Review: wild/kind, “West Ends”

wild/kind - West Ends

Vancouver’s wild/kind have created a flurry of flush, pop-rock tunes.

Released at the end of January, but just now reaching the airwaves of my local university station, I’ve discovered the new release and, first full-length album of Vancouver’s wild/kind. The quartet’s sound is straight out of the great 90’s indie explosion.  Reminds me of everything from east coasters like Plumbtree, Sloan and The Super Friendz, to popsters south of the border like The Vaselines in the 80’s and the Spinto Band from the 00’s.

Lead singer Johnny LaRusic’s vocals are constantly changing inflection and tones, adorned with interesting changes and peaks into falsettos. His literate songs are brimming with clever quips about what it’s like living in his world as a musician making a life for himself in a home away from home. The rest of the band, comprised of Natalie Glubb, Lindsay Partin, and Justin Penney are tight. Really tight. Melodies stop and start on a dime. Songs are intricate and delicately rendered for full sonic pleasure. Producer Jay Arner has done a masterful job mixing and utilizing shakers, rattlers and other percussions subtly and tastefully for embellishment.

“Best Friend’s Dad” begins the listener’s journey into the wild/kind world on the right step.  The instruments smash in unison as we’re told the story of another small club closing its doors “my wealth’s in land and not some queer punk rock show or proper maintenance.” It’s a story heard far too often for us remaining fans of live independent music.  Small venues have been closing their doors at an alarming rate making it increasingly difficult for listeners to find great bands like this.

The record makes me nostalgic for when a band could record some songs at home or a friends studio, release a 7” record, tour through a bunch of mid-size towns like mine and get enough of a following to get their songs played on the radio and maybe a video on MuchMusic.  Forgotten bands like The Inbreds and Local Rabbits or our London, Ontario, local heroes The New Grand and Salmonblaster were everywhere.  It seemed like every month there was a new band to love coming to town.  Don’t get me wrong, there are just as many, if not more great bands playing today but, with fewer outlets and springboards to the public, they’re not likely to be heard by more than a few of their friends. Sorry for the digression. I’m simultaneously saddened by this thought and yet excited to have found wild/kind and this new record.  A pop-rock needle in the all too often mediocre haystack of indie rock.  Along with the opening track, be sure to check out:

“Belle v. Sebastian” – a lovelorn duet with the snappy tempo.  A song that entices you to clap along, as the singer’s heart is breaking.  Then, do yourself a favour, buy the album and listen to the whole thing. Then repeat.  Then share it with your friends.

The album is available for streaming and PAY WHAT YOU CAN downloading on Bandcamp.

Visit Wild/Kind’s website.

 

Steve Murphy

A bit of a Renaissance man, Steve Murphy is a singer-songwriter, author, and journalist based out of London, Ontario. An avid vinyl collector and audiophile, his personal collection of albums is wide ranging and in the thousands, including four released from his band Westminster Park.

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