The Wans – EP Review

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The Wans – EP

I believe it was John Cleese who said “…and now for something completely different.” That about sums up the sound generating from The Wans. I’m not even sure I can describe what these three musicians are doing musically. It isn’t very often that we hear a new sound, but we’ve got one here. Heads up, people. The Wans are a rock trio out of Nashville with a wild, hard sound you have to hear. I don’t care if you decide you like it – You Have to Hear It!

I’m always amazed that three people can produce so much sound. The Wans (pronounced as if you’re Irish and saying “the ones”) are Irish native Simon Kerr on vocals and guitar, Mark Petaccia on drums, and Noah Denny on bass. Kerr contacted us and asked if we could give their EP a listen. It passed the initial test – we kept listening. The sound burrows in, creates a space in the listener and settles in.

Classified as alternative rock and indie rock, The Wans are mixing blues, grunge, and distortion to create a grinding, sensory rock and roll sound. What does that mean? It means they make Nirvana sound like they were over processed, mac and cheese from a box. It means they mix Delta blues along side garage band. You know that buzz you get right about the time you’ve had plenty to drink? It’s like that. Fearless. Exciting. Alive.

Here’s the run down.

“5 Spot” is heavy and groovy with Simon Kerr’s guitar sitting on top of a rumble of bass and drums. This is danceable, at least shake-your-ass-able. “Can you feel it coming over you now?…put on your make up, its time to shake it up…hit the 5 Spot…show me what you got” I’d say this is a party song, and it is – until you hear how The Wans do a party song.

“I Like to Party,” the second song on the EP, is The Wans version of a party song. I hope you gave the bartender your keys. This arrangement is fast and allows the music a bit more space and texture. The chorus begs to be hollered, pints in the air. If you can’t shout this chorus, you really are drunk. This is bound to be on every bar band’s line up – it is that fun.

While the party doesn’t stop at this point on the EP, both lyrics and tone shift a bit, showing diversity in the writing. Bringing in the blues, “Want You” is deep and growling and stacks a tremendous amount of musical ability and variety into a few minutes. Lead by Denny’s bass with Kerr’s vocals becoming moody, “Want You” grinds out a lonesome sound. “Any man would die just to call you baby, revelate my reckless mind…” This may be my favorite song. Call Kurt Sutter – this one needs to be on the next season’s soundtrack for Sons of Anarchy.

“Shoot for the Thrill” is edgy and raw and works with imagery from Edgar Allan Poe. “Can you hear the demons? …pulse like a heartbeat under the floor. I think I’m going insane.” With dissonance and clatter, The Wans has written the soundtrack for a psychotic episode, or a hangover, although strangely it isn’t uncomfortable. This is alluring, dragging the listener in. They did say it was two gin-soaked days of studio time that brought this EP into the world.

Next is another hard driving tune, “Hey” is cleaner and lighter and returns to a favored topic – booze. What’s not to love? “going out on a tear, drinking all of my cares away.” While many a songwriter has written a sappy song about love, give me a good drinking song any day – it makes me smile. But this isn’t so much a happy tune. “Hey” offers a few steps on the dark side.

Wrapping up the EP with “Land Lord Blues Cafe,” The Wans are cleaner here, less distorted on vocals and the blues line pulses through. True to the genre, the lyrics lament life and our own hope – “that karma train is coming your way.” I do hope so, I truly do.

I guess you’ve figured out that I really like this sound. It reminds me of smoky bars and bad behavior. I like that the sound is hard without screaming. I like that there is depth without being needy. I like that nothing feels forced or contrived, the vocals are casual and authentic, the arrangements have variety without throwing in every gimmick and trick. I like that there is so much potential for the talent here to stretch and create. I like that The Wans are in the studio with Rival Sons producer Dave Cobb working on a full length offering due out this summer with a single to be released a little sooner. Hurry to Hell up.

Thanks Simon and the rest of the band for giving us a shout! We’re looking forward to seeing you on tour soon.

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