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Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States | INDIE

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Pop




"Wondernaut - 1,000 Love Songs"

Wondernaut has a new EP, that I believe came out in early October, called 1,000 Love Songs EP.

I actually received the opportunity to listen to the whole EP and review it and I do believe that it's indeed a lovely five song album. Beautiful mellowed out songs that will tug at the tender heart of any sentimentalist. Very relatable retrospective lyrics that make you take a stroll down memory lane to reminisce. Brilliant use of rhythmic guitars and very pretty acoustics on track 4, Dying To Live. - The Crescendo

"Michael Barnes - Out & About (Nov. 27, 2006)"

From some reason, I feel required to report on some of the best CDs that cross my path as American-Statesman entertainment editor. (The bigger, newsier titles, I leave to our crack XL critics to review.)

Only thing is, it’s a chore that’s put off and put off, until, like today, I have more than a dozen to recommend. Oh well, hold on for surface-skimming of some recent releases.

...Wondernaut: “The Youth Is Wasted” (American Laundromat) — Goofy, tender, absolutely captivating rock. Watch for these guys... - Austin360.com

"Review: Wondernaut - The Youth Is Wasted (Oct. 23, 2006)"

Currently signed on the up and coming indie label American Laundromat Records is Billy Gro, or Wondernaut as he's most commonly known hails from Oklahoma City. He's been making a splash on American college radio stations for some time, and, after limited copies of his debut self-titled EP sold out he's back with a 12 track debut album "The Youth Is Wasted". Recorded over a period of 10 months by Billy and an 8 track, the album certainly has some moments of lo-fi beauty.

Kicking off with a 3 minute waltz of layered fuzzed out guitars and an infectious melody "Chemical Attraction Ecstasy" its obvious that Billy wears his influences on his sleeve. Not thats neccesarily a bad thing. The vocals on the opening track especially remind me of fellow Oklahoma resident Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.

"U Think Yer Cool" is a stab at the uber cool underground scene with its playground-ish jibes of "U think yer cool and I am not, u think yer cool but your'e not" - its not going to win any awards for lyrical genius - but maybe thats the point. It does get your foot tapping though.

One of the oldest songs here, "Whisper" has a simple heart wrenching melody, the only downside to it, as with a lot of these songs is the over use of effects on the tracks, especially the vocals. I'd love to hear this song in particular broken down with just an acoustic guitar and vocals. The continuous flanging effects on the instruments and vocals are ultimately a distraction to what could be one of the strongest songs here.

Things pick up though with the buzz saw pop of "Valerie", "Such Sweet Melancholy" and "Out Of Friction", if you close your eyes for long enough you almost feel like you're listening to a band from the C86 era or maybe even Teenage Fanclub'isms circa Bandwagonesque / Thirteen - particularly the bands main songwriter Norman Blake, I think it might be the vocal delivery, I don't know.

What I do know is that if lo-fi college indie pop is youre thing you should certainly check this guy out.
- The Line of Best Fit Blog (thelineofbestfit.blogspot.com)

"Wondernaut “Mind the Pendulum Swing”"

Oklahoma-based Billy Gro, who has been using the moniker Wondernaut since 1998, offers five original compositions on Mind The Pendulum Swing. This marks singer/songwriter Gro’s first release since the well-received 2006 full-length release, The Youth Is Wasted.

Gro makes no pretense of hiding his stylistic debt to Oklahoma’s best-known musical export, long-lived psychedelic rockers the Flaming Lips, by using fuzzy electric guitars and layered harmony vocals throughout the EP. But while the Lips can often be experimental, Gro’s songwriting hews to the straightforward verse-chorus-bridge conventions of Midwestern indie rockers like Guided By Voices and Built To Spill. The title track uses staccato rhythms and deft rhyming, bolstered by bright, chiming guitars. A choir of background vocalists respond to Gro’s entreaty to “mind the pendulum swing” by singing, “it’ll getcha, getcha” in shimmering harmony. Chunky power chords propel “Dear Reason,” which finds Gro singing in his upper register, sounding very much like Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne. Peppery rhythm guitars provide propulsion, making this up-tempo pop tune a real ear-pleaser with its undulating melody and urgent vocals.

The bitter kiss-off song “It’s A Disease” recounts a particularly harrowing relationship (“she can be counted on to be held unaccountable”) with sinister guitars and some pleasing harmonies on the chorus. There’s a hint of Kurt Cobain-like malice in the dark guitar parts, a surging purposefulness in the relentless repetition of the main rhythm. It’s a compelling track and one of the EP’s strongest. A Nirvana influence can also be heard on the tumultuous “Delete Me,” which showcases a sinuous melody, pounding drums, and an electrifying guitar solo on the bridge. But there’s still a psychedelic high-end luminescence to the roiling guitars that grabs the listener’s ears. Gro’s powerful use of inner rhyme schemes and twisting wordplay recalls Cobain’s enigmatic self-questioning from “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” “It’s not for me/ I disagree/ I’m wrong, it works for all the others/ Falling stars fall very far from me/ they’re nothing to discover/ And if I think/ I know/ I go from one relation to another/ I try too hard/ Or not enough sometimes/ Why do I even bother?” The melody here falls on all the right accents, driving the lyrics into the listener’s head.

A melodic but distorted electric guitar lead floats through the closing ballad, “Sigh Smile.” Gro’s vocal is wonderfully expressive and emotional on this track, conveying feelings of loss and regret. Again, Gro’s wordplay shines here, and he continually finds intriguing lyrics that keep the listener riveted. “You don’t have to say a word, baby, you are understood,” he sings condemningly. The volume swells as the vocals are double-tracked on the powerful chorus, as Gro expresses the hurt of emotional betrayal.

Doling out music in small doses makes sense in today’s oversaturated media market. These five songs from the accomplished and moving Wondernaut will definitely whet listeners’ appetites for the next EP, promised in Fall of 2011.

Review by Jim Testa
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5) - www.reviewyou.com


From the promoter: "Following the success of its heavier predecessor [Mind the Pendulum Swing]... 1,000 Love Songs is a demonstration of Wondernaut's softer side. With powerful and emotional lyrics wrapped around solid musicianship, 1,000 Love Songs is Wondernaut's second release on Lackpro Records."

This is a super-lo-fi record that has some pleasant pop-rock songs. Definitely endearing in its back-home/backyard feel to it all. Start with 2 and 3. - http://wlurradio.blogspot.com

"Something Unexpected"

While grinding away at my repetitive 9 to 5er of a job, I received an unexpected email notification on my Smart phone. Slyly looking over my shoulders making sure none of the Higher Ups were meandering around, I proceeded to check my email. There highlighted in bold was a response from the band Wondernaut, the lead singer to be precise, regarding my Mini Review of their EP Mind the Pendulum Swing. My reactions were as followed: "Wait...that name sounds familiar--HOLY JEBUS I reviewed their CD! OH CRAP, I don't think I gave it a positive review...Uh, okay I'll wait till my break then I'll crack the email open and see how much they hate me." I set my phone down, and a within a few seconds I received another email notification. I quickly glanced around again, still in the clear, then cracked it open. There in bold were two new emails: one letting me know Wondernaut was now following me on Twitter, and the second that they subscribed to my Youtube channel; my curiosity was ten fold. It had to be quenched, and now. So I did what any rational keyboard pounding, mouse clicking, dreamer stuck in a dead end job would do: I pulled the fire alarm...

.....totally kidding, but that would have been quite the twist right? Alas, I just took my fifteen minute break, and read the email in our company's newly remodeled break room; now with actual walls! The email I received was as followed:

I just read your review of my EP "Mind the Pendulum Swing". And while I have no problem with you not liking it, I wanted to clarify a couple of things. First, I was the only person to sing lead on the EP. The other band members strictly sing backup. So if the vocal range is all over the place, it is on purpose. As for production values, that is based on economics. I refuse to pay thousands of dollars to recording studios and I don't have thousands of dollars to buy better microphones. Finally, as for finding a "proper medium", I really don't want one. Most of the bands I admire have a wide range of song styles and structures, and I seek that for myself. I don't want Wondernaut to ever become a band where all of the songs start to sound the same.

