Wild Pink, Thunder Dreamer
22 Rock City Road
Woodstock, NY, 12498
Doors 6:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
Wild Pink songwriter John Ross sings about lakes, hills and trees; moss, thickets and canopies; smoke, snow and wind. The impressionistic cover art of the band’s eponymous debut full-length (2017) depicts a serene riverbed flush with dreamy hues of purple and green. It evokes a sense of tranquility that diametrically opposes their clamorous homebase of NYC, and the record’s mostly breezy—though occasionally blustery—songset is equally uncharacteristic of the environment it was born of. It’s not that their music perpetually idles, or that’s it’s soft in a simplistic way. They just move at their own pace. A patient pace. A very deliberate pace that’s, however unintentional, at odds with both their city and their position in rock’s timeline.
On their brand new follow-up Yolk In The Fur, Wild Pink again take themselves and their listeners to a place of sonic placidity. Ross and his bandmates trade what sparing crunch they did use on Wild Pink for lush, balmy synths that lift their sound upwards and out, rather than forward and down. Any traces of slowcore and grunge are gone here, replaced by the angelic airiness of Cocteau Twins and Red House Painters, but with the modern crispness of LAKE or Japanese Breakfast. Sporadic splashes of electronic drums and emphasized basslines add fascinating new dimensions to their already-diverse palette, but no instrument or tone ever feels shoehorned in. Each part is stitched seamlessly into the other, and the band’s aptitude for unexpected changeups is only heightened with the ability to shift from artificial to natural instrumentation.
Although it’s both the shortest and most straightforward cut in the tracklist, closer “All Some Frenchman’s Joke” is a satisfying thematic knot for what Ross says is an album about “protecting something vulnerable.” “Letting go of youth after the time is due/feels like relief/like when something stuck is freed,” he sings. To call this album a maturation for Wild Pink is to not only recycle a long-frayed cliche, but to neglect the musical and lyrical wiseness they already possessed on their debut. But if Ross really did quell an existential crisis during the making of Yolk In The Fur, and managed to finally scrub the gunk clean, the fresh coat that grew back took form as one of the purest, fleeciest, most lavish rock albums of 2018. (bio by Eli Enis)
The words “We will destroy the Earth and all we’ve made” taken in their most literal form appear to be strikingly brutal. Approach it via its position in the opening track on Thunder Dreamer’s new LP, however, and the tone feels altogether more enigmatic and alluring. With its crushingly somber delivery, the words immediately create a palpable and dark romantic mood that sets the tone for the album to come. Indicative of a record that never once settles, even when it opens up into far more embracing moments of splendor, "Why Bother" immediately plunges the listener in to the heart of Thunder Dreamer’s work: ‘Capture,' the band’s most fully realized and affecting work to-date.
Released in May via 6131 Records (Julien Baker, Touché Amoré), 'Capture' takes the stifling small-town isolation that has peppered the bands work thus far — through their 2013 eponymous EP and 2015’s debut LP — and imbues it with the things that have always led to the most endearing of rock and roll records: hardships and heartaches, lethargy and crushing indifference in the face of it all. Absorbing such things from the Midwestern heartland they call home, that tough, resilient authenticity runs through the band’s new record like hot blood through cold, hard-working limbs.
Sprawling out across eight monumental tracks, 'Capture' finds frontman Steven Hamilton in torch-bearing form. Once his solo project but now expanded to a four-piece, Thunder Dreamer specialize in writing songs that feel remarkably human. The emotional connections to the people and places that fade in and out of the record are not just a pertinent inclusion, but a vital one. Even when the band are crafting a gleaming slice of Americana — think Whiskeytown at their most opulent, or Songs: Ohia's rollicking pomp — the whole thing is underpinned by an overwhelming poignancy.
Some five years on from their initial outing, Thunder Dreamer offer an about-turn on ‘Capture,' shaping the rawness of their previous work in to something altogether more complete and substantial; a gritty take on the great American songbook, with its arms and heart left open to all.
Thunder Dreamer is: Steven Hamilton (vocals, guitar), Corey Greenfield (drums), Alex Wallwork (bass), and Zach Zint (piano).