Pop Landmine: The Wallies - Sugar Album Review
The Wallies have the ability to wear their influences proudly on their sleeves while still creating something that is entirely their own. Sugar is a welcome addition to the slew of great albums coming out this year.
An interesting quality of The Wallies' new EP "Sugar" is that they sound familiar, so much like something I have heard before, and yet I cant quite put my finger on what exactly they remind me of... I hear echoes of Weezer, The Arctic Monkeys, a dash of 60's surf rock, and even some interesting guitar effects a la King Crimson. The band themselves have been described as sounding like "The Beach Boys meet The Sex Pistols" but in my eyes, none of these influences accurately describe the sound that comes out of your speakers. What we have here is something new and refreshing. It isn't exactly groundbreaking or musically adventurous, but these four musicians have come together and created a sound that can't really be described by just naming off a list of similar bands. They have come a long way from their demo "Cream"
which, while well received, drew more than a few comparisons to the Arctic Monkeys. While the new record still echoes the qualities of the aforementioned UK group, they incorporate some sunnier elements not previously heard on Cream's slightly more aggressive outings. Formed in 2010 by guitarist/vocalist Neven Skoro, who moved to America from Croatia at the age of 17, The Wallies have been receiving favorable reviews for their recordings and live shows ever since. According to their Facebook page, their goal is to " bring the kind of music and shows they loved from the U.K. to the U.S."
Sugar was recorded right here in Sarasota over a period of 6 months, at Science Studios with engineer Neal Parsons
. Having recorded several of my own musical projects there, I was both excited and thoroughly impressed with Neal's production. He does an excellent job of capturing the retro tones on this album, while still giving it a slick modern sound guaranteed to keep the attention of the less discerning audiophiles among us.
The band used a Wurlitzer electric piano from the 1970's on the album, and it's tones add a pleasant backdrop to the band's already sunny vibe. Songs like "Wait For You" and "The Exit Sign", while upbeat and high energy, benefit from a laid-back quality provided by Skoro's drawn-out and relaxed vocal style. It's an interesting contrast, and definitely one that assists in making this album have such an original sound to it. The music, as stated before, can be derivative at times, but the influences always serve their ultimate purpose. They may stick out like a sore thumb in some instances (the closer "Blame It On Luck" features a guitar lead eerily similar to the one in Weezer's "Buddy Holly") but they never creep in far enough to be a blatant copy and serve to further the enigmatic quality of the album. You might hear a few choice notes or a chord progression that sound like a song you have heard a million times, but five seconds later, they just sound like The Wallies again. It is exactly this quality that, in my opinion, marks a truly great band: the ability to wear your influences proudly on your sleeves while still creating something that is entirely your own.
Sugar is a welcome addition to the slew of great albums coming out this year, and definitely an album I'd pick up if you are interested in your local music scene.
Listen to and download The Wallies "Sugar" EP below.
- Joey Cannata is an avid music lover, musician and music journalist. Currently he has two original projects called Eight Million Kami and Mindgrind. He enjoys listening to and writing about a wide range of music but his favorite genres are punk, jazz and pretty much anything with noodly guitars.
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