The Woolen Men

Woolen Men

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The Woolen Men are three guys from Portland who have obviously worn out their copies of Dead Moon and Wipers' albums, looking with each listen to unlock the secret of what made those two bands so great, and maybe re-create a little of their magic with their own recordings. They've been working at it over a series of singles and cassettes, but 2013's The Woolen Men is their first widely distributed album. The album shows that the trio has indeed done a fine job of absorbing the mid-fi, northwest punk aesthetic of those two bands, but also a healthy dose of quirky New Zealand pop, too. The album has a rough and ready sound -- all wiry guitars, thuddering bass, and trash can drums topped by distinctive post-punk vocals -- that was captured over five different sessions but sounds like it was recorded in one long take. It's made up of meandering songs that sound like they were built out of ramshackle rehearsal space jamming ("Hold It Up," "Hazel"), short, sharp blasts of early Wipers punk ("Submission," "Head on the Ground"), and bouncy Flying Nun-y pop ("Magic Tricks," "I Invite Love"); all combining together to make for a pretty memorable listening experience. Apart from the overly singsongy and trite "Mayonnaise" that starts the record off on the wrong foot, that is. The record may be a little short on variety, but it is long on mid-fi energy, and will give fans of the kind of stripped-down and live-sounding rock Dead Moon and the Wipers cranked out plenty of warm and nostalgic feelings. Even if the listener has no idea who either of those bands are, and doesn't know the difference between Flying Nun and the Singing Nun, the strength of the melodies here and the rambunctiously direct approach the band takes will be enough to make those unfortunately deprived souls happy as they bop along to the hotwired beat.

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