Music

Albi & the Wolves Bring Their Bluegrass to New Heights on 'This Is War' (album stream) (premiere)

Photo: Ivan Karcezewski

New Zealand bluegrass band Albi & the Wolves renovate their sound with their electrifying new album, This Is War.

Bluegrass has come a long way from Appalachia. Its expansion is due to both the onslaught of newgrass innovators like Punch Brothers and Railroad Earth and the worldwide interest in bluegrass. New Zealand has become a hotbed for the genre in recent years, spawning festivals such as Kiwigrass beside a growing span of artists playing in the traditional and progressive bluegrass styles. Auckland's Albi & the Wolves play both.

An energetic trio comprised of Chris Dent, Micheal Young, and Pascal Roggen, Albi & the Wolves produce a full-bodied string band sound between only their voices and their instruments—an acoustic guitar, electric violin, and double bass, respectively. Their third studio album, This is War might be their most ambitious to date. The product of three years spent meeting people and sharing stories while on the road, the additional time spent working on their new LP has paid off. Working in conjunction with Seabright to capture the energy of their live performances in the studio, This Is War comes across with a satisfying, sometimes electrifying resonance.

Featuring work from renowned banjoist Nat Torkington and percussionist Helene Piper, their assistance in rounding out the band's expanding sound brings a robust flavor to several tracks. The album's titular opener comes roaring in with weighty instrumentation, Piper's percussion bringing a rock-tinged ardor to the breakneck arrangement. Elsewhere, Torkington's finger-picking across Albi & the Wolves' version of "Wayfaring Stranger" brings an additional layer of swing and swagger.

The trio excel at producing gorgeous three-part harmonies. It's especially notable on tracks that begin with more traditional arrangements, like "It Ain't Easy" and "Waiting for a Train". Country-folk duo Looking For Alaska appears on "I'd Go Anywhere", a delicately-crafted love song with a lingering sweetness. Rounding things out for the album are moments of newgrass experimentation. "Oh Father" begins unsuspectingly traditional enough before diving into territory redolent of a slow neo-soul jam with sauntering, jazzy groove. "Closing Time", too, ambles into bossa nova, and album closer "Canyon" sets the focus on a crowd-pleasing folk-rock arrangement where the trio impresses with their knack for sailing smoothly through a progressive, up-tempo performance.

Albi & the Wolves' This Is War is out today, 26 July, via Second Hand.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".

Music

The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?

Music

Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.

Music

Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Music

Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.

Music

Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.

Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.