Indie-rock vets Wilder Maker craft dense art-pop in which Paul Simon’s influence rings loud and clear | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Indie-rock vets Wilder Maker craft dense art-pop in which Paul Simon’s influence rings loud and clear



Wilder Maker is a sophisticated New York quintet helmed by a crew of indie-rock veterans with broad interests, including songwriter and front man Gabriel Birnbaum, who’s previously played with the Ethiopian-inspired Debo Band. Though I’m not sure if his earlier affiliation was inspired by a love of Paul Simon’s Graceland, most of the songs on Wilder Maker’s brand-new album, Zion (Northern Spy), feature a vocal delivery that’s reminiscent of Simon’s clipped, conversational style on that record—if not explicitly referencing its mixture of South African and New Orleans pop. On the bubbling “Women Dancing Immortal,” Birnbaum unleashes a series of vivid images over a groove that’s embroidered by a coolly skittering electronic guitar pattern: “The sound of red meat sizzling on a grill and the spray of brightly painted signs,” he intones in a rhythmic yet conversational flow, conjuring a series of celebratory scenarios with effortless detail. The restrained, calmly pulsing “Multiplied” deftly recounts the highs and lows of life on the road, where a show in front of a packed house can be followed by “a crowd of six.” The group also includes Katie Von Schleicher, a skilled pop singer whose presence adds a much lighter, more ethereal glow to the music, and makes a gorgeous song like the moody “Impossible Summer” effectively cut the density and churn of the other tracks.  v

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