A hole-in-the-wall bar/musical showcase venue, Will’s Pub was the last place I expected to be immersed in the mesmerizing progressive folk rock of local band, Mojave Wilde, last Thursday. Then again, this is the same dingy yet homey joint where I discovered profound local progressive-ish band Bellows.
Alex Stringfellow, Rollins graduate student and member of both Mojave Wilde and Bellows, describes Mojave Wilde as “western folk with an electric groove.” Stringfellow claims Mojave Wilde aims to be slightly more electronic and faster-paced than Bellows’ music. “We really try to get people to move,” says Stringfellow who ensures the emphasis on “groove” in their music.
Mojave Wilde’s songs “Down by the Fountain” and “Tally-Ho!” seem to exemplify a more upbeat and, dare I say, commercial sound. The authenticity and experimentation, however, save the band from sounding like the average indie act. Their music effortlessly blends sitar-like sounds, 80’s inspired synth-pop (like in their song “Marigold”), and spacey tones that remind me of progressive band Rush.
In a few songs, I experienced an extremely dense history of rock’n’roll, yet the band still managed to create a sound entirely unique from their eclectic influences.
Their multi-faceted sound comes from the four-piece band’s “similar but different” music tastes. “I’ve gone from Metallica to Toro Y Moi,” comments member David Pokk, who “still loves metal.” Member Miles Archabal notes that his musical interests “have been all over the place,” and references Alt-J, Empire of the Sun, and Jinja Safari as current favorites. Fourth member Ryan Scanton recently joined the band, who shares that their creative process is a collaborative effort. “Cadence,” the first song they wrote together, was the soul I heard during the performance that struck me as raw and vulnerable.
“It’s been a transitional time for many of us; there have been some career conflicts,” says Stringfellow, who believes that this has impacted their recent material. City and Colour, Dustin Kensrue, and retro reggae act, Sister Nancy, also influenced Mojave Wilde’s soul-infused setlist.
Stringfellow played with Greyson Charnock as Bellows that night as well. The duo has the same experimental and progressive/folk sound but their new material sounded a bit tighter and more put together than last year. Even Charnock’s guitar’s string breaking could not disrupt their solid rhythm.
Charnock has been pleased with the support Bellows has been receiving in the local community and says that he wants Bellows to gain a strong local base before spreading out to other areas. Members of Mojave Wilde share the same goals, and would also love to play an outdoor music festival in the near future.
If there is anything to learn from Mojave Wilde and Bellows, it’s that progressive and experimental music certainly is not dead, and the more eclectic influences, the better.