Hungry Like a Wolf Parade
This, the precursor to Wolf Parade’s anxiously awaited debut full length, is a bleeding monster of sound. It’s horrible and captivating, and almost as painful to listen to as it is thrilling. Getting people to cry-dance is by no means an easy achievement. As such, the power of this band lives in its ability to provoke contrary passions. And despite being in its infancy, Wolf Parade is capable of concocting mesmerizing discord. The promise revealed on this disc is incredible. Guttural and gouging, this is soul music.
Wolf Parade consists of a scant four songs, four songs that beg for incessant listening. It’s hard to get sick of sincerity, and Wolf Parade slobber genuine fervor all over the place. Without creeping into over earnest territory, the band crosses the gamut from joy to fury, revealing just how quick a trip that is. Things kick off with the pummeling “Shine a Light”. A menacing organ line leans against guitarist Dan Boeckner’s gruff vocals as the commanding rhythm section pilots the course. Calling in Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury to play bass doesn’t hurt things, as he adds some serious heft to the song.
The second song and the other track slated to reappear on their forthcoming album, “You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son”, features Wolf Parade’s other voxist and keyboardist, Spencer Krug. His quaking delivery spotlights the band’s more paranoid and vulnerable shadings, while maintaining an exultant tone that’ll keep fists in the air. The other two songs are available only on this release, and thus, they will decide whether this EP will hold up long term. Thankfully, “Disco Sheets” and “Lousy Pictures” beg the question how. How good must the LP be that these two didn’t make the cut?
I’m officially wringing my hands and gnashing my teeth. Four measly songs and more than two months before their debut album’s release date and I’m ready to line up at the record store. Maybe I should take a deep breath, resume my life, and just preorder it online or something. Anyways, it might take two months for me to psychologically prepare for the unbelievably epic autumn to come. Along with Wolf Parade’s Apologies to the Queen Mary, Broken Social Scene, Tangiers, Franz Ferdinand, the Deadly Snakes, and Sub Pop kin the Constantines are all set to release albums. Besides FF and Social Scene, Wolf Parade are likely to receive the most attention, thanks to the Montreal cachet and their prestigious patron. Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock reportedly brought the band to Sub Pop’s attention, and he also helped produce Apologies. (“You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son” and “Lousy Pictures” are Brock productions). Don’t hate on them for this, though, since their avant-Mouse output easily proves their worth.
Wolf Parade demonstrate a serious knack for hooky rock tunes. In spite of their coarse delivery, they’ll have you singing right along. Like Springsteen and Waits filtered through a punk rock sensibility, their rough aesthetic allows the band the freedom to write catchy songs without getting schmaltzy. Make no mistake; this is no exercise in defiance reserved for music cognoscenti. As their hypothetical influences would suggest, there is a populist foundation to Wolf Parade’s music. I would advise anybody cherishing them like their little secret to get ready to share. I’m not sure if we should expect them to storm into MTV’s and commercial radio’s restricted wards, but shit, did anybody expect Arcade Fire to do as much?
All bets are off now that Wolf Parade’s Montreal brethren have turned the esoteric independent rock world on its head. Popularity and credibility have been reunited. This is good news for bands like Wolf Parade who lack conventional appeal, and even better news for music lovers who don’t have it in them to scour alternative media sources for bands with substance. I nearly blacked out when I noticed Arcade Fire on the cover of Time Magazine (the shock was only slightly diminished when I realized it was the Canadian Edition). Some suit in first class was reading about that same band that I stumbled upon in a small Toronto bar during their opening slot for the Constantines. That show was probably the most exciting I’d witnessed in the last five years. Well, until a couple weeks ago when I was lucky enough to catch Wolf Parade in concert. In both instances, I was rapt from start to finish. The fact that the connection was so immediate despite my unfamiliarity with the material directly speaks to these bands’ accessible sound.
In the next few months it’ll be rare to read about Wolf Parade without a mention of Arcade Fire, and I hate to contribute to the pile. Still, the similarities scream too loudly to ignore. As a result, some will cast them off as leeches and others will adore them prematurely, but at the end of the day Wolf Parade’s music will speak for itself. And there’s bound to be a large procession howling right behind them.
// Notes from the Road
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