Wave 21 releases self-titled LP
The future of country music isn’t being decided strictly by artists born and raised in the American south anymore. For the first time in its long and storied history, country is actually being shaped mostly by musicians hailing from outside the 50 states, and rather than watering down the patriotic flare that once made Nashville the official music capitol of the United States, it’s helping the genre to grow and evolve in ways that a lot of its harshest detractors never believed possible. Montreal’s Wave 21 are a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Their new self-titled album has been cratering the Nashville scene and leaving a trail of hype and universal adulation behind it, and though there might be a small minority faction that believes it’s too soon to be giving them the title of best new band in country, I think that failing to acknowledge their importance isn’t just an insult to their artistic credibility but moreover ignorant of what country music really needs to do in order to remain relevant in the next decade.
This record wouldn’t have a hard time fitting in on the pop, rock or country charts thanks to the diverse sound and style of attack employed by Wave 21, and it’s a starkly different concept than anything that their closest competitors have produced as of late. A song like “Here We Go” could even be considered an indie rock song being performed by a country group, and other tracks like “The Fun Times” are so stylishly eclectic that it wouldn’t be right not to call them somewhat alternative in their design. What other country bands of this generation have been failing to realize is that in order for their sound to make sense to anyone outside of their immediate vicinity of origin, they’ve got to let their music embrace other styles of play and develop as a result. They could stand to learn a thing or two from what Wave 21 has done with this album, and hopefully the band’s success will eventually ripple across all of country music for the greater benefit of tomorrow’s singer/songwriters and honky tonk crews.
I can’t wait to see what Wave 21 does next, and although I’m fairly certain that their next album will see their evocative sound really grow into its own, virtually anything is possible for this band at this juncture of their career. Even if they were to depart from their country sound altogether in favor of making something even more out there and experimental than what they’ve already achieved here, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I would be overwhelmed with curiosity. Bands like this one tend to only come around a great once in a while, and I don’t plan on ignoring what could possibly be one of the landmark moments in the history of pop just because they’re threatening bands that have been expected to be where they’re at now. Wave 21 means business with their music, and the competition is going to have to work a lot harder if they plan on keeping up.