Wax Idols – Discipline & Desire

wax-idols-discipline-and-desire

Rating: ★★★★ ·

If you’re looking for a repeat of Wax Idols last record, No Future, then you should probably take a second to reflect before you press play.  There are hints, though slight, of the band of old, but Hether Fortune and her band mates have come to give you something entirely new with Discipline & Desire; it’s refreshing to see a group push themselves, no matter what the risks.

“Stare Back” immediately puts you on your back foot, opening with discordant noise and a bubbling post-punk bass line.  Fortune soon enters with an echoing wail.  The repetition of “stare back” is met each time with an emphatic drum hit.  Swirling vocals come in and out of the foreground, but what’s most noticeable is the tracks exploration into a noisier punk realm.  But, just because Wax Idols have opted for a heavier-handed approach doesn’t mean there aren’t inherent pop hooks, which you’ll find immediately following the album’s opener on “Sound of a Void.”  Personally, I love the way the guitar parts work together, weaving a pristine pop hook between the distorted wall of guitar noise.  Also, the driving delivery of the vocals approached the anthemic attitude that was present on past efforts.  They keep that attitude up with “When It Happens” by using perfectly placed backing vocals, which balance Ms. Fortune’s guttural singing.  Three songs in and you can see that despite a darker approach, there’s still a knack for infectious tunes.

I think the biggest success of Discipline & Desire is the group’s ability to travel back and forth between approachable pop and discordant post-punk.  The perfect song for that hypothesis is “Ad Re Ian,” which really lives in both worlds.  The verses are possibly some of the most accessible and poppy moments Fortune has put together under the Wax Idols moniker, but the choruses represent the band knack for blasting off into dangerous punk jams.  Still, holding through it all is this faint dreamy vocal that supersedes every established notion; it’s probably one of my favorite moments on the record.

But, if I had to pick a favorite to claim as my own, I think I’m going to stick with “Elegua.”  It’s the closest thing to a ballad that lives on Discipline & Desire; I think if also demonstrates the vocal qualities of Hether, which people often overlook.  There’s a gentle quality to her delivery, almost a whisper at times, that fits perfectly with the haunting meandering of the guitar, constantly being accentuated by firing of snare hits.  About 2.5 minutes in, the song continues to forge its own path, pushing towards a swirling closing that  really encapsulates the idea that the Wax Idols have continued to push themselves in every aspect of their sound.

In my mind, it would have been really easy for Wax Idols to retrace their steps from No Future, which I consider a great record, although having spent weeks with this new effort, I’m glad they didn’t go that route.  Discipline & Desire definitely darkens the mood at time, but the group’s ability to explore their own sound has left us, the listeners, with so much to be grateful for.  It’s angry, sometimes ferocious even, but it also has a softer underbelly that will allow this album to sink deep into your heart.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/03-When-It-Happens.mp3]

 

 

Grim New Tune from Wax Idols

With the release of No Future, Wax Idols quickly made my radar as a band to keep an eye on, and news has finally come out that the group’s second outing is being geared for release on March 26th from Slumblerland Records. Listening to the first single from Discipline & Desire, you can tell that the group has put a darker mood into the record, replacing the anthemic power-punk with a more haunting array of sounds.  For one, singer H. Fortune has a more pronounced, albeit more gloomy, vocal presence, while the rest of the band does their best to round out the complete emotional state.  This is shaping up to be a nice gem for your March listening pleasure.

Show Preview: Broncho @ Mohawk (6/27)

Date Wednesday, June 27th
Location Mohawk
Doors 900 pm
Tickets $7 at the Door

This is essentially a great local show with a great out of state opening act.  The opening acts Grape Street and No Future (formerly Leatherbag) are two acts we’ve raved about on these pages, and they both put on exceptional shows live.  Even if it was just these two bands, it’s worth your $7! But, you also get to see Broncho, one of the stronger acts to come out of Oklahoma.  They’ve got ties to Other Lives, Starlight Mints, Colourmusic, Unwed Sailor…so they come with good pedigree, and great songs.  Seriously, it’s inside, with cold beer and nice AC, so do yourself a favor and catch some great no-frills rock n’ roll.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/A-Date-With-You.mp3]

Download:Grape Street – A Date With You [MP3]

 

Show Preview: Allo Darlin @ the Mohawk (5/1)

Date Tuesday, May 1st
Location Mohawk
Doors 900 pm
Tickets $8 from Frontgate

Those of you who are in any way fans of great indie pop need to be sure you’re in attendance at this excellent show on Tuesday evening.  Allo Darlin and the Wave Pictures are two of the best UK indie pop acts, and they rarely make it all the way over to our side of the pond.  All Darlin just released their latest record, Europe, and the Wave Pictures put out Long Black Cars in the past month as well.  All you need to do is spend five minutes listening to each band and you’ll know that your attendance is necessary.  Opening the night is No Future, the new reincarnation of the band formerly known (and loved) as Leatherbag.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/eskimo-kiss-mp3.mp3]

