By: Westin Boland
Artist: Renny Wilson
Album: Punk Explosion/ Extension
Label: Mint Records
Release Date: July 10th, 2015
Compared to Wilson’s last work, Punk Explosion/Extension lives up to it’s namesake and is quite literally an explosion of energy and sound. Released as a result after getting burned out performing the hyper composed and intricate tracks from Sugarglider, Wilson and company have created an album that ditch the post production composure and structure and instead put the emphasis on spirit and fun for increased playability. The smooth and creamy bass lines have been traded in for rapid, bipolar hooks. Dreamy synth overtures replaced by cheese-grater sharp guitar riffage. Sexy-Sax-man-like saxophone interludes (no offense, Sergio Flores’s “Careless Whisper”) substituted for helium induced falsetto singing. It’s so wildly different than what I anticipated I had to make sure that I wasn’t listening to a mislabeled C.D. That’s not at all a bad thing, Renny introduces us to a different side of his musical ability and provides us with non-diluted, unfiltered garage punk album that proves to be very refreshing.
Punk Ex is a compilation of songs from 2007 to 2014 as Renny transitioned from his high school garage band days to the release of his 2013 work, Sugarglider. Originally a limited release cassette, 2015’s Punk Explosion is almost entirely composed of first takes with very little post production distortion added. Shifting tempo and and voice alterations are hallmarks found throughout the album and most notably on my favorite track. “Escaping Alive” toddles slowly and sludge like at first as if it were creeping molasses but then catapults itself into a cacophonous, jangly, almost surf punk-esque melody accompanied by twangy, barely tuned guitar licks. It invokes a claustrophobic soundscape that makes you feel as though the walls really are closing in on you. Perhaps the only way to actually escape alive is by turning up the volume and joining Wilson’s warbly howl.
Well structured punk that doesn’t take itself too seriously is difficult to come across so I highly endorse Punk Ex especially if you enjoy Jay Reatard, Ty Segall, or Ariel Pink. If you are looking for something more akin to Sugarglider, you might have to stick with Toro y Moi in the meantime while you wait to see where Renny takes his next release. The paramount tracks from this album include “Youngsters”, “Sick”, “Clean”, “Escaping Alive”, and an (amazing) cover of Foreigner’s “Jukebox Hero.”