Known for bringing an infectious party atmosphere to any venue, Wailhounds decided to take five years to hone their skills to perfection before heading to the studios. Psychedelic Groovy, recorded by Robin Jenney at Sweetwater Studios, proves that it was definitely worth the wait. The ten tracks on this debut release showcase Wailhounds' talent for throwing rock, funk, blues, rap, and a jam-band mentality into a big pot and then partying like a Friday night New Years Eve while the whole mess simmers to perfection. As you would expect, Sweetwater captured the breathing, live energy while keeping the sound crystal clear. While Josh Warney sticks to the skins and guest musician George Mallors plays the keys (although Kyle Haller was added as the permanent key-tickler shortly after the completion of this album), Scott Wasvick, Noah Golden, and Joe Trammel take turns at vocals, guitar, and bass throughout the various tracks.
Like their live shows, the ten tracks on the album span a broad array of styles. After a brief introductory track of sound effects, "Chickenbark" opens the disc with a full-out Doors feel that double-dog dares the listener to not get up and dance. "Lovewail" is an enchanting, magical journey that stops just short of being an instrumental by the captivating vocal stylings of Lorrie Audette. For a true instrumental, look no further than "Boomer's Bass Boogie" which is freshly infused with copious amounts of piano. "Satan's Blues" open with a rap beat and turntables before developing into a full blues, Door-induced rhythm. Incorporating a healthy dose of congas and an invigorating yet groovy guitar rhythm, "Man In Me" sizzles to a blistering inferno of energy. With some intensely squishy Clav playing, "Rollin" breaks into hardcore rap while "Break of Dawn" continues the rap but with a touch more funk. "C-Funk" demonstrates Wailhounds' ability to take a common blues chord progression and infuse it with, well, funk and swank enough to coerce even the most hardener wall flower onto the dance floor. In addition to the eight original cuts, Wailhounds also cover "Back Where It All Begins" by Dickie Betts and the early Pink Floyd classic "Echoes", which immediately proceeded their masterpiece Dark Side Of The Moon. For "Echoes", Wailhounds managed to boil down the 23 minute original into an eight-minute masterful distillation of moody atmosphere that becomes a reprisal of "Chickenbark" and eventually, a live track.
With Psychedelic Groovy, Wailhounds have miraculously captured the sound, the magic, and the fun of their dynamic live shows. Everything about this project, from the artwork (with duffel bags full of visual treats to unravel) to the recording to the musicianship exudes the kind of professionalism one would expect, but not always find, in such a talented group of musicians. Christmas is less than 350 days away so be sure to stop by a local Wooden Nickel and make the loved ones on your on your shopping list very happy.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, January 2002.