Wolf Ram Heart
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Wolf Ram Heart

Columbus, Ohio, United States | INDIE

Columbus, Ohio, United States | INDIE
Band Pop Avant-garde

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Mar
22
Wolf Ram Heart @ Canadian Music Fest 2013

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Feb
15
Wolf Ram Heart @ Brite Winter Festival 2013

Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Oct
18
Wolf Ram Heart @ The Living Room

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Music

Press


Discover The Undiscovered: Wolf Ram Heart

Welcome to our June edition of Discover The Undiscovered; we’re excited to introduce Wolf Ram Heart.


Photo by Courtney Galyk

Wolf Ram Heart is an American pop group whose members are split between the Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio and the urban metropolis of Columbus. This is a band bent on marrying art with popular music. Retro-futuristic best defines their sound that straddles neo-psychedelia and dark art synthesizer pop. The music is an all encompassing hybrid of pop's faded echoing sensibilities, molded... into a modern space, and created in a sound that allows these hauntings to occur and transform.

MP3: Betrayal of Hearts

Who are your main influences?
I (David James) have always had a fondness for word play, repeated words, repetitious passages, descriptions used out of place. It's drawn me lyrically to artists like Syd Barrett, Robert Pollard and Scott Walker.They would be my top three study books. Walls of sounds or that tipping point before it's just too much is where I like to breathe when I'm trying to sculpt something in sounds. People like Brian Wilson, Phil Spector or George Martin come to mind as producers I have admired and think about when I'm working. They are like ghosts and kings. In the end, I believe no one could ever match the eclecticism of The Beatles but I try. Finally there's the feeling you get when you see the two twins at the end of the hall at the Overlook Hotel. That always seems to do it for me.


How did you meet?
I met my future wife (bassist) Jessica Barnes through an obscenely boring ad on Craigslist. Looking for someone into Brian Eno and The Velvet Underground blah blah blah. She joined, seven months later we were married and then I made her buy a Rickenbacker and more tights. Rob Cave, another Craigslist acquisition, all ready married, credentials: classically trained pianist, current position in band: Rick-Wakemen-type character able to play four parts with two hands, obsessed with Duran Duran. Enter then Ryan Stolte-Sawa (violinist - multi instrumentalist). We asked her and her violin to join us onstage for a show and later tricked her into joining the band by making her come to a press shoot. She is Canadian so we are still trying to figure her out. Next there is Eric Buford (The
Drummer) who I met when he was only in high school. Incidentally the same high school Kim and Kelley Deal of the Breeders came from. He was in a metal band called "Distorted Visions" and was always wearing Smashing Pumpkins shirts, it was the 90's. We've been in all kinds of bands together since then including a terrible Oasis tribute band called Onasis. Lastly I (David James) (writer - vocalist - producer) as a youth had many surgeries that left me in bed. Got so obsessed with The Beach Boys that I use to wear Hawaiian shirts in eighth grade and made people call me Brian.
Later I spent my early twenties trying to look like Damon Albarn but didn't change my name. I also use to play in a group that worked with Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran and I'm convinced that is the real reason Rob is still in the band.


What is your biggest achievement as a band to date?
It took me a year and a half to complete our debut album, "Betrayal of Hearts". Six months of that time was probably just mixing. I have problems. I'm a control freak, I'm a perfectionist, I'm a virgo. When it was finished, I really didn't think I could let it go and that really would have been fine for me. If I could, trust me, I would still be working on it. A few of the songs on that record were locked in my mind for years. Releasing it was some kinda therapy. On the record, there are many dark themes within and a melancholy me at the center in there somewhere. I did it all from the heart and it's nice to know that many people so far have embraced it.

Where did the band name originate?
Years ago I was in a band and had the idea to release three albums called The Wol - Filter Magazine


TITLE:
Headphone Masterpiece

One of the most exciting and curious things for a band in this day and age is discovering your outfit’s own Pandora station.

“Cat Stevens came on once, it was weird,” says Wolf Ram Heart singer and songsmith David James. “It’s usually stuff that I really like – “Fool On The Hill” came on and that’s one of my favorite songs. Stuff like The Church and Echo and The Bunnymen comes up a lot.”

Some of the internet radio station’s selections can be confounding at times, but Pandora seems to have more or less nailed Wolf Ram Heart. The Columbus-based band’s approach can be described as evoking both ’60s psychedelic rock and brooding, synth-driven ’80s staples in equal measure. Last spring, James and the band gave the world Betrayal Of Hearts, a carefully crafted sonic tapestry that succeeds in seamlessly melding these styles together.

“The whole time we were recording everything I was listening to Sgt. Pepper,” said James. “[Beatles producer] George Martin is a big influence. A typical estimate of how many tracks are on each song is about 46 to 51. It took almost a year to mix the record.”

“Everything I’ve done before never got put out, so it was sort of my one big chance. If I was gonna do it, I was gonna do it right.”

To accomplish the pastoral textures and space the record demanded, James set up a home studio in his Hocking Hills residence.

“It’s this real contrast between working in the city and working in the country, because you just feel that you’re an alien out there,” said James. “You feel really separate from everything else, so you kind of internalize things a bit more. It was good for focusing on things.”

Betrayal is a headphone record in the classic sense. Shimmering guitars and pockets of synths swell and recede into the background amidst James’ heavily reverbed croon. “Viewgirls” is Radiohead by way of Stereolab – sedate in delivery but chugging along on lively percussion. “Mansions” is a sweeping shoegaze gem suggesting The Verve in their prime, and the closing, glacially-paced duet “His and Hers” showcases bassist and keyboardist Jessica Barnes’ heavenly vocal work.

For all the lush, warm arrangements the record offers, however, the subject matter and mood are born of the cold, dark corners of the mind that love has left behind. It’s icy as it is embracing. - 614 Magazine


"It should immediately remind you of The Raveonettes, what with that Phil Spector-esque production and David James’ vocals, which sound exactly like Sune Rose Wagner. The band describe themselves as influenced by the sounds of Creation Records artists like My Bloody Valentine and Brian Wilson. " - Chart Attack (Canada)


The group additionally slots in wonderfully with the contemporary dream-pop movement (Beach House et al) while retaining a visceral originality that suggests a cinematic approach to songwriting. An eventual liaison with Hollywood seems all but inevitable, given the widescreen vibe and rampant eclecticism; these folks seem to share a sensibility with veteran film scorers as diverse as Ry Cooder, Calexico and even director David Lynch. With one album to date, 2011's Betrayal of Hearts, and kudos from a press chorus that includes Magnet, Under the Radar and The Big Takeover - one journalists rightly called it a "headphone masterpiece" - the potential for the future seems equally wide open. - Blurt


Wolf Ram Heart = The National + Andrew Bird + Phil Spector
Named after the evil, multidimensional corporate law firm from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer cult classic spin-off Angel, Wolf Ram Heart is a psychedelic dark pop band from Columbus, Ohio. They write gloomy ballads intertwined with slowly evolving instrumentation, and their use of a male/female vocal combination gives their hooks a fairly Ravonettes-esque sound. I really like an organ player who isn’t afraid of sliding down the keyboard furiously for a solo, and Wolf Ram Heart appears to know how to tastefully to utilize said energy in a somewhat solemn album. Apparently the album was recorded on a rural farm deep in Amish country, and I’ve been told you can hear the churchy Sleepy Hollow influence. I think I’m gonna keep this one in the van for a bit and see if I can’t explore it further. –Mike Abu - Slug Magazine


"The trippy Viewgirls demonstrates their ability to develop complex, layered compositions, while maintaining pop sensibilities. If the rest of the album is like this track, we’ll be talking about this band at the end of the year" - thedadada.com


"The trippy Viewgirls demonstrates their ability to develop complex, layered compositions, while maintaining pop sensibilities. If the rest of the album is like this track, we’ll be talking about this band at the end of the year" - thedadada.com


“I struggled labeling this track. It's not quite indie, but not quite rock, but not quite experimental... I guess I don't know really what it is, but what I do know is that I really like it. These guys totally nail Phil Spector's "wall of sound". Wolf Ram Heart capture something here that I can't quite put my finger on, but it sounds unique.” - musicthatisntbad.com


"Beautifully captivating cuts include "Betrayal of Hearts," "Viewgirls," "Mansions," and "His and Hers." This is truly an inspired album and an obvious TOP PICK." - Babysue


"... it’s gorgeous stuff that radiates contentment and bliss with nary a hint of anxiety about the Sword of Damocles dangling above the proceedings. It sighs and swoons like Slowdive playing Roxy Music’s Avalon while School of Seven Bells pet purring kittens on a nearby sofa. The title track and “Humming Doves” play like dream-pop versions of ‘60s greats like The Zombies and The Left Banke while “Mansions” wouldn’t have sounded too out of place on a Moody Blues album. “Rainbows” is built on swelling sheets of synths that sound like Ultravox in their more contemplative moments." - The Donnybrook Writing Academy


"... it’s gorgeous stuff that radiates contentment and bliss with nary a hint of anxiety about the Sword of Damocles dangling above the proceedings. It sighs and swoons like Slowdive playing Roxy Music’s Avalon while School of Seven Bells pet purring kittens on a nearby sofa. The title track and “Humming Doves” play like dream-pop versions of ‘60s greats like The Zombies and The Left Banke while “Mansions” wouldn’t have sounded too out of place on a Moody Blues album. “Rainbows” is built on swelling sheets of synths that sound like Ultravox in their more contemplative moments." - The Donnybrook Writing Academy


"The music sounds as if 4AD released a Brian Eno-produced Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." - The Columbus Dispatch


"There are a few things that are consistent throughout the album, such as great vocal harmonies, layers of ambient instrumentation, and lots of thought put into each track to be able to call it a work of art." – 91.7 WCUR - 91.7 WCUR - The Curve


“This band creates psychedelic pop shrouded in darkness. These are not playful pop songs. Instead, their new album, Betrayal of Hearts, is filled with dreamy melodies, spacious instrumentation and soft, mysterious vocals.” - Fensepost


“Once in a blue moon, a truly well-crafted debut makes its appearance. Wolf Ram Heart's Betrayal of Hearts is one of these exceptions. The album combines lush orchestration and restraint, maintaining a balance few bands even think to attempt. It is an amazing piece of moody, mysterious indie pop." - The Other Paper


"The quintet plays a brand of dream-pop rooted in the music James listened to as a kid, but also influenced by 4AD acts from the early ’90s. It’s a dark, hazy, almost escapist concoction that narrowly avoids easy characterization." - CMJ Magazine - CMJ Magazine


“Adhering to Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” recording technique, Wolf Ram Heart blends ‘60s-style melodic pop with ‘80s-style reverb-drenched Brit-rock not unlike music being put out in the early days of Creation and 4AD... incredible songs" - The Big Takeover - The Big Takeover


"All the pieces of the Wolf Ram Heart puzzle begin to come together when you read up on group mastermind David James' background and discover that he was a sickly, often bedridden youth fascinated by the psych-pop side of the Monkees. Listening to the band's debut album, Betrayal of Hearts, it's easy to imagine the songs as the maturation of the musical fantasies that probably played out in the young James' head as he soaked up those shimmering ‘60s sounds and pondered creating his own kaleidoscopic, psychedelic soundscapes. That's not to say that Betrayal of Hearts is a retro-psych outing -- while the influence of the paisley-and-incense era can be discerned throughout the record, it's consistently channeled into a distinctly modern-sounding style that has as much in common with the 21st century indie rock scene as it does with the 1967 hit parade. Besides, the translucent keyboard textures that color many of the tunes (courtesy of both multi-instrumentalist James and his wife, Jessica Barnes) seem to owe as much to late-‘80s/early-‘90s dream pop as anything else. In any case, the most salient elements of the Wolf Ram Heart sound are James' gentle vocals floating atop already lighter-than-air arrangements in the delivery of his dreamy tunes. While the dynamics shift from majestic and orchestral-sounding to spare and fragile, the overall feeling on Betrayal of Hearts is one of a hazy, twilit dream making the journey from the mind's eye of the dreamer to the light of day. " - All Music Guide - All Music Guide


“David James has a great pop sensibility, mixing the best parts of 80s synth-rock and the dark chamber pop of St. Vincent or Sufjan Stevens. Between the moody atmospherics and James' pleasant Ian McCullough-ish vocals, there's a lot to like here." - Spilce Today - Baltimore


Discography

Betrayal of Hearts // 2011-2012 (Sovereign States)

Photos

Bio

New & Recent Festivals //

Canadian Music Fest 2013
CMJ Music Marathon 2012
North by Northeast (NXNE) 2012
Midpoint Music Festival 2011-2012
Northside Music Festival 2011

Recent Features //

Blurt Magazine: Best Kept Secret Feature // June 2012
Filter Magazine: Discovering the Undiscovered // June 2012
Under the Radar Magazine: Best Albums & New Artists August 2011 // Sampler
CMJ Magazine: Artist of The Week // June 3-10, 2011

More //

Tracks by Wolf Ram Heart have been featured in various magazines and online sites such as Blurt, Under the Radar, CMJ, Filter, Consequence of Sound, The Big Takeover, Magnet, Large Hearted Boy, Chart Attack and Fensepost.

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Bio //

Wolf Ram Heart is a Euro-centric, American group whose members are split between the Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio and the urban metropolis of Columbus. This is a band bent on marrying art with popular music. Retro-futuristic best defines their sound that straddles both neo-psychedelia and dark art dream pop. The music is an all encompassing hybrid of pop's faded echoing sensibilities, molded into a modern space, and created in a sound that allows these hauntings to occur and transform.

After the release of their critically acclaimed "Betrayal of Hearts" in 2011, the band debuted in the top 20 on the CMJ Radio 200 and was voted the second most anticipated release in the country for the second week of April by Magnet Magazine. Later that year, Wolf Ram Heart were chosen as an artist of the week on CMJ and the track "Viewgirls" was included on a compilation for Under The Radar. In 2012, they earned best new artist features in both Blurt and Filter magazines. The year also saw them performing at some of the biggest festivals in the industry such as the CMJ Music Marathon, Midpoint Music Festival and NXNE. Currently they are working on a follow up release set for the fall of 2013.

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Press //

"Adhering to Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” recording technique, Wolf Ram Heart blends ‘60s-style melodic pop with ‘80s-style reverb-drenched Brit-rock not unlike music being put out in the early days of Creation and 4AD..." - The Big Takeover

"The group additionally slots in wonderfully with the contemporary dream-pop movement (Beach House et al) while retaining a visceral originality that suggests a cinematic approach to songwriting. An eventual liaison with Hollywood seems all but inevitable, given the widescreen vibe and rampant eclecticism; these folks seem to share a sensibility with veteran film scorers as diverse as Ry Cooder, Calexico and even director David Lynch." - Blurt Magazine

"...while the influence of the paisley-and-incense era can be discerned throughout the record, it's consistently channeled into a distinctly modern-sounding style that has as much in common with the 21st century indie rock scene as it does with the 1967 hit parade. Besides, the translucent keyboard textures that color many of the tunes seem to owe as much to late-‘80s/early-‘90s dream pop as anything else." - All Music Guide