Wave 21 releases debut LP
Even the most loyal country fans in the world have been having difficulty denying how stagnant their scene has become recently. Country music is so much more than just a subgenre of pop; like hip-hop or rock n’ roll, country is a lifestyle, an identity and a set of ideals that its stewards hold very close to their hearts. I grew up in the American west, where country music is celebrated every dawn, midday and dusk from one end of town to the other. Much to my surprise, it’s taken a little band from Canada called Wave 21 to get me excited about the music that soundtracked my childhood again.
Wave 21 are blue collar country, and in their new eponymous LP they show off just how dexterously calculated their songwriting can be when it’s given the proper platform to shine. Look no further than the bluesy “Love Shouldn’t Make Me Cry” or the sparkling pop beat of “Catch Me” for evidence of their intrepid knack for lighting a fire under any tempo or compositional design. Right now we’re witnessing a generation of cerebral artists come to power who don’t have the word “impossible” in their vocabularies, and Wave 21 are perhaps the premier archetype of this exciting new movement in pop culture.
You can’t artificially create the kind of chemistry that Wave 21 has, nor the genuinely down to earth product that it subsequently renders. These players are so in tune with one another that every instrument marries with its counterpart to create a singular force to be reckoned with on every track. I don’t know how these musicians found each other, but the connection that they share is nothing short of divine, and this record could be one of the most cohesively produced albums I’ve reviewed as a result.
This album contains essentially everything that we love about old school country minus the predictable repetitiveness that has caused Nashville to become archaic and disconnected with the pulse of pop music in general. Wave 21 aren’t interested in making the same records that their forerunners did, and they definitely don’t want to follow the same path as their contemporaries. They’re carving out a piece of history that is all their own, and their legacy will be judged not by how many records they sell or how many shows they play but by how many future artists they inevitably influence with their music.
While there’s still plenty of room for the band to mature in their style and become the pop sensation that they clearly have the chops to be, Wave 21 definitely cement their status as one of the most furiously energetic bands in alternative country and the latest indie group to contribute a watershed moment to this chapter of the country music songbook. It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of other bands out there competing for the same target audience that they are tries to adopt some of the same flavors highlighted in this record, but in this particular scenario I think imitation really is the most sincere form of flattery.