Killing Tongue by WedgeRelease date: February 9, 2018
Label: Heavy Psych Sounds Records
Wedge play the kind of music that many thought had died out years ago, and given the current state of mainstream music, you may very well think you are right. Forget about the mainstream though, and you may just find a thriving subset of bands who give no shakes for following “convention” and just want to rock and roll in the old way. And that is what Wedge do, and they do it extremely well.
Raising eyebrows with their self-titled debut album, here was a band steeped in the sound that was as funky as it was embossed with their raw melodic rock. Almost carved out of analogue, they stood apart with their wonderful mix of harmonies and jamming, all held by that tight groove. It may just have been lightning in a bottle, except that Wedge had other ideas.
As the stop start funk of ‘Nuthin’ kicks off second album Killing Tongue, it seems as if very little has changed from that debut. You would be half right in thinking that to, as why change a winning formula? Subtly there is a shift into slightly more experimental territory as they take their jamming to a different level during ‘Lucid’. This is only the tip of the iceberg though, although confined to the limitations of the album, they manage to create a spaciousness which just begs to be expanded on, as they no doubt will do live.
The semi-Eastern twang of ‘Tired Eyes’ may bear the hallmarks of Zeppelins ‘Kashmir’, or any imitator that came after for that matter, but once the vocals of Kyrik come drifting in, only to be matched by an out of this world organ, you can only doff your cap to the sheer audacity at pulling it off. Here s the sound of a band in absolute comfort with what they sound like, and willing to take that ten steps further. Once that guitar solo hits you, its like laying back and letting the cool of the open freeway hit you. Sublime.
Wedge do epic ballads rather stunningly too, as ‘Quarter To Dawn’ testifies. Softly strummed, along with brief flickers of piano, its haunting temperament carries a psychedelic edge before it threatens to burst into a full on stadium anthem. The way it holds back just enough to keep you on the edge of your seat is a stroke of genius, and adds to the sudden release of ‘High Headed Woman’, a rather standard rock and roller but lifted by both superlative playing, and its placing in the running order.
The title track is proper old school hard rock complete with a Doors style organ, against the thud of a riff straight out of Ritchie Blackmore’s book. It swaggers with intention, as it throws its sleazy turn, before descending into a marching rhythm and organ solo. Not since the glory days of Manzarek or Lord has there been such audacity, as the guitar takes a back-seat for once. It’s Wedge’s secret weapon, and when they bring it to the fore they simply become your new favourite band.
‘Alibi’ is something of a come-down after this high but the funkiness soon rears its head on ‘Who Am I’, which pushes the limits of the speakers as it raises the heat with its bass line. It’s all leading up to that riff which begins final song ‘Push Air’ though, which may be the dirtiest riff this side of AC/DC. It’s a celebratory sock in the chops as they triumphantly end the album with a modern retro rock classic. Thirty odd years ago would have seen this song being played from every radio station, probably alongside the new hit from Free. These days we got to look underground to find it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. In a way this song becomes an anthem both for those long gone times, and also for what is happening right now. Many call it retro but that’s taking away from what it really is. This isn’t retro music, this is timeless music. And that’s what rock and roll is at the end of the day. Buy this album, buy a copy for your parents. Play it loud and live life.