A Wound Worth Mending is the third EP release from Austin, TX quartet ThemThatKnow. The group features a standard four-piece lineup: guitar/lead vocals (James Archer), lead guitar/backing vocals (Nick Reiter), bass/backing vocals (Shane Hawkinson) and drums (Mike Kosacek).
They feature a standard rock lineup, but they play more than “just rock.” Across the five songs, they touch on several different styles, melding country, blues, funk and reggae influences under the rock umbrella, much like a good Rolling Stones record. Also like a good Stones record, the basic tracks were recorded together as a band, and the interactions among the band members help give the songs presence and life. This is particularly apparent in the ending section of “Alone Together,” where the band executes dextrous tempo changes.
The tracks are nicely produced; don’t miss Laurie DeRouen’s excellent backing vocal on “Alone Together.” The tracks make good, occasional use of studio wizardry (such as delays and reverbs) to help transition between song sections. For mixing, guitars are panned hard right and left; the separation allows us to hear--and appreciate--the interplay between Archer and Reiter’s lines. On the beginning jam for “Ice Cold Water” they use the same mixing technique, but with Kosacek’s percussion parts. It’s a nice effect.
Each of the five songs finds the band exploring a different style. The opener “Old Town” is straightforward rock with a bit of a Tom Petty vibe to it. The grove and humor on “Methamphibian” could have come from a They Might Be Giants/Barenaked Ladies mashup, provided they got R.E.M. to sing on the chorus. My favorite was the third track “Ice Cold Water” which starts as a funk instrumental driven by Hawkinson’s double-stop bass groove. The band transitions into a sing-along country-rock tune that features a terrific harmony vocal and clever lyric.
The band lets it all out on the final track “Number.” They meld the verse’s reggae feel with a rock chorus, much in the way of the Police, although the vocal sound and lyrics are closer to Michael Stipe than Sting. The last minute or so is a War of the Worlds-like meltdown with a few bars of an extra song hidden inside. It’s an unexpected and delightful turn.
A Wound Worth Mending is a gem that displays a band in control of its art. The writing, playing and studio work is professional, but not over-polished to the point where the music’s life is buffed away. Give it a spin and enjoy--the amalgam of styles makes for a fun listen.
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