Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Vanderwolf — Extinction!
(Bandcamp Another Record Label V34802, 2022, DL)
Vanderwolf — 12 Little Killers
(Bandcamp no#, 2022, CD / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2023-01-16
I’ll admit to being a bit confused by Max Vanderwolf. He’s an American who spent quite a few years working in London, playing music and working at the Royal Festival Hall. He’s now based in Los Angeles, though many of the people on his recent recordings are in the UK. Between the Extinction! single (released in April) and the album 12 Little Killers (from July), there are 14 songs, and it’s not too much of a stretch to say that each one of them is in a different style. The single features “When the Fire Grows Cold,” a great song that is enhanced by Robert Wyatt’s vocals. It’s the kind of poetic, melodic, but slightly off-kilter song that Wyatt himself might have written. The title track is a rowdy, horn-heavy song with a latin flavor that would also fit in the Wyatt oeuvre, like something from one of those all-star live shows. It’s my favorite piece on either release. On the album, Vanderwolf tackles a range of different styles that could be broadly called Americana, going from folky acoustic music (“I Am Not a Mountain”) to various flavors of country (“Somebody’s Love Song,” ”If This Is Love... Please Make It Stop“), blues (“Ain’t Gonna Hurt No One No More”), and rock ‘n’ roll (“Something 4 Nothing”) with lots of stops in between. While some of the music borders on corny, something about the quality of the lyrics and the production lifts it above mere genre-hopping dilettantism. A couple of tracks venture into the territory of a Pink Floyd rock ballad (think “Comfortably Numb”), though with a more American flavor. Extinction! should appeal to any fans of Wyatt’s style of music, and 12 Little Killers can be appreciated by anyone looking for a new twist on old sounds.
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