Grunge isn’t dead, but don’t call it grunge.
Strange Wilds is from the state of Washington (don’t call them grunge), they are currently signed to popular indie music label Sub-Pop (don’t call them grunge), they are a 3 piece with the lead singer playing guitar and the drummer offering backup vocals (don’t call them Nirvana), and they play overdrive soaked guitars that kick in and trade off with loud/quiet lead vocals (okay they might be grunge).
Just pressing play on the first track “Pronoia”, thick buzzsaw guitars and thudding bass lines crash back and forth with pounding drums to display a track that could yes, absolutely be a B-side to Nirvana’s first album Bleach. Taking a long pull from the Pacific Northwest musical bottle doesn’t make it any less enjoyable though. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and while Strange Wild’s doesn’t exactly rip off Nirvana by any means, the influence is sprinkled over this album like rain in Seattle on a Wednesday afternoon.
“Oneirophobe” and “Don’t Have To” showcase a loud/soft dynamic that is prevalent throughout the record. Is it predictable at times? Sure, but that doesn’t make you bang your head any less. Other tracks like “Egophillia” and “Distain” keep the intensity and blood pressure high, displaying their best 80’s hardcore impression mixed with Mudhoney or Fugazi.
It’s clear that Strange Wilds lives and breathes in a petri dish of leftover excrement from the glory days of the early 90’s in the Pacific Northwest, but the beast that they have become doesn’t shy away from this fact, rather they embrace it. Walking a thin line between imitation and influence, Strange Wilds falters on occasion with the former, but often shines through with the latter.
Maybe because I’ve been rediscovering all this 90’s music and pretending to not like Nirvana and Alice in Chains so much when I talk to my friends, and watching too many MTV Unplugged sessions. But “Subjective Concepts” is scratching some itch that I thought was long gone.
by Andy Wilcox (@wilco204)