Release Date: Oct 12, 2010
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Psychedelic/Garage, British Psychedelia
Somewhere between the doe-eyed optimism of pop music and the smoldering haze of blues rock lies a tolerant medium at which twitchy guitar melodies reside. It's an ambitious yet somewhat anxious zone where acoustic meets electric and folk music crescendoes to the volcanic peak of sullen grunge. There's the occasional harmonica solo, the indulgent jam session and the Hendrix-esque feedback that carries a tune from innocent textural riffs to medicinal compositions that flirt with the supernatural.
With an ominous bell and a low guitar bellow, “Silbury Sands” leads off Wolf People’s first proper LP, Steeple. The song centers around the same melody as “Season Pt. 1,” the first track from the UK quartet’s singles compilation Tidings, released this past February, and it’s changed since we last heard it. For one thing, frontman Jack Sharp’s mellow tenor has been applied to the onetime song sketch, however sparsely.
I didn’t know what to expect from Wolf People when I sat down in my throne, decorated with bread crumbs and various stains, all telling a conclusive slobbery tale. I knew nothing about this band, other than I liked their name, reminding me of a time when I sat transfixed in front of a television screen, staring befuddled at Michael J Fox playing basket ball as a teen wolf. Fortunately, this record is devoid of any relevance to such a film.
The first British band to be signed to fierce-as-its-name US label [b]Jagjaguwar[/b], [b]Wolf People[/b] hail firmly from the stable’s traditional territory of righteously bearded, groove-heavy psych-rock. ‘[b]Silbury Sands[/b]’ embroiders a [a]Pentangle[/a]-ish folk flourish over [a]Black Mountain[/a]-ish muscle, while ‘[b]Tiny Circle[/b]’ is [a]Led Zeppelin[/a] leading the children round the Wicker Man maypole. ‘[b]Cromlech[/b]’ calls darker dance, moss-encrusted [b]Sabbath[/b]-y riffs distorted and warped to the point of witchy grunginess.
Wolf People is a band that walks a fine line between revivalism and timelessness. For one, you could pop Steeple in and, if you didn’t know any better, you might think it a lost psych-rock gem from 1973. On the other hand, their fuzzy, blistering guitar attacks don’t exactly put them at odds with current rock music. So as the riffs come heavy, and the vocals float around, awash in hazy reverb, the question of whether Wolf People are borrowing from their rock forefathers to tread their own ground or just following in their footsteps hangs in the air.
English folk-rockers’ debut could be a towering highlight of 2010. Noel Gardner 2010 Over the last few decades, there have consistently been doomsayers proclaiming that the guitar is on its way out as a centrally important instrument of popular music. Wrong as they’ve invariably been, what has become more prevalent is a shift in some quarters away from having the guitar define one’s sound.