Pop & Hiss

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Live review: Wild Nothing at the Echo

September 14, 2010 | 11:36 am


The Virginia band Wild Nothing has such a painfully impeccable list of summer 2010 influences (C86, early Cure, Field Mice, a Captured Tracks record deal) that if its members emerged from a zeitgeist-creating laboratory in some Altered Zone, we'd have to congratulate them on their meticulousness. Their debut album, "Gemini," arrived on a riptide of praise for their reverb-besotted vocals, echoing guitars and wan falsettos. Whether or not it has a shelf life beyond this current blog cycle is yet to be seen, but at their L.A. debut at the Echo on Sunday they made a pretty good case for this moment in trend tail-chasing.

For a record that sounds so handmade, the strengths of "Gemini" are in its production. The whole thing maybe has one guitar sound across its dozen tracks, but the record accrues a certain tape-decayed charm in its atmosphere and in band-mastermind Jack Tatum's restlessly melodic arrangements. Live, however, they went for orthodox and efficient --  sample-driven cuts such as "Chinatown" became fretboard workouts, and jangly miniatures such as "Live in Dreams" gained welcome open space from the spartan but skilled four-piece setup. A halfhearted vocal presence usually kills stuff like this, and Tatum's a barely there singer. But his hooks sneak up on you -- "Summer Holiday" wrings a neat story of teenage misbehavior from its rapid-fire verses, one cemented by its wordless chorus.

One day, somebody will give him more money to cut the precise, expansive record he clearly hoped this would be. If this new live outfit is any indication, Tatum will get the big stage his songs need soon enough.

-- August Brown

Photo by Graeme Flegenheimer / Force Field PR