Personnel: Taylor Floreth (drums).
Audio Mixer: Bryce Goggin.
Recording information: Room 17; Trout Recording.
Illustrator: Michael Arthur.
Wolf! is the guitar trio project led by guitarist Scott Metzger, with bassist Jon Shaw and drummer Taylor Floreth. The axe slinger has played with everyone from Joe Russo and Trixie Whitley to Anders Osborne and Shooter Jennings. Metzger wanted to explore one simple idea: the direct-signal relationship between the Fender Telecaster and amplifier with no gadgets in between. No toys doesn't mean no overdubs or reverb; both are plentiful. The band delivers a concise set of guitar "songs" (none exceed the four-minute mark) that move through several roots genres and explore the instrument's musical lineage as well as some of Metzger's musical influences. While that sounds academic, the music itself isn't. It has groove and sass to spare. Opener "Cake Walk" triple-layers the guitar parts in a melody and technique that unabashedly pays tribute to Les Paul. "Neck Bone" is grittier. It uses that same multi-layered approach, but the music is swaggering country funk with a jazzman's harmonic sensibility. It not only rings, it stings. "Frightenin' (Part 2)" begins with Floreth's crash cymbal and an urgent snare suggesting "Wipeout" before the band enters on the surf 'n' western tip and charges frenetically through it. "Sock Full of Quarters" is pure Steve Cropper groove-and-grease, pasted onto '60s dance party rock & roll. "Wolf Eyes" is a slow, atmospheric blues. Because of its restraint and haunting deliberation, it holds more appeal than almost anything else here. While the fat distorted basslines on "Steve Miller" add serious crunch and Metzger gets downright gnarly, the track still feels like filler. The brief set closer is a slow country ramble entitled "Lucerne." Played solo, one can hear everyone from Jimmy Bryant to Danny Gatton -- all in less than two minutes -- in its phrasing and melodic invention. Wolf! is short enough that its tunes, while deliberately derivative, remain thoroughly entertaining. This is an album about tone and taste, a snapshot of an instrument and its history. It's most likely appeal is to hardcore guitar fans, and to that end it succeeds. ~ Thom Jurek