Monday, September 03, 2007

Sunshine of Your Love

The Wildbirds,
Golden Daze, PRC/
Universal Republic

I want the world to adore me
I want the world for myself.
-- Wildbirds, "It's Alright Now"

Hailing from Appleton, WI, this former power-pop quartet serves up '70s rock in the vein of the Strokes and the Kings of Leon. It isn’t bad, but you've heard it before. You've seen it before, too: long hair, tight jeans, endless cigarettes. Then again, that sort of thing never goes out of style.

And just when you think you've got 'em sussed, the Wildbirds throw some mellotron into the mix. At first, I thought they were going for the Sunset Strip glam-garage of Faster Pussycat and friends (they recorded their first full-length in Hollywood), but "It's Alright Now" comes closer to Love or the Doors. They borrow tropes from both eras while bypassing the excesses. Golden Daze isn't metal or classic rock, but it isn't punk or alt-rock either.

So, they have something to offer everybody. Or nobody. Once upon
a time, people weren't sure how to classify the New York Dolls. They weren't glam, punk, or metal—they were all three. And they may be legends now, but they had a tough time making a living in the corporate rock '70s. Everything that could go wrong, did. Right music—wrong time.

The Wildbirds are hardly that original, but they're caught up in a similar conundrum—minus the wigs and the dresses—and the music world is more fractured than ever now, in terms of radio, press, etc., so I hesitate to predict whether they'll make it or not. Could go either way. Straight to the top...or down to the bottom.

Year Long Disaster, self-titled, Volcom Entertainment

What a burden: To be the son of Dave
Davies, co-founder of one of the greatest
rock bands of all time. I'm not sure I would wish that on my worst enemy.

At least Finn Andrews' father, Barry (XTC, Shriekback), isn't as famous.
And Elvis Perkins' father, Anthony (Psycho), is better known as an actor.

Naturally, Daniel Davies (guitar, vocals) fronts this Los Angeles power trio. And though he looks much like him, the American son sounds nothing like the British dad. No, think rougher around the edges: more Bon Scott than Bono.

As indicated by the butterfly-shaped "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" design on the front cover, Year Long Disaster's self-titled debut brings back the hard rock of the bellbottom days, and I don't mean the stadium stuff the Kinks were kicking out in the 1970s and '80s (Low Budget, Give the People What They Want, et al). If anything, this record is even more proto-metallic than Golden Daze.

For better or worse, YLD aren't the Kinks Jr.—more like Cream II. And like the Wildbirds, they're all right, but both groups pale beside that mighty Australian monolith known as Wolfmother, although I can easily imagine all three playing on the same bill.

If forced to choose, I'd opt for Wolfmother, because they take everything that much further: the sky-scraping afros, Frazetta-designed album cover (Flirting With Disaster!), etc. You could call it ironic, but I don't think they see it that way. I doubt Year Long Disaster do either.

And there you have it: The next generation in hard rock. Every iteration incrementally less original than the one before. If Year Long Disaster are in it for the long haul, they don't need to change—but to refine. To figure out a way to distinguish themselves from the pack. They've got the chops, but the tunes could be more memorable. What they need is an anthem. A "Smoke on the Water" as opposed to, say, a "Waterloo Sunset." Their future depends on it. Same for the lanky-haired lads above.

Endnote: You can visit Spin to download the Wildbirds' "421." For more information about Year Long Disaster, please click here. According to the press notes, the band is managed by Sebastian Robertson, son of Robbie Robertson, who gets a shout-out in the CD thank-yous (Daniel's father, Dave, is conspicuous by his absence). You can also catch them on tour with Turbonegro at Seattle's Showbox on 10/10. Images from PRC (Pat's Record Company), the Wildbirds MySpace Page (drummer Jon Jon Fries), ViewImages (Davies photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images), and Sugarbuzz Magazine (Michael Mullins credited).


HQ said...

Daniel is the son of DAVE DAVIES, Ray's brother.

kathy fennessy said...

Thanks! This post has been corrected.