By: Westin Boland
Artist: American Wrestlers
Album: American Wrestlers
Release Date: April 6th, 2015
Label: Fat Possum
In the mood for nine under produced, lo-fi tracks that hiss and crackle like a mouthful of pop-rocks? Do you by chance happen to enjoy drum machines, synthesizer riffs, and harmonica pieces layered over one another by an old 8-track player found at the Goodwill? Wow, you have really specific but good taste, my friend! Scottish born musician Gary McClure’s basement side project known as American Wrestlers began as a way to pass the time after recently moving to St. Louis with his now wife Bridget. The album was self-recorded in the couple’s apartment after Gary splurged and got a bass and an 8-track player from the pawn shop down the street. I like to think of every street in St. Louis has a pawn shop and looks like the one Ray Charles owned in the Blues Brothers. Let me have this dream.
McClure’s former band, Working For A Nuclear Free City achieved some success in the UK which lead to a stateside tour but they were ultimately lost during the era of Feist and Arcade Fire. They are worth checking out if you have the time but they are best described by McClure as “a shoegaze-electronic crossover band.” These roots are apparent throughout American Wrestlers from the initial melancholy, trudging drum machine beat of “There’s No-One Crying Over Me Either.” The pacing and deep moody bass lines of “Holy” layered with McClure’s ingenious instrumental tracks create beautifully rich harmonies that force you to tap your foot. “Holy” steals the show with not only a jarring guitar riff AND solo, but a smooth and funky bass line. “Wild Yonder” seems to draw more inspiration from McClure’s shoegaze roots with somber, deep drum tracks and muffled and muttered lyrics like: “Nail me down. I’ve covered my tracks with mistakes. Unsticking stars mirrored backs. The sky leaks.” I’m not going to try decipher and misinterpret it that but it does remind me of those glow in the dark stars I had in my room as a kid so that earns bonus points in my book.
The efficiency and artificialness of the drum machine throughout the album really stood out to me and made the other instrumental layers more prominent which I think lead to a lot of catchy little bass lines and riffs. Because of this I could totally see some marketing executive somewhere shoehorning “Holy” into a new phone commercial. “This Ain’t” the bonus track on the album sounds markedly different from everything prior as if it were produced with a little bit more polish (in a real studio?) which could possibly give us some insight into the future of American Wrestlers.
The album is genius I love just about every track but the standouts to me were “Cheapshot”, “There’s No one Crying Over me either”, and “I Can Do No Wrong.”