Please don't think that I am griping about your review. Though not the most favorable review I've had, I greatly appreciate your time and effort spent on listening and reviewing my CD. I get very little reviews or attention so I am glad that anybody is paying any attention at all. If anything, your review highlights to me that perhaps I should make more extensive and explanatory liner notes.

Once again, I do greatly appreciate you taking the time to review me and am sorry that the music didn't resonate with you.

Billy Gro

I think I reread the response like 5 times, letting it all soak in. Then a smile spread across my face. I was/am still shocked that the actual lead singer found my little review, and took the time to respond. I thought: "Now here's a cool Cat." He could have easily ripped into me, and called me names, but instead he took the time to clarify points I brought up in the review as well as thanked me for doing it in the first place. To me, that's the sign of true class. So, while I may not have cared for the music overall, I can say they deserve major props for being professionally minded artists who, I hope, find the kind of success they are looking for. In fact, here's the link to both their Facebook page and YouTube Channel page so you can judge their music for yourselves. This situation, while perhaps stemming from something "negative", has turned towards the positive: you should always stay true to yourselves, and never lose sight of your dreams. Thanks for reading!
- www.fire-at-will.net

"Wondernaut “Mind the Pendulum Swing”"

Sometimes the coolest music comes from the places we least expect. Sometimes it isn’t Brooklyn, or Los Angeles, or even London. Sometimes it’s Oklahoma. Meet Wondernaut, headed by musical mastermind Billy Gro. Playing under the moniker since 1998, you can easily taste the 90’s flavor that his band has to offer. It wasn’t until 2010, though, that Gro started to play with a full band. The results are striking, and one can only imagine the power this band has on stage. Recently releasing an EP titled Mind the Pendulum Swing, Wondernaut is on the way to becoming an indie classic. Gro and company will release part two the EP set in the fall, which will be titled 1,000 Love Songs. Before you finish this fantastic piece of work you will be wishing that you could have the second half right away.

The album starts off with the mesmerizing title track, “Mind the Pendulum Swing.” With jaunty guitars and infectious riffs, the band takes on a touch of Sonic Youth in the best possible way. Though it is not a copycat version by any means, and Thurston Moore would be proud. Up next is the track “Dear Reason,” which will captivate the listener immediately. This song has a slight hint of early Foo Fighters in tone in the instrument portion of the song at least. The guitar solo and riffs are nothing short of brilliant on this track. The drums, bass and guitars intertwine perfectly as they all thump in unison.

Mind the Pendulum Swing gets taken down a notch with the with soaring vocal harmonies and acoustic guitars of “It’s a Disease.” It’s is a nice change of pace, and Gro’s vocals really shine and take the work to a whole new level. One thing is for sure: you cannot tag Wondernaut as a one trick pony. “Delete Me” brings some lo-fi 90’s college radio sweat and will make anyone nostalgic for local indie radio. “Sigh Smile” then surprises with howling vocals over acoustic guitars. The harmonies astonish when they kick in, and the electric guitars hone in on the real sweet spot of the arrangement.

Mind the Pendulum Swing is an extraordinary album that will take you by surprise before the first listen is even finished. Gro stays true to the music that he makes and what he wants to accomplish with it. What this record brings to the table is true indie rock, reminiscent of its early days, a time when heart and soul was put into every ounce of a record.

Is it time for the sequel yet? We’re already on the edge of our seats.

