Hearing Aide: Wild Adriatic’s “Big Suspicious”

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Rock and roll trio and Saratoga Springs, NY natives Wild Adriatic have a new long player titled Big Suspicious. This current collection is hallmarked by a plethora of imposing guitar licks, resounding rhythms, and vintage vocal approaches. The band is sincerely ‘no frills’ rock and roll and the blueprint to their art is an organic approach to song creation and presentation. The secret lies in the bands simplistic yet virtuous approach to their music. The band is made up of guitarist/vocalist Travis Grey in addition to bassist Rich Derbyshire, and drummer Mateo Vosganian.

The LP ranges thematically from swampy blues to pop soul, with the unpretentious and diverse vocalizations by Travis Gray, a highlight of the set. The marriage of the groups tight instrumentation in addition to the vocal melodies equate to an album that unabashedly shares its influences as well as putting a unique spin on these influences.  You will find no jam band sensibilities on this record; the band constructs succinct, well developed and orchestrated rock music. This is not to say there is no extended jamming by the band, just that there are no wasted notes or aimless improvisations, every note and melody has a purpose.

The adamant opening of the record begins in earnest with the mountainous one-two punch of ‘Can’t Be Your Man’, and ‘Mess Around’.  The band elicits early Humble Pie on this opening track through the swampy central guitar licks and grimy group approach. In contrast the following ‘Mess Around’ which rides on an accelerating stomp that sounds if it draws its influence from early ZZ Top with its boogie chugging attitude. This is serious juke-joint ass shaking music.  An additional note on ‘Mess Around’ is the addition of some swinging horns that act as a welcome addition to the song not an unneeded gimmick as can often be the case these days.

’40 Days 40 Nights (Hard Times)’ again brings to mind Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton’s Humble Pie excursions. Its dual keyboard and guitar ascending riff grabs you by the collar and says, ‘Listen up!’ It’s refreshing to hear a modern band stay true to the roots of their influence and just play some heavy rock and roll. No window dressings here, no unnecessary effects, just some pals blasting away on electrified and aggressive riffs and melodies.

A song like the following ‘Tight Grip’ identifies the band as being able to be classified along with the same rockers that enjoy a band such as Gov’t Mule. There is an edge to their music and an aggressive nudge of the elbow to the listener by the attitude presented. The only respite from the barrage of weighty blues and rock licks in the first half of the album is the soul soaked ‘Holding You’ that swings with a contemporary R and B feel and original instrumental attack.

The ability of the group to swing between poles of influence is well documented on the collection with the expansive and catchy ‘Cooperstown’ acting in contrast to the balladry of the preceding tune. Falsetto vocal melody lines inject the song with a lightness that balances its metallic instrumentation. The pounded blacks and whites of the keyboard in addition to distorted guitar strikes add up to a dynamic and well preformed song that accentuates that groups songwriting strengths.

‘Lose My Mind’ is a highlight of the collection. Alternating between a gently picked acoustic guitar line verse and a fuzzy apocalyptic chorus that creeps along like a boot stuck in the mud. This song would nestle nicely on the ‘B’ side of many 1970’s rock single releases exhibiting all of the historic hallmarks of the music created in this era.

Again, the band dynamically hits the switch moving into a soul review with a reading of the song ‘Walk For Miles’. Vocalist Travis Gray really stretches out on the last half of the record, channeling Rochester, NY and Foreigner front man Lou Gramm with a clean but versatile vocal approach. The keyboards also seem to play a more prominent role in this latter half of the record with feathery Hammond flourishes on ‘Lonely’, and the piano being in the forefront on the groovy ‘Heavy Soul’. The horns also return on ‘Heavy Soul’ in addition to some velvety backing vocals that equate to a smooth ride through dramatic soul changes.

The album concludes on the song ‘Woe’, a funky low key affair that rolls on a drippy wah-wah accompaniment and the wordless foundation setting vocal line. Uniquely different from the songs that preceded it, ‘Woe’ shines on a light on the bands ability to express uniquely different approaches to the foundational genres of influence the band holds close and that form the basis of their music. The song and the album conclude with a wordless group chant sung and supported by hand claps and the tracks swinging melody.

Wild Adriatic’s new recording Big Suspicious is a collection created in the fiery coal chamber of rock, soul and blues. The record keeps its feet rooted firmly in the spheres of influence from which the basis of all music is created. The group’s confidence and attitude is expressed through the recording and is passed on to the listener through their excitable representation and eager dissemination. Gripping keyboards, distorted guitars, and crisp howling vocals paint the portrait of heavy blues and classic rock and roll on display for the eager listener.

Key Tracks: Mess Around, Cooperstown, Lose My Mind