There’s something about the guitar/drum duo that lends it instant credibility in my eyes and ears. Bands like the Japandroids, PS I Love You, and Amazing/Wow are the stuff that rock music is made of, and I’m just a sucker for bands that really let their balls hang out. If you can’t say what you need to say in 3 chords and with shitty distorted singing, maybe you need to sit back and reconsider the whole rock music thing, eh? I mean, you can gussie it all up with harmony and some tricky chord substitutions, but a rose is a rose is a rose–they don’t really do a whole lot to change the fundamental character of the music. Amazing/Wow is just two dudes, bangin’ it out, but they elevate the whole venture to such epic proportions that a whole army of guitarists (a “guitarmy,” if you will) couldn’t show them up on stage. Fellow Ampeater writer Nick Kelly saw Amazing/Wow a while back, and wrote, “Amazing/Wow is really one of those bands that hits their stride live. You can get a sense of their raw energy from their recordings, but seeing them live is truly a physically overwhelming experience. Instead of going to another big-name show at Webster Hall and having to pinch yourself mid-way through to confirm that you are not in fact dead, go see Amazing/Wow in a loft somewhere. They singlehandedly reminded me that sometimes all you need is a bit of melody and a whole lot of adrenaline to make music worthwhile.” Hell yeah, that’s the spirit. Amazing/Wow is Barrett Lindgren and Adam Ferguson, and they’ve been making abrasive punk music with delicious pop hooks for only about a year now. Based out of West Philly, these guys are the real fu*king deal. Keeping the DIY tradition alive, Amazing/Wow isn’t label bound, but their recordings are killer enough to keep me headbanging at my desk all day long. Moreover, withstanding one of their live shows is purportedly akin to surving a tornado. Awesome, sign me up.
So now down to the real business: we’re serving up a nice new digital 7-inch from Amazing/Wow, so check it out. Side A is a punk anthem for the new millennium called “We Don’t Need Anything.” They’re right, they don’t need anything–not even a bassist. Fu*k bassists. The song takes off with some hefty feedback, ushering in a vocal intro and a hovering guitar part that suddenly casts us off into the meat of the song before we really know what hit us. I don’t think I had heard anything made in my lifetime that actually propelled me to punch the air during the chorus until I found this song. Amazing/Wow has a pretty basic agenda that they fulfill with style: punk songs + catchy melodies + lots of raw untamed masculine energy. Even the most apathetic of hipsters will find themselves looking like bearded bobble-head dolls when they put this one on. “We Don’t Need Anything” is a perfect example of what makes Amazing/Wow so great. Listen to it, now. Seriously, scroll to the bottom of the post and click play. The rest of the review will still be here when you finish.
The B-Side of this disk, “Covered in Blood,” shows what separates Amazing/Wow from your normal run-of-the-mill two person punk band (though I refuse to believe that such a thing actually exists). Amazing/Wow combines pop and punk in a way that gives credence to both genres. The song builds over a two-note riff, adding tambourine and drums until the vocals finally enter and remind us that we’re listening to something very, very special. The refrain, “I would like to see your face covered in blood,” gives way to a 3-chord straight punk riff that quickly becomes just a little embarassed by itself and drops us back into the indie-infused shell of the song. The song’s a bit schizophrenic like that, alternating between a deep indie guitar groove and straight punk. Oddly, I miss one when I’m hearing the other, which is maybe why I’ve had this song on repeat for hours now. It’s the perfect balance between music that draws heavily on a certain genre and music that’s directly referential. This is the kind of tune that gets jammed deep inside your head and stays there, but since you can’t really sing and have a shitty memory, the version that’s in your head is always slightly out of tune and just loops half a verse over and over again. Practice makes perfect?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that there’s some dissention amongst the Ampeater crew as to what songs are Amazing/Wow’s best. I won on the 7-inch and got my two favorites, but Nick would insist that “Where is the Universe” and “Laserface” better capture the band’s synthesis of pop and punk, as they actually take a second to breathe and let a couple notes ring out every once in a while. I guess that’s okay, but part of what makes Amazing/Wow so potent is pure endurance, both in terms of their own performance and what they demand from their listeners. It’s not an easy task to keep up with Amazing/Wow, but if you’re up for a good time it’s one hell of a ride.