So, Sean “Guy” Wallis gathered his friends. His friends who have hung over the years, some musicians, artists, followers of his music gatherings at rented houses turned underground venues. The LP is in the works, but tonight was a cherished setting to record an official bootleg, live and raw of six of those songs.
The gathering in a setting familiar to alot of musical peeps across a suburbia vastland of America, a basement. This one, of drummer Chad Siwinski’s generous father. His dad, called by the group as “Karate John,” heads a musical family in Bel Air. Chad and brother Phil (guitar) played with Baltimore band Roomrunner’s drummer Bret Lanahan in local favorite (and on hiatus) Like Patterns. Deceased brother Luke, was a fierce and legendary young drummer. And “Mr. John” will appear on drums on “the improv song” on the forthcoming LP.
Wallis, who has recorded more than a few projects of his (Mount Weather/Upright Animals), available as digital downloads, was committed to getting this work out on physical product on his label Sh*t Records (which plans more physical releases next year) and wanted to share the experience. This project is dubbed One Watt Sun. Wallis thanks Mr. Siwinski in the liner notes for putting up with the racket over a couple decades providing “a place to express our infinite frustrations and malcontent with the outside world” and keeping them somewhat sane. Graduates of Bel Air High, Wallis is fully ensconced in music and art (after putting in time in his “day job”), Chad is studying geography at Towson U.
Wallis is also a progeny of music blood. His father, Patrick Wallis, has contributed songs and sang in local Americana band “Freedom Alley” who released about six albums and plays currently with his brothers. One Watt Sun do not make trippy hippie songs. Wallis inherited writing lyrics and pretty melodies from his dad, but also has a noise and punk gene from somewhere else.
Intoxicating hooks, hammered into your skull with biting lyrics. Sweet nuthins’ whispered in the red, sliced like beefheart. This is an intimate sounding record, a friendly warm setting. Introduced with Wallis striking a few notes on his guitar, simply stating the title song, “God Wants Us to Fail” and rolling in with Siwinski on drums ” You can hide it / You can keep it around/You can close your eyes/But there’s more than one way to drown” to “can’t fake it/ can’t pretend that I believe/ no sugar coating/everyone is as doomed as me” sounding one moment like David Byrne and the next like Black Francis with the chorus “That’s a come on line/That’s a cop out, man/That’s it, come on lie.” The eco-amp requires just “Rudimentary Origami” skills to assemble with declarative “You’re all out of time” so “Laugh it up/ And dose it up /You’re only blind/till you wake up.”
Pixie-like hooks and contrasts, but from loud to louder Husker Du’s. Sugar coated alleyways of perversions, simple frustrations, quiets of solitude before rolling thunder. “Clint” is a haunting song about a haunting subject. An easy going Nirvana riff gets it going, whispers of Cobain, and pain and longing in Wallis’ singing.
One Watt Sun harkens back to the generation this evolves from and Saint Cobain is digging this. “The pain lives on long after you’re dead” They are all too familiar with that. Brother Luke Siwinski is also digging this, the music he thrived on, and he’d be proud of younger brother’s drumming morphing into veined confidence and Wallis’ melodies crashing to fruition through catchy nile grunge and reigned wiper’s guitar. Chad moved from bass guitar only about a year and half ago at the request of Wallis to complete his duo.
And after the ripping at the “Roach Motel” – “Needles in the hallways/ sex and violence always” -Wallis rides an infectious, gripping inverted hook which crushes and uplifts on crowd favorite “Stuck Between Dirt and Sky.” Dedicated in this performance to recent fallen friend Marcus Clary (as the EP is). “I’m stuck between dirt and sky/ Trying to get to the safest place.”
Wallis makes nice use of dynamics through out this raw official bootleg. It reminds of a certain underground Max’s Kansas City recording, but with much more sophisticated techno than a simple cassette player in the middle of a crowd. You never feel like an intruder, as you hear bottles click. There’s a couple of sweet instrumental breaks and some pleasant surprises about perfume and wondrous interludes. One can imagine “Mr. John” singing along “I don’t mind you coming here and wasting all my time” to warm laughter and a pretty Casio. As Wallis states in the liner notes – “…all the things we are taught to fill ourselves with are the very things that are quietly emptying our souls and making us more hollow” and filling yourselves with friends and family, camaraderie and support and dedication to what drives you are the reasons to come as you are and survive.
One Watt Sun will be appearing Saturday, December 22nd, the second night of a two day “festival” at Coda Records on Main Street to celebrate their new release with Pipe Smoking Rabbits and psych-outs Colora.
You can purchase the ep cd at your local record store or at a One Watt Sun show. Check them out here facebook.com/OneWattSunBand