Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Wicked Immigrant-White Nuns on Red Wine

September 1, 2005

wickedimmigrant

Band Name: Wicked Immigrant

Album Name: White Nuns on Red Wine[/u}

Best element: Tremendous Songwriting Growth
Genre: Mellow Indie-folk

Website:www.friendlypsychicsmusic.com/

Label name: Friendly Psychics Music (www.friendlypsychicsmusic.com)
Band e-mail: info@friendlypsychicsmusic.com

It’s always interesting to review releases from Friendly Psychics Music- I never know exactly what is going to come out of my speakers. There’s been psychedelia, there’s been fractured indie rock, there’s been muted indie-pop, threre’s even out-and-out rock in releases from Friendly Psychics.

This album is easily the best release that Friendly Psychics have ever released. Wicked Immigrant’s last album Reunion of Cynics was a dark, rolling experiment in Floyd-esque psychedelia, and while it was cool, some of it was highly alienating. There is none of that pretense on their latest full-length White Nuns on Red Wine. This album is a low-key indie-rock album that is centered around songwriting (a new development) and features primarily acoustic guitar and bass (also a development). The reason this is such a great step forward is that songwriting and the guitar/bass interactions were the best things about their previous full-length- to see them pushed to the forefront in such a manner is just golden.

The new importance of songwriting brings clarity to all of the songs, as the only other instruments allowed in the mix are contributors that genuinely have something to contribute to the song (such as the mournful pedal steel on the alt-country “Sentimental Coffin” and the creepy keys and strings of “Veranda Myth”). The vocals bear much more importance, and they step up as such- songs like “Fake Virgins Arrested!” could actually be called catchy. The lyrics are amped up too- I don’t know whether the coldness of Reunion of Cynics made the lyrics less noticeable, or whether they were just bad, but the lyrics throughout White Nuns on Red Wine are cohesive, intelligent, and quotable. I didn’t give hardly a thought to the lyrics last album, but this album places a lot of merit in them.

But the biggest change overall is that the acoustic songwriting and the bass contributions are just much, much stronger- take the great bass/guitar actions on “Batter of the Sods” as proof. The songs are short, yes- most don’t break three minutes. But the short songs included here pack a much stronger punch than anything on Reunion of Cynics.

This still isn’t for everyone- John Wenzel’s voice is still an acquired taste, and I wouldn’t call this pop by any means. But if you’ve been watching Friendly Psychics, you’ve seen a growth in Wenzel’s songwriting- and this album is the realization of all those albums in the catalog. Here’s to hoping they keep evolving into better and better forms- or at least keep churning out songs as memorably haunting as “Lie or Die Trying”.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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