Is it too early to declare a compilation of the year? Bedroom artist extraordinaire Paul A. Rosales, (whose recent “Wonder Wheel 1” is one to grab ASAP) has been busy producing some of the best SoCal bands currently working. “Wonder Wheel Presents” represents the fruits of that effort, a classic set of two songs each by seven bands who dance blended lo-fi a line of psych, folk and shoegazing, infusing each of those styles with renewed power and ecstatic possibilities. Did I mention that this record can be had for FREE on the Wonder Wheel website??
Hard to pick highlights here, since there is literally no bad track, but I’ll have to put in my vote for Tan Dollar’s and Cosmonauts’ contributions as the most memorable. Tan Dollar’s psychedelic New Orleans funeral band sound is hypnotic and powerful, effortlessly evoking many emotions. “Heaven” is more driving and abrasive than “The Turning Point,” but no less stunning.
Cosmonauts’ efforts are just hypnotic, mixing drone with boozy anthemic drunken singalongs. Of the other tunes, Muddy Flowers’ “Can You Turn Off The Light,” with is muddied vocals and minimal but raw pop drone, is the best single track here, at once disturbing and airy. Dash Jacket is also solid, recalling the heydays of jangle-rock and college radio, and Stellarphone’s “Elbows of Christ” is abrasive and gigantic, and Moon Pearl’s metallic, huge “I Climbed Mount Fucking Everest” ends the set on bombastic but satisfying notes.
There is nothing, including price, to stop you from grabbing “Wonder Wheel Presents,” digging into some of the best bands out there. Apparently Southern California is a gold mine of music right now, and it would be hard to nominate any other regions capable of challenge. 9/10 -- Mike Wood (25 August, 2010)