Wet Wings

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Part two of round-up day on MFAGW comes in the form of my Christmas Day show for DIY Radio, a (mercifully for some, I’m sure) mostly presenter-free episode where I played a stream of my favourite Folk Bloke tracks of the year. If nothing else, it’s a bloody good line-up of music – Bill Callahan, Alessi’s Ark, Saintseneca, Rob St. John and, obviously Josh T. Pearson all make appearances. If you want an hour of delightful music to reminisce on, stick it on and lay back.

Josh T. Pearson – Thou Art Loosed!

A month ago, I reviewed Wet Wings’ ‘Feeeel It’, a track I said ‘sounds like it should be simple, somewhat twee and a little bit lovely, but has been creatively augmented with hazed-out background ambience and some truly unexpected synth drums to transcendent effect’ (quoting yourself feels weird). I wanted more, and I thought I’d got it when the band very kindly sent their debut album Glory Glory my way soon afterwards. I didn’t get it.

You see, ‘Feeeel It’ seemed like a taster, the sound of a band who had worked out a nice little generic conceit and were showcasing what they could do more of. In reality, what ‘Feeeel It’ actually proved was that Wet Wings are deceptive buggers. Glory Glory is better described as a dream pop album, but with more focus on the pop. It’s as good an album idea as the one I thought they’d come up with. ‘Last Day of Summer’ sounds like a dialled-back Vampire Weekend, ‘Stockholm’ borrows liberally (right down to the Scandinavian city name title) from Beach House while throwing in a little Beach Boys for good, sandy measure and ‘A Terrible Thing’ indulges in shimmering guitar work Jeff Buckley would be proud of whilst elegiac vocals prove there’s some emotional heft behind this couple of happy-go-lucky Wellington natives (Wellingtonites, Wellingtoneers?). It’s an album of delicate touches, light brushstrokes of emotion backed up by a talent for reconciling the childishly simple with more intriguingly complex musicality.

I just have one question: Why has this not been more successful? This isn’t meant in a rhetorical, incensed way – I genuinely want to know. It bears so many of the hallmarks of what modern indie tastemakers favour that it seems odd to me that it hasn’t swept across The Hype Machine and its ilk with more force. By no means is this a perfect piece of work, but with a media base that increasingly accepts and encourages unfinished, young acts to release “bedroom music” (perhaps because that media base itself is becoming increasingly bedroom-made itself), I find it hard to believe that this hasn’t been picked up.

I’m becoming more and more interested in the inexorable rise of homemade music (and, to be honest, I’m not even completely sure if this album qualifies, but I’ll continue to use it as an example given its position) that this interest is inevitably spreading towards how it’s disseminated. An album that ticks all the necessary audio boxes will not necessarily succeed in and of itself. PR is, of course, still a huge concern – bloggers still, no matter what they tell themselves, mostly rely on being told what to listen to and, in posting it themselves, become part of an increasingly hard-to-define limbo of PR and journalism themselves. Given that blogs inform blogs, a PR is now simply the first part of a wider chain reaction of hype. I understand this much but it’s why some good artists’ PR chain will stratch further than others that foxes me. It could be as simple as a more widely-read blog picking up on a band early, it could be as complex as advanced memetics and crowd psychology. Those could be the same.

This is a fairly scattershot post, but it’s bugging me and I’d appreciate other input, and for those who aren’t as interested as me, know this: Wet Wings, and Glory Glory are very good, and under-listened. Remedy that.

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Buddy Holly – Listen To Me (YSI)

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I’m just going to leave these here. Do with them as you will.

Tenacious D – Double Team (YSI)

There are many disadvantages to being as lazy as I undoubtedly am when it comes to checking my inbox. You build up huge amounts of messages that you don’t want to read all at once. You miss out on being the first to talk about a great band (this matters if you’re anything like me, honest). You constantly suspect that you’re missing out on the next big thing.

There is one advantage, however. When you find an email from three months earlier, download the track within, love it, and then find out there’s a whole album more that’s been released since the initial email was sent. That’s always good.

And so we find ourselves with Wet Wings, a Wellington duo (there’s not enough New Zealand music) who with ‘Feeeel It’ have, despite some interesting vowel elongation, crafted a truly brilliant tune. I like it so much I’ve put it on this week’s radio show and written about it in one day. On the show *SPOILER* I called it cyberfolk, simply because it sounds like it should be simple, somewhat twee and a little bit lovely, but has been creatively augmented with hazed-out background ambience and some truly unexpected synth drums to transcendent effect. Then again, I have played a lot of Deus Ex this week, so it could just be folktronica (but cyberfolk sounds cooler). Not only this, but there’s a whole album more in the form of ‘Glory Glory’ which I’m very much looking forward to listening to. Although I might wait a few months.

Wet Wings – Feeeel It (YSI)