Hey all, I’ve got some new music I’d like to share with you from an up and coming artist. The band is Wagers, and the album is their debut New Guilt.
New Guilt is rooted in New York punk rock; straight forward rock songs cranked out at galloping speeds. Coming in at 11 tracks and 25 minutes, it’s also a pretty brief record, but it goes down easy, and there’s enough variety to avoid monotony (although this could be a problem if Wagers breaks their brevity). The band starts off on the right foot with “Spun”, a hook-filled number that errs more towards their poppy-side. It’s a memorable tune with a fairly catchy chorus.
After the short instrumental “Red Shirt” comes the title track. With a Ramones-y riff and crashing drums leading the way, “New Guilt” comes out as vintage NY punk. The energy on the song is off the charts, and there’s a snarl in the chorus of “Who are you?” The breakdown bridge is a surprising but nice touch. Next song “Drunk Dial” has a more melodic side, but still manages to be just as hard hitting. The bass on this song shines through after being buried in the mix so far.
After a successful introduction, Wagers spends the middle of the record showing what they can do. “Hold the Reins” touts a short if tasteful guitar solo, as does “Sorry Scene”. “Drugs”, meanwhile, has a surf rock chord progression, but gets punked up enough to work just fine. By this point, the band is operating on two minute long songs: jump in, rock out, exit. Just as this formula starts wearing thin, “Getting Bent” goes from lean punk rocker to a Sonic Youth-esque freakout fadeout, pulling the listener back in.
After the delightfully sloppy “Food Stamps”, Wagers spends more time on the last two songs, “Running Wild” and “Feel Wrong”. “Running Wild” is reminiscent of Gaslight Anthem’s Boss-influenced punk rock, while there’s more Sonic Youth style experimentation on noisy closer “Feel Wrong”. The song starts off plenty frantic before finally closing on a different but intriguing jam, opening the young band’s door to other sounds.
All in all New Guilt isn’t the best record you’ll hear, but it’s definitely fun. Wagers is a punk band through and through: the bass gives a great low-end punch, the guitars bash out hasty but solid chord progressions and clever leads, the drums hit hard in all the right places, and the vocals hit just right. The production is extremely low-fi, but fairly clear, like the band’s playing in the room with you. Fast, furious, and full of promise, New Guilt is absolutely worth a listen; four stars.
tl;dr: another album in New York’s long punk traditon, 4/5.