Over the past several weeks I have been extremely busy. I have endured family illness, and even my own bout with a nagging virus. However, I still found time to listen to music. It just seems as if music is a constant backdrop to all of our lives. Regardless of the problems that arise, or how we might feel at the time, we seem to find opportunities ti listen to music. Some listen to blues music when feeling down or depressed. Hard rock or metal might be good for those aggressive moods. Love songs are appropriate for times spent with a significant other. Yes, music is always a part of our lives, even without an associated occasion or event. Basically, my listening falls into two categories: just music I like or, music in preparation for a Weekly Music Commentary post. Most of the times the two categories collide. This week I got the opportunity to listen to the music of alternative music group, Wolf Alice.
Many of you who have known me for a number of years may be familiar with both my musical and publishing background. Well, as I transitioned into publishing I started working at a music magazine. That experience was my crash course into understanding alternative music and musicians. At that time in my life, I took advantage of an opportunity to study the characteristics of musicians unfamiliar to me at the time. I would learn the trials and triumphs of members of a rock band struggling for success. It was very interesting as I spoke with individual members of particular groups. Even though all possessed different ideas, the resolve was always the same. All members of each group were hungry to build an audience. As I started writing this post, and thinking about Wolf Alice, it was as if the Duran Duran song played in the background; “Hungry like the Wolf.”
As I read more about Wolf Alice, I realized the many similarities between them and their American counterparts. They both shared that same hunger and drive that helps to build fans. When you are finished reading this post, I’m sure you will also see similarities, and at least develop respect for their mutual resolve to build something special.
Wolf Alice were formed in 2010, and began as an acoustic act between Ellie Rowsell and Joff Oddie. Their name came from a short story by Angela Carter.Eventually deciding to add electric elements to their sound, they recruited Rowsell’s childhood friend, Sadie Cleary, to play the bass, and George Barlett, a friend of Oddie to be their drummer. When their drummer broke his wrist in 2012, Joel Amey joined the band as a temporary replacement, but later became a permanent member. In that same year, Cleary left to focus on her studies. Theo Ellis was then recruited as their bassist in late 2012. They released the song “Leaving You” online on Soundcloud as a free download which gained airplay from BBC Radio 1 and featured in NME’s ‘Radar’ section. After the song was released, they toured with Peace, and recorded a session for Huw Stephens’ Radio 1 show in January. They released their first physical single “Fluffy” in February 2013 on the Chess Club label. In October 2013, Wolf Alice released their first official EP called Blush, and official video of the single “She”. In December 2013, they were chosen as the single most blogged about artist in the UK in that year by BBC Radio 6 Music. In 2014 they signed to Dirty Hit Records, and released their second EP Creature Songs in May. In December 2014 the band were named “Best Breakthrough Artist” at the UK Festival Awards.In late February 2015, Wolf Alice announced their debut album My Love Is Cool, and released the first single from the album, “Giant Peach”. In April 2015 Wolf Alice released a reworked version of fan favorite “Bros” as the second single from their debut album. The album was released June 22, 2015.
Perhaps the most important factor for any band going forward is all members understand the group goal creatively. Every member should understand the structure of the songs it plays, as well as the cohesiveness of its’ sound. In order for art to honestly reflect life, the mirror should be multi-dimensional. That’s the way the looking glass works for Wolf Alice.“You go through every single day feeling different things all the time,” asserts vocalist and guitarist Ellie Rowsell. “So, if an album reflects life, shouldn’t it mirror all of those
extremes? If you read a collection of short stories, you don’t want them to be simply about the same people or topics. You want to follow sadness with happiness to feel better. It should be the same for music.” That’s a mindset she shares with her bandmates Joff Oddie [guitar], Joel Amey [drums], and Theo Ellis [bass]. They have resolved to construct albums of music quite like life, with different feelings reflected throughout the entire album. Which means we should listen to the album entirely to enjoy Wolf Alice music.
Individually, the members of Wolf Alice come to the group from different places musically. This is similar to every other group in the world. I learned that fact years ago as I spoke to individual alternative band members. However, if the members can learn to embrace those differences, all will work well and good, if not great music will prevail. “When we first met, all of us were doing different musical things, but they were nothing like this band,” explains Joel Amey. “We all wanted to do something like this. It wasn’t anything we ever overtly discussed though. It came out quite organically by working on each song individually. We ran with whatever excited us.”
The recognition has come from music fans and those of the music industry. The awards have included a Grammy nomination for the song “Moaning Lisa Smile.” Followup music to hits can be difficult, but Wolf Alice may possess the formula for continuity. Listen for more from the little hungry British Band named Wolf Alice.