Upper Wilds


Dan Fucking Friel! Man’s been around the block and back, kicking the dust of distortion in Parts & Labor, who found a welcome space here all those many years ago. Later, Dan’s solo work jumped on a tangent of erratic rock tendencies but Upper Wilds might be the closest he’s come to the crunch n’ punch of his old band’s stomping grounds to date. Along with friends from Pterodactyls and an arsenal of pedals Friel captures the bent metal axis of noise-punk and overdrives it as hard as he can through an aesthetic that drops down and begs for volume – Earth rumbling volume on an eviction-level scale. This is a stripped bare and bleeding version of pop punk as run through the half stack heart attack of old-timey favorites like No Age and Times New Viking. Anthemic, is an overused term but it might just bear credence here.

Friel’s actually coming across clearer, vocally, than either of those two prime examples, but nonetheless he knows how to blend the chaos with a chewy nougat center until it sticks to the ribs. That, my skeptical sourpuss friend, is the beating heart of Guitar Module 2017. It’s an oxygen-chomping monster of a record that just wants to flop down and occupy every inch of space in your apartment until each corner is coated in a layer of noise-caked debris. There’s some sort of space/UFO concept going on in the song titles and samples, but while that’s a fun diversion (and who doesn’t love some good ol’ Easter Eggs) it all ranks second to the punishing, yet poppy, damage raining out of Dan’s amps. Sometimes you just gotta knock the knob right and let the panes of glass fend for themselves. Crunch pop always delivers and Friel’s proving he’s been ensconced in its ranks for a damn good reason.

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