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Wand (Los Angeles): Ganglion Reef

Track List

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Album Notes

After a handful of singles, Los Angeles power psych band Wand arrived with Ganglion Reef, their debut full-length and a nonstop parade of acid-dipped, pop-minded forays into both heaviness and wavy folk detours. The band was handpicked by garage godfather Ty Segall for release on his God? record label, and the two have toured together as well as worked in other capacities, so the similarities between Segall's tuneful mind-expanding garage and Wand's are understandable. Both approach songwriting with a fearless love of exploring guitar tones and unexpected dynamics, but where Segall builds up walls of guitars with layer after layer of fuzz to achieve his mind-bending sounds, Wand relies more on time-honored techniques of trippy '60s production. Standout track "Broken Candle" sees vocalist Cory Hanson singing a thin, wispy melody over battling organs and highly effected acoustic guitars, the stomping acid folk rhythms building and building until the entire mix is coated in an over the top flanger effect for a few seconds before fading out. It's by-the-books psychedelia taken right from the Are You Experienced? playbook. Elsewhere, Wand tends toward sludgy proto-metal guitars and clunky rhythms on tracks like "Fire on the Mountain" and the stony funk-metal groove of "6661." "Growing Up Boys" goes the opposite direction, offering a laid-back country-rock dirge in the style of solo John Lennon, but with all the spaced-out experimentation of Pink Floyd. The songs always waver between saturated extremes of heaviness and gentleness, with whispering vocal harmonies and dazzled acoustic guitars always seconds away from distorted organs and the band's bevy of freakish effects. Ultimately, Wand's gift for songwriting guides the endless psychedelic tug of war that is Ganglion Reef, offering listeners something turbulent and strange but deeply rooted in strong tunes. ~ Fred Thomas



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