How great that in 2014 a bona fide cosmic Americana band can emerge on the underground music scene. Has me hopeful that certain music traditions, seemingly lost to time, can be celebrated and even grow to relevance once again through the cultural movement at hand. It must be powerful, of course, and it must be genuine, and that is what we have here. Old Wave is a story, a psychedelic folk yarn. When it rains, it’s pourin’ joyous melodies and rich, heavenly harmony. When it’s cold, they wrap you in a blanket of warm chordal textures. Every day starts and ends with the sun, at least. The guys in Old Wave sing sincerely, spinning a web of poetry about everything from work to traveling to feline companions to the (unfortunately) oft-under-honored verbal contract of promises. It’s groovy, honest-to-goodness country rock. And now we have their first record.
Its opener, “Conversations with Red,” will bring a tear to the eye of anyone who ever got to spend any time with the former head of the Whitehaus household, Red. The upbeat groove lifts your chin as Pancho remembers what it was like to begin and end your day with our friend, this special little creature. “Blend Equally” is the one for me. It’s about work. “Nobody said it’d be easy, but we don’t have to make it so hard.” For some reason I don’t mind hearing from Pancho things that would warrant a punch in the face for almost anyone else. He has this incredible way of explicitly and subliminally injecting you with hope. I feel better when I listen to this music. The country feel really comes out later, on “Star City,” with the cameo of another local character and truly spiritual player, Jonah Rapino. “Wave of the Future” wraps it up fully facing and barreling in the direction of Crazy Horse, a shredding, hard-rock place they should clearly visit more often. Overall they keep the whole record within the realm of chill, an influence they get from their musical inspirations, of course, but from their neighborhood as well.
Old Wave are local dudes through and through, JP and Rosi. As members of the original Whitehaus Family and extended family they epitomize the positive, funky-music lovers of the area and collectively possess a huge, unmesswithable JPness. I work in the thrift/charity field with two of them and on various creative projects with all four, but the sad fact is that I don’t even know these guys anymore. It appears that my friends have all but transformed into Neil Young, Jerry Garcia, Rick Danko, and Levon Helm. If this impossible metamorphosis intrigues you, then you’ll like where I’m going with this. They’re just nailing it. Paying tribute to the deep, beautiful history of American folk music from Laurel Canyon to New England, these dudes are coming together to make blissful, original music. What’s more is that they are doing so in the midst of peers whose musical leanings couldn’t be further from the bounty they share with us, and yet they’re still having an impact in the same way.
Never have I heard such spot-on embodiment of, to my mind, some of the greatest musical spirits our world has ever known; and with a completely original and genuine take on it all, from the tones to the tunes. Trying to escape the pigeonhole of songwriting frontman since birth, Pancho The Kid has actually done it this time by bringing in individual music personalities not just to complement his masterful music storytelling and extraordinary voice but rather to match his qualities with straight-up sick and unique euphonious technique. The tunes on this, their first release, are largely older songs from PTKs repertoire, but with the contribution of Ian Kovac’s soulful bass layer, Neil Horsky’s funky backbeat, and Scott Mizrachi’s dreamy guitar decorations, they are delivered fresh as all get-out. Captured for your consumption by the skilled JP head PJ Goodwin, this record was born here, raised here, and will someday buy a house here.
If you think this little batch of jams is good, just wait for the next record, in which the foursome’s collaborative songwriting and jam-banding pushes them further into “next level” territory. Or don’t wait at all and just go see them live on May 2 at Spontaneous Celebrations in JP as part of Wake Up The Earth Fest; and on May 3 at Deep Thoughts for their official record release!