Wow to the Deadness EP is the follow up release from the Christian Rock Super Group, Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil’s debut album Goliath. The band consists of Steve Taylor, Peter Furler (Ex Newsboys, and Solo), Jimmy Abegg (Vector), and John Mark Painter (Fleming and John). This EP is a collaboration between Daniel Smith of Danielson and Steve Taylors band. Wow to the Deadness is a punk record at its core. With most songs not lasting longer then two and a half minutes and having fuzzed out guitars, the listener is treated a raucous record. To add to Wow to the Deadness punk credibility, the EP was recorded by the legendary Steve Albini. For those who aren’t familiar with Steve Albini’s work, he has recorded some of the largest bands around. Steve Albini has worked with the Foo Fighters, Pixies, Nirvana, and Iggy Pop as well as having a successful music career himself with bands like Big Black and Shellac. The combinations of Daniel Smiths’ eclectic indie songwriting, Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil’s alternative rock sound, and a sprinkling of Steve Albini engineering magic, Wow to the Deadness came together as a noisy collection of songs that make any alternative music fan smile.
Wow to the Deadness opens with a song with the same title of the EP. The listener treated to an acoustic guitar with a high tinny lead line being played over the top of it. However, the acoustic, coffee shop vibe doesn’t stay for long. Loud, distorted guitars along with pounding drums, create a powerful groove that carries the song for its duration. “Wow to the Deadness”, is a great opening song for the EP. It sets an energetic precedent for what is to follow over the next six songs. The next song, “Wait Up Downstep”, has an ongoing call and response between an acoustic guitar and a distorted guitar. This track is where we get a taste of Daniel Smith’s creative songwriting tastes. His trademarked falsetto vocals add an off putting texture to the vocal line. The third track “Dust Patrol” is a fuzzed out, fast paced song that is easily the standout track on the EP. The dirty riff based guitars found on this song is met with a mellow, spaced out middle section. It almost reminds me of the opening to “White Room” by Cream. This section includes trumpets that add to the psychedelic feel. Don’t worry though. They return the dirty rock riffs and finish out the track strong. The fourth track, “Nonchalant”, is the low key song on Wow to the Deadness. Along with being the longest song, clocking in at just over 3 minutes, “Nonchalant” is the slow burner of the EP. Opening with a strummed acoustic guitar, distorted guitars add on top to create more layers as the song progresses. The second half of the song adds saxophones and other horns to help round out the other instrumentation. The vocal performance given on this track is kind of the thing that ties the track together. Steve Taylor sings in a lower register that creates this dark and brooding atmosphere. Taylor is almost warning the listener with his vocal performance. “A Muse” the fifth track returns to the raucous sound that the first three tracks had. The vocal line in the verses is mirrored by the guitar, and the song becomes rawer and out of hand as the song progress. The guitars become more loose; it sounds like the final song of a live set. The band is giving their all before they leave the stage. It ends with either Daniel Smith or Steve Taylor screaming the final chorus while the guitarist plays a Mudhoney-esque solo as the song comes to a close. The EP ends with the song “Drats” which to me is the weakest song on the album. It resembles more a Danielson track then a track on this EP. “Drats” has the typical falsetto vocals and quirky acoustic guitars paired with other instrumentation one would hear on a Danielson release. The song tries to retain the sound of the other tracks have, but this track is just lacking. Maybe if the song wasn’t the closer it would work better. It would almost work best being placed between “The Dust Patrol” and “Nonchalant”. The song mostly just does not maintain the other songs energy, and leaves the listener with a lackluster finish to the EP.
Wow to the Deadness is a good collection of loud Indie/Alt rock. With its run time being at 15 minutes for six tracks, it doesn’t wear out its welcome. The mix of Danielson’s eclectic songwriting and Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil’s Alt rock sound, creates an at times abrasive sound. However, this project is a great standout from the Christian rock genre. It has something for a person who loves 90s grunge bands like early Nirvana or Mudhoney. Hopefully, this is more then just a one off collaboration between these two artists.
Stand out tracks: “Wow to the Deadness”, “The Dust Patrol”, and “Nonchalant”