[11 December 2006]
Though based in Los Angeles, WonderGround takes its name from the experiences of its various bands members as they’ve traveled the globe, absorbing different locales and regional flavors. But rather than reflecting exotic collections of sounds or world beats, Become Water—the band’s debut EP—is five songs with a lo-fi pop fuzz to them, reflecting an almost slacker feeling that invokes Douglas Coupland or Jim Jarmusch rather than David Byrne. The contemplative traveler mentality is indicated in drifting melodies and humming organs, underlying a sort of drawling suffle in the vocals of Paul Schoemel. The band’s connections to Earlimart (this EP is produced by Aaron Espinoza) are reflected in sympathetic textures, and a song like “Marionettes” manages to insinuate its way into your brain on off-key vocal hooks and a simple, serpentine melody, while “The Bells” gives off an almost K Records vibe. Overall, WonderGround is not individualistically distinctive enough to claim this style as its own, but on closer listen, the band manages to produce songs that are both gritty and lightweight in the same breath, and tracks like the soft-pysch of “Tongues and Codes” linger in the brain far longer than you’d imagine they would. For fans of the subdued, WonderGround is worth paying attention to as the band grows.