A Kick Ass Band from Orange County with Serious Classic Rock Roots
One of the good things about taking a year off is that I have lots of music in my inbox and I allows me to selective. The downside is having to listen to large doses of bad stuff for the sake of protecting your ears. This band gave my ears a break from audio torture. Wetwood Smokes contacted us asking for our take on their second release Organ Donor.
Since then, they have released their third aptly named, Our Third. I contacted Chrystian because I was unsure what they would most like reviewed and, based on the information at their website, I was unsure if they were touring and still a trio.
Chrystian, replied. They are now a quartet and, told me to – what I liked best.
If you are a regular reader, you know I always try to listen to everything I can find. I also refuse to write negative reviews and only serve you top-caliber music. Wetwood Smokes is certainly top-notch. I am re-listening to all of their material and decided to, not only give you a sample but an overview as well.
To start off, the current band consists of:
- Josh Bowman
- Steven Howard
- Chrystian Cano
- John Gee
This trio, now a quartet, has created much great music and I am looking forward to more in the future. They also seem to really get the new media order. You can listen to them for free on SoundCloud, buy their digital downloads for a buck a song at BandCamp and reasonably priced CDs and merch on their website.
I shall have more links to the band’s various sites at the end of this post. For now, let us look at each of their releases.
Earth Tones & Red
This début release has seven tracks on it. This is a great release and not one of those “diamond in the rough” releases. It is immediately clear from the very first track A Better Man to the seventh that they are a group with excellent syncopation and energy. They present a full, powerful first release. Madeline nicely shows a somewhat softer side to their talent and showcases vocal harmonies.
They are not your typical trio. Dominant piano interrupted by guitar, subtle percussion and fluid vocals on Cold, emotional vocal with dynamic musical movement on 2am, and a popish sound on A Better Man, all on one release demonstrate wonderful diversity. I don’t like picking favorites but I would say my choice would be a toss-up between Cold and A Better Man.
This sophomore release is the one they originally reached out to us about and released in 2015. While it does not contain as many tracks, this is and the next release is when Jon O’Brien, winner of the OC Music Awards 2014 “Best Producer” began working with the band. Jon recorded, produced and mixed Organ Donor. The band picked up where they left off, only better. Again, very difficult to choose between the three track but based on the plays over at Soundcloud, the crowd favorite is Organ Donor. A powerful song, it has great backing vocals, and, one could easily argue, the best emotional and dynamic movement that band has shown to date and the lead vocalist nailed it.
However, you are doing yourself a disservice if you fail to listen to all the tracks on this album, Stark is a very hard-hitting track and Tell Me shall move you emotionally.
They also produced a video for Organ Donor which they shared, along with others, on their YouTube Channel.
A powerful three song album. As you read below, they went extra-far to give a classic rock live feel. The energy is incredible!
Here is what the band has to say about the album:
“Orange County trio follows up Indie Rock Ep “Organ Donor” with the kick to the throat that is “Our Third”. The Third release from Wetwood Smokes was written in the seclusion of Twin Peaks, California where the three honed in on their classic rock roots. While on a hike in the San Bernardino Mountains they found the abandoned Jeep Cherokee that graces the album cover. Oc Music Awards Producer of the Year Jon O’Brien tracked the three songs live at The Music Box Studios. The trio wanted the songs be tracked live to capture the raw energy of their live shows with no click or quantizing. The performances are accompanied by the guitar wizardry of Big Monsta frontman, Jimmy Hua.”
If forced to pick a favorite of this band’s three releases to date, it would be Our Third. In my opinion, the mountain retreat and live tracking make one feel like you are sitting in the same room as the band. I refuse to choose a favorite on this EP. I actually have it on repeat as I am drafting and am still at a loss. Just go listen to it.
Here are more links (and some I already mentioned for convenience sake):
- Follow them on Instagram
- Like the band on Facebook
- Find out when they are playing out live at Songkick
So now the only challenge I have is deciding what to share. I think I am going to share two videos, one by the band off of their latest release and the other a cover performed live. They nailed the cover.
Wetwood Smokes – Dead Pixel
While the audio is not perfect on this one, you can tell by they really nailed it.