Odds & sodds & teasers from America’s best rock band.
Wussy – Duo (Shake It)
A peace offering while they tinker away on a fifth album currently in the works, this Record Store Day exclusive, which functions as a placeholder EP, turns out to be a keeper in its own a right. Almost every one of these seven acoustic demos is so expertly built and beautifully rendered; you almost wish they’d remain unaltered if featured on any future release. With the droning guitar fuzz they adamantly adhere to gone (and the drummer and bassist away at their day jobs), co-singer/songwriters Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker bathe their ever-robust melodies in the warm grip of front porch guitars, brittle piano, lush organ and the sound of chirping birds. And while pulverizing breakup songs have been their stock-in-trade, here topics of discussion include death and religious disillusionment. Too heavy handed? Try the bizarre one about a monkey shitting on Cleaver’s good corduroy’s, or “North Sea Girls,” a closing hymnal so pristine it proves they always see the light at the end of the tunnel. GRADE: A-
Key Tracks: “North Sea Girls” / “New American Standard” / “Like It Or Not”
Wussy – Bernice Huff and son, Bill Sings Popular Favorites (Free Download)
Offered free of charge on their website, this 18-track grab bag is comprised of B-sides, live recordings, radio clips, outtakes, demos, alternate mixes, and the like from their eight years together. That such an assortment of odd n’ ends coalesce so neatly stands as a testament to the band’s sturdy songwriting – as rustic as their Cincinnati hometown. Of the entire potpourri, I keep returning to the live version of “Rigor Mortis,” a killer from their 2007 album, Left for Dead, as well as the acoustic rendition of their best song from their almost-perfect debut, and the demos which flourish delicately despite their austere nature. I also hang around for the radio banter in order to enjoy their twisted humor. Chuck Cleaver on a band he would erase from musical history: “Loverboy. I would’ve tickled their little baby innards and raised them on Pepsi.” GRADE: A-