Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Album & EP Review: New Guilt and Shit Summer EP

Titles:  New Guilt (BandCamp), Shit Summer EP (BandCamp)
Artist:  Wagers (BandCamp, Facebook)

Wagers play a combination of power pop, pop punk, garage rock (of the ‘60s variety), and indie rock that is catchy, up-beat, full of hooks, and very fun to listen to.  Hailing from Brooklyn, NY the band has put out two releases this year, the full-length New Guilt (in February) and the Shit Summer EP (in July), both of which are available for a free download on the band’s BandCamp site. 

New Guilt is a collection of straightforward power pop/pop punk/indie rock numbers.  The record opens with “Spun” with its very Superchunk-esque riff, perfectly setting the stage for what is to come.  “Red Shirt” is a 50 second instrumental number that paves the way for the exceptionally good title track which is followed by the even catchier “Drunk Dial” (which reminds me of Big Drill Car).  “Hold the Reins” slows things down a tad before “Sorry Scene” jumps the tempo/energy back up.  “Drugs” is up next with an excellent ‘60s-style hook, followed by “Getting Bent,” the most traditionally punk rock song of the record.  “Food Stamps” shows another inventive hook that reminds me a lot of The A.G.’s and Sicko.  The last two tracks are “Running Wild” and “Feel Wrong” both of which are mid-tempo numbers but “Feel Wrong” is probably the most challenging song of the record in that it is the least traditionally catchy of the album.  This isn’t a bad thing but it does make the track stick out. 

The Shit Summer EP is a collection of lo-fi indie rock numbers that harkens back to the ‘90s heyday of bands like Sebadoh and Guided By Voices.  The songs are at the same time noisy, catchy, and poppy.  The production on this EP is quite different to that of New Guilt in that it is decidedly less polished.  The change isn’t bad but it makes you almost think that you are listening to two different bands.  The EP opens with the title track in noisy indie rock fashion that is exceedingly reminiscent of Sebadoh.  “I Took, I Try” could easily by a Guided By Voices number while “Gimme a Moment” is more of a noisy punk song.  “Wasted Potential” is a ploddingly slow indie number followed by “Lace Up and Go,” another very Guided By Voices tune.  The EP closes out with the bass driven “Bigger Than the Cost.” 

Thematically both releases touch on the subjects of girls and drugs, both of which are pretty standard fare for this type of music (this is not a bad thing).  I’d comment more specifically on the lyrics but without a lyric sheet I often have a hard time deciphering exactly what is being sung (and that it not a criticism of this band, I have this problem, for lack of a better term, with nearly every band that I listen to, especially at first).  Both releases are quiet good but I think that New Guilt is the better of the two.  This is a band that certainly shows a great deal of potential and has proven that they can write extremely catchy and fun songs that are sure to appeal to fans of The Thermals, Candy Hearts, Sebadoh, Superchunk, Sicko, and Guided By Voices.  If you are a fan of any of the bands that I’ve referenced above then I suggest that you give Wagers a listen, I suspect that you’ll like what you hear.    

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