Wooden Indian Burial Ground first came to my attention earlier this year when I came across a video of the lead track from this album, ‘Burnout Beach’. At the time I thought that if the track was in anyway representative of the album then it would be very good indeed and now I’ve heard it it has, if anything, exceeded my expectation. This is largely because the set is far more varied that I would have expected it to be.
From the first few tracks you get the impression that this going to very much be an album of tight garage punk tunes. ‘Styrofoam Factory’ establishes the bands credentials in the direction of the Dead Kennedys with its Biafra-like vocals and hard-edges attitude with some eccentric flourishes that wouldn’t be out of place on an early Devo album. ‘Sad Mutations’ is a an intoxicating mix of lofi guitar and feedback, underpinned by Nuggets-inspired organ sounds. At just over a minute ‘The Pretty Good OK Days’ is something of an ambient interlude, but a hint of what might be to come, before ‘Spazz Pony’ slams us straight back into the high energy garage sound, but evoking a scuzzy garage that has seen more prosperous days under previous owners. I really like the Doors-like keyboard progression on this track, which goes through all sorts of incarnations in just under four minutes. This is Wooden Indian Burial Ground distilled, a band with so many ideas to cram in, and who do so in a coherent and thrilling way.
The next track, the brilliantly titled ‘Moist Dynasty’ is another short interlude, before the album’s title track kicks in in an altogether more measured manner. This is where the surf sound I first heard in ‘Breakout Beach’ becomes more evident, but is a this stage more of a mixture of flavours making up a really heady concoction. This track is a terrific melange of styles with Middle Eastern tones, choral arrangements, and horror movie flourishes, in addition to aforementioned approaches. Together they make up a dream that you are going to weirdly enjoy but feel somehow unnerved by at the same time.
‘The Discoverer’ is another short track, a light concoction that is perhaps what a fairground might be like on acid. Then comes the aforementioned ‘Burnout Beach’ which just gets better everytime I hear it, a relatively slow surf-punk track that just totally loses its shit at the end…just fantastic. This needed to be followed by something equally deranged and sure enough ‘Janesville Massacre’ totally delivers this. With the band back to full on Dead Kennedys mode this slices through so much of the pretentious shit we hear these days, just dig the attitude and full on joy of this track which threatens to lose it but always just about stays sane.
‘Black Eye Tie Dye’, like the other short tracks on the album, acts as a good device to change the tone of the album and, sure enough, ‘Dope Mann’ starts to take us down; as the title would suggest. This is a hazy number with the tremolo guitar piercing the smoky atmosphere and giving the track a real atmosphere of relaxed disorientation. ‘Dope Mann’ has a real groove to it too, a real end of the night ‘wow man’ sort of record.
Then we’re back in the garage again with the superbly named ‘Grizzly Peacock’. What would such a thing look like? This album is the answer, because if any track describes this album it is this. Imagine something that was once clean and pristine but has become increasingly grubby from years of neglect and this is what, for me, this album sounds like: pristine sounds covered in feedback and fuzz evoking a life that has been condemned to the flotsam of the American dream.
The final two tracks on the album feel as if they are from a different set of sessions, feeling more experimental in their approach. ‘Why Am I/ Who Are You?’ has a certain cut and paste style that gives the number a more abstract feel, while ‘Sam’s Dream’ is a spoken word track with an jolting electronic backing track that reminded me of a number of things, most recently Sauna Youth’s ‘Town Called Distraction’. This somehow underlines the fact that Wooden Indian Burial Ground are not a band who can or want to be pigeonholed, and while the majority of this album does have that punk-garage-surf feel to it; it is far more complex and, as a result, satisfying than that.
‘How’s Your Favourite Dream’ is one of those albums that seems to come out of nowhere and defies any expectations that you might place on it after hearing one track from it. It contains a set of songs that are eclectic in a freakily off-beam way…its an album that will thrill you, but will never bore you.
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