As much as I love Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder's evolving roles have presented issues. But at least Mike McCready blessed Vedder's guitar-playing: "Even though there are three guitars, I think there's maybe more room now. Stone will pull back and play a two-note line and Ed will do a power chord thing, and I fit into all that."
There's something about Chicago's WaxWorks that got me thinking about that. Because when a band brings to bear a considerable complement of professional musicianship, they still need space to work with.
Whether it be the whipsaw drumming starting at 1:49 of WaxWorks “Modern Love” (which is closer to “Golden Years” than Bowie's titular doppelganger); a bass that single-handedly carries a song (i.e. intro to “I Got a Woman”); a guitar that runs from silly sophistication (at 2:00) to seriously shredtastic (at 5:15) on “All Tore Up”; and a staggering vocal that ranges from the visceral soul showcased on “All Tore Up” to Lenny Kravitz-like power on “I Got A Woman” (at 2:39) – it's the space, the lull, the quiet before the storm, that sets up effective punches like the crunchy distortion at :33 of “Cold Bones” or its vocal-fill-turn-hook at 2:23.
And I have no idea if it's friendship or mutual respect that has the band acting like, well, a band; but one Mad Love song sums it up for me. “I Got a Sorrow” starts with a narrator paced by a solitary guitar. The moment he hints at quiet desperation, his friends are by his side (at:29) – with airy drums over pulsing bass guitar. Together they fall into their old rhythms, helping their friend “burn” away his pain, back at the old stomping grounds (lake). (It's almost like they knew that relationship wouldn't last.)
The two singles WaxWorks released in 2014 were “recorded on cold days with minimal production.” WaxWorks is a band that can do this, with product that can withstand repeated listens. How much you wanna bet they can do it live?
*** The author of this review, Rodney Gibson, plays the tsuzumi for the following band: http://youtu.be/tMS73-1kCr8