Wolf Whistling

28 Feb

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Best band going in England right now? WOLF PEOPLE, that’s who.

To really appreciate these guys you may have to rethink your relationship to so-called retro rock. Not unlike ELOPE and WITCHCRAFT from Sweden, London’s WOLF PEOPLE reinvent 60’s & 70’s sounds in ways that’ll get you believing it never faded away in the first place. The use of musical history here ain’t nothing like SHA NA NA’s silly 70’s/50’s shenanigans nor THE B-52’s camp 80’s/60’s fashion nor even OZRIC TENTACLES’ clueless 90’s/70’s cosmic pilfering. No, these are future-forward musicians who just happen to be coming of age at a time when lost older musics are a viable and indeed modern foundation for inspiring sonic newbuild.

I can’t take credit for discovering these guys. Mr. Nigel Cross, he of the amazing Shagrat Records label, hipped me to these guys a while back – thanks Nigel. As WOLF PEOPLE have been in holed up in Wales for the past few months recording their first full-length, I only recently got to see em do it live at cozy What’s Cookin’ in godforsaken Leytonstone. I swear I still ain’t the same since.

WOLF PEOPLE are a 5-piece who explicitly harken back to that oft-overlooked pinnacle of British music, when English whiteboy electric bluesrock was breaking out of trad American imitation in dozens of completely unexpected, uniquely inspired directions. Like bands of that original psychedelic era, WOLF PEOPLE riffs are rugged and bluebased but fold in jazzy/eastern influences seamlessly. Songs belie well thought out prog ambition, while band interplay demonstrates a deep love of complex rhythmic exploration. Full-on hardpsych freakouts are juxatposed with beautifully restrained vocals, and wildass improvs are tempered by a tense, measured decorum. A particularly English worldview shapes their thing, and it’s goddamn glorious to behold.

Yes the flute will remind you lunkheads of JETHRO TULL, while the bluesy riffs will have the more astute among you thinking Peter Green-era FLEETWOOD MAC or perhaps MIGHTY BABY. But what’s really going on here is 5 dudes at the absolute top of their respective games, inspiring/challenging each other to go one step beyond. The passion & fire stoking their train avoids any pat historical comparisons, and their singer – oh man! He is one haunted, soulful shouter fr sure.

Here it’s 2009, and you still got Brits capable of expressing themselves in ways that they, alone, will forever own. Seeing this enacted live was a true goose-bump raising experience. I can’t wait for the new CD.

WOLF PEOPLE – “Caratacas (Live)” (B-Music Migrating! Caustic! – Mutatable! Tour 7″, Battered Ornaments, 2008)

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5 Responses to “Wolf Whistling”

  1. mark February 28, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    When will the CD be out? Sounds cool!

  2. mrowster February 28, 2009 at 5:29 pm #

    According to their Facebook page, they’re shooting for summer but that’s just a guess. They do have a CD EP out collecting some of their 7″ tracks, but even that one’s unavailable at present.

  3. mark February 28, 2009 at 10:44 pm #

    Bummer. Oh, well, I’ll wait.

  4. nigel cross March 6, 2009 at 5:59 pm #

    wolf people have a new 7″ 45 tiny circle/mercy II out on battered ornaments in april – they have a gig in euston on 24th april – check their myspace for more details.

    i saw them both at what’s cookin and the night after at the social – both great gigs but what was interesting was that they played the social as a 4-piece as ross the flute player had a gig with his other band – stripped down they were a revelation – a lot more beefheartian and i can see why these guys love television so much – on ’empty heart’ they just took off on an intense 12-bar boogie – a little canned heat-like but awesomely exciting. and i really like the folk influences as on the set closer ‘one by one from dorney reach’
    jack sharp is a great front man and singer
    the LP coming in the summer – should be an eye opener

    nigel cross

  5. mrowster March 6, 2009 at 11:46 pm #

    Nigel: The new tunes on their Myspace do sound totally hot, although live I found I was reminded not of TELEVISION but SLOVENLY, an equally great thing in my book. As you point out, the blues influence is way deeper than in either of them bands.

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