Indie rock, what are you? Who made you? To me it’s one of the most convoluted words in music. Does it mean a band that’s signed to an independent label? Is it Mumford and Sons? Modest Mouse? Lately I’ve been feeling like it’s better to just not ask these soul sucking questions. Suffice it to say, when I saw the genre “indie rock” tagged on Toronto-based Naked Wild‘s latest album Pocket Whiskey (released June, 17th, 2017), I had no idea what to expect.
Okay, okay, I can understand how Pocket Whiskey is in essence an indie album, but then again it’s also much more! Let’s pretend for a second that the word “indie” never existed. How would I describe this album? It’s psychedelic rock. Guitarist Mitch Burton’s solo on opener “Funk Yourself” reminded me of something that Carlos Santana would have whipped up back when he was popping acid tabs like Tic Tacs.
There are also elements of folk rock and country. Nick Burton opens up “Stay Girl” with the lyric, “Hey hey, my my,” a clear tip of the cap to Canadian country and folk-rock legend Neil Young. “Willing Man” continues along the country theme with its beautifully soft acoustic guitar openig and hushed, whispery vocals. Even when the bass and drums kick in for the song’s explosive chorus, the country vibe is not lost. For me, this is the band truly at their best. Let’s keep the comparisons going! “Arcade” sounds like it came straight out of the mid-90s, with Burton sounding freakishly similar to late Blind Melon front man Shannon Hoon (pour one out!), although the music itself reminds me more of Stone Temple Pilots. You could throw “Arcade” somewhere on STP’s Purple, and I’m almost certain people wouldn’t question it.
Overall, the album suffers slightly from a lack of cohesiveness. There are just a few too many style deviations for my liking; as I said, the band is at its finest when they tread the line between indie and country. I’d like to hear much more of that. The songs are well produced and the musicianship is aces. I’ll give the nod to “Willing Man” for my favourite track. Also, points for putting a racoon on the album cover, those things are cute as fuck.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Kate Erickson