By Bob Makin
originally published: 10/03/2018
Prolific progressive pop band Wetbrain are back with their second LP in as many years, “Things You Think You Thought You Knew.”
Wetbrain are one of Asbury Park’s most underrated bands, but with the Ray Bradbury-like entitled “Things You Think You Thought You Know,” their second LP in as many years, the prolific progressive-pop band deserve to be appreciated like the phenomenal Deal Casino. The artistic, well-crafted acts share a penchant for shaping super sad songs that somehow make you want to dance, while leaving plenty of musical meat for a wallflower to munch. Having surprisingly never played together, they would make a great bill, along with Sonic Blume, who demonstrate a similar fondness for Brit rock, and The Cold Seas, another experimental miner for pop gold.
Being a huge Pink Floyd fan for more than 40 years, I most love that a third of “Things” mines much of that Brit band’s early catalog, such as “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” “A Saucerful of Secrets,” “Atom Heart Mother,” and one of my all-time favorite albums, “Meddle.” The entire middle of the 12-song LP features four great Floyd-like tracks:
- “Bottle Rocket” -- First of the Floyd tracks -- in this case, early Syd Barrett days when he used to share vocals with Roger Waters over a telling acid trip – this tune is one of a couple that explore outer space, yet is more edgy than Floyd’s celestial ambience, more like early David Bowie and some of the ’90s bands that may have influenced Wetbrain, such as perhaps My Bloody Valentine and Smashing Pumpkins
- “Broadcast” -- My favorite track because it mines Floyd’s “Meddle” era so perfectly without being derivative and features beautiful Richard Wright-like piano playing that is a testament to the multi-hyphenated talent of Wetbrain mastermind Rudy Meier (he even co-designed the album art); love the Bradbury-inspired line, “Something catastrophic this way comes”
- “Daylight” -- exquisite harmonies between Meier and bassist Ryan Grebel make this serving of melancholy pop a winner, as it pans the poppiest side of Floyd, kind of like The Anderson Council
- “Twilight,” an all-too-brief instrumental that echoes Floyd’s epic “Echoes,” but underwater, this dreamy submersible track will appeal not only to fans of progressive rock but also dream pop.
“Things” is a follow-up of last fall’s EP, “¡Quebrado!,” which I unfortunately didn’t get to write much about, and the preceding debut LP, “A Certain Light,” which landed in my Top 10 list last year. Also featuring the fine guitar playing of Nick Kaelblein and drumming of Nick Aufiero, “Things” is a contender for this year’s list.
Other tracks are:
- “Pilot,” an opening Brit-tinged blast of artsy power-pop that is the first of a couple of songs that mock the media and TV junkies
- “Astronaut,” psychedelic Brit-flavored pop that blasts off with a stunning guitar solo, features the equally stunning line, “I want to float so I don’t drown,” and flirts with space, like “Bottle Rocket”
- “Kamikaze,” a noisy treat that harvests the ’90s alternative sound field with gnarly guitars that offset Meier’s sweet, high-pitched vocals
- “Echo Chamber,” an edgy track that dabs the artistic band’s brush in punk waters
- “Numbers,” a charming nugget with a bouncy beat that will send indie-rock darlings to the dance floor, yet features fascinatingly dark lyrics, like a weird John Lennon song on “Revolver”
- “Crapshoot,” more melancholy pop like Deal Casino and whatever influences they share that make it so yummy to sound so sad, as does a bright, harmonic bridge that mixes “Things” up nicely
- “Ball and Chain,” the heaviest and hardest of the tracks, opening with a fat, gristly guitar sound, but then refined with more artistic atmospherics and rich harmonies, while maintaining a strong edginess throughout, including some rad reverb and tremolo
- “Calloused Heart,” the closer, whose pretty acoustic intro makes a great juxtaposition from the distorted edge of the previous track, is ironically entitled, but like Wetbrain so often do, they mix things up; rather than being a hard song, it’s a pretty one, as well as emotionally and sonically rousing, like a rock ‘n’ roll roller coaster.
Not surprisingly, the many layers of “Things You Think You Thought You Knew” were masterfully mastered by Alan Douches of West West Side Music (Dillinger Escape Plan, Clutch), and they were produced by the band and Pat Noon, who also recorded them at Eight Sixteen and Trax East studios.
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Fans of Deal Casino really should check “Things” out and see Wetbrain live, which can be done on Oct. 13 at The Saint in Asbury Park when they celebrate the release of the LP with Meier’s and Kaelbein’s former band mates in Dentist, as well as Darkwing and Sunshine Spazz. The band’s concert schedule also includes Nov. 2, EJ’s, Seaside Heights, with The Barrbarians, Baron Praxis, and Judo Chop; Nov. 15, The Pharmacy, Philadelphia, with Earth Telephone and Cavewoman, and Nov. 16, Second Annual Makin Waves Hunger Benefit for Food for Thought, Asbury Park Yacht. One of four shows over two nights that benefit the folks who annually feed the hungry and the homeless on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter at Langosta Lounge, that evening’s lineup also fittingly will feature the aforementioned Sonic Blume and The Cold Seas, who will collaborate with rapper Drew the Recluse on their new single, “Bloodstain.”
Bob Makin is the reporter for www.MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn
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