Label: Royal Potato Family
Release Date: 10/14/2016
What kind of band would brand themselves with the name WOLF!? Well it turns out, a group of guys that feel they have nothing to prove. The three Brooklyn natives include: Scott Metzger on guitar, Jon Shaw on bass and keys and Taylor Floreth on drums and percussion. In 2015, Royal Potato Family released WOLF!’s self-titled debut CD. This year they follow-up with 1-800-WOLF!, which features tracks recorded in one afternoon at Marco Benevento’s studio in Woodstock, and the rest over three days at The Creamery Studio in Brooklyn.
WOLF!’s unique sound represents a wide variety of influences: rock, pop, country, singer/song writer and a loose free jazz element. Each song has a feeling of the members creating an overall feeling with the music and focusing on compositions and arrangement originality. Metzger describes the band’s focus as, “I’m not thinking, ‘OK, I’m gonna solo now.’ It’s more like, ‘Let me compose a cool part for where a solo would traditionally go’.” This certainly comes through on the thirteen solid tunes, tied together by an integrated laid-back craftiness and focus on a groove that embodies a back beat that will captivate the listener.
The opening track, “Pork ‘n Slaw,” and “Whiskey Mister” favor a classic funky R&B style, highlighted by Metzger’s guitar playing, with a slightly distorted tele-sound and hip riffs, the selections methodically unfold with building layers. Metzger’s guitar solos are a study in saying more with less, each phrase is perfectly placed within the pocket and builds in energy.
The trio explores its influence with the Ventures’ signature echo effect and surf shuffle on “Furry Freedom.” The distinctive sound the trio creates is magical, each chorus finds a new layer of variation that builds on the last. The way Floreth continues to bring in various elements on his kit, builds the song and fits seamlessly with Shaw’s clever basslines. Metzger’s dissonant chords are first-rate, and his colorings for the different sections help define the form. The sounds he coaxes out of his guitar is creative, mimicking electronic pops and squeals, which creates a myriad of solo colors. This trio is tight, and they continue to build the vibe together.
Overall, WOLF! is an innovative trio, conjuring musical moments of exceptional and edgy gorgeousness that is satisfying on many levels. They could be akin to that cool mutt at the dog park, the one that has a special energy about it and everyone knows it, but you must hear it to really understand the understated magic.