February Dates Announced for this Urbana Americana band.
James Joyce once said that if all of Dublin were to be destroyed, you could rebuild it brick by brick just from reading his novels. You could almost say the same thing about how Wilder Maker’s songs give us a snapshot of present-day America. Zion, the band’s 2018 full-length debut, is in one sense a record for every over-educated, over-worked, under-paid millennial watching their dreams and goals hover on the horizon like a mirage. On the other hand, the album also offers-up a group of anthems for a confidence that seems to be lost. Guitarist / frontman / saxophonist Gabriel Birnbaum’s scorching lyrics and frenetic music are passionate dispatches from a kind of exile, and they ring with a combination of anger, passion, and humor, as well as recognition that the world as it is won’t be put right by the tools of victory, technology, or money.
In 2017, Saddle Creek released the single “New Streets,” which showcased the band in their poppiest Fleetwood Mac-channeling mode. A breezy summer jam for driving with the windows down, the song got them noticed by NPR, SPIN, and Stereogum, but Zion vastly expanded on that single’s scope with influences ranging from classic 70’s Dylan to blown out free jazz saxophone, from Dr. John’s swampy psychedelia to Ethiopian sounds picked up from Birnbaum’s many years as a member of Debo Band, with hints of Coltrane’s classic quartet and nods to The Velvet Underground. It was the first chapter in a musical novel of sorts.
Wilder Maker unveil the next two chapters in June with the songs “Love So Well” and “Rose Room.” The latter fits in exactly with the themes of power, failure, masculinity, fear, etc, the band explores on Zion, while “Love So Well” looks ahead to an uncertain future. Fittingly, both songs mark the end of the lineup that recorded the album.
About the singles
Love So Well — If you like: Weyes Blood, Big Thief, Katie Von Schleicher, Aldous Harding, Kevin Morby, Twain then you will like this!
Keyboardist/lead vocalist Katie Von Schleicher’s swan song with Wilder Maker, “Love So Well” fits in exactly with the themes of power, failure, masculinity, fear, etc, the band explores on Zion. It’s a country rock song with traces of Neil Young and Big Star. It’s about giving up on the greatest love you’ve had in your life, and the strange calm that follows. A dream of losing yourself on the great American equalizer — the highway, as you can hear in the lines “I aim my future with my hands / I am no one now.”
Rose Room — If you like.. Amen Dunes, Big Thief, Spoon, State Champion, Bill Callahan, The Hold Steady
Crackling with anxiety and defiance, “Rose Room” sounds something like Spoon if they were more desperate and less cool, with flashes in a few choice moments of the brashness and humor of AC/DC. It is a song about the intersection of two truths: First, the tightrope we all walk to stay sane in a completely insane environment. Second, the moment when you understand that you’re the only one steering the ship and if you do nothing, you will crash. No saviors waiting in the wings.
Birnbaum, who mixed both songs himself, explains: “To me both songs are sort of an extension of the Zion universe. For example, the character “Cal” appears in “Rose Room” and he’s also the character that the narrator is talking to in “Cocaine Man” off the LP. I like the idea of the same characters reappearing over and over so that I can create a whole universe that’s full of its own connections and clues and locations, the way some authors do. You can get into a single song, but the further you go into the music, the more of these trails you can find, and the more the experience can expand, spilling over the edges of the songs into the world.”
Infinite Shift is a track brimming with the churning, unending energy of NYC, propelled by Sean Mullins’ drums and full of a teenage sense of yearning for something more, some entry into the mysterious adult world of taxis gliding through Manhattan streets in the early morning. It’s about being drunk on new york, drunk on the future, and builds to a shattering and euphoric instrumental climax.
Black Wood Shine is dreamy and moody, composed of only vocals (run through guitar pedals for extra disorientation) and one electric guitar. Black Wood Shine is the moment when a relationship between two people is over even as they remain seated next to each other, feeling the rift. What if love is not enough? “I love you / but I’m killing you / I can see / it’s you or me.”
Feb 3 Songbyrd, Washington DC
Feb 5 New Brookland Tavern, Columbia SC
Feb 6 The Earl, Atlanta GA
Feb 7 Slim’s, Raleigh NC
Feb 8 Charlie’s, Norfolk VA
Feb 9 The Crown, Baltimore MD
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