Kaebl, musician, admin of the Wave Cave and editor of the Wave TV blog, sat down and recorded his thoughts on fellow Wave Cave admin, Taylor Christian Russel’s latest release: WAVEPUNK.
If you’re like me, you’re probably getting bored of all the generic copycats out there in the scene. Or if the style in general: it’s stagnating because somewhere along the line the status quo took over. It isn’t about the art anymore so much as it is about the aesthetic or false nostalgia. If you’re like me, you grew up listening to rock and roll, and music featuring live instruments. Grunge, post grunge, hard rock, stoner rock, metal; music with a live feeling and music with emotion. Seems like that hard, loud angry and angsty feeling I grew up listening to is lost in modern music, especially in this specific scene. For a while I was okay with that… but that part of my mind never died, it just feel asleep. Now it’s awake screaming at me: “Where’s the emotion? Where’s the performance? I want to feel something when I listen to music again!”. And that part of me is right… I want to hear what the artist’s soul has to say; not just trying to emulate other artists or finding a sound. I want to hear a reflection of the artist. I want my music to be real again.
And that’s what WAVEPUNK has done.
I listened to it over the course of a weekend and wrote my thoughts down in real time for each track, and I gotta say overall, this album is amazing, unique and refreshing – it’s like a beautiful, busted-up and bandaged neon, punk-rock diamond among the rocks. Everything ties together and if you listen closely enough, you can hear a story being told. This an album that you need to hear all the way through, there’s no dull moments. The album art by the way ties into this emerging style perfectly by the way: a great combination of early punk rock and 80s aesthetics – WAVEPUNK! So without any further dicking around, here’s the rest of my review…
Starts off with a hypnotic feel, and pulls you in gradually, then the drums come in and you’re transported, through a portal perhaps. The space of the song is large and full of awe. It’s breathing in you in and makes you feel like you’re weightless, observing some fantastic cosmic wonder in slow motion.
You Get Me High
Where Terraform took you, is the alleyway to a sleazy bar. The guitar is so dirty and and the synths flutter as you enter the bar. Oceanside85‘s vocals fit this track perfectly, it’s got a very live feeling that I think is rare in this scene. This isn’t just a song for a drive at night, this is a song for kicking ass. “When I get low, you get me high” is such a catchy lyric, and I’m sure that it applies to a lot of people.
In Too Deep
The next track, In Too Deep, starts off super ominous, with a beat that once again pulls you in, but this time there’s a bit of hesitant anticipation, like you’re not sure what you’ll find behind the door. You open it and it’s a kind of fucked up scenario, but you’re on a mission, so you carry on. This IS Stonersynth. It’s down-tempo, dark, driving, hypnotic and sleazy. TCR fucking slays the guitar, and not in a show-offy way that many other guitarists are won’t to do. He uses it artistically; it fits the mood perfectly for what could be a grimy, action, detective movie. TCR should be scoring films
The album takes a turn and brings you too a saloon in the west. The west but populated by neon cowboys. Synth-western. A style never yet heard before… The chorus invokes a bit of Stevie Nicks. The crescendo and following fade out leaves you with a haunted feeling. Like your trip to the past has ended.
Right away this song lets you know that the dark is coming. This feels like a return to dark-wave and outrun. The feeling of dread in this track is palpable. But, lo! Help has arrived; You’re not alone in this fight. You’re given the strength to fight till the end. The solo in this song is face-melting.
Darth Spader II
Seems we’ve come to some happier shores; this song evokes immense feelings of nostalgia – it’s very emotive and when the lead guitar comes in, it pierces into your soul and gives you the urge to dance. A lot of nuwave influence here that is pretty pleasing artistically, it provides a moment of calm– a sort of eye of the storm in this album.
This track is heavily reminiscent of the Tron Legacy soundtrack to me. In the album I’d say it works as a kind of interlude or a change of scenery; a dark follow up to Darth Spader II. The bell tones have a really great melodic effect that evokes a bittersweet feeling; representing a Pyrrhic victory of sorts.
Wanna know what it sounds like in a nightclub populated by vampires, zombies and skeletons? Well this track will take you there friend.
What We Do is Shadows (feat Stillz)
This collaboration with Stillz goes back to the Synthwestern feel the Desert Rose first introduced. With a gradual and epic buildup it seems like a tumbleweeds are moving past in slow motion as the protagonist and the villian get ready for a shoot out at high noon. All while maintaining a retro and electronic feel. Masterfully executed. Did I mention TCR should be scoring movies yet? My favorite has to be the “whistle” sine waves near the end with the pitch bending. There’s something I really love about that; I remember the first time I heard anything like that was from the Metroid Prime II soundtrack– when you’re in the water area.
Wicked Waltz (Interulude)
This track is the perfect outro to the last song; punctuating the aftermath of a gun battle perfectly.
We Are Electric
Starts of really strong with guitar chords– rare in synth music. Then the bass comes in and lets you know you’re in for a ride. It’s atmospheric and tense, then hits the gas pedal for a drive through the night on a dusty gravel road. Harvest moon piercing the clouds in crimson red light. As red as the cherry on your cigarette; which as the guitar comes in you toss out the window and put the pedal to the metal. You’re king of the fucking road. This track can imbue you with power if you let it.
After the Burn
This song is the last track on the album, and functions as an outro to the powerful ballad that was We Are Electric. This song is a remake of an older song of TCR’s by the same name; I recognize it from the Fratelli85 show on Happy Tentacle Radio. The melody and sonic structure in this track summon immense feelings of nostalgia, and of optimism. Which makes it a perfect track to end a superb album on: I’m definitely looking forward to more TCR’s creative and unique releases.
You can listen to WAVEPUNK for free on Soundcloud (embedded below) , but I HIGHLY recommend you visit Raindragon’s Bandcamp and buy it!
I would like to also mention that TCR’s EP Snake & Dragon is a wonderful sister album to this. Thanks for reading, now go out and buy TCR’s music!