The Wednesday Club
Passing Strange


4.5
superb

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
March 23rd, 2013 | 22 replies


Release Date: 03/18/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The fire burned the arcade down, so we stayed up all night talking about everything and anything instead.

Having been out and about since before 2007, it's amazing to me, at least from the sound of Passing Strange, that The Wednesday Club haven't garnered more attention for themselves. I'll just cut the fat right now and tell you that this is a fantastic indie rock release; a project that simplifies (but still embraces) the stylistic flair of The Arcade Fire and meets upbeat melodies and off-beat lyrical themes with shoegaze-influenced rhythms. A necessarily British affair, Passing Strange is an album wherein there isn't merely a fire at the arcade; rather, it's burned down and the musicians (its primary patrons) have been left with only their other oddball hobbies (discussing Ana Lucia, Buzz Aldrin, writing music, and basking in self-deprecation) to help them pass time in its wake.

As you can imagine, this goes over in indie rock about as well as a smart, well-directed indie comedy goes over in the box offices: people view it as pretentious instead of genuine, heartfelt, and cerebral - what Passing Strange really is. Maybe the dark, spacious tones of the album could be alienating to some, but there's really nothing here that's gloomier than The Cure or the darker portions of Funeral. The rhythms of Passing Strange err on the somber side of life, but their undercurrent is still that of extraordinarily well-executed, head-bobbing pop. The leads certainly aren't your standard sparkler-waving pop regalia, either, but the driving guitar of "Buckingham Gum," the heralding harmonica of "Hit by Teeth Pt. 3," and the sea-shanty kazoo of "Abraxas" all do their work alongside synthesizers and trumpets to make every leading line as memorable as the vocals that accompany them.

But no matter the quality, quantity, or caliber of the bells and whistles, the vocal performance on Passing Strange takes the "birthday cake" as its most memorable feature. Conjuring one-off lines like "We suck so hard" ("We Suck") and "I'd seen water before" ("Antediluvianista") into fully-fledged singalong choruses and turning phrases around oddball subjects like Schrodinger's cat may be an afterthought on first listen, but when looking at the band's lyric sheet (a hilariously "academic" PDF file filled with "further reading," falsified degrees, and a claim that all songs contained within are "sonnets") it's quite impressive that the band have turned so few words into so much meaning. The short phrasing bearing long-term fruit shines at its highest when morphing "Ana Lucia in the rain" into a lamppost hipster love ballad of harmonized tenor croons and alto sighs, while other tracks like "Pure Holes" and "Hit By Teeth Pt. 3" preserve word economy but succeed at being only slightly less catchy with a considerably lower dosage of repetition. As far as the lyrics are concerned, being able to create such memorable and enjoyable tracks with an earnestly quirky aesthetic and a relatively concise expression is a testament to the silver tongues of the songwriters.

As far as the actual singing goes, The Wednesday Club gang are three male singers (John, Max, and Adam) who all have a relatively similar heavy tenor croon approach which varies from a lighter Eddie Vedder to a frantic chant-singing reminiscent of The Killers. At the many moments their vocals are accompanied by any one of their three female friends (Lisa, Amanda, and Fliss), the group sounds highly similar to the Arcade Fire - another reason for my frequent comparison between the two. A lot of this has to do with the superior use of the female vocals in harmonizing and backing the deeper, more prominent male vocals. Aside from being a technique used by their Canadian counterparts, this marriage of vocal stylings mirrors the broader sound of the album (darker at a base level with leads dancing around it) and works as an excellent compliment whenever present.

At this point, it might sound like The Wednesday Club romp around with a massive collection of musicians and try to jam sounds of every order and classification into every track a la Sufjan Stevens. Despite having another three musicians in tow on the album performing exclusive vocals on one track, trumpet wherever it appears, and guitars, respectively, that couldn't be further from the truth. Every track on Passing Strange has just enough rhythm, lead, vocals, bells, and whistles to make it enjoyable, recognizable, and still a part of a greater whole. Nothing is overdone or underdone, and with a mix that emphasizes the lower end of this head-swisher but which still leaves enough air for the leads and vocals to breathe, it's easy to say that Passing Strange hits the mark of indie pop/rock excellence in every category.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
March 23rd 2013


2043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Check these awesome guys out here: http://cathndadrecords.bandcamp.com/album/passing-strange

The album is free. Any proceeds go to charity.

Read the (also awesome) lyric notes here:
http://thewednesdayclubhits.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/passing-strange-lyrics1.pdf

I cannot emphasize how much I enjoy this album or how overlooked these guys are. I wish them a lot of luck and success.

Will also be posted on n0ted.net.

