Before we get into the tunes, it's worth noting that Holy Wave are a band from Texas and that dude is wearing a Washington Redskins tee. That might seem pretty insignificant, but for this casual D.C. sports fan, it's telling. Hatred of the Dallas Cowboy runs deep in the Beltway so he gets props for rocking that one.
Now, with that out of the way we can discuss the utterly splendid music found on Holy Waves' new album, Freaks Of Nurture, out now on Reverberation Appreciation Society. The album, which dropped yesterday, was a pleasant surprise for me as it contained music that was far more inventive and affecting than what I was expecting from what I had read about these guys earlier.
Freaks Of Nurture is a veritable smorgasbord of trippy tunes ("She Put A Seed In My Ear") and Sixties-aping vibe-fests similar to what Temples pull off routinely ("Wendy Go Round" and "Western Playland"). Elsewhere, on the propulsive "You Should Lie", Holy Wave hit at the kind of guitar-indie that Pale Saints perfected some ages ago. Still, the highlight of Freaks Of Nurture is the positively sublime "California Took My Bobby Away", all early Slowdive meets Pink Floyd (Obscured By Clouds era, at least). For a band that gets labelled psychedelic, this is surprisingly melodic stuff, think Zombies and Moody Blues singles and not anything ever released by any act of the U.S. Paisley Underground movement, for example.
Later, on "Air Wolf", Holy Wave refine this all into a palatable pop package, while the strutting "Our Pigs" puts the mix of influences here together into something closer in line to Temples (again). "Sir Isaac Nukem" and "Magic Landing" are worthy additions to the vaguely neo-psychedelic tune-age on offer on Freaks Of Nurture and yet it's album closer "Minstrel's Gallop" that thoroughly charms. Based around a swirling organ figure, the track is haunting and more traditional -- think chamber pop in the manner of The Left Banke -- than one would have expected to find here. Traces of early 4AD bands, and various shoegaze pioneers, litter Freaks Of Nuture but it remains the unique blending of those influences and others that makes this record such a compelling listen. Far more accessible and tuneful than any psych band has any right to be, Holy Wave have recorded a marvelous album this time out.
[Photo: Alison Scarpulla]