At the beginning of next month (April 1st) Wolfman and the Airship Captain will be releasing their debut album after spending almost 5 years together as a band. Since their formation there have been some lineup changes. The current lineup is Gus Dieker (vocals) Colman Hickey (synth), Jack Lynch (drums/vocals), Ted Langhorst (guitar), and Jamie Watson (synth) Three songs off their first EP “Wolf Baby” (“We Rob Banks” “Mallomarz” and “Crystal Earth”) are currently available to stream, and since they’re one of my favorite bands in town, I got some of the Columbus Calling contributors together to provide their thoughts on these tracks.
Scrappy. Fuzzy. Lo-fi. These are the first words that came to mine during my initial listen to Wolf Baby by Wolfman and the Airship Captain. The bands that most immediately come to mind are of the Sacred Bones lo-fi psych variety, as well as a fictional one, Sex Bomb Omb from Scott Pilgrim vs the World. They have a similar youthful exuberance, combined with enthusiasm that perhaps exceeds their technical prowess. Don’t take that as an insult though, as you know, Beck composed the songs for Sex Bomb Omb, and as you may or may not know, Scott Pilgrim vs the World is one of my favorite movies of all time.
It’s always interesting to me when bands carry the punk rock vibe with the kind of melody these guys do, though I will admit it’s a combination that’s only worked for me on a handful of occasions, with Fidlar being a recent example. Days of being immature and carefree, except for thoughts of us against the world of course, came to mind while listening to these three tracks, with “Mallomarz” being a highlight. The keyboards are a welcome addition (I am almost always in favor of more keyboards) and helped the music stand out to my ears, though I did find it somewhat strange at times, juxtaposed against the otherwise lo-fi rock vibe. My friends who are obsessed with Ty Segal and his ilk would likely find this band a better fit than it was for me, which let’s face it, means they should be in very good company in Columbus. Currently, this is the type of album I could see myself totally nodding along to at Independents’ Day, but perhaps not finding it’s way to my turntable. But I’ll be interested to see what turn their sound takes next.
My first thought is I liked all three songs. Similar to King Tuff that they had a distinctive T-Rex feel. All three songs had a solid beat, big choruses, and nice pop hooks.
I would probably clean up the production a bit some of the key board effects detracted from the songs themselves.
Overall three strong songs, the band seemed like they were having fun. I would check this band out if they were playing in town Good stuff.
“We Rob Banks” opens initially with a Jack White-like guitar-and-vocal combo. Then the synth kicks in raising the song an octave, giving it a pop-punk feel. The song bares resemblance to the Foo Fighters’ “All My Life” after the second chorus and additional similarities to “12:51” by the Strokes as well. “Mallomarz” and “Crystal Earth” follow “We Rob Banks” with similar punk rock foundations smoothed over by synth chords. All three of these songs have clear punk and alternative influences.
I ended up listening to three tracks from Wolfman and the Airship Captain’s album, Wolf Baby nodding along in approval. Good lord, it’s synth heaven! Those tweaky, early-80s synth riffs MAKE this band for me. It’s like they time-travelled from Upper Arlington High School in the 20-teens to my childhood bedroom in 1985. These guys are constrained, understated, and cool in their delivery…. the confidence they possess for such a young band was really appealing for me. In true retro-punk-80’s fashion, they managed to be head-boppy and chilly at the same time.The vocals have a vacant, almost detached way of telling a story that I found very cool. I’d be enjoying a nicely crafted, singsong hook that carried me along with a chill vibe, and then you’d be hit with a powerful line: “I WANT TO BE FREE LIKE A MOVIE STAR, trying to change the world….” (still tossed off with a calm indifference).
The band has a great, modernized twist on blending genres past and present. They’re tracking right along with this kind of sound cropping up with bands like Future Islands and In the Valley Below — but more grungy. It’s kind of like if in the Human League’s earliest days, they decided to be a punky garage band for awhile. For me, this all works for this band. I’d definitely like to hear more!
Their self-described “electro psych punk” sound pays homage to a number of their influences, primarily The Strokes. With hard pounding rhythm and heavy synth-laden melodies, their songs brim with a bubbly lo-fi excitement. Despite their often unintelligible lyrics, the sharp-edged emotions of their songs always cut through to the forefront, and Dieker and Lynch’s voices, though both very unique in their own respects, fit together perfectly. As someone who sees them perform live frequently I can vouch that their recorded sound, as well as their stage show are experiences that are not to be missed.
Mumbly vocals, snappy Strokes-like cadence, new wave punk synths – easy to see why Wolfman and the Airship Captain has a buzz. I’ve seen plenty of bands in this genre (whatever genre that might be) play at CD102.5-sponsored shows (Skaters and The Orwells instantly come to mind) so I’d expect the alt-rock station to be all over this band if they aren’t already. Worth the (free) download from the band’s Bandcamp page for sure.