STRIP-MALL ANGST AND 'EMO' 

STRIP-MALL ANGST AND 'EMO'

WONDERUE, LITTLE WINGS (K RECORDS) Finally, for better or worse, rock is the new rock again (the recent same-night/same-network phenomenon of the White Stripes and Clinic appearing on late-night talk shows, the growing unpopularity of baggy clothing, etc.) and individualistic singer-songwriters can shed the pressure of quiet being the new loud and concentrate on their craft. Kyle Field, aka Little Wings, concentrates enough on the craft that I am willing to overlook that this is indeed not a concept album about extremely flammable pajamas and appreciate the strip-mall angst and heartbreak that calmly rises from Wonderue. Field drops a bomb with the third track, a paean to the golden age of waterproof Walkmans and factory cassettes, so skip the first two tracks of y’allternative fake country for “Shredder Sequel,” a continued tale of a has-been skater who has “Had enough/ÔConcrete’s unkind,’ he sadly sighs/Behind the wheel of his hatchback he cries.” From that point on, Wonderue shows its love of both Harry Nilsson at his most minimal and Will Oldham (Palace) at his most “on.” In fact, if Oldham were struggling in California instead of howling from the comforts of deep pockets and marble-floored hotel lobbies, he would make a nice sonic twin to the Little Wings sound. The whole approach to songwriting (and instrumental backdrop) on Wonderue (the third in a loosely penned “Wonder” trilogy) owes more to the West Coast, daydream-on-the-couch aura of Buffalo Springfield, Tim Hardin, Gene Clark, or Bread than it does to anything on the Bloodshot Records roster. It wouldn’t bother me to see emo fans snatching America records out of the dollar bins, and if whatever people are calling “emo” were actually this emotional, or this good, then life might be a tad less irritating. Grade: B+

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