Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: Peter Wolf Crier, Inter-Be

Peter Wolf Crier

a solid B

Whenever I listen to this album, I imagine Peter Wolf Crier playing in a giant, abandoned old barn, in the middle of nowhere, around sunset, when the light filters in through the cracks of the walls just right so you can see the dust and specks of hay kind of swirling around. That’s exactly what this album sounds like. Cool, right? Not really, according to this graphic:

Peter Wolf Crier haven’t had it easy. They weren’t surrounded by 1000 dive bars featuring 1000 new breakout indie bands every evening to delve inspiration from, they didn’t have a 100% chance of trendy—they were surrounded by, well, Minnesota: open expanses of land, tiny little farm towns, probably a lot of cows and sometimes some trees, too. (Yes, that means no dive bars.) That puts them at about 5% chance of trendy. I know their pain! These are my people—we have to learn to think differently with these kinds of odds. And Peter Wolf Crier did—to their great success; their debut album Inter-Be has been gathering buzz for most of the last several months.

It’s hard to get anyone’s attention when you’re a guitar-and-drum indie-folk duo. There are only a bazillion other versions of you out there, grappling to the death for just one single speck of recognition. Peter Wolf Crier gets around this with a sound that’s just different enough from everyone else to be perfect—listeners are intrigued, but not so put off PWC is forever condemned to obscurity. The vocals on Inter-Be are effectively what really set the band apart—I would say lyrics, I’m a sucker for lyrics, but I can’t for the life of me understand most of them (the only word that comes through on “Crutch & Cane,” the track that immediately made it on my list of favorite songs for late March/early April, is “Zanzibar.” Well, I’ve always wanted to go to Zanzibar?). The tracks effectively sound like they were recorded in a tinny echo chamber—which doesn’t even sound that attractive, but it’s perfect. The drums and persistently strummed guitar follow in the same echoing fashion throughout. This may be a stretch, but the tracks sound like they somehow have a LOT of space in them—these are, at the end of the day, just two guys trying to throw something, anything out into the vast openness of a Minnesota plain.

Stand Out Tracks
: “Crutch & Cane,” “Hard As Nails,” “Down Down Down” (I for some reason immediately think of Elliott Smith’s “Don’t Go Down”)

-- Fiona Hanly


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