‘The Time Has Come To Rock & Roll’, so proclaimed New York punk ‘n’ rollers Wyldlife back in 2013. Now in 2020, they find themselves still rock ‘n’ rolling with their fourth long player. Following hot on the tails of 2016’s ‘Out On Your Block’, ‘Year Of The Snake’ is the band’s second album on the ever cool Wicked Cool Records label. Owned by the legend that is Steven Van Zandt, Wicked Cool Records has brought us quality albums from the likes of Ryan Hamilton, Jesse Malin and Kurt Baker over the past few years.
Recorded at Little Steven’s very own Renegade Studios in NYC, the album title is taken from the Chinese year of the snake; 1989, the year that band mates Dave Feldman (vocals), Sam Allen (guitar), and Spencer Alexander (drums)were born. ‘Year Of The Snake’ is everything you want from a Wyldlife record and more. The spirit of NY punk flows through these boys veins. From the early years, when Ramones and The Dolls were treading the boards of CBGB’S, to the late 90’s when D Generation ruled the underground, they have it all. But its more than just cool shoes and leather jackets, you have to have the rock ‘n’ roll minerals to stand out from the crowd, and Wyldlife prove they have it in spades.
Opener ‘Deathbed’ comes on with the anthemic bravado usually reserved for the likes of Green Day in their prime. Featuring a melody you will swear down you’ve heard before. It grabs you from the off, a musical crockpot of low slung riffage and high energy melodies guaranteed to give goosebumps and raise hopes in equal measures.
Quick as a flash, before you have even had time to pick your jaw up off the floor it’s over, and we’re into first single ‘Neon Nightmare’. This… this is the rock ‘n’ roll sound I need in my life right now. High energy, upbeat and catchy as fuck. Also, it’s the perfect escape from the nightmare that is reality right now.
Two tracks in and its pretty safe to say vocalist Dave Feldman and guitarist Sam Allen have my full attention with their songwriting antics. You could say their themes of paranoia, anxiety and bad relationships are par for the course in 2020, well now Wyldlife add the soundtrack. With the spirit of Hanoi Rocks and the power pop suss of The Replacements, Wyldlife run though 11 tracks of highly essential rock ‘n’ roll.
Highlights are plentiful. ‘Kiss and Tell’ rides on tribal beats and Ramones chords as it builds to yet another catchy chorus that’ll surely incite air guitar and hairbrush vocal action in bedrooms and living rooms the world over. The radio friendly ‘Automatic’ is the albums curve ball, a song that hits right in the feels. Inspired by The Jesus and Mary Chain, it’s a song written by the frontman about a girl he knows who works in a florist shop. With lush, indie pop melodies, female backing vocals and lyrics full of sentiment, its pure power pop goodness coming on like Squeeze meets Fountains Of Wayne and that’s a good place to be.
The fast and furious ‘Sacre Bleu’ is as punk as fuck. Spiky, high energy bursts of noise, think Hives meets Randy and you’ll get close. Sam’s chord bashing matches the frantic drums as Dave spits vocals with the venomous antics of a snake. This and the aforementioned ‘Automatic’ couldn’t be further apart in sound but they are fired from the same Wyldlife gun and both definitely hit the spot.
An overly familiar riff takes the title track into orbit as it builds to a relentless, killer refrain that pummels the senses. Gang vocals and guitars are the order of the day as the likes of ‘Tulsa Superstar’ and ‘Keeping Up With CT’ marry the power pop goodness of The Replacements and The Exploding Hearts with urgent beats, swathes of Hammond and Johnny Thunders licks, very nice indeed.
As I write these words New York is the hardest hit city in the world as far as the Coronavirus goes. No one could’ve predicted this turn of events and no one knows what the future holds for live music or our favourite bands. All we can do is be grateful that albums this good are still coming our way and do our best to help by buying albums, merch to help support the bands we love and the music they create.
2020 will be remembered as the year of the virus, but I also hope it will be remembered by the cool cats as the year Wyldlife gave us ‘The Year Of The Snake’. Essential listening, buy or die punks!
Buy ‘Year Of The Snake’ Here
Author: Ben Hughes