“What Wall-Eyed does well with this record is to show that they have a large bag of tricks at their disposal, extensive knowledge and understanding of a number of genres and a facility for pulling those influences together into a cohesive blend of lyrics and sound.”
EP: Grace Under Fire
Genre: Gutter Folk / Garage Rock
RIYL: Modest Mouse, Deer Tick, Samiam
I admit it. I was stumped when I first started listening to Grace Under Fire, a recent EP release from Arizona band Wall-Eyed. But let me clarify; it’s a good state of bewilderment I found myself in. This quartet of players manages to make the most standard of instruments - guitar, bass, mandolin, keyboards and drums - sound like they’ve drunkenly stumbled out of some alternate universe. But it’s a happy drunk, not the falling-down belligerent kind.
The most obvious comparisons for Wall-Eyed are to bands like Modest Mouse and Deer Tick, those who defy immediate classification and bridge the gap between playful rhythms, clever lyricism and a very specific type of vocal. Singer Wilson Getchell possesses this special quality; there’s an immediate and charming charisma embedded in his vocal work, and it’s not something that’s developed or affected. That ability to blend into the rhythm and bust back out again is highly effective and pulls this EP well above average from the start.
“Saw You in Hell” opens up with a wallop, diving straight into punk-tinged, frenetic performance that announces their presence. By comparison, “Pint of Blood” is an accessible and mesmerizing track that’s filled with character. This one had me from the first note, a warm and odd charmer that’s sure to appeal to fans. “Clap Three Times” introduces a sort of western, high-plains-drifter type of sound - it’s punk rock in the desert and thoroughly enjoyable. “Insults and Polemics” closes the record as both the longest and most ambitious track, allowing all the players to explore what feels like several genres in various movements; at times it moves with reckless abandon, and others quiets and slows downs with a deliberation that’s impressively calculated. It truly is a lyrically dense bit of songwriting and arrangement that characterizes the ups and downs of addiction.
What Wall-Eyed does well with this record is to show that they have a large bag of tricks at their disposal, extensive knowledge and understanding of a number of genres and a facility for pulling those influences together into a cohesive blend of lyrics and sound. Grace Under Fire, in some respects, feels like a project that finds all of its players in exploration mode; perhaps feeling each other out and pushing each other musically. At times it’s uneven, but that’s not a negative thing. Rather, it shows the type of creativity and risk-taking that Wall-Eyed is capable of and that’s an exciting prospect for their future musical endeavors.
Wall-Eyed website: http://www.wall-eyed.net/