the information super highway is a brick road that leads to a host of shadowy inexplicable phenomena and incalculable danger. From soul transplants to rogue robots, the rise of mysterious pandemics, legends of black-eyed kids and an unquenchable voracity for vampires, these are the unexplained mysteries of the 21st century crying out for an Arthur C.
Wand's second album comes on the heels of their first, Gangolian Reef, released in August. That debut came out on Ty Segall's God? Records, so maybe the L.A. four-piece picked up a tip or two from their ridiculously prolific label boss about how to write fast. (They've also switched labels, though.) Despite its quick conception and execution, Golem is massively substantial - and not just because of its bludgeoning riffs and cosmic synths.
Championed by Ty Segall, Wand takes melodic psych rock confections and drowns them in fuzz and electronic bleepology. Nothing too surprising on Golem, the band’s second LP – even adding glam rock hooks to “Self Hypnosis in 3 Days” has been done before. But nothing’s wrong with doing something already established well, and the quartet definitely knows what to do with the shiny anthemry of “Cave In,” the sci-fi soundtracking of “Planet Golem,” the snarling acid punk/folk rock of “Floating Head” and the widescreen balladry of “Melted Rope.” Non-converts won’t miss anything, but psych rock fans will eat this up and belch happily.