The Wayouts are a group of ghost pirates from the town of Saint John, in foggy New Brunswick. On Stand Up Get Free, it's like the microphones have captured the mist with the storming, chopping guitars and gang vocals emerging like the undead sailors in John Carpenter's The Fog, if they were a blues band.
In my world, the words "spook rock" or "horrorpunk" are dirty, which is a shame as the concept is a good one. I'm a lifelong horror movie fanatic so you would think that moody, groovy rock 'n roll about werewolves and possessions would be a winning combination but it just isn't so. Maybe it's because so few do something innovative with the format, content to copycat The Groovie Ghoulies or Tiger Army or The Misfits. It's a typical case of style over substance.
The Wayouts don't ever use the words "horror,” "ghost,” "spook" or any other signifiers of the macabre on Stand Up Get Free. I had to draw my own conclusions based on what appears to be a zombie witch sitting on the edge of a bathtub and the song title "Let The Right One In,” sharing a name with a fantastic Swedish vampire novel and movie. Instead, the spookiness is implied, something in the atmosphere, in the crepuscular organ on "Fuck I Guess So," which is wonderfully paired with some tremolo guitar, or the gang vocals on "Stand Up Get Free (part 2),” which sounds like a bunch of ghost miners, post cave-in.
It's a clear case of ambiance over terror - the difference between classic horror and modern day shock porn. The shadows are allowed to creep, the angles unsettle. It doesn't bludgeon, it threatens and entices, luring you into their madcap funhouse world and converts you.
Which works! I normally cannot stand anything vaguely ska-related or pop punk but I love this record. The sounds are pleasantly worn and easy on the ears, and there's enough interesting elements like congas and organs to make it stand out from the imitators, which then set up a contrast against the rock elements and draws attention to the fact that the guitars are bloody fantastic, chopping and fuming like a tortured bar, particularly on "Lighthouse.”
Maybe it's something in the air or water of New Brunswick, but The Wayouts are the real deal. They manage to be dark and romantic without being melodramatic, and manage to be fun and exciting without making you feel like an ecstasy comedown afterwards. This is music for people who like to party at night. For those that like to wander in graveyards and tell ghost stories. But mostly, this is for people who like good rock 'n roll and are sick of posers!
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