CD Short: The Wiyos
one more for the road
That raises the inevitable encounter you’ll have with yourself upon lending the Wiyos your ears. There is often a shameless old-fashioned corniness about the group’s sound. It’s got cheesy lines, upbeat sounds, and a decided lack of ironic cool—something about their approach prevents it. You have to choose, early on, whether to dismiss the Wiyos as hopelessly retro goofs or to let their hobo style steer your feet toward a 1920s-flavored abandon. The latter is highly recommended.
It’s a refined art to hold down a role in a stripped-down trio, and these three practiced hands offer a study in how to do it successfully. Bassist “Sauerkraut” Seth provides a rock-steady framework upon which singer/multi-instrumentalist Michael Farkas plays. Guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Teddy Weber bridges the space between the two, sometimes propelling the songs with chord strumming, sometimes undertaking (with impressive aplomb) the perilous habit of single-note soloing almost unaccompanied.
The music is pure Americana, full of songs of trains, cars and diners—an upbeat, vaudevillian romp from start to finish. If you know how to Charleston, you’ll find yourself kicking up your heels, pronto.
The album’s most unusual, even groundbreaking moment arrives courtesy of the track “John Hartford.” Somehow the Wiyos manage to marry fingerpicking country, ’20s euphoria and Beatles rock cool. The track changes feels in ways that are unexpected, yet dead-on. It’s music that brings past into present with impressive style.
If you’re able to let go and drift away on the waves accompanied by kazoo, this is a highly rewarding listen from three deeply talented musicians.