Review Summary: UUVVWWZ is a good first effort from a band which would benefit from becoming more focused, but it is an excellent starting point for the rest of their career.UUVVWWZ
shows an extremely talented band working out their quirks. The album contains the good, the bad, and the mediocre but consistently leans towards glimmers of hope. It is important to remember that UUVVWWZ (pronounced "Double U, Double V, Double W, Z", by the way) decided to record and release the first nine songs they wrote. Should we be expecting perfection? No, especially not from a band this 'green'. Rather, we should be thankful to see the growing process of a band that shows much promise.
The band's music is difficult to categorize, but will most often draw comparisons to veteran experimental rockers Deerhoof. The band consists of female vocalist Teal Gardner, backed by Jim Schroeder, Dustin Willborn, and Tom Ambroz. Their music, according to their page on the website for Saddle Creek, http://www.saddle-creek.com/uuvvwwz/
has been described as "avant rock". UUVVWWZ, at points, consists of lulls of ambient noise underneath Gardner's soft vocals. At other times, it consists of manic, slightly rushed guitar and uptempo drumming, Gardner's voice straining as if to match the frenzied musicianship.
Teal Gardner fronts UUVVWWZ on their self-titled debut which ranges from lulling calms to frantic outbursts. Some songs work, others don't. "Trapezeus"shows the band with the dial turned fully to frantic outburst, which frankly becomes grating by the end. Other tracks such as "Neolano" and "Hum Jam" have the band with the dial turned mostly to the other side, which can feel like a drag, and risks losing the listeners attention.
The band succeeds most when they find equilibrium on tracks like "Berry Can" and "Castle". These tracks allow the band to explore their two sides while avoiding the downsides of leaning too heavily in one direction. They are inviting and exciting. They allow the band to flex their song-writing abilities and top-notch musicianship while showcasing the softer side of Gardner's voice (especially on "Berry Can") which carries the band further than it does when overly strained.
This record shows a band which is still in the process of perfecting their craft but gives just enough to keep us interested in what they will do next.