16 Jun 2016
Holy Wave - Freaks of Nurture
Reviewed by Elizabeth Klisiewicz
Austin’s Holy Wave straddles a stylistic line between West Coast folk rock and 80s psychedelia. You could say they’re retro and vintage, and I doubt they’d be offended, because they write, sing, and play so effortlessly that it’s like a pair of comfortable jeans that you want to keep forever. Yes, anyone who listens to The Byrds and even the great rush of music from Down Under will both recognize and enjoy the songs on this new record. And that’s a good thing, because let’s face it, so many bands fail to rework classic genres. Opening track “She Put a Seed In My Ear” is particularly striking, with warmly inflected vocals and gentle keyboard washes. It rather reminds me of the sonic territory inhabited by Beach House, or maybe even DIIV. “Wendy Go Round” resurrects vintage organ and its wayback feel is like a cool summer breeze. And ooh, “Western Playland” is like a cold drink of water on a scorching day; its refreshing, chill vibe is like a balm to these tired ears. “You Should Lie” is another great song, with amped up energy and dreamy, female vocals with cooing harmonies. The lazy, sinuous grooves of “California Took My Bobby Away” is pure dream pop without a care in the world.
“Air Wolf” mines the Byrsdian, West Coast vein that has worked well for so many bands, albeit with a modern sensibility, a motorik vibe, and better production values. “Our Pigs” sounds like a cross between The Beach Boys (vocally) and a slew of modern garage rock bands. “Sir Isaac Nukem” is a pretty tune with shiny production values, while “Magic Landing” is all about the tripped out garage psych vibe and swampy backbeat. The final tune is the luminous “Minstrel’s Gallop”, a finely honed, delicately structured song with swirling organ and the light touch of vocals. It is a great ending to one of the better psych releases of the year. Well worth checking out.
Physical copies available here (UK/EU), or here (US). Downloads and streaming available here: