Nuns On Red Wine (2005, Friendly
Immigrant's second full-length release relies on the very same principles
and techniques as their debut, Reunion Of Cynics. The band
consists primarily of John Wenzel (vocals, acoustic guitars, keys)
and Chris Jones on the bass. The two, once again, found themselves
painstakingly exchanging Zip discs via mail - John lives in Denver
and Chris in Dayton, OH. However, you'd be hard-pressed to believe
that given White Nuns sounds like a collective of musicians putting
on a show right in your very own living room - definitely a welcome
step up from their debut.
While all of the songs are fueled primarily by acoustic
strumming, friends help out occasionally adding cello (more, please),
sighing electric guitar lines and harmonica (nice touch on 'Sentimental
Coffin'). The focus is more or less centered on Wenzel's storytelling
approach and not necessarily the musical arrangements. John's comforting
vocals will no doubt recall Lou Barlow during his softer, less abrasive
moments and the album employs the very same working-class ethics
of the last few Mountain Goats albums, neither too rough nor too
from subject matter (dealing with tales of regret, troubled souls
and blood allergy research(!)) there isn't any real variation from
one song to another on White Nuns On Red Wine. Therefore,
the album may come off terribly redundant to those who rely on diversity
to keep themselves interested. On the flipside, others like myself,
will appreciate the somber feel of the whole. Somewhere around my
3rd or 4th listen, after most of this review was written, I slowly
drifted off to childhood adventures and random high school moments
- back when life was less complicated and much more notable. If
you are looking for music to simply ease your mind and help you
relax for a half hour White Nuns is more than up to the
task. Another fine release from the Friendly Psychics corps.
Standout tracks: 'Pod Children', 'Brittle Sisters'
and 'Fake Virgins Arrested!'
RIYL: (the quiet moments of) Sebadoh, Matt Pond
PA, Mountain Goats
Fake Virgins Arrested!
Listen to a track from Reunion Of Cynics on BTID's June
2004 monthly mix