Friday, March 8, 2013

REVIEW: Woolen Men - Woolen Men

We in the Pacific Northwest have been a bit selfish.  We have the Woolen Men, and the rest of you don't.  And this Portland band's output, while by no means meager,  has been limited to singles, EPs and cassettes, making a national audience less likely.  However, they now have a real LP out on Woodsist (on vinyl and in digital), and the secret is out.  The rest of you can now enjoy the charms of Woolen Men.  The songs on the self-titled release range from garage/punk to angular post-punk to jangly lo-fi, with the band shout-singing in chorus and a gloriously heavy dose of bass.  Fans will be reminded of Mission of Burma, perhaps early R.E.M., and New Zealand acts like The Clean and Toy Love.  And Pacific Northwest fans probably have already enthusiastically embraced the resemblance to a previous Portland band, The Wipers.

The album begins in garage rock mode with "Mayonnaise".  The song is not really about mayonnaise, but rather a vision of bland suburban hell.  So I guess the title fits.  The second track, "Hold It Up" has a snaky groove and swampy atmosphere, while "Submission" has a prog rock feel to it.  Having displayed impressive range, the trio buckles down and delivers seven more tracks of energetic rock that instills in me an overwhelming desire to drive to wherever these guys are playing.  And in that seven tracks are my favorite, "Head on the Ground" and "Magic Tricks".  In my view Woolen Men is one of those sneaky albums.  If you ignore it now, you'll be reminded at the end of the year when knowing music fans list it as one of the overlooked gems of 2013.  So I guess you could wait, but then you'd miss eight months of listening.

Woolen Men are Raf Spielman, Lawton Browning, and Alex Geddes.  They will be on tour this spring to support the album.  Here is a list of dates and venues:

03/21  Eugene, OR – The Wandering Goat
03/22  Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
03/25  San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
03/26  Santa Ana, CA – Unit B
03/27  San Jose, CA – The Usuals
03/28  San Francisco, CA – The Knockout
05/19  Brooklyn, NY – Shea Stadium
05/20  New Brunswick, NJ – Cooler Ranch
05/21  Boston, MA – O’Brien’s
05/23  Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class
05/24  Chicago, IL – The Burlington
05/25  Bloomington IN – The Realm
05/28  Little Rock, AK – The White Water Tavern
05/29  Austin, TX – Beerland
06/01  Athens, GA – Farm 255
06/02  Charlotte, NC – Yauhaus
06/05  Baltimore, MD – Golden West
06/06  New York, NY – Cake Shop
06/07  Brooklyn, NY – Silent Barn

Bandcamp (prior releases)

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