“Automatic Writing Machine” LP by The Wild Stares
Automatic Writing Machine – by The Wild Stares, comes just in time for the 2020 need for music of the highest order to get reprieve from the stress of the current affairs of the day which are not what they used to be as we are living in a different time. The Wild Stares manage to slice through time and make it more of an illusion that you can choose to see and live by or not. And that is just another one of life’s choices, sure as any good rock music is, but these guys have a past and a very good one to go by.
In 1993 the Wild Stares morphed into W.A.C.O. (the Wild Acoustic Chamber Orchestra) and played a vital role in creating the Silver Lake scene that spawned the Silversun Pickups, Ariel Pink and many others but that is the only nugget of that past this review will include as I focus some excellent songs that bring this group into the current conversation. Anyone can catch up on their catalog that hasn’t heard The Wild Stares, it’s about some new songs and a tribute paid to former drummer, the late Kyle C. Kyle who used to play with them.
“See The Time” is an epic trip through the past, present and into the future, with a loose and slinky sound that carries throughout this amazing opener which goes onto rate for me as one of the highlights on Automatic Writing Machine. The guitars and vocals by the two founders of the band get a workout “Puppeteer” with a much rockier piece than the previous work of amazement, contrasting very well together. I also find “Obsidian” to be in the top four songs with another moment of epic proportion with undeniably over the top vocals, and maybe even the best track of them all here.
If you’re listening to this album and don’t know where you’ve heard the sound before, you probably just missed the name or don’t travel in their fan circles. Songs like “Dancing On The Sill” go a step beyond the average radio-accessibility with more of an underground sound loved by fans of alternative and other formats of indie rock. After hearing that I wanted more and was taking it all in the way it should be. And it might even improve on “Night Watchman” if you pay close enough attention as you go because it is an intense sleeper.
“Watermelon Alcatraz” shows the band having fun in the studio for what is only three or four stress relieving sessions for what is otherwise a pretty serious outing of hard but smartly delivered rock, the only kind they know how to deliver. I can agree with anyone who likes this band after hearing a new batch of songs or not, it’s that good. Other tracks worth noting are “Necessary Interval” with its momentary statement and “Trading Futures” because it feels like that is what we are doing with our societies and it reflects that and so much more on this marvelous release whipped up by The Wild Stares.