If North Carolina had any hope of a prayer of being recognized as a breeding ground for good indie bands, then the Annuals might be the sign that Tar Heel residents were waiting for.
The band released their debut album Be He Me in 2008 and will soon release their sophomore album later this year, but not before releasing yet another EP to satiate the pallets of their many fans. Adam Baker leads the six-piece outfit (that also includes Kenny Florence, Mike Robinson, Zach Oden, Anna Spence, and Nick Radford), and if Wet Zoo is indicative of their new musical direction, then might make Great Lake Swimmers jealous.
Wet Zoo is split between Annuals tracks (first three) and Sunfold (an Annuals-based side project) tracks (last two). From a musical standpoint, the two bands make surprisingly contrasting works, at least from listening to Wet Zoo.
The EP opens with “Sore” (download here), a song that starts calmly and tries to stay that way, but has moments of intense expression. “Around Your Neck” follows, and instantly gives the band its well-deserved country cred with the right blend of crowd participation (clapping and shouting) and twang. The emotive “Just Stay In” picks up where “Sore” left off, to caress and soothe hearts in true ballad style.
The final two tracks come from an Annuals side-project called Sunfold. Florence takes the lead for the group that utilizes more of the Be He Me stylings. Fans of Mute Math might like “Between The Worlds” with its casual serenades and laid-back melodies. “Watering Pail” takes a difference approach as it manically glides through a couple of genres, starting with rock and ending with quasi-blues.
Wet Zoo is an interesting release that combines two separate musical approaches. One starts with a change-up from its previous works. The other ends with another change-up from that, including a lead vocalist switch. The result, despite having basically the same band line-up in both groups, is a pleasant listen of exceptional creativity and talent.