The Rapidian

Local Music Review: The Wallace Collective EP

Local music review of The Wallace Collective release of their self-titled EP.

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The Wallace Collective EP

The Wallace Collective EP /courtesy of the Wallace Collective

The Wallace Collective released their self-titled EP in May 2013.

The aptly named opening track “Old Tired Bastard” unleashes a cantankerous, banjo-driven ramble of a tune. Like a rusted out Chevy pickup barreling down a mountain road in a thunderstorm, the intense, and somewhat moody, minor key feel to the track testifies to the band’s appreciation of the appalachian roots music tradition as the song’s dark narrative is laid out. The splashy cymbals and overall tight percussive feel of the band on “Old Tired Bastard” is deeply complex and introspective, yet clearly reveling in a certain sense of reckless abandon.

The transition to “Hesitating Hands” brings the band into more delicate territory, with its bright, jangling acoustic guitars, and the vocals of Olivia Johnson. The production work in the studio, the tone of her voice, and the instrumentation is reminiscent of The Cranberries in many ways. The song also serves as a nice contrast from the opening track, and shows some promise of diversity from The Wallace Collective’s little musical bag of tricks.

The track “Like I Do” embodies a very respectable “vintage” vibe with its remarkable blend of late 50’s/early 60’s guitar work worthy of comparison to the studio musicians from Motown, Stacks Records, or Mussel Shoals Sound Studios. The duet vocals carry a very strong 1950‘s era sensibility, drenched in that intangible, iconic sound found only in early doo-wop or rock-n-roll (from when that term was dangerous!). The woody baritone of the male vocals (Kevin Fein) intermingle seamlessly with the buoyancy of the female counterpoint. Because the track is earnest in its approach, free from any trace of irony or faux-nostalgia, its honesty and pure beauty shine through brilliantly. If this song doesn’t make you believe in love again, then maybe you’d better check your pulse....

As Brandon Muske takes the lead vocals on “Long Winter”, the band again abruptly changes direction, delivering a perfectly somber and moody track rich in melancholy. His smoky, half-whisper vocals  establish a more vulnerable mood as the tremelo-saturated organ wells up from below like silty flood waters. The song feels like warm comfort on a cold and grey overcast day.

And just as “Water Veins” brings back the organic, acoustic feel to the album, with its intricate violin and banjo work backing Johnson’s beautifully executed, airy vocals, The Wallace Collective finishes off with the one thing that this EP was needing; A serious rocker with the amps turned all the way up to eleven!

If You Really Knew Me” satisfies that itch for a full-tilt, all out jam, allowing the band to flex a little muscle. With it’s quasi-psychedelic, almost-arena-rock roar (think of “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young) the band proves that they have a dangerous side (they ain’t no sensitive, sissy-fied indie hipsters!) before they bring the whole thing crashing down in a marvelous cascade of decaying delay and feedback.

The Wallace Collective EP has a little bit of everything, yet manages to maintain a sense of cohesiveness, while wisely leaving the listener satisfied, but still wanting just a little bit more.

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