This year, Record Store Day fell on April 20th, which meant that the day meant a lot to more than just one group of people.
It was also on this day that Cincinnati band Wussy released their second Record Store Day release, “Duo.” The album showcases the group’s two singer-songwriters, Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker, who have recently been doing shows as Wussy Duo. Along with Wussy’s other limited-release Record Store Day album, “Funeral Dress II,” “Duo” is sure to become a sought-after record as soon as Wussy gains the reputation as the greatest band in the world that they deserve.
I’ve said a lot about the band already in my band overview (the first article I wrote for the Echo) and my review of their recent rarities compilation, “Bernice Huff and son, Bill sings Popular Favorites.”
With the new album, I thought I’d take a look at the band’s more rare items. I’ll review their studio albums when they finally release their new LP (hopefully sometime this year)
The Magic Words: “Junk Train” (’06, self-released) As an honest reviewer, I must admit that I’ve only heard seven full tracks on this very rare release. Six of them are available on Last.fm and the “Jonah” demo was featured on “…Popular Favorites.” The other track, “Loaded for Bear,” I have only heard in a short snippet. Still, from what I have heard of “Junk Train,” it’s a solid collection of Lisa Walker demos. Six of these songs ended up being rerecorded for Wussy albums, four of them for their sophomore album “Left for Dead,” “Skip” for the “Rigor Mortis” EP and “Loaded for Bear” for “Wussy Duo.” The two tracks that haven’t been released on Wussy records, “Watch Yer Back” and “Hello Goodnight,” are both decent. The recordings here aren’t perfect, but it’s nice to hear them (and it’s hard to complain about something I went out of my way to find). In fact, I prefer this “Millie Christine” to the “Left for Dead” version. Grade: B PLUS
Wussy: “Rigor Mortis” (’08, Shake It) Like most EPs released in between LPs, this is expendable. Still, it features versions of my two favorite Wussy songs (“Airborne” and “Rigor Mortis”), so this one is at least tolerable. The tracks that didn’t originate on the band’s first two albums are decent but, other than the catchy “Skip,” you can tell why they left them off. The live tracks are the real treat, though, showing Wussy as a fantastic live band before anybody knew they were one. And since you may not even know they are one, give this EP a listen. Or you could always go see them live. Grade: B PLUS
Wussy: “Funeral Dress II” (’11, Shake It) The idea seems so great on paper: An acoustic version of their debut album “Funeral Dress” (one of my five favorite albums of all time), recorded live for Record Store Day. But, while others consider the execution to be as solid as the idea, I’ve always found “Funeral Dress II” to be a bit sloppy. I never go out of my way to listen to it, anyway. Still, the melody of “Conversation Lags” works well in an acoustic context, as does the melancholy sound of “Humanbrained Horse.” And this version of the closing track “Don’t Leave Just Now” is one of the saddest tracks ever, and easily one of Wussy’s greatest. Grade: A MINUS
The Witnesses: “Funeral Dress III” (’12, self-released) Fellow Wussy fans, all friends of mine, pay tribute to the band’s first album. From Joey Daniewicz and KT Lindemann’s “Airborne” to Ryan Maffei’s “Humanbrained Horse,” this is a marvelous amateur tribute, one that’s mighty fitting for the band. Unlike “OKX: A Tribute to OK Computer” or “Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac,” “Funeral Dress III” doesn’t have any major artists that everyone’s heard of, but that makes it all the more special. This is all from the heart. One tribute (Jacob Bailis’ “Conversation Lags”) even manages to be more definitive than the original. These are all impressive musicians. The material helps, though. Grade: A MINUS
Wussy Duo: “Wussy Duo” (’13, Shake It) A true Record Store Day release: simple, but still enjoyable. The only great song here is a cover of “Pretty As You Please,” a classic that opened the Ass Ponys’ 2000 album “Some Stupid with a Flare Gun.” Still, the other six songs are pretty damn good. Other highlights include ‘New American Standard,” “Ring a Ding Ding I’m Rotten Inside” and “Liquored Up.” And this year won’t bring about many musical moments as gorgeous as the piano melody in “North Sea Side.” Grade: A MINUS
My other Wussy-related articles: