[sic] Magazine

Wolf People – Steeple

Should more bands release albums that rhyme with their band name? Probably not, but Wolf People are not most bands. For a start, how many other current English psych-rock bands of note are there? With few to no local contemporaries, it is fair to say that Wolf People look to their predecessors for guidance.

Meandering interludes and all, their dusty odds and sods Tidings collection that saw light earlier this year caught the ear. So, naturally, a fully focused effort largely recorded in a C17th barn in Wales ups the ante somewhat. What remains constant however is that the band seem still not to have heard a record made since the mid ‘70s, but they have nevertheless been delving deeper into forgotten record boxes marked pastoral folk since Tidings was cobbled together.

Imagine a fog-covered vale, church spire standing resolute under autumn moonlight – that’s half of Steeple. The other half hand-whisks classic Jack Bruce -era Cream into the equation, sprinkles in some of Hendrix ‘s riffs and the subsequent tight jam recalls the recent efforts of kindred spirits Arbouretum as a result. Album highlight “One By One From Dorney Reach” pulls a classic sounding Bond theme tune out of the bag, only it’s one envisaged by Jimmy Page in full chug mode. Consequently, it’s genuinely excellent no matter the decade it beams in from.

Frontman Jack Sharp ‘s thin, dreamy vocal isn’t the most complimentary, yet it sets the band’s work apart. You know that despite the ready influences you are listening to Wolf People, and it is thanks to Sharp who smoothes his words between indulgent instrumentals, over fearless classic rock passages and into finales full of feedback.

It doesn’t all work though, it must be said. For example, the Hendrix / Bullitt soundtrack mélange “Tiny Circle” is too heavy on the flute in its laboured, flighty 60s groove for these ears, but the solid opener “Silbury Sands” gets the elusive balance spot on, as do the immaculate riffs and harmonies of “Painted Cross”. The two-part closer “Banks of Sweet Dundee” is equally notable, focusing Steeple like stepping out into a chilly morning does. It’s real outdoorsy psych-folk stuff: cool and dewy. Together, late on, these tracks give Steeple real backbone and, dare I say it, identity.

In a world where punk never happened, Wolf People play on where their hirsute heroes left off, and most bands couldn’t pull that off credibly. But then Wolf People are not most bands – they’re a condensing of some of the very best ones.

Advised downloads: “One By One From Dorney Reach” and “Painted Cross”.

~Steeple will be released October 11th 2010 on Jagjaguwar .~

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