Wilderness are better than they sing. - Oh My Rockness

Rockness Recommends

Wilderness are better than they sing.

November 16, 2005
It took me a little while to get into Wilderness' self-titled debut album. Perhaps my lack of instant enthusiasm had to do with James Johnson's voice. I mean, it's not really that awesome. He swoops and slides, he sometimes sounds "spooky," and often, he sounds like he's yawning. But the more I listened to this band, the more I got used to, and probably even started to like, the whole unique vocalization thing he's got going on. Regardless, I can look past most anything, even something as prominent as the singing, when guitar lines like these stream through my stereo.

Wilderness' power lies purely within their guitarists. Seemingly every review of this band has an Explosions in the Sky reference, and since we don't want to feel left out of that cool club, we'll also throw in this reference to most accurately describe their sound. Wilderness draws inspirational atmospherics from shimmering guitars, often strummed extremely fast. And I'll be damned if they can't coax the prettiest melodies out of them. It's an interesting paradox to have such pretty music played over such decidedly non-pretty vocals, but I guess that's Baltimore for you. After all, aren't all the movies of native son John Waters always about finding the beauty in the unattractive?

Supposedly, Wilderness writes strong social and political declarations in their songs. But for the life of me, the only lyrics I can decipher on the entire album are, "Oh computer, computer," and I've listened to this album A LOT. Most lyrics sound like, "Wone Laa Dooh! EE Ba Num whoo! Um Subeeee!" But whatever words Johnson is in fact singing, the band's powerful message still comes across, because melodies like these have just got to be speaking the truth.

If you tried to listen to this band before and weren't into it, I suggest trying again. They definitely grow on you. And if you still don't like it, well, eBay that shit.

Wilderness play Empty Bottle, Saturday, November 19th (more info).


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