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Wellwater Conspiracy ()

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The 1960s revisionism continues on Wellwater Conspiracy's self-titled effort, its fourth LP overall and first for Mega Force. Matt Cameron (drums/vocals/guitars) and John McBain (guitar/bass/keyboards) (joined on keyboards here and there by the Walkabouts' Glenn Slater) have made a record that might be more cohesive than past WWC output, but only because it never drifts too far from pretty melodies. What's really obvious here is the comfort inside these songs. If your band wears its psychedelic and pop influences like flowers in its hair, is it pretentious to cover Thunderclap Newman's era-signifying "Something in the Air"? Maybe, if Cameron and McBain didn't bookend their version with two of Wellwater's most freewheeling instrumental departures. The robotic "Rebirth" suggests Trans Am's backroom electronica with its sputtering, chintzy-cool keyboards and live, grooving drums, while the improvisational "Sullen Glacier" features lurching time signatures and fire-breathing stoner metal guitars. The bandmembers are comfortable enough with one another (and confident enough in their skill) to throw switch-ups like these into the mix. Even when the band's inner flower child is blatantly at the controls (the spot-on Byrds guitars of "Wimple Witch"; Cameron's vintage vocal on the Who-ish, awesomely named "Dragonwyck"), Wellwater Conspiracy steers its peace train down dark indie rock and modernist, experimental paths. The floating "Sea Miner" could be a lost bit of atmosphere from Love, but its unsettling stylistic cloudbursts are akin to the abstract rock impressionism of outfits like the Sea and Cake. This free-form toadstool hopping is indicative of a band unconcerned with financial return on its intellectual investment. Tailoring the sound is out; squashing stuff together is in. Plenty of artists use this approach; too often, it results in a studio-tweaked mess only a producer could love. By keeping things loose and organic, yet ambitious and consistently accessible, Wellwater Conspiracy lets the listener savor some of its referential improvisation. ~ Johnny Loftus, Rovi Hide synopsis

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