This ‘Woolen Men’ article was written by Rachael Halliwell, a GIGsoup contributor
Hailing from Portland, Oregon, one might expect Woolen Men to have a sound akin to alternative contemporaries like Everclear, The Decemberists or even The Dandy Warhols. In a way this is quite true – though each of these bands are quite different, it could be said that they have a certain ‘something’ that is indicative of their origins.
Founded in 2009, the trio consists of Raf Spielman, Lawton Browning and Alex Geddes. They consider themselves ‘lo-mid-fi-pop,’ with this sentiment evident throughout the melodic echoings of their work, most of which has been self-released.
A few of the album songs are not much over a minute in length, alongside some short two-minute-bursts – quite indicative of a Punk influence somewhere along the lines. Though these guys are definitely no Ramones or Sex Pistols by any stretch of the imagination, it would be easy to imagine the band to carry a pleasant and energetic live presence. ‘The Dissolving Man’ is probably one of the punkier-sounding of the tracks, though still very much has a gentleness to it.
The A-Side of the album is subtly different, sounding a little unfinished in places and rushed, whereas the B-Side sounds more complete and arguably a little darker. Even with this inconsistency, it’s clear that Woolen Men are obviously sure of their own sound.
‘After The Flood’ finishes Side A, and indeed feels like the most well-rounded song, with nicely paced drums, guitar twangs and an oddly optimistic sounding organ. ‘Temporary Monument’, from which the album takes its title, is definitely one of the stronger songs present, providing listeners with nice lyrics alongside a catchy rolling tune that evokes warmth and memories. If anybody remembers the British band Maximo Park, you might just be reminded of them here.
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‘Hard Revision’ is, rather coincidentally, one of the harder sounding songs guitar-wise; a two minute blast that echoes with a sort of anger alongside heartily sung, almost anarchic vocals that aren’t really present in any of the other album tracks. ‘On Cowardice’ loosely follows this idea too, but as mentioned it doesn’t quite manage the same emotion. ‘The Wheel’ has riffs aplenty. If a little bit of a drag in places during the first half, the last half of the song features an instrumental melody that would no doubt be excellent in a live venue. It is easy to imagine the band would revel in this kind of thing and it is where they have a magnetic strength.
‘Walking Out’ is a nice way for the album to finish, a gentle and contemplative song that will leave you in a somewhat reflective mood.
All in all, Temporary Monument is melodic and softly-genre-influenced, having that indie-produced vibe through its half-sung garageband lyrics and echoing, brooding guitars – with a slightly harder than average edge. It is nothing ground-breaking, but the band appear sure of themselves and this album features some catchy songs that are made for playing live.
‘Temporary Monument’ is out on the 4th September 2015 via Woodsist