Friday, April 16, 2010

One Wolf II: Secret of the Wolf - album review

With one of my favorite albums of 2010 thus far, emerging Lubbock, Texas, rock band One Wolf recently released their second album to date, entitled One Wolf II: Secret of the Wolf. OW leader Daniel Markham has long been known to draw on a diverse set of musical influences, some of them seemingly impossible to weave together into any kind of cohesive musical project, yet time and time again, he pulls it off. Markham has a knack for creating songs that move him out of the musical comfort zone of his past projects to explore new directions, all the while creating extremely enjoyable music to listen to.

Lubbock provides for an interesting locale to base one's band in. The core of the local music scene, Texas Tech's radio station KTXT, was shut down about a year and a half ago by the university, leaving it up to independent entities to keep the scene alive. So far the scene has thrived, due in large part to acts like One Wolf, as well as a diverse range of other musical acts. One Wolf has benefited a great deal from being one of the marquee local bands in Lubbock, having the chance to open for a diverse set of acts and make connections that have allowed them to spread their music to new markets, most notably their recent run of dates with Deer Tick.

Back to the album though, I am truly hooked. The recording and production are absolutely fantastic, and the songs are very well crafted and tastefully arranged. New elements on this record compared to the last are the introduction of keyboard and the use of heavy fuzz guitar. On paper, I would be a bit skeptical of each of those things, but on the album they work brilliantly. One Wolf has moved flawlessly from some heavily alt country beginnings into a rock sound that gives them a great deal more freedom to explore new sounds. This record and other recent records done at Ramble Creek recording studio, including Collin Herring's Ocho and Telegraph Canyon's The Tide and the Current, are establishing the Austin studio as one of the premier places to record amidst the ever-expanding sea of recording studios to choose from.

While I will always hold a personal bias toward the material of Lubbock bands, I think that Secret of the Wolf is a record that will stand side-by-side with many of the best records this year. Plus, you've got to love most any band that names a song "Rick Nelson."

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