North Carolina two-piece Wildlights will no doubt earn a comparison or two to their Season of Mist labelmates in Floor with tracks like “Hellfire Forever” and “Onward Upward” from their impending self-titled debut full-length, out Aug. 21 via the aforementioned, but neither is that the beginning and end of their sonic sphere. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Jason Shi of ASG and Thunderlips‘ Johnny Collins on drums, the duo hit on a blend of upbeat vibes, resonant melodies and weighted groove that find a middle-ground between accessibility and weight. Shi‘s vocals are immediately identifiable for anyone who’s listened to ASG — and perhaps they’re an underappreciated distinguishing factor in that group as well — but the dynamic in Wildlights is on its own trip, shorter cuts like “Lights Out” and the airier-into-a-big-finish closer “Big Frontier” shooting for unabashed catchiness in their hooks, while “New Year Repeat” and the earlier “Snow Song” add arrangement flourishes via a quiet guitar line at the start and an organ (or organ-sounding) finish, respectively.
Worth mentioning plainly is the production of Matt Hyde (Monster Magnet, Slayer, etc.), whose crispness in the guitar and drums suits Wildlights‘ presentation remarkably well. Cuts throughout the 12-track/41-minute release are relatively short — “Hellfire Forever” is the longest at 4:33 — but for the kind of efficiency they’re looking to convey, it wouldn’t work if they weren’t, and while still vinyl-ready in its runtime, it’s not as though the album is lacking substance. As it is, small shifts like the tempo change of “Climb in the Throne” and the departure from the early rush of “Anchors” and “Rebel Smiles” that “Part of the Sea” brings with its winding riff feed into each other over the course of the front-to-back listen, and Wildlights proves to be more of a full-album experience than it at first seems, as memorable as individual tracks and parts can be over its span. At their root, Shi and Collins benefit from the songwriting experience both have and execute a record that seems barebones because its structures are so apparent and so much of the appeal but also has a considerable amount of atmosphere to go with, immersing the listener almost before they know what’s happened.
By way of evidence, I have the pleasure of hosting the premiere today for “Lights Out.” One of four cuts on Wildlights‘ Wildlights under three minutes long, it nonetheless engages with its heft, the tonal presence of Shi‘s guitar and the push of Collins‘ drums. Please find it on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire, and enjoy:
WILDLIGHTS’ brand of hard rock is truly timeless. Featuring ASG’s Jason Shi and THUNDERLIP!s’ Johnny Collins, their direct, honest sound draws equally from the driving, melodic, SoCal-spawned skate/desert rock and the heavy, blues-based sound of the South. Their self-titled, Matt Hyde (PORNO FOR PYROS, MONSTER MAGNET, FU MANCHU, SLAYER) produced album shines with stunning tracks like “Rebel Smiles”, “Anchors”, “Lights Out”, “Lions”, “Part of the Sea” and more. More than just a mere collection of tracks, WILDLIGHTS is a soundtrack to life that resonates hope.
2. Rebel Smiles
3. Part of the Sea
4. Snow Song
5. Hellfire Forever
7. Onward Upward
8. Lights Out
9. New Year Repeat
10. Climb in the Throne
12. Big Frontier
Jason Shi (ASG)- Vocals, Guitars
Johnny Collins (Thunderlip) – Drums
Release Date: August 21st