North Carolina five-piece Roman Candle ended up sitting on their debut album for a lot longer than most folks would been willing to tolerate; the bulk of The Wee Hours Revue was cut in 2002 for an upstart indie label under the title Hey Pop, with an overhauled version finally seeing a proper release through V2 in 2006. However, the results were worth the weight. Combining rootsy country-flavored melodies with a soul-powered vocal punch and the emphatic dynamics of a crack rock & roll band, The Wee Hours Revue captures the sound of a group with the talent to go in any number of musical directions and the courage to follow several different paths without losing touch with their muse or their identity in the process. At its best, The Wee Hours Revue suggests what Whiskeytown could have been if ego and lack of discipline hadn't gotten in the way; Skip Matheny's vocals capture some of Ryan Adams' insouciance but with a good bit more power and a passion that doesn't give way to arrogance, while Matheny and Nick Jaeger's guitars lock together with precision and fire. Skip's siblings, Timshet on keyboards and Logan on drums, make it clear the talent runs in the family (Jeff Crawford's fine bass work rounds out the band), and the songs, ranging from the shimmering surfaces of "Winterlight" and the big-city reverie of "New York This Morning" to the hard-boogie strut of "I've Got a Reason," offer an eclectic variety of sounds while still carrying the group's own spirit and style at all times. The Wee Hours Revue is an impressive debut from a group with plenty to offer, and hopefully we won't have to wait four years for Roman Candle's next album to find its way into stores.
The Wee Hours Revue Review
by Mark Deming