REVIEW: Standing Sun keep blues rock alive and well with ‘Wilder’

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Coming out of the woodwork with apt Black Keys influences, Lansing, Michigan-based blues rock trio Standing Sun add their own dynamic charm to the genre with their debut release, Wilder. With the trio just beginning roughly 10 months ago, they bring an interesting chemistry to the table on Wilder, taking listeners on a wild ride for the album’s 11-track duration.

The first half of Wilder contains several heavy-hitting tracks that have enough elements to make them cohesive to the album as a whole, but also have enough foundation individually to stand on their own. “First Love” has the trio producing a groovy ear-worm with Southern rock influences that entice listeners to continue listening, while “Hand Me Up” has vocalist Drew Machak showing off his powerful pipes in the closing seconds of the track.

From a melodic standpoint, Wilder demonstrates poise and precision in tracks such as “Key Of MI” or “Steal Your Hand,” with guitarist Bill Brown and drummer Jeff Twomley possessing tremendous balance and interdependence to create a groove easy to get lost in. “Key Of MI” in particular goes through several stylistic shifts that keep the track interesting, while “Steal Your Hand” has Twomley demonstrating wonderful precision on drums towards the track’s conclusion, keeping listeners within their groove.

“Mississippi” stands out among the others as a track with the most clear Southern and blues rock influences, with religious aspects being brought into the lyrics. Standing Sun primarily does a good job of establishing their own voice within their tracks. However, “Mississippi,” though catchy, sounds a lot like songs that have been done before within the genre. Wilder also has a few other minor flaws, with “We’re Doing It Live” being very ambient, which doesn’t quite fit within the context of the preceding tracks. However, latter tracks on the album such as “Twenty YO” help offset the flaws to keep listeners invested.

Southern and blues rock have made a bit of a resurgence within aspects of indie rock, with groups such as the Black Keys being staples within the genre. While Standing Sun piggybacks on similar styles of the aforementioned group or artists like Jack White, the trio still does a good job of establishing its own voice, keeping things interesting enough with elements like melodic grooves and occasional vocal surges.