The Wilderness - 'Seminary Road'
The Wilderness is quickly becoming known as one of hardest-working, inspired and on-the-rise rock bands of 2019. They were born in 2015 from "the words of Dick Proeneke, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, a bottle of Wild Turkey, and many late nights in a grimy basement rehearsal space." Today, the band tours relentlessly, has garnered rave reviews and has a growing fan-base. Comprised of lead singer Jonas Lewis-Anthony, keys and percussionist Liam Neale, saxophonist Nicholas Lennox, lead guitarist Sacha Lansky, drummer Henry Lawrence, and bassist Karl Tombak, The Wilderness are based in Kingston, Ontario. Their cultural backgrounds extend the boundaries of the North as members hail from corners of Canada, the UK, the USA, and Switzerland, each adding a unique flavor to the mix. Their EP "Seminary Road" is nothing short of phenomenal and a great introduction to a band who is on the verge of being a household name.
The EP opens with "American Rage." A low and deep vibration bursts into energy, symbolic of how rage builds. Solo guitar motifs light up the path. “American Rage” is captivating. Lead Singer Jonas sings, "Open up your front door, gonna kill you on the sidewalk…” The song utilizes an immense amount of texture changes, rhythmic articulations and a full range of dynamics to deliver a magnificent rock song that will have you spellbound. Themes include religion, hypocrisy, corruption and hopelessness.
The next track up is “Motown.” It has a sultry vibe that combines syncopated guitar grooves with rock percussion sensibilities. “Motown” paints a story about a relationship in which a couple is splitting ways. This track is highlighted by a nice thick sax solo. Once again Jonas nails the vocals with sophisticated tonal and dynamic work. In “Motown” the band shows just how in-the-pocket and tight they are with a variety of genres melding together. It's a creative feast for the ears all while telling a simple goodbye story.
"81 South" is my favorite song off the album. Opening with a great Southern guitar riff, the singing starts immediately. “ I was gonna leave this morning, just a little after 9. But things didn’t go according to the plan, that I layed out in my mind “ The authentic story line draws you in. "81 South" is about parental divorce, losing your family home and your history. It paints the story of letting go of everything that was at one time -.everything to you. It is the type of song that could easily break the band nationally - it's that good. Here, the band captures a slice of humanity: loss, disappointment, sadness, betrayal, anger and grief and it is sung with emotional genius.
With sparse whole note chords on the first beat, Jonas sings,“I’m the king of the deadbeats and you’re the queen of the cheap seats…." The song then expands with lead guitar riffs that echo the melodic content with steady pulsing bass. “I’d rather spend my night dancing in the dive bars with you.” Saxophone adds to the lonely bar feeling. Reminiscent of Springsteen, "Dancing in the Dive Bars" is for every single one of us who would rather dance in a dive bar with someone who has edges then in a chic and shallow club. It's about feeling something real. The song proves, once again, that The Wilderness is all about substance: musically and lyrically. A sing-a-long ending with hard hitting drums is sure to be a stadium concert hit and this band has the potential to play stadiums.
"Older Now" ends the EP with an acoustic guitar ballad. Intimate and self-reflecting, the song is about running into someone after years have passed. Lyrically the song depicts those deep feelings of looking back at your life and realizing that when you were younger, you felt invisible and now that you are older, it’s hard to look someone in the eye because you are not that person anymore. The song presents beautiful guitar- picking and a genuine and tender vocal performance.
So, here is the part where I usually wrap up the review, yet I am struggling to find words meaningful enough to pay justice to what might be the best band I’ve stumbled upon in a very long time. There is a saying that "when words fail, music speaks" and The Wilderness embody this quote. To put it another way, I’m speechless - they are that good. The Wilderness has everything it takes to make it very big – follow this band, not for the fame and glory, but for the amazing music that will remind you of why we listen to music in the first place. Record labels take note - The Wilderness has that "certain something" that gets under you skin in the best way.
For more information on The Wilderness, please visit their website.