Wand


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Ganglion Reef (2014), 6.5/10
Golem (2015), 5/10
1000 Days (2015), 6/10
Plum (2017), 5/10
Laughing Matter (2019), 4/10
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Los Angeles quartet Wand (vocalist Cory Hanson, guitarist Daniel Martens, bassist Lee Landey and drummer Evan Burrows) debuted as a highly derivative lo-fi fuzzed-out garage-rock worthy of the Sixties revival of the 1980s. The highlights of Ganglion Reef (2014) are faithful imitations, but also intriguing mutations: Send/Receive opens with two giant Hendrix-ian glissandoes, like tidal waves, before mimicking early Pink Floyd's space-rock; Clearer mixes alien evil synths, Black Sabbath-esque stoner riffs and a naive poppy refrain; the operatic aria Fire On the Mountain (possibly the standout) mutates into stoner-rock and then into a rousing instrumental coda. The melodic peak is Flying Golem, which is also the best imitation of the early Pink Floyd singles, while Strage Inertia slips into the bubble-gum pop of the late Sixties. Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees built a prolific career out of the same idea.

Golem (2015) is less derivative of the Sixties but more derivative of fashionable styles of the 2015, six-minute panzer stoner Planet Golem to the (gasp!) pop ballad Melted Rope.

1000 Days (2015) matches that desire to be more "up to date" with their Sixties-revivalist roots. Hence they craft much more original fare, like the sinister tribal instrumental Dovetail, the galopping synth-heavy space-rock Grave Robber and the synth-pop ditty Stolen Footsteps, although still grounded in psychedelic garage-rock. The stylistic range is broader than ever, from the theatrical power-ballad Broken Sun to the Merseybeat-style singalong with thundering guitars Paintings Are Dead (perhaps the best idea of the album, but way too brief). Remnants of the old spirit surface in the rave-up Lower Order and in the tribute to early Pink Floyd Sleepy Dog.

With a new guitarist (Robert Cody) and the addition of Sofia Arreguin on keyboard and vocals, they recorded Plum (2017), which definitely abandoned the old stoner overtones. In fact, Plum is a simple childish melody that could have been on the Beatles' Abbey Road (not a compliment). The longer tracks further distance themselves from their roots: the post-rock ballad Blue Cloud and the solemn and catatonic country elegy Driving.

Laughing Matter (2019) is a confused album that experiments with the rough pop-rock of Walkie Talkie and the folkish slocore Evening Star (with a prog-rock coda). The nine-minute Airplane is too relaxed and dilated to count as a song. The music is further diluted by ambient and acoustic interludes. The fuzzed-out six-minute Wonder comes as a breath of fresh air.

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