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The common narrative surrounding Ty Segall is that he is incredibly prolific. After releasing 5 albums over a three year period a quick glance at Ty's discography from 2014 might be disappointing to some. However, after further investigation it becomes clear Ty has been just as busy, albeit in a different setting. In addition to recording/producing the newest, and best, White Fence album For The Recently Found Innocent, Ty's Drag City imprint label GOD? began its ascent to become the next Castle Face Records. The most promising release from the label thus far was the excellent debut from psych rockers Wand. Ganglion Reef did an excellent job of combining the spacey, neo-psych kaleidoscope of Tame Impala with the high energy found in Ty Segall's music, specifically his stoner metal outfit Fuzz. Further, front man Cory Thomas Hanson focused almost entirely on fantasy lyrics, which combined with the psychedelic soundscape, created an incredibly out of this world experience.
Ganglion Reef was an incredibly strong and confident debut, and featured a solid understanding of pop hooks, sludgey riffs and psych freakouts. Therefore, it is no surprise garage-psych veterans In The Red Records decided to release the bands second album Golem. For Golem Wand brought in Chris Woodhouse to produce, who has quickly become a go-to producer in garage rock. In addition to working extensively with Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees and more, he is one of the driving forces behind the excellent Castle Face Records "Live In San Francisco" series. With the ""Live in San Francisco" series, Woodhouse has an amazing ability to bring out the raw energy present within the band, which is one of the reasons Golem is a huge improvement from the band's first album. Golem sounds heavier, darker and more volatile than Ganglion Reef and is perhaps more akin to a live Wand experience. The guitars still toe a delicate balance between swirling kaleidoscopes and droning black holes, yet carry much more weight here. The loud, fuzzed out guitars are supported by a strong, perhaps overlooked rhythm section and the occasional whirl of synth. Hanson continues practicing his best John Lennon impression, but sounds more Ty Segall and Kevin Parker this time around.
It may seem otherwise, but Wand do not rely solely on riffs, and can often make beautiful music as well. This point is evidenced on "Cave In". Much like the rest of the album "Cave In" begins with a classic Woodhouse riff, which is amplified by a subtle synth. However, midway through the song the band goes to an even heavier place, which ultimately results in an incredible spaced out jam. Wand are incredibly talented at making heavy music, but their ability to create beautiful, out of this world music is often over looked. Ganglion Reef explored the psychedelic pop sound quite a bit more than "Golem", yet there are definite glimpses of it on the album. "Reaper Invert" does a wonderful job at showcasing Wand, and specifically Cory Thomas Hanson, ability to create wonderful pop music. The song sounds almost like an evil version of Tame Impala, or even something from Thee Oh Sees' bizarre album Castlemania. Of course a Wand song is not complete without a wall of guitar, therefore the song features a King Tuff-esque riff and an excellent dueling guitar solo. The following track "Melted Rope" is an even better piece of psych-pop songwriting, as it transforms from a Wish You Were Here style acoustic ballad into an out of this world, spacey, dueling guitar solo.
With Golem, Wand double down on the already excellent formula established on their excellent debut Ganglion Reef. The addition of Chris Woodhouse as producer adds an extra grime and emphasis on riffs which are bound to make Golem one of the heaviest, and best, garage-psych albums of the year. However, Hanson has an uncanny ability to find melody in even the heaviest places which leads to moments of incredible bliss. This creates an album full of contradictions, but also an incredibly fun listen. If Wand were not a common name within the psych scene before Golem, they definitely are now.