Peter Wolf Crier embrace ‘medium fidelity’ on the brilliant debut Inter-be
:: Peter Wolf Crier::
By Matt Treon
Peter Wolf Crier sounds like an indie rock band trapped in a transistor radio. Their debut album Inter-Be (Jagjaguwar, 2010) is a beautiful mess of sound full of melody, rhythm, and vintage grit.
In a recent conversation with The Marquee, drummer Brian Moen described the sound as “medium fidelity” (a phrase he attributed to the liner notes of a Black Keys album, if that helps place the band’s vintage spirit a bit). But above all, the Minneapolis-based duo — comprised of Peter Pisano (previously of Wars of 1812) and Moen (also of Laarks) — is just damn good.
Peter Wolf Crier’s inception was as organic as the band’s sound: on a single summer’s night Pisano had an outpouring of creativity, laid down some demos, took those tacks to Moen, and together they crafted Inter-Be — and Peter Wolf Crier was born.
Rooted in guitar, drums, and Pisano’s sometimes-velvety-baritone/sometimes-raspy-falsetto/always-honest-sounding voice, with the occasional piano or organ tastefully placed atop, Peter Wolf Crier’s freshman catalogue ranges from indie rock songs (“Hard as Nails”), to stripped down acoustic pop gems (“Playwright”), to bluesy gospel anthems (“You’re So High”). And it’s how all the parts add up to the whole that make Peter Wolf Crier’s sound so interesting. Some songs, such as “Untitled 101,” start off with a relatively simple and straightforward acoustic guitar until Moen slams in with a distorted drum beat that immediately raises the stakes of the song. Other songs, such as “Hard as Nails,” continuously build into the unexpected —this song in particular builds to a finale consisting of 18 vocal tracks of fevered falsetto howls.
But it’s not just the sonic territory of Inter-Be that possesses notable depth. Augmented by the moody sound of the album, it’s Pisano’s lyrics that tell the deepest story. Inter-Be sounds like a well-penned testimonial of a young man beginning to accept life for all its ups and downs, a true mix of hopefulness and agony, “sometimes moving from darkness to the light, but sometimes from the light to the dark,” as Pisano explained it to The Marquee.
“Being at a place where I was writing a song where I didn’t make a distinction between a good thought or a bad thought — I didn’t say this is a bad feeling and this is a good feeling, they’re just feelings — that was not an easy thing for me to come to,” Pisano said. “And I think that you hear that in some of the grit in the record, but you also get a glimpse of a 26-year-old guy who’s discovering that for the first time and is relishing it. It’s as if your house is on fire and you don’t really give a shit, and you can kind of laugh at the fact that that’s what’s happening. I got to a point where I realized my house was burning down, and in order for me to still play music inside of it and be excited about it I had to find some humor, and I also had to give myself permission to be an adult and let go.” This freedom Pisano seems to be allowing himself existentially, as well as musically, permeates Peter Wolf Crier’s songs.
Pisano — with the help of Moen, who engineered and mixed the band’s debut album — dismantled himself and took the pieces and built quality art with them, the way good artists do.
Putting that puzzle back together each night on tour poses its own set of challenges. Being a two-piece, and wanting to keep it that way, Peter Wolf Crier has had to find creative ways to recreate the sound of Inter-Be on stage. “The same guys who wanted to make an analog record are not going to be the guys who want to bring a laptop on stage,” Pisano said.
The band instead creates loops live, and Pisano plays organ bass pedals with his feet. And for a band that sounds right at home in the studio, Pisano and Moen also have an obvious love for the stage. “As soon as you get up on stage in front of people you’ve never met, who’ve heard your songs before, you’re right back in what it felt like to make that record,” Pisano said. Feeding off audiences, PWC also likes to turn up the rock. “The live show for us is taken up a notch, energy-wise and volume-wise,” Moen said.
Riding the success of their debut album, logging dates across the country, and already planning to head back to the studio in March of 2011 to start work on a second album, Peter Wolf Crier has taken what started as a spark in the head of a quality songwriter, flourished as an obviously special pairing of talented musicians, and run with it. And if Inter-Be is the standing testament to what these two guys are capable of, let’s hope there’s plenty more where it came from.
:: Peter Wolf Crier::
:: hi-dive :: January 10 ::
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