Hailing from the amazing city of Austin, Texas (I’ve been there, it really is that great) comes the mysterious singer-songwriter Beware Wolves. Incredibly this guy has crafted ten full-length albums which will be released over time by the Brooklyn, New York based Aqualamb Records, home to artists from such wide-ranging genres as the hardcore metal of Burning Tongue, the new wave/dark ambient inclinations of LaMacchia and the catchy melodic stoner rock of Lo-Pan, to name three. It would appear that Beware Wolves struck gold when it came to finding a label.
Volume 2 follows up last year’s first instalment, the debut full-length Volume 1. Long-time readers of mine will know how much importance I place on album cover art and this record proves no exception. It is of a deliciously cryptic variety, though there are parts which are easier to decipher than others, such as the project’s logo and the number 2 that tell us it’s the second album, ‘duh, obviously Reza’ you’ll be telling yourselves. Anyway, onto the music…
Nine songs at twenty-eight minutes long? That’s almost punk rock and this relatively short listening experience starts with Blackout. What immediately struck me is the reassuring warmth of the vocals which gives off a certain early ‘70s Neil Young vibe but maybe not as sonically divisive (Neil’s voice isn’t for everyone after all), its somewhat bluesier too. A hell of a start and I’m sold already.
I have no idea whether Bring It To Me, features any guest musicians, but there are some gorgeous multilayered harmonies on offer. You are reminded of Crosby, Stills and Nash what with its irresistible Laurel Canyon sensibility and before cocaine supplanted weed as the drug of choice. Crazy recalls the rich vocal tones of the late, great Mark Lanegan, with music that is much more stripped down than heard so far and of the grungier, darker variety. No elaborate harmonies here, this is raw gut busting emotion that showcases another side to Beware Wolves repertoire.
tapping into the spirit of the late Nick Drake…
Danielle is interesting, Tracy Chapman was a name that initially sprung to mind with this soul-pop earworm, I was half expecting him to break into Talkin’ ‘Bout A Revolution at any moment while Electric Light is sombre by comparison, tapping into the spirit of the late Nick Drake. Achingly beautiful. At a mere fifty-seven seconds long Emergency Contact is the shortest track on the album and due to its length, there is an incomplete quality present which recalls the kind of ‘hidden track’ I remember encountering on albums growing up (always preceded annoyingly by several minutes of silence at the end of the last song on the record), still, a bit of nostalgic charm never hurt anybody.
Envy Of Stars tips its hat to troubled folk artist Jackson C Frank as well as the alt-country/americana of Will Oldham aka Bonny Prince Billy. This is a track that has me longing for the warmer climes of Texas, particularly as I’ve been freezing my nuts off currently much like the rest of the UK. Ever Loved appears to borrow from the pleasantly laidback, whimsical canon of J Mascis while Fan concludes the album in the fashion of Nils Lofgren when he was with the band Grin and before he hit real paydirt with Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. There’s a wide-eyed innocent naïve charm which I’m hopeful Beware Wolves won’t be losing anytime soon.
Volume 2 is pleasantly unassuming and I’m certainly looking forward to hearing and potentially reviewing future instalments whenever they land. Definitely one to recommend.
Scribed by: Reza Mills