Review: Local Wizards – The Signal

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At the time of this writing, I’m holed up on my couch with a sore ear, a low grade fever, and LMN on the television, kinda sorta watching Fatal Lessons: The Good Teacher. But more importantly, I’m listening to The Signal from Arizona based Local Wizards.

Following 2011’s fantastic Muckracker’s, this new Local Wizards’ outing has nine glorious tracks that are both dreamy and dire, filled with tasty basslines and lo-fi sounds. Opening with the demure “Sticks & Leaves,” Kendall Humbert channels a crisp autumnal feeling and has a slick harmonica reverb that makes the song beautiful and compelling.

The album changes pace with the next track “Thomas Kinkade” (for which there’s a video!). It’s loud and gritty and has one of the best set of lyrics: “there’s Thomas Kinkade printouts goin’ into the fire/and all the women, the women, were throwing them in.”

The percussion heavy “Canopy” is another pretty song that builds a wavering electronic breeze before slinking out into cool percussion again. It ebbs and flows, building once more and then closing out with the pulsating synths. “Burnt Wounds” is an ace instrumental track that plays like John Carpenter’s music productions for his 80’s films, heavy on industrial sounds and synths. “Animal” brings us back to vocal pieces. It’s astral and psychedelic, channeling The Kinks and The Doors at their most lackadaisical.

The title track has a New Wave bent, and as it goes on, Humbert’s quiet-talky vocals have an eerie aura against the clappy and repeating percussion and bass. “Wernecke’s Aphasia” is smoky; cool finger picking underlies Humbert’s harmonies for a dark folk sound.

“What Have We Done” is another lovely piece of work, a fine accompaniment to “Sticks & Leaves.” It builds with floating inflection and gorgeous instrumentals before bursting into a spindly breakdown. The Signal sends us off with the charming “Books & Flashlights.” Host to stunning lyrics full of vivid images, “Books & Flashlights” makes you want to jump into a pile of leaves or make a blanket fort as it lulls you into a quiet moment before picking up a brisk pace in its final two minutes, a spontaneous race to the finish.

The Signal hit YESTERDAY and you can grab a digital copy for any price you’d like, or snag a swell physical copy for $10. Head on over the the Local Wizards Bandcamp page for all your needs. Also be sure to check out the packaging in this amazing unboxing video from our hero and treat yourself to his record.