Review by Melissa Nastasi
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5) - www.reviewyou.com

"Wondernaut Mind the Pendulum Swing EP"

Wondernaut is the ongoing musical project of Oklahoma City native Billy Gro. Since 2006, he’s been performing at venues from Oklahoma City to Tulsa (Twilley country!). His approach is indie rock with a prog feel. This EP starts with the cool title track, an impressive multi-tracked chorus and steady beat. The other tracks are serviceable, standouts include “Delete Me”and the guitar fuzzed out “Sigh/Smile.” The companion EP is “1000 Love Songs” and Gro’s melodic sense and persistence has helped grow his dedicated fanbase. Fans of The New Pornographers and Death Cab for Cutie may find this artist irresistible.

Rated: 7 out of 10 - www.powerpopaholic.com

"Review of Wondernaut's Mind the Pendulum Swing EP"

Mind the Pendulum Swing is a breath of fresh air to the pomposity of the indie scene. When you say the word "indie" so many negative connotations come to mind. Stuck up, prissy, pretentious, hipster, PBR, flannel, and labia major. But after listening to Mind the Pendulum Swing, the boys of Wondernaut tight-rope the line perfectly. They keep their mysteriousness while showcasing solid musicianship.

Mind the Pendulum starts out with Mind the Pendulum Swing - a Sonic Youth/Dinosaur Jr. light alternative tuning guitar driven opener.The breathy, airy vocals are haunting in sound as they are in meaning. The drums and bass are light and never get in the way of the vocals and guitars. They are perfectly played to accentuate the song and add dimension, but not overwhelm. So many indie bands forget how important drums are and instead balance the vocals with keyboards. Wondernaut didn't make that mistake.

Dear Reason is my favorite track on the EP. The vocals and the guitars wind around one another to build this memorable riff that had me bouncing my foot off my green yoga mat, which I use as a soft landing for my sexual wedge furniture. The upbeat, pop focused anthem has a wonderful melody and Gro's lyrics are fantastic.

Let's take a quick time out, it rare in this industry that lyrics impress me. I was an English major and love to hear rhyme scheme and wordplay. I found this lyric in the song so damn poignant and then when searching for what others thought about the band was shocked someone ELSE picked up on it.

It’s not for me
I disagree
I’m wrong, it works for all the others
Falling stars fall very far from me they’re nothing to discover
And if I think I know I go from one relation to another I try too hard
Or not enough sometimes
Why do I even bother?

Powerful and emotional lyrics wrapped around solid musicianship, this band has it all. You can buy the album on iTunes and their previous effort. - www.blogsnroses.com


The Youth is Wasted (October 17, 2006)
1. Chemical Attraction Ecstasy*
2. U Think Yer Cool*
3. Killing Time*
4. Whisper*
5. Valerie (shorter days mix)*
6. You Got Love*
7. Princess of a Gravel Road*
8. Such Sweet Melancholy*
9. Out of Friction (in A Major)*
10. Gray*
11. Lunar Halos
12. Indifference is Bliss*

Mind the Pendulum Swing (April 19, 2011)
1. Mind the Pendulum Swing*
2. Dear Reason*
3. it's a Disease*
4. Delete Me*
5. Sigh/Smile*

1,000 Love Songs (Oct. 11, 2011)
1. Sunflowers*
2. The End Seems Strange*
3. I Trust You*
4. Dying to Live*
5. She's a Sunset*

* Denotes tracks that have received radio play at college radio stations!

All tracks can be streamed at wondernaut.bandcamp.com



Some artists are musicians. Not all musicians are artists. Wondernaut is set apart by a love of music unparalleled by their peers. Their music tells the story of feelings of a youth wasted on fear and loathing of the world, unrequited love, and the burden of trying to bring hope to the crushed spirits of friends and family.

The year 2011 saw the release of two EPs, "Mind the Pendulum Swing" and "1,000 Love Songs" and a tour of Eastern US in the fall to support the EPs, concurrent with a promotion to college radio stations through AAM in NYC. While on tour, Wondernaut is being followed by a documentary filmmaker aiming to capture the extreme difficulty of being an unknown independent musician in the modern world.

Influences include the Pixies, Built To Spill, Dinosaur Jr, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Archers of Loaf, David Bowie, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Band of Horses, the Doves, Catherine Wheel, and all the great pop/rock from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s.