Known To Wander are a three-piece alternative rock/pop band hailing from Southern Wisconsin. Their music incorporates many influences from rock, and they sometimes have a bluesy Black Keys lilt to their music, but essentially they make melodic, accessible and commercial pop/rock. This five track EP is an excellent showcase for their sound, which is surprisingly big for a three piece.
You can hear the influence of Death Cab For Cutie in the dreamy lead guitar sound and melodic keyboards on superb opener Fade Out. The rockier element comes from Andy Stone’s intricate yet forceful drumming, while Peter Grau’s expressive, distinctive vocals and easy-on-the-ear tone brings a poppier side to the sound, which is no bad thing.
Only I Should Know starts out sounding like a thousand alt. rock bands, before developing into another finely crafted pop/rock with some effective backing harmonies. I enjoyed the instrumental section after the second chorus, which hints at future musical ambitions. Third track Watch The Stars is more mellow, and has a melancholy feel both musically and lyrically, with Grau reflecting on childhood dreams: “On the rooftop I can hear the promises I made….”. The simple hook is perhaps the most instant here, and shows this band can write good slower paced songs.
Track four Habit carries on their ability to write consistently infectious songs that you soon find yourself humming and also features a veritable whirlwind of drumming from Andy Stone. The way they alternate between half time and full time towards the end is classy, and that kind of versatility bodes well for the future. The closing Autumn is a more low-key song to close the EP, with tumbling toms toms and another excellent vocal performance from Grau, whose voice lends itself well to slower material. The tracks build gradually, and the brief section in 6/8 was a nice touch.
Overall, this is a very impressive debut EP from a band who have instantly found their own niche musically, and already sound fully developed as a band. They have a fine knack for writing strong pop songs, and shouldn’t have any hangs up about being too ‘pop’ or commercial. I could see them becoming like R.E.M. – they managed to be commercially successful whilst retaining their alt. rock credibility. I look forward to hearing a whole album in the future.
Verdict: 8.6 out of 10