NEW ALBUM REVIEW: hitch your wagon to a slice of Aussie alt-country with the brand new album 'Songs From The Aftermath' from Melb six-piece Wagons

August 8, 2019

 ALBUM: Songs From The Aftermath // ARTIST: Wagon

Returning with new tunes for the first time in five years, Melbourne alt-country kings Wagons and their brand new album 'Songs From The Aftermath' conjure up a dreamy slice of twangy yearning with the offbeat charisma of Nick Cave in Vegas-era's Elvis Presley's sonic clothing.

Combining all the essential elements of the alternative country phenomenon that is Wagons, the brand new release from the Melbourne six-piece (ably helmed by TV and radio personality Henry Wagons) injects fresh touches to a very well-oiled machine. Emotive stomps and reflective narratives line the edges of 'Songs From The Aftermath, carrying the listener on a moody, vivid road trip through the long, dark night that nods and strays from the twenty year career the band have traversed.



Opening track and lead single 'Keep On Coming Back' fittingly echoes the band's actual modus operandi, with their two decade career firmly showing in the serene recurrent hooks and pulsing rhythmics coating some effortless vocals from frontman Henry Wagons. It's little surprise from the introduction that we're hitting the road for a literal and sonic road trip, as Wagons explains: "A lot of these songs were written on highways across America, and the distance from home is what gives the record its perspective. The road is often filled with uncertainty, insecurity and disorientation".


Up next is 'My Darkness', a jangly little number that sprawls Wagons' drawling vocals across bright pianos and dusky instrumental backdrops, before the cloudy toe-tapper 'Take Me To Your Leader' jumps out next, motoring along with broader textures and pumped up beats.


Like something out of an HBO Western, the cinematic Johnny Cash-esque growler 'Sirens' crawls in next, evolving into an accordian-tinged number that grabs you by the ears and drops you into a world of dramatic tones and lush, shadowy textures. Continuing with the soundtrack-esque tendencies is the plushly produced 'Wake Up' which explores Wagons' higher ranges while woozing along with lavish strings and ornate arrangements.



The latter half of 'Songs From The Aftermath' goes full country with 'Drifting' and 'Old Fashioned Nights', which pump up the twangs and mix equal parts lamenting with good old fashioned storytelling, before the bass takes charge with a gritty outing on 'Cockroach'. Soon enough, 'Songs From The Aftermath' starts to wrap up with more modern leanings, injecting wavering 80s synths beneath some Nick Cave-infused vocals on 'Burn With Me', before the grand finale on the sparse and softly swaggering closer 'Is This The End'.


While it's been five years between releases for Wagons, their time spent on the road at Bluesfest, Falls Festival, Vancouver Folk, SXSW and Americana showcases over the years has certainly played a huge part in the constant development and retention of the core Wagons musical soul; one that is dark and arcane yet effortlessly pleasant with its warming croons and outlaw lilts. Ultimately, 'Songs From The Aftermath' can be as simple or as complex as you will it to be, whether you take it on face-value as an alternative country tour de force, or a deeply existential foray into modern anxiety and self-doubt. But regardless of how deep down the Wagons rabbit-hole you go, this is an album that'll have your toes tapping and your brain rattling (and has me seriously craving a whiskey).












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