Impressive Debut by Impressive One Man Band
Download from iTunes: Woof. – Woof
WOOF. is the eponymous debut EP, released on 10th February by the Montclair, New Jersey natives through Tree Machine Records. For more about WOOF. see my previous blog post here.
I say ‘natives’ but WOOF. isn’t actually a band, rather it is the monicker of multi-instrumentalist indie ‘nerd’ Kelan Bonislawski who (according to ‘legend’):
“After years of obtaining and playing around on various instruments, Kelan realized he had enough instruments to cover the sound of a full band, only no bandmates. This forced him to record each part on his own from his makeshift living room studio. This developed into a collage of sounds, from Beck esq lo-fi funk, to early 00’s indie rock, occasionally losing itself in dense psychedelic space”.
When you listen to WOOF. you can’t help but be impressed by the artistry of this one man band in the way he crafts something that sounds like it has more than one creative input. It will be interesting to see how WOOF. recreates this on stage.
The EP starts with ‘My Device’, a song about reliance on technology, which isn’t surprising given the amount of gadgetry and technological wizardry that is crammed into these 9 songs.
“My whole life is in the cloud but I don’t know where it is”.
The song is vaguely reminiscent of Violent Femmes Blister in the sun but with synths and whilst Bonislawski claims “My device is my whole life” it is clear that music is actually his muse and this is someone who enjoys creating and experimenting. You get the sense that Bonislawski creates a lot of output and then looks for interesting patterns and connections between what probably seem to be very different elements.
The next track ‘Not to Offend’ contains the repetitive refrain of:
“Oh no, I won’t apologise”
I think this is acting as Bonislawski’s statement of intent right up front – challenging the listener to either leave or join the party. The smart ones will take the latter choice.
‘I Got Away’ is a more straightforward guitar driven indie-pop number to start with and then layers of electronica are slowly added whilst still maintaining the song’s integrity.
Actually, quite a lot of the craft on WOOF. is in taking disparate elements, rhythms, beats, sounds and vibes and mashing them together in a way that sounds uneven on first listen and even second listen. But on repeated listens, you can hear them coming together. It’s a bit like brush strokes on a painting when viewed up close. They don’t really look like anything but when you pull away a bit and look at how they interrelate you can then start to see what is being painted. WOOF. does that with sound to great effect.
‘Certainty’ has a nice guitar driven beat and interesting vocals which sound both out of and and in tune at the same time. ‘Cold Comfort’, ‘2AM’ and ‘Hear Me Breathing’ deliver more interesting soundscapes.
My favourite, ‘Gleamed’, starts like the most poppy of the songs on the EP but works up to a change about half way through the song when it moves gear and becomes almost a different song which is an electronica guitar battle with a hint of Yoshimi battling the pink robots. I love the second half of this song and the descending guitar/bass sound is really infectious alongside the bubbling synth parts.
The EP could have ended there for me but WOOF. has one more in the locker, a softer paced, chill down affair to close the EP. You can’t blame a guy for wanting to showcase his entire repertoire I suppose.
This is a really assured first outing for WOOF. and it is well worth the £4.99 purchase price as new layers are revealed upon repeated listens – Download from iTunes: Woof. – Woof
MG – 11.02.15