For this first edition of my just made-up segment called “Know Your Underground EP,” we set our sights away from the twinkling lights of Los Angeles and Orange county and recede into the cold depths of winter in northeastern Pennsylvania, where gloved hands and frosty breath reign supreme, yet good music still fuels the heat of the soul.
Wars Over Wails takes modern rock, dresses it up in some funky jazz clothes, and slaps Middle Eastern and other influences onto its outfit. The end product is a musical vision with the ability to throw genres out the window and challenge the listener to broaden their horizons.
Opening up the Wars Over Wails EP is “Istanbul,” which is actually my favorite song in the cluster. With its Middle Eastern genesis as a creation point, “Istanbul” turns itself into a trippy, slightly Middle Eastern/jazz crossover where guitarist Kooper Brown makes full sliding usage of the fret board with the lead guitar; front-man Terry Meyer croons his way across Brown’s atmospheric riffs while drummer Jeremy Fisher is ridiculously on-point with the percussion. Taking the song to a particular zenith near the end, Damain Dallabrida switches from bass to solo electric guitar and provides a spiraling groove reminiscent of Andy Summer’s, from The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta album.
“Infinity” pulls the sound back to a more contemporary arena, starting slow and ethereal with a great opening acoustic riff. Allowing the sound and instruments to build off each other and reach a place of unison, the listener is led by the music rather than imposed upon. Meyer’s voice and lyrical arrangement allows for clear, concise composition and understanding. The chorus marks the crescendo, giving way to a gentle guitar solo before the song resets itself and builds back up parabolically in perfect unison near the end, with more driving force behind Meyer’s soaring voice, Fisher’s frenetic percussion, Damian Dallabrida’s pulsating bass and Brown’s harmonically complementing solo.
Toning down the volume but turning up the ethereality of the sound, “It’s My Time” is a soothing number with a great acoustic sound. Once again building piece by piece, Wars Over Wails allows the creativity to go from four singular instruments into one harmonic mold; although, if I may nitpick the end, I like the slight added crunch of distorted guitar but Meyer’s voice is best heard in its honeyed softness. After the high point, the song reigns itself in and Meyer brings it back to a perfect pitch amid soft acoustics and light percussion.
Rounding out the four song EP is “Seventeen,” which starts off as a poppy flowing song, but quickly morphs into a chorus with a harder edge. Rifling guitar solos by Brown and Meyer growl, presumably at someone who does things, positive or negative, that makes them seem seventeen in his mind. At first I was unsure, but I really like this song for what it is: a good quick rant with crunching guitars and scintillating percussion.
Hopefully, there is an iceberg under this musical tip. This little sample EP is a great introduction to the potential of Wars Over Wails and a testament to all the talented musicians out there working from the ground up, who have the ability to create raw musical journeys, often breaking away from the everyday predictable shoveled load of slop that many people, to my continued bewilderment, seem to find most appealing.
If you’re in the throes of winter exile back on the east coast, or even fighting the winter (cough) season in Southern California, allow Wars Over Wails an introduction into your catalog. Consider it a musical investment, where your future listening will no doubt be succinctly fulfilled. Philadelphia area, if you make it to this review, be aware that Wars Over Wails may be invading your city in the near future... Enjoy.
Reviewer Bio - Tim Rosini is part of the editorial team at Onlinerock team. Having a background in English literature with a concentration in creative writing, Tim found himself working for various magazines and websites after moving out to the west coast last summer. Having the ability to adapt his focus from business writing to creative fiction he has found a great place to exercise his passion for music on the onlinerock website.