Wilder Maker is a Brooklyn band which features a dynamic roster of musicians, including singer-songwriter Gabriel Birnbaum, accompanied by Nick Jost and Sean Mullins. Band members play regularly with Debo Band, Mutual Benefit, Baroness, Kevin Garrett, Johanna Samuels, and Hannah Cohen.
After a series of self-releases and home recordings, Wilder Maker came to national attention via their Saddle Creek 7” New Streets in 2017 and subsequently released their label debut Zion with Northern Spy Records in 2018. Their new album is Male Models and it will be out July 29th via Western Vinyl. Male Models is a crystallization of the more sprawling style of the 2018 LP, knocking the corners off the more extended songs and packing them into bite size forms that revolve heavily around the live studio performance and kinetic energy of the core trio, who have been making music together for nearly a decade.
Male Models features guest lead vocalists: Adam Duritz (Counting Crows), Katie Von Schleicher, Felicia Douglass (Dirty Projectors, Ava Luna), Alex Schaaf (Yellow Ostrich), V.V. Lightbody, and Mutual Benefit.
“Letter Of Apology is a hooky pop song about apocalyptic depression. It’s been a part of the live set for years but it took us a while to get that manic edge it needs on record. I remember bringing a pile of songs I’d lost perspective on over to Katie’s apartment to see if they were any good, and as soon as we started singing the chorus on this one together it felt electric. She didn’t want to play the guitar solo at first, but we persuaded her eventually, and she kills it.”
Ask Gabriel Birnbaum what inspired Male Models and he’ll mention everything from American novelist James Salter and the NBA playoffs to Thin Lizzy and the delicate tightrope of positive masculinity. These reference points might sound arbitrary to the uninitiated listener, but together they provide some insight into the creation of an album that somehow succeeds at being both an apocalyptic novel of ideas and the most cohesive party playlist that you’ve ever heard.
Their Mixtape: “We all listen to playlists a lot, even us album diehards. I’ve been keeping an ever-expanding playlist of songs that I never want to skip, with all of these different voices back to back. I wanted to make a record that sounded like a playlist in this way; it became a kind of songwriting challenge for me.”
Jess Sah Bi & Peter One – Apartheid
This is a very recent discovery that I made after learning about the popularity of country music in parts of Africa via this Twitter thread. I googled looking for more examples and came across this record in a Bandcamp Daily feature by Jesse Jarnow. I’m still learning my way around it but it’s absolutely lovely and if anyone knows any other records that sound like this please let me know.
Fresh Pepper – Prep Cook In The Weeds
I have no idea how this record came to be, but I listen to everything my labelmate Joseph Shabason does and I’ve completely fallen in love with this record. Weather Channel funk, processed saxophone, poetic almost spoken word lyrics centering around restaurant work? Sign me up! There’s nothing I love more in music than being surprised.
Sandro Perri – Wrong About The Rain
Sandro Perri is another person whose work I adore and will always follow. This song took a while to jump out to me, but I love the harmonic structure, the subtle clavichord funkiness. I love songs that never fully resolve, also – I do this all the time, to the extent that Adam Brisbin (guitar, mixing) has commented on it – and this is one of those. It just has this feeling of longing, leaning, reaching out.
Liam Kazar – On a Spanish Dune
Liam and I don’t know each other but we have a lot of mutual friends – I love his solo work. This song really hits the spot for me. Relaxed, propulsive, great chorus. Would absolutely swing in a hammock to this while I crack open a cold beer on a sunday afternoon, maybe on a screen porch while it’s raining lightly outside. All the grass looks extra green.
Yves Jarvis – Thrust
Wildly underrated LP that came out this year. Yves Jarvis is another artist whose work I’ll always investigate because I know I’m going to be surprised, delighted, challenged, confused. This sounds like ambitious 70s odd-meter prog that someone recorded in a carpeted closet. The song is so bombastic, vocals especially, but then the sounds are so dry and isolated. You can compare it to other music but nothing sounds like this to me.
I had a really hard time picking a song on this record because it flows so beautifully, highly recommend the entire thing.
Oren Ambarchi- I
I forget how I found this and I’m only familiar with Oren Ambarchi of the three here, but I have been obsessed with recordings centered around repetition for years, possibly because I tend to be twitchy in my own work and unable to sit still. This is a track I could listen to for hours, the upright bass sounds so rich and the groove is so propulsive. It’s both experimental and intensely pleasurable, my favorite intersection.
Billy Woods – Christine
Billy Woods is on a tear lately, he can’t miss. This one is special to me for the extremely ominous yet soft brush centric beat and the appearance of Mike Ladd, whose collaborative album with Vijay Iyer hypnotized me for years. I love the way the beat disappears and then reappears totally transformed but doesn’t sacrifice any of the mood.
Hany Mehanna – Al Nil
I heard this track while browsing new releases and it grabbed me immediately. I won’t pretend to know anything about Hany Mehanna, but the description says this LP is work he did for Egyptian TV and film in the 70s. I was gathered with the rest of Wilder Maker extended family playing cards at my house recently and during an especially intense showdown “Al Nil” came on. We all immediately had the visceral reaction that it had to stay on until the round was over, so we listened to it on loop for maybe 30 minutes. It was incredible and somehow more gleeful each time it played. It felt like someone was about to overturn the table and pull an old timey pistol.