Album Review

Chad W. Lutz

Wolf People "Steeple"

After success from the release of basement recordings compiled by lead guitarist/vocalist Jack Sharp in Tidings, the Wolf People quickly went to work putting together their debut proper. It’s rare for a band to capitalize on previous success and even more rare for a band to do it overseas. Next month the Wolf People look to bite into the mainstream with their psychedelic thrash and bash folk follow-up Steeple out on Indiana-based Jagjaguwar Records on October 12th.

Together with Joe Hollick (guitar), Tom Watt (drums), and Daniel Davies (bass), Sharp and the People simply inspire. Topping off at 43 minutes of play, the 9-track album does its best to push the limits of folk, blues, and progressive rock, combining elements and blending them smoothly into something that can only be referred to as “Wolf People.”
Echoing their previous release on many tracks, Steeple picks up right where Tidings left off. The album’s first single, “Tiny Circle” (5:10), showcases the band’s classic signature use of hip hop beats; sharp, catchy riffs, and, oh ya, the (yazz) flute. But don’t let the flute vs. lute dispute sway you. When it gets down to business, Steeple is as much a testament to Rock as Robert Plant’s hair.

According to the record label’s website, the album was recorded in a converted chicken barn on the grounds of a 17th century Welsh mansion. Well aware of the English Rock Band cliché of “getting it together in the country,” they did it anyway, and the result is inspiring to say to the least.

Tracks like “Morning Born” (4:09) and “Painted Cross” (3:24) haunt as they cascade epically throughout the musical landscape of the mind. “As my feet touch the ground/the Earth feels good to me” go the lyrics to “Morning Born” as a sinister guitar riff cries from Sharp’s guitar, changing gears completely to the eastern sounding bridge that incorporates Wolf People’s heavy hip hop influence. The song leaves you feeling like you’re with eyes closed walking out of your beachfront property to greet the sea soaked morning sun. All while the sultry soft sound of Sharp’s voice stings through the atmosphere, piercing the rhythm in all the right places.

But where Tidings left off, and where Steeple picks up is right where Bonzo and the gang left off with his untimely death in 1982. As if channeling Zeppelin themselves, Wolf People thunder through tracks “Cromlech” (3:17) and “One By One From Dorney Reach” (5:36). Others, like “Silbury Sands” (5:19) and “Castle Keep” (7:34) showcase the band pushing the eastern bounds of their music and coming up with something pleasing and very much so in the vein of what good Rock and Roll can be.

Though at times more of a metal album, Steeple really comes at you from all sides, encapsulating a band coming into their own. You can really tell how much Wolf People has grown musically since their last album. But the only way to rightfully do so is to experience it for yourself. And this is definitely one experience you do not want to miss out on.