Wednesday, February 23, 2011

And The Wiremen - S/T

Finally, I’ve reached the end of another long work week.  What a doozy this one was too!  One thing after another queued up to slap me in the face.  No seriously!  A woman hauled off and slapped me right in the face when I could not sell her the item she wanted.  As if it’s my fault other people wanted the same thing she did, causing me to be sold out?  Come on!  At least I could take pleasure in watching security escort her out of the building.  But that slap hurt!  She did not hold back.  All in all, it was high time to go drown my troubles in multiple glasses of liquid courage.

After calling up a few friends a bold plan was put together.  One of my friends had heard of an amazing new bar with a completely unique gimmick.  He would not tell me what the gimmick was exactly, but he did assure me that I would be impressed.  Due to my sour mood I also required assurances that the atmosphere of this establishment was not manic and high energy, with flashing strobe lights and booming house music.  That was not something I could handle on this night.  My friend lent me significant piece of mind by informing me that our destination was simply a bar, not a nightclub, and thus did not possess any of the nightclub trappings I was worried about.  To make a long story short, we met up at my place and set off.

We arrived at ‘The Wireframe Bar’ around 9:30 PM.  From the outside, it looked entirely normal.  Plain brick exterior, standard booths and tables, and lights lowered.  When I asked my friend who recommended this place what was so special about it, he smiled and walked to the entrance.  Upon entering the bar we were each handed a pair of black horn-rimmed glasses with think lenses by the waitress/door-greeter.  Well…that was different.  My friend told me to put the glasses on.  Not wanting to argue I followed orders, and that was when the evening really began.

I’m sure you have heard of someone seeing the world in a different way.  That saying always seemed a bit farfetched to me, until now.  Don’t ask me how it works, or how it is even possible, but when you put on these glasses the world you see changes.  Everyone and everything became flat, highly detailed, two dimensional wire outlines.  The world itself was still three dimensional, but all of the objects and people in it appeared not to have any mass.  Let me tell you, it was trippy!  After allowing myself a moment to adjust to my newly perceived surroundings, I approached the bar and the exceptional stick figure standing behind its flat surface.

Similar to all good barkeeps, this one could tell that I was troubled.  He told me to take a load off and asked me what I would like to drink.  I made my selection and asked him if he knew of a good remedy for tension and stress.  His response was that outside of what I was being served, there was no better cure than to listen to the bar’s house band.  Fittingly, their name was And The Wiremen and they were going to begin their evening performance in just a couple of minutes.  Superb I thought!  I tipped back my glass and swiveled my stool to face the stage that was set up in the back corner of the room.  As promised within five minutes a group of fifteen figures, all of whom were carrying some kind of instrument, emerged from a back room and gathered around the stage.  Whistles and appreciative shouts accompanied their appearance.  Wasting no time, several of the figures climbed onstage and commenced playing.  The show had begun.

One thing is for certain.  And The Wiremen know how to ease a listener’s worried mind.  The music is not overly happy or sad.  It’s just flat out cool.  Cool as ice.  No…scratch that.  It’s cool as the darkest reaches of space.  Yeah, that’s the appropriate level of cool for who we’re talking about here.  And The Wiremen play songs heavily indebted to vocal jazz / lounge music.  When I say lounge I don’t mean to imply that the singer stops every few measures to thank the audience, or that the music is at all corny.  No, I mean that this music would be right at home inside of any establishment boasting a relaxed vibe, where carefree audience members could sit back and take in all of the musical nuances at their leisure.  You know…a cool place to be on any given night.

When I said that this group was jazzy, I wasn’t kidding.  Jazzy elements seep through every pore of their being.  One of the more obvious examples is the singing style of vocalist Lynn Wright.  He clearly treats his voice as an instrument that at times anchors the melody line, and at other opportune moments adds interesting flourishes that enrich the song.  Whenever he is singing however, his voice takes center stage and every other instrument fades into the background.  Mr. Wright is also responsible for the guitar playing on the album.  Minimalist is the label that comes to mind most often.  There are no wasted efforts and each strum is deliberate.  Further reinforcing the jazz elements are wonderful cornet / trumpet accompaniments from Paul Watson in eight of the eleven songs on offer.  His playing adds enormous amounts of color and feeling, painting beautiful lines for the listener to follow along with.

As for the songs themselves, there really is quite a bit of variety on offer.  On the one hand you have your up-tempo numbers such as the ear-grabbing album opener “The Names”, the joyous and celebratory ensemble piece “Rayuela”, and the gallivanting closer “Lines”.  Complementing those are slower numbers such as the beautiful / lilting “Sleep”, the appropriately titled and plodding (in a good way) “Pick Myself Up Slowly”, and my favorite song on the album “Before He Gave Up The Ghost”.  The composition of this song features majestic, elongated trumpet solos over tastefully sparse guitar work, with a few vocal spotlights for good measure.  Honestly, it sounds to me like a lost Miles Davis track from the Sketches of Spain album.  Utterly captivating!  To top it all off there is the musical curveball called “Pineland”, a fantastic interlude accomplished solely with bass clarinets.  On most other albums this would produce questions in a listener, but here it fits in perfectly and is absorbed as par for the course.

I left ‘The Wireframe Bar’ that evening feeling totally relaxed and refreshed.  All of my stressors had been forgotten.  The music had effortlessly washed away all of the negative energy surrounding me, leaving me at peace with the world.  It seems funny to say, but the whole two dimensional gimmick really helped put things in perspective.  And the Wiremen know what they are about waveriders.  They’re here to help you.  Give their album a listen, and you’ll see what I mean.

-- Penfold

Buy here: And The Wiremen

1 comment:

Louis said...

The college radio station I dj at got this cd a couple months back and you're right, it's as cool as the other side of the pillow. Haven't stopped listening since! Nice review man.

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