Wax Cannon
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Wax Cannon

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Band Alternative Rock

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Oct
25
Wax Cannon @ The Picador

Iowa City, Iowa, USA

Iowa City, Iowa, USA

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Wax Cannon – Valve / 2005 Commie Martyr Records / 12 Tracks / http://www.waxcannon.com / waxcannon@hotmail.com / Reviewed 29 March 2005

As “Valve” rolls on, the fact that Wax Cannon has been around for six years really shows in the maturity and solid formation of their instrumental arrangements. Tracks like “Lose Your Happy Home” show the band as influenced heavily by the early-nineties alternative rock scene more than anything, and the band’s diverse array of influences draws them in twelve distinct and different paths over the whole of “Valve”. “Better For The Room They Have” looks back to the boy-bands of the fifties and sixties while simultaneously using tempestuous arrangements to increase the urgency that is attached to the track. What really comes as a shock to me is that something that varies so much in such a short CD is created entirely by two individuals. Their skill is such that they can experiment and test out new things mid-stream and not have to account for other band mates.

Even if there are a few stumbling blocks, such as the pedestrian distortion on the guitar during “Same Mistakes”, Wax Cannon makes sure to not make those same mistakes anywhere on the disc. For example, “Too Many Orange Books”, immediately following “Same Mistakes”, taps the well one more time in terms of aligning themselves vocally with seventies-era Neil Young. This comparison becomes only stronger in the slower-tempoed and more contemplative “Starvation Plank”. However, the build-up in the middle of the track finds Wax Cannon using their artist paintbrush sparingly – glaring emptinesses confront listeners at every turn, and the vocals are much too tenuous to make a strong case for the track. The intensity of prior tracks comes back in a big way with the noisy and hard-rocking “It’s a Crime”. The fuzz attempts to dominate the track, but the vocals present during it really shine through in spite of the noise.

There is no distinct sound for “Valve”, but rather Wax Cannon makes a number of artistic pirouettes and twists, allowing for the widest array of individuals to enjoy in the disc. The mastering on the disc is a little dry and detached, but the warmth and experience of the band shines through in spite of that. Wax Cannon ends the disc masterfully with “Spleen pt 2”, using a vacillating tone to really writ small their entire disc in less than four minutes of music. The disc is not perfect, but really is an evolutionary process in which the band tries new things continually – minor slip-ups are bound to happen, but Wax Cannon is one of the few bands that can pull it off in the end.

Top Tracks: It’s A Crime, Spleen Part 2

Rating: 6.5/10
- NeuFutur


Many people may have a lingering memory of people they knew in a high school garage band. Gritty acoustics and overpowered vocals were the band's trademark, graduation parties were its biggest gigs and the members were revered as gods for having the ambition to promote themselves with homemade bumper stickers. "Valve," the newest release from Iowa City-based college rockers Wax Cannon, proves that in some cases, there is life for bands beyond the proverbial garage.

The sound isn't perfect and the lyrics aren't all that profound, but Wax Cannon's appeal is found in its ability to mesh different influences into 12 decidedly unique tracks. The opener, "Horse Cheddar," sounds like a teenybopper gem from the '70s band T.Rex. Singer Jay Miller and drummer David Murray do well in lacing the track with enough energy to remind the listener of more mainstream bands but stop just short of sounding like they are trying too hard to be anyone but themselves. "Better for the Room They Have" possesses a sound reminiscent of the boy band tunes - before they were even called boy bands - our parents jammed to in basements during the '60s, the sounds of experimentation. "Lose Your Happy Home" is an act of homage toward early-'90s alt-rock bands, possessing all of the phonics young America loved from grunge rockers, but with only half the flannel. The best part about the album is that such an impressive array of influences comes from only Miller and Murrey, who prove to be enough to carry the entire album.

The boys of Wax Cannon have been together for five years, but they stumble in places that would be expected of a much younger band. In some tracks, such as "It's a Crime," the vocals are swept over by intense, hard-rocking fusions of guitar and drum. In others, the fuzzy sound quality is downright irksome.

Still, when the music reaches the brink of being annoying, tracks like "Too Many Orange Books" or "Same Mistakes" do their part in redeeming the disc with '70s-infused music and the type of vocal styling that made Neil Young a legend.

The trick to Wax Cannon is that its sound can't be described in one word. The band's chameleon-like warming to different movements within an array of genres make it appealing to a wide range of listeners, so much so that the disc's somewhat sub-par mastering is easily overlooked. If anything, "Valve" is as pleasant as a prom after-party with live, loud tunes provided by that group of garage rockers most of us remember nodding along to in high school, promotional stickers plastered proudly against our bumpers.

Wax Cannon's official Web site can be found at www.waxcannon.com.

by Katie Rogers - The Pheonix Loyola University, Chicago


Wax Cannon
Someone in Madison is Praying for You (And It’s Not Me)
Commie Martyr
There’s really no guess work with Wax Cannon; what you see is what you get. It's a musical hodgepodge that’s sometimes straight ahead rock and roll and other times a swirling undertow of grungy guitars. The Iowa City duo of Jay Miller and David Murray offer up a double disc 2005 release that doesn’t just limit itself to the Wisconsin’s capital but takes us on a tour of entire Midwest. Miller and Murray conceived Wax Cannon in 1999 and Someone in Madison is Praying for You (And It’s Not Me) is their fourth full length release on which they each pick up the drums, bass, shaker, harmonica, mic and guitar.

The interesting song titles ask questions and scream back story, and if you listen closely you just might hear what’s going on in the spiritual fast food snapshot of “JC Says” and the agitated whisper “I’m Built Like a Saxophone (Platteville’s Alright).” Most of the songs are cloaked in ambiguous lyrics and are further masked by the catchy melodies; it’s all a long subversive ride through a merging of Nirvana with Velvet Underground and bits of The Stooges' primal undertones. The vocal delivery is parts kerosene-soaked Cracker and quivering anguish of Elliott Smith.

The uppity melodies are fun for awhile but then the joy ride drags you get antsy and ask Murray and Miller if “we’re there yet!” What’ll stick with me about this release is the duo’s cathartic injection of the overbearing and looming emotions of rejection, disappointment and pain that make the upbeat (rhythm, that is) tracks “Lemon Boots” and “Quicksand” work. The production is simplistic and the music is raw and whatever you can’t pick up in the muddled lyrics slither across as the songs sprint to their end.

This double album is tough to swallow in one gulp and could have been clipped to just one disc, using the strong tracks and tossing the rest.

Wax Cannon: www.waxcannon.com
Chris CataniaAmazon
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Discography

Someone in Madison is Praying for You (and it's not me) LP 2006 Commie Martyr Records
Valve LP 2004 Commie Martyr Records
Moth, Moth, Moth LP 2004 Commie Martyr Records
Life-Sized Animals Walking Around 2002 Com Mart
Idle Disasters EP 2001 Feedlot Co-op
Throwing Chairs EP 1999 Feedlot Co-op

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Bio

Together since 1998. Wax Cannon have 4 full-length albums and 2 EP's out. jay and Dave formed over Iggy Stooge, the Ramones and Husker Du. Have since gone on to Guided by Voices, Neil Young, Dinosaur Jr. and always Sonic Youth. Have toured regionally in the mid west.