The Wild Stares were originally formed in Boston in 1979, but they soon tired of that scene and headed across the Atlantic, where they made their base in Europe, between Berlin and London, for a year. Having seen those bright lights, they were never going to be happy in Boston, but they still managed to flip between the US and Europe until finally, in the early 1990s, they decided to settle down in the best of both worlds, Los Angeles.
Their latest single, ‘Obsidean’, from their new album, ‘Automatic Writing Machine’, is like a song Bowie wrote during his Berlin period but never released. You can even hear ‘Heroes’ in the instrumental. There’s bits that sound like ‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)’, specifically ‘It’s No Game’ and you’ve got to wonder if this is deliberate…after all they did spend some time in Berlin.
‘Obsidean’ strikes you from the start – is it about the volcanic, glassy rock? If so, it’s misspelled. Or is it about someone named Dean, who’s nicknamed such because he’s got a hard, brittle exterior, but if you look closely enough you can see into his soul?
The slashing guitars and scrawling vocals, stretching endlessly towards the horizon, pull you in and throw you away like so many pieces of crumpled up paper. There’s a jagged anger to the song, you wonder why the band haven’t had a greater following in their native country, when over their 40 year history, they’ve toured, recorded, and shared the bill with the likes of My Bloody Valentine, and Jesus & Mary Chain, among others. It’s easy to understand why their following has largely been in Germany, their sound is very industrial and raw, and it’s one I’m enjoying a lot too; but maybe it’s too visceral for the average US listener, who want their music neatly packaged and not taking too many risks. The largely atonal vocals of Steve Gregororpoulous might account for this as well, but to me they feel characteristic of angst and passion; there’s deep seated hurt in there as well.
‘Obsidean’ is out tomorrow, October 16. You can find out more about The Wild Stares on their Facebook page.