Wisecrack – Pining for the Road

Pining for the Road

Folk punk is a unique genre of music. It touches on two ends of the musical spectrum—on one hand it can be easy listening and perfect for just sitting back and admiring but on the other, the raw energy can make you just want to get up and go. Lincoln based folk punk band Wisecrack, get the balance inch perfect on their debut album, Pining for the Road.

Pining for the Road

Pining for the Road

The three-piece act mix folk, punk and country brilliantly to create merry ‘drinking songs.’  Their lyrics are ‘political and anti-fascist’ but send out positive messages which add to the vibrant, uplifting feel of the album. This theme runs throughout Pining for the Road from start to finish, and the album has an uncanny knack of leaving you in a very jolly mood after listening through it. The band cite acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Frank Turner and Chuck Ragan as their main inspirations and different aspects of these great musician’s style shine though in Wisecrack’s music. The band do a brilliant job of drawing from their influences to create their own infectious sound which reverberates through the whole of Pining for the Road.

The opening track, 7 Day Hangover, is a nice blend of electric and acoustic guitars and gets the album off to the perfect start. It’s a real feel good tune and the type of song you’d find yourself singing with your friends after one too many beers. You know you’re in for a treat when Wisecrack front man Matt Colwell sings:

“We’ve partied hard and then we crashed the cars, all that’s left is an empty room, these six strings and a hungover afternoon.”

The second track, Angel With Two Right Wings, is perfectly structured with a slow, quiet, acoustic build up that springs to life in the chorus in the shape of electric guitars and an attack on right-wing politics. The use of a banjo in the chorus also adds to the depth of the song, and illustrates Wisecrack’s ability to combine different instruments and musical genres effortlessly to create their own recognisable sound.

Don’t Pray for Me is a catchy but meaningful song with a good chord progression and a smart guitar harmony layered over the top. Matt Colwell voices his opinions on religion with the thought provoking line:

“This is God’s country and we’re supposed to be his children but there’s better fathers in prison.”

The title track of the album, Pining for the Road, is a highlight of the album and much like the opening track, is very upbeat and carries a lot of energy. The song contains the signature punk rock formula of quick palm-muting in the verses followed by the ringing out of chords in the choruses. It’s about the band’s love of travelling and touring whilst playing music.

Towards the end of the album, another standout track is the hugely infectious Sunflower Song. It contains elements of ska, folk and punk and to put it in the words of the band themselves, they once said:

“It’s impossible to listen to it without a smile on your face.”

Overall Pining for the Road is a fine album and Wisecrack are a band that Lincoln can be proud of. They have a big love for music and this radiates through the album. It sends out messages about important issues such as politics and religion, but it does it in a positive way and inspires the listener to just enjoy music and have a good time.

For me, this is what music should be about and the world needs more bands like Wisecrack.

Mumford and Sons – Babel

Since back in July, fans of Mumford and Sons have been eagerly awaiting the release of their new album, “Babel”. Not long after this was announced, a 3 month long tour of America, Australia and the United Kingdom was penned, making up a total of 54 dates. This begs a simple question, if Mumford and Sons have achieved this in the short amount of time they have had, will their new record live up to expectation or will it fall victim to tricky second album syndrome.

The first thing that becomes apparent when listening through “Babel” is the fact the band don’t seem to have over worked themselves. The same banjo plucking manifests itself just like in their début album“Sigh No More”. But that isn’t to say its a bad thing they haven’t changed there style for the second album, as the famous saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. As Mumford and Sons have been touring all over the world, they have upgraded venues, from relatively small ones to arenas that seat up to 20,000. The new album sounds like it was produced with that major factor in mind, to be played to an amplitude of folk loving fans.

The title track “Babel” lends itself to this fact perfectly, with a punchy and catchy chorus that will surely be a festival anthem for this upcoming summer. New single “Lover Of the Night” is again more of the same, big choruses and melodies a plenty.“I Will Wait” is a personal favourite. The short, snappy chorus echoes back to their previous hit “Little Lion Man” uncannily, with a tune you will be hard pressed to get out of your head.

In reflection, “Babel” is a very good album that should not be taken lightly. It feels a lot tidier and neater round the edges than their début. There’s enough in terms of depth to the album for the avid fan to get there teeth into while they eagerly await their Mumford and Sons ticket to come through the post. It was always going to be tricky to emulate the highs of “Sigh No More” but in my opinion it does easily do this.