Digging: Damascus - When Last We Met

tragic.details
March 23rd 2013


626 Comments


Good review, but...

"Passing Strange is an album is an album..."

Typo in the first paragraph.

"Rather, it's burned down and the musicians were its primary patrons, leaving only with their other oddball hobbies"

Leaving them only?

Anyways, it's free so I'll check it out.



BallsToTheWall
March 23rd 2013


44805 Comments


No reason why I shouldn't like this. Spinning now.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2013


10383 Comments


So great to see you regularly contributing to the site, man. You've definitely piqued my interest, so I'll check out a track.

"this goes over in indie rock about as well as a smart, well-directed indie comedy goes over in the box offices: people view it as pretentious instead of genuine, heartfelt, and cerebral - what Passing Strange really is. "

I particularly love this line. It really is a shame that much indie rock is shrugged off, just because of the connotations people have about the scene overall.

Digging: Thou - Heathen

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2013


2043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Melons - Thanks for catching that, fellow Finn! I was kind of hurried out the door and didn't have the chance to give this a once-over when I finished, but I've corrected what you've marked (which was stupid and glaring on my part, something I strive not to do).

@Balls - Hope you dig it, man - let me know!

@Jacob - Thanks a lot, man! I'd say give "We Suck" (the opener) a spin. If you like that (and even if you don't) check "Ana Lucia." Probably my top two. I was surprised to read that these guys have been called pretentious and kind of had noses turned up at them for previous efforts when this is as good as it is. People like to hate stuff without base, I guess.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2013


4458 Comments


Good review, congrats on the feature man.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2013


6344 Comments


Good review as always.

Jammin' this right now, this could be a great soundtrack for a good English film like 4 weddings and a funeral, for example.

Digging: Aspherium - The Fall of Therenia

NightProwler
March 24th 2013


6608 Comments


Good review, sounds like something I'd like. Just hope it doesn't sound too much like Arcade Fire.

Digging: The Hotelier - It Never Goes Out

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2013


3545 Comments


Downloaded thi and ready to give it a listen - hopefully it is that good. Great review as always

Digging: Nicki Minaj - The Pinkprint

Gyromania
March 24th 2013


16089 Comments


A necessarily British affair


what?

As far as the singing, itself, goes, The Wednesday


idk why the commas are there but you should get rid of them.

A lot of this has to do with the superior use of the female vocals


superior sounds kind of weird here. maybe superb?

great review! i've never heard of these guys before, but consider my interest piqued. this sentence really sold it to me:

The leads certainly aren't your standard sparkler-waving pop regalia, either, but the driving guitar of "Buckingham Gum," the heralding harmonica of "Hit by Teeth Pt. 3," and the sea-shanty kazoo of "Abraxas" all do their work alongside synthesizers and trumpets to make every leading line as memorable as the vocals that accompany them.




AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2013


2043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Gyro - Thanks for the feedback, man. The "itself" thing is a little ugly and treads weird territory
on being an appositive noun modifier or a part of the noun, so I'm going to change that for
cleanliness' sake. "Superior" is pretty common in that sort of context/phrasing, so there shouldn't be
an issue there.

The "necessarily British affair" is just a joke (in other words, it would be a British band
that would boil down an indie pop/rock Arcade Fire sound and make it gloomier and with weird lyrics).
Pick it up or don't, I guess haha.

Again, thanks for all the kind words and help, everyone.

Gyromania
March 24th 2013


16089 Comments


ah, i see. i still think 'necessarily' is an awkward word to use there, but eh

also, i checked this out and it's pretty varied. nothing hit me too hard on first listen, but i'm noticing as i come back to it that i'm picking things out here and there that i missed/was inattentive to when first listening

Apollo
March 24th 2013


10373 Comments


This band has a stupid name

EverythingEvil2113
March 24th 2013


1282 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Really nice review and you convinced me to check this out, but I got to say after listening to it three times in a row I found it a bit underwhelming and kind of boring. I'll say it's a 3 for now but it may yet grow on me.

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2013


2043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I had it pegged at like a 3/3.5 at first, but it really grew on me (as you can tell) so I dunno. I hope it'll grow on you like it did for me!

OneMoreRoland
March 24th 2013


1053 Comments


On my first listen and like it a lot. Just hoping it doesn't wear thin after a few more listens

Gyromania
March 24th 2013


16089 Comments


yeah this is lovely

OneMoreRoland
March 24th 2013


1053 Comments


Also, what is the summary from?

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
March 24th 2013


2043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Also, what is the summary from?"

My brain! Be afraid, be very afraid. i.e. I made it up, it's not from anything.

toxin.
March 24th 2013


12805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

whoa atomic when did you get contrib'd
grats tho
you have piqued my interest



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