Note: It’s been a minute since I have sat down to write. No, I’m not retired, let’s just call it a case of industrial strength writers block. Mostly, I’ve been waiting for something to really grab my attention. Here it is.
We need to talk about this record.
Wastelands is the 2020 release from Year of October, a band out of Nashville I hadn’t heard of before a few weeks ago. They commented on a couple of my Instagram posts, (which I always appreciate) so I checked them out. I listened to the first song off the record, “Black Widow” and said, “well, what the fuck, I’ll order it and see what happens.”
Because sometimes in life you’ve gotta say, “What the fuck.”
Am I right?
They were kind enough to send a signed copy, a handwritten note, a convincing likeness of Bradford the Turtle, and some swag. Pay attention other bands, this is how it’s done.
In terms of presentation, I was pleasantly surprised. The artwork is fierce, featuring bold colors on a glossy black background. That is not a fox I want to mess with. Or is it an octopus? A foxtopus? Whatever man, it looks awesome. The vinyl itself sounds great and the packaging, while not a full jacket included some extra photos of the band, a high quality jacket sleeve, an upgrade from shrink wrapping, and a plastic – not paper sleeve for the record. These are just some small details that are not lost on someone buying a record from a band doing it on their own.
If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I don’t often take chances on records. To date I’ve bought just two records without knowing anything about the band on the cover, and in both cases I’ve been so glad I did. The band’s fourth offering, Wastelands is rich in heavy, overdriven, riffy rock but is equally capable when the fuzz gets turned off. The vocals from Phelicia Sullivan haunt each track and drip with a quality bearing traits of something between Beth Hart and Billie Holiday. A perfect match to the heavy riffs laid down by Josh Sullivan and James Varner. Getting the right match of vocals and music is a tricky proposition for any band, Year of October gets this exactly right.
As much as I love when this record is heavy, loud and in your face, (and I do) I love the tracks that are quieter and clean as well. It’s not always possible to have it both ways. Heavy rock bands can sound like they’re faking it in the more mellow tunes. Like they’re forcing something they’d rather shred on. You simply cannot fake the kind of feeling and soul on display on literally every track of Wastelands. Make no mistake, soul is not a thing this record, indeed this band, is lacking.
Wastelands is a really good record, dudes. Really good. Go listen. You’re welcome.