American Wrestlers – s/t

amwrestlersRating: ★★★½☆

When I heard the first single from American Wrestlers, the lo-fi project of Gary McClure, something about the tune gave me the strong conviction that I wouldn’t want to miss this debut album. Now, here we are, able to savor the 8 tracks of American Wrestlers that are equal parts lo-fi and American rock and roll, but all parts a bit different than what you would expect from either of those genres.

The album opens with “There’s No One Crying Over Me Either,” which is a synth/piano driven jam that doesn’t seem to really fit into the two aforementioned genres. Mechanized drumbeats bounce in at a steadily low-key beat, which establishes a mellow tone to the album so far. Piano, acoustic guitar, vocals join this mix early on, all of which fall under this super gritty production that casts a layer of intrigue upon the track as it slowly chugs along. McClure twists and spits his lyrics atop this slow-boiling instrumentation, his mild yet utterly emotive vocals providing the perfect counterpart to the music. Slowly this song builds up and then simmers down, transitioning into the blazing outright rock and roll “Holy,” which is definitely one of the highlights of the album. As soon as you hear the flaming electric guitar riff that cuts through the mix, you’re already falling in love with the track. This number is purely lo-fi goodness, with the electric guitar distorted and slightly fuzzy, but then you get a little bit of piano that bounces back from the first track and your mind goes to Americana, or folk music. Just wait for the little break down at the end of this song.

And of course later on you get the superstar pair of this album starting with “I Can Do No Wrong,” which takes the style that’s been established thus far and sets it into a catchy track with pop hooks throughout. This song particularly utilizes the lo-fi production: it sounds kind of like you’re hearing the music from a thin layer of water, but somehow this tones down those blazing guitars from ever being too heavy. Trust me, you’ll want to play this one over and over, but before you do, let American Wrestlers take you to the next jam, “The Rest of You,” which cuts out the hooky pop and switches over to buzzy-as-all-get-out rock. But as you’ll notice on this release, nothing is too simple on this album, and you get little nuances on this song—the chorus-like backing vocals, the layers of acoustic and electric guitars, those barely audible drums—that push it beyond your average fuzzy rock jam.

American Wrestlers is a rather good debut album, but one that requires a bit of time to really sink in. Repeated listening has gleaned me insights to my favorite tracks, but in reality at only 8 tracks in length its hard not to spread the love evenly over the whole album. Perhaps with a bit more time the whole debut will sink in even deeper, but for now good is enough.


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