Download:The Wave Pictures – Eskimo Kiss [MP3]

Killer Rocker from Wax Idols

I’ve raved to everyone about Wax Idols; their album No Future was one of my favorite records of the last year. Now, while the group is working on their new album (rumored to be on Slumberland) they’ve got a awesome stop-gap 7″ for you on Suicide Squeeze.  The title track, “Schadenfreude” is a jagged guitar rocker, with singer Heather spinning the pop goodness just as you would expect.  There’s a little bit of that brattiness that makes her such a furious frontwoman, but the chorus alone is worth the cost of the 7 inch.  You should definitely pay attention to this too underrated group.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Schadenfreude.mp3]

Download: Wax Idols – Schadenfreude [MP3]

Wax Idols – No Future

Rating: ★★★½ ·

It seems like a lot of bands are really channeling a nice mix between garage and punk, especially the bands coming out of California.  You could probably toss Wax Idols into that, but you’d be amiss if you just lumped them in with the rest of those groups, as the band, predominantly the work of Heather Fedewa, goes beyond just rehashing the hits on No Future.

Listening to the opening track “Dead Like You” you definitely can feel a bit of Cali guitars blasting through, but Fedewa’s delivery, as well as the call-and-response backing vocals are a bit more than that, harkening back to more innocent punk rock days, sort of like a more ballsy version of the Donnas.  For me, the biggest differentiating factor is the amount of heart and soul you can clearly see shining through the music on No Future.

“Dilno” is a fast paced track, almost ending before the track even gets going, but that’s where a lot of the Wax Idols tracks are so successful, giving you a simple, no frills approach to the middling ground between punk rock and garage music.  And come on, who’s not going to enjoy the sporadic shouts in the background.  Of course, there’s more than just nostalgic girl-punk leanings.  Just one listen to “Gold Sneakers,” the record’s phenomenal track.  It’s got everything you could ask for from a band: great hooks, catchy lyrics, and some distorted guitar to go with precision drumming.  A lot of cliche girl-core tracks just don’t ring as true as this number.

You’re also going to enjoy some of the variance throughout No Future, such as the semi-Blondie homage on “Bad Future.”  Fedewa definitely maintains a bit of that sex appeal, but you can tell she’s a touch more bratty, in the most endearing way, of course.  It’s a pleasure to see that not everyone comes off sounding as tired and bored.  Punk was supposed to be fun, and it seems that’s just what we’re hearing here.  “Grey Area” similarly takes off in the same fashion, giving a bit of grit to great pop tradition of bright guitars and pounding rhythms.  Seems like these tracks were made with a youthful vitality only achieved through spinning around in your bedroom with the stereo on high.

Perhaps Wax Idols doesn’t have the brand recognition that you’re looking for, but that’s sort of sad, as you’ll have twice as much fun jamming to this record as you would if you just picked up the run of the mill garage girl-core album.  No Future has twists and turns, and most of all, it has fun.  It’s a reminder that music can have serious tones, but doesn’t have to be tired and banal.  Let’s put the fun back in rock n’ roll, and jam to this record all night.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/04-Gold-Sneakers.mp3]

Show Preview: Terry Malts (& More) @ 29th St. Ballroom (10/24)

Date Monday, October 24th
Location 29th Street Ballroom
Doors 900p
Tickets $5 @ the Door

Sure, St. Vincent is coming to town, but the best show no one seems to be discussing is going down at 29th Street Ballroom, and for cheap!  Hozac Records is bringing a solid posse to town, and perhaps my favorite on the list is Terry Malts.  There’s a bit of punk, a bit of the gaze, and just solid track after track.  You’ll also get Wax Idols, who’ll be premiering some of their new material from their upcoming record, No Future.  And, to finish out the night, you’ll have Rayon Beach closing things down. If you’re into music, you have no excuse not to be at this show.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/01-Something-About-You.mp3]

Download: Terry Malts – Something About You [MP3]


New Tunes from Good Shoes

goodshoesUK band Good Shoes got a lot of great press after the release of their last album, but they’re ready to make huge waves with their newest record No Hope, No Future, which comes out on January 25th.  The rhythmic bounce in this song makes it perfect for a Friday tune; it reminds us a lot of our favorite UK band the Mystery Jets.  Maybe they’ll both hit the U.S. together! We can only hope, but for now, let your feet tap!  Or head to their site for a preview of 4 songs off the new album.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/04-Under-Control.mp3]

Download: Good Shoes – Under Control [MP3]