A seven-letter Sanskrit word beginning with the letter ‘N’ is going to haunt Sub Pop for a long time, colouring listeners’ perceptions of otherwise fine bands like Strange Wilds. A trio from Olympia, Washington, Strange Wilds play dark, faintly menacing and yet still hook-laden post-hardcore, fulfilling their label-mates and predecessor’s (who shall not be named) promise to combine “Black Sabbath with The Knack.”
There are other elements in the mix: Refused’s mix of muscular riffs that drop into verses where the emphasis is squarely on the political message of the vocals, Cloud Nothing’s affected snotty vocals, Hot Snakes/Drive Like Jehu’s restless time-shifting. At its heart though, Subjective Concepts is out to do the same trick as a certain other Washingtonian three-piece: take genres that the mainstream can’t stomach and sweeten them until they’re pop. That’s a worthy goal; it’s why many of us got into alternative music in the first place. Strange Wilds are closer to punk than they are to punk that can be mistaken for pop, and it’s good to see anyone tackle the Pacific Northwest’s thorny, storied musical heritage, even if there was more to it than the one big name. As it stands they’re not a band to get excited about just yet, but the potential is there. Keep an eye on them.
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