Album Reviews

Wolf People – Tidings

(Jagjaguwar) UK release date: 22 February 2010

The psychedelic era of the late ’60s and early ’70s saw a remarkable degree of musical innovation as the baby boomer generation turned on, tuned in and dropped out. Since then it’s become a perennial journalistic clich´┐Ż to herald “the next summer of love” but there’s certainly more than a whiff of the era to 2010. Already we’ve had Emit Bloch‘s hippy musings, the return of Jimi Hendrix (well, sort of) and Voice Of The Seven Thunders‘ brilliant psych-rock. Love may not exactly be in the air, but you can certainly smell the joss sticks.

British rock band Wolf People are a worthy addition to the mix, and certainly part of an emerging genre that should be labelled “Time Machine Rock” (in which the recordings could easily have been made decades earlier). Tidings is infused with classic rock, distortion, twanging chords and spaced out wah-wahs with enough authentic hiss and crackle to fool you into thinking you’ve gone back to another era.

It should be stressed that this is not strictly speaking a debut album, but a collection of tracks pulled together from recordings made by founder Jack Sharp during 2005-2007. The band have since evolved into a fully-fledged quartet and they even hold the accolade of being the first British band to join the Jagjaguwar stable. This surely shows a huge degree of promise and, while we await their proper debut, this album-length odds-and-sods collection is a worthy calling card for Sharp et al.

Tidings is a collection of songs together with brief sonic sketches. Some bands wear their influences on their sleeve, but Wolf People seem to be all sleeve; the disc contains a kaleidoscopic quantity of them. It’s as though someone regurgitated the likes of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, The Incredible String Band and the Nuggets compilations (to name only a few). It’s wholly derivative, but that’s the point, and even if you don’t enjoy this album in its own right then you’ll certainly find yourself rediscovering a few of its myriad progenitors again.

October Fires is a highlight, with a great riff sounding like Grateful Dead circa Axomoxoa, and ultimately adding a British blues spin to the San Fransiscian vibes. There a wonderful untitled jam and lots of snappy psychedelic blues cuts. Also scattered throughout are interludes containing breaks that the likes of DJ Shadow would have to spend months of crate digging to find as well as the odd interjection of disembodied voices that echo Dark Side Of The Moon.

Tidings is an authentic re-creation of musical influences and is unpredictable and perfectly acceptable in its own right. On the strength of this they must certainly be a good live ticket, but without having a proper debut it’s difficult to gauge what Wolf People themselves actually sound like, or how they fit into the current music scene. It’s the slavish devotion to evoking a certain sound that is the disc’s main weakness. This promising but ramshackle collection demos an awful lot, but the jury’s out until we receive more of a greetings card from them.

MP3: Wolf People – October Fires

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Wolf People – Tidings