“The best band in America”? Perhaps not – but Wussy have an unmistakable identity.
Mischa Pearlman 2012
Earlier in 2012, esteemed American music journalist Robert Christgau – one of the first professional music writers – pronounced that Wussy “have been the best band in America since they released the first of their five superb albums in 2005.”
It’s about as superlative as praise can be, and a good hook for Buckeye, the Cincinnati band’s first official release outside of their homeland. Comprising material from those “five superb albums” – four studio records and an acoustic reworking of their debut, Funeral Dress – Buckeye condenses Wussy’s career to date down to just 60 minutes and 17 non-chronological tracks.
It’s an easily digestible and enticing entry point into the band, revealing the core foundations of the band and the consistency of their music they’ve made since forming in 2001. Centred around the songwriting skills of Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker – both of whom take turns to write and sing these songs – the band’s music harks back to the 90s heyday of US alt-rock, taking in influences such as R.E.M., The Mekons, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo the blissful shoegaze of Galaxie 500 and more besides.
Yet, each of these songs possesses a sense of unmistakable identity – they are, without doubt, Wussy songs. The most remarkable of these is the brooding, slow-burn closer, Little Miami. Taken from 2011’s Strawberry LP and led by Walker’s tremulous vocals, it’s a beautiful, slow-motion apocalypse that shudders with a taut, desperate energy. That they can craft a song like that but be equally successful with the nostalgic rock’n’roll jangle of Maglite, the jarring paranoia of Pulverized and the plaintive sadness of Muscle Cars clearly demonstrates the wide-ranging sounds that inhabit their dreamy, anachronistic and quintessentially American world.
Whether they’re “the best band in America”, as Christgau asserts, is, naturally, a matter of opinion. Nevertheless, this collection proves that Wussy are certainly a band with an incredibly rich past and, undoubtedly, an equally rich future.