This group of teenage instrumental hard rockers hail from “the heart of Silicon Valley,” Menlo Park, California. Their self-titled debut CD came out in late 2007 (on Mnemoic Records), but found its way into my lap in 2008. And wouldn’t you know, the album was a surprisingly enjoyable spin.
So what do they sound like, you say? Though it’s hard to pinpoint an exact influence, this is the kind of music an extremely young but ambitious Bush might have made if they just wanted to rock out without any hint of a vocal and had a better-than-average lead guitar player. Any number of other post-grunge acts could rightly claim themselves an influence here as well.
For those of you who find that bands today have used modern technology in such a way that it has taken away the live feel of a great record, The Wilted has let it be known that they performed all ten of this album’s songs live and directly to “Digidesign ProTools,” with very few overdubs. You might not have guessed ProTools was used for the record, but several tracks, including “From Red” and the excellent tunes “Seven to Nine” and “Hydrogen” definitely have action that signifies that live feel.
So the lead guitar parts are nice and loud, but the drums and bass aren’t drowned out in the least. No problem there. What you will find however, is that while the record was recorded live (a good thing), there is some but not very much diversity in sound (especially guitar tones), throughout its ten tracks (not bad, but potentially boring). As impressive as the musicianship and songwriting is for these teens, it would need some more depth to make up for the same type of sound – different than same type of song – found in a lot of these tunes. [But at least they don’t write lame tracks like Scars on Broadway’s “They Say.” Sorry, but I had to say it.
There are exceptions of course, and “Seven to Nine” is one of them, with its transition from Nirvana-esque power chords to delay-drenched guitars and then back into overdrive for a high-spirited guitar solo. And sure, the melodic “Montage’d” starts out quieter than most other tunes, but it builds up to a louder series of repetitive guitar/bass riffs, thereby losing a bit of its luster.
The high energy of the record climaxes with the final track, the aforementioned “From Red.” Featuring a fast-moving (or fast-walking) bass line and intricate hi-hat phrases, this British rock-sounding minor-keyed rocker has lead guitarist Julien de Benedictis using some swirly, slightly-wah-wah-like effects to accent his solos. But again, some of those single-note guitar riffs get a bit repetitive at times. This time, thankfully, multiple breakdowns and swirling feedback keep things interesting ‘til the end.
Unlike most kids their age, the teens in The Wilted aren’t just buying music from iTunes, they’re selling their songs through it, as individual (song) and album downloads, and also on CD (or MP3) through the comparatively older but still popular independent online store CD Baby.
With this promising and largely impressive self-titled debut, The Wilted should be able to make some noise in the instrumental rock scene and sell a few copies, no matter the format. And Julien de Benedictis unquestionably has the guitar chops that will get the band plenty of attention, along with a tight rhythm section. That won’t be the issue. What The Wilted need to do to get them where they want to go is hone their songwriting skills a little more – and in the process cut down on some of those repetitive passages – and think about adding more elements to their sound. As it is, the band is allegedly going to include lyrics on their next release. Whatever path they choose next, The Wilted is worth watching out for.