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Wonderlove – My Submarine 
by Keavin Wiggins

Orange County residents got their first major taste of Wonderlove’s new CD “My Submarine” when the local FM rock station “Cool Radio” put the first single, “What it Seems,”  into heavy rotation late last year.  The song quickly shot up to the top of the station’s nightly request hour and the band’s local audience, which was already substantial, suddenly swelled overnight. After “What it Seems” reached those who normally don’t venture out into the clubs to see live music, their OC shows at the Gypsy Lounge and Anaheim House of Blues began to fill with new faces and it seemed that “Wonderlove Fever” was becoming so contagious that the CDC would have to be called in. 

Now after a bit of a wait, Wonderlove has finally released their second full-length album, “My Submarine” and it more than lives up to the expectations. Most fans that have seen the band perform live over the past year will be instantly familiar with most of the tracks on the album.  But let’s discuss that for a moment before we delve into the CD.  Wonderlove has made a name for themselves locally not only with their rockin’ melodic songs but with their high energy live shows. Unlike most modern bands, these guys understand that a rock show should be more than a few guys standing on stage parroting back their songs; they actually put on a performance. From lead vocalist Chris Paul Overall’s frontman stances to lead guitarist Bryan McIntyre’s supernatural channeling of the late great Jimmy Hendrix. When you pay to see Wonderlove perform, you get a rock show of the highest order. 

So I was interested to see if these new songs that went over so well live would translate well as studio recordings. The short answer; yes they do.  In fact, most of the songs sound flawlessly like they do live, while some of the energy you are used to when hearing and seeing these tunes performed live is lost in the transition, for the most part the band retains the heart of the power to these songs. That’s actually saying quite a bit because there are far too many bands that sound great on tape but can’t pull it off live because they find all the magic tools at their disposal in the studio which that can’t count on live. 

Since this is a sophomore album it’s necessary to compare this album to the group’s debut. Did they change? Is there musical growth? Is this an extension of their debut?  Can you listen to the albums back to back and see the evolution of the band?  With most band’s this kind of comparison is easy to make. Not so with Wonderlove because their two albums really do come from two different places. 

I will state for the record right now that I loved the music on the debut. That being said, I was a little shocked when I first heard it after seeing this band live. That album, “Getting Off the Revolution,” seemed to be more about Chris Paul Overall’s musical expression and songwriting than an overall group identity. They had the big rock sound but that album seemed more about the individual songs and not an overall defining sound. Although a track like “Dirty” was really a preview of what was to come with “My Submarine,” other tracks like the melodious powerpop number “She Don’t Love Me,” the mournful “Return” and the soulful ballad “Free” gave us a glimpse into the many sides of CPO’s musical personality. With those explorations into different musical realms, it really gave the album a lot of diversity. 

This time around the band assumes an overall group identity. In fact, where most of the songs on “Getting Off the Revolution” were penned by Chris, on “My Submarine” Chris shared the songwriting with Bryan and drummer Dicki Fliszar, as well as couple of outside co-writters. So understandably some of the songs seem to differ from the personality of the first album. The final result is a collection of songs that seemed to have been road tested live before the band headed into the studio and once in the studio they did do an admirable job of capturing the energy and feel of a live band while at the sametime turning out a masterfully produced studio album. 

The melodic powerpop and soulful rock of “Getting Off the Revolution” was replaced this time by a raw-rock meets classic rock and a post-grunge alternative sound. The first track “What It Seems” could give the Strokes or The Vines a run for their money, but don’t fear Wonderlove doesn’t fit nicely into the raw-rock, or as many have taken to calling it “nu garage,” box. It’s true that their music should appeal to fans of that style of music but where those groups tend to settle for sticking to the basics, Wonderlove go the opposite direction with leads and phrasing that fit more in the classic guitar rock tradition, but gathered under a modern alternative rock umbrella. That is no more evident than on a track like “Feeling Something Inside” where the song translates well into the modern alternative rock realm but wouldn’t have been too out of place on the radio in the late 60’s or early 70’s. 

“Fork in the Road” continues that formula but also flirts on the edges of progressive rock. It has a dark and airy feel about it and gives Chris a chance to showcase his falsetto talents and Dicki drums like a madman, joined by Dave Beste’s driving bass lines and Bryan just plies understated guitar leads in all the right places and unleashes a bit of the beast as the song climaxes but never pushes you fully off the cliff. It’s a masterful bit of restraint on Bryan part because you know he could have  used this track to really go fullout with guitar leads but kept it in the context of the overall song. 

Some of the other standout tracks include the groovy rocker “Beautiful,” another song the bridges the generation by capturing the best of classic and modern rock. “Lucid” is a trippy little psychedelic number with a fist pounding intensity as the band seems to let loose all their pent up energy. 

“Ring Worm” sounds like what you might get if the Beatles had recorded side two of Abbey Road in present day with the benefit of modern influences. The title track is a hypnotically driving song that is a crowd pleaser live especially where Chris wails at full throttle and Bryan take the opportunity to shine with his leads. 

Ironically, it’s the track “To Lucy With Love” that seems to land more in the Jellyfish camp than the track “Jellyfish”. Don’t worry they don’t venture in to the “Baby’s Coming Back” territory of Jellyfish. 

While Wonderlove is best known for their full-blown live rock show, Chris Paul Overall really shows us what he is made of as a vocalist and songwriter with the acoustic ballad “Love and The Essence of Life”. His falsetto range is impressive and carries the sentiment of the song perfectly, definitely making this another high point of the album. 

“My Submarine” closes with a groovy mid-tempo rocker written by Bryan called "Sunshine" that will transport you back to the summer of love and may help open kids eyes up to the magic of the music of that era. It’s a perfect end to a very strong album and seems to sum up the overall feel of the previous tracks. 

Wonderlove impresses me personally because they touch on a lot of the my favorite musical styles from melodic hard rock to the acid rock period of classic rock to the best elements of modern alternative as well as tap dancing on the edges of the raw rock revival without taking the plunge over the side. Given this mixed musical identity, it may be tough for this band to capture the attention of the narrow minded A&R folks from the major labels who seem to be running around signing up the same band over and over again, but all it will take is one tuned in guy or gal to see the potential here and Wonderlove will be off and running on a major scale. Until then, the people that really matter, the fans, seem to get what Wonderlove is all about and at least in the small corner of the globe where this band resides, they have already reached the pinnacle of superstardom. Now it’s time to take it to the rest of the world, and “My Submarine” is the perfect vehicle to do just that!


CD Info 

Wonderlove – My Submarine
Label: Logjammin Recordings 
Rating: 
 
Tracks:
What It Seems
Feeling Something Inside
Fork in the Road
Beautiful
Lucid
Ringworm
My Submarine
To Lucy With Love
Jellyfish
Love Intro
Love and the Essence of Life
Sunshine
Visit Wonderlove.net to learn more about the band, download some mp3's and purchase "My Submarine".


Want More?

Visit Wonderlove.net to learn more about the band, download some mp3's and purchase "My Submarine".
 
 

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