Wreckless Strangers are like the carpetbaggers of jam and blues rock bands. Opening up a wide bag of sounds of lots of gems in the full-length debut When the Sun and a Blue Star Collide, at their core, this Bay Area group is bound together by a passion for a unique California Americana-western-rockabilly fusion. Just when you think you’re enamored by the opening bass lines in the first song “Sun State” the quirky and swampy (and very fun) “Mudluscious” track comes around and begs for you to sing ‘have mercy’. Bring on the funk, bring on the blues riffs and don’t forget the tickling organ ivories – Wreckless Strangers pack a powerful punch in this 14-track sonic journey.
The album’s name threw me off for a bit – when I think of the sun and stars, I think of dreamy soundscapes and ethereal wavelengths. Wreckless Strangers, to their credit, draw the listener in quickly with brooding bass lines and tight percussion. This is a band that has so much talent at their disposal, it’s easy to forget you aren’t actually listening to them performing a private concert for you. The sound is impressive and the depth and vibrancy of these songs is tops.
Besides the aforementioned “Muduluscious”, a personal favorite with its wicked organ and the open-air sky illustration, I also really enjoyed “My Art”, “Aint No Thing” and “What’s Your Price”. “My Art” opens with a sparkling-bright acoustic guitar. A male voice sings with modesty and tenderness. Honesty. My art is a sunset of imagination, he sings. I loved how that line tied back to the ‘sun’ in the album title. When I closed my eyes and listened to this song, it came across as hippie-like (think The Bellamy Brothers).
“Aint No Thing” has an incredible vibe. I kept thinking it was Wanda Jackson-rockabilly like. A female voice sings with sass. This song really made me think of cruising with friends – summer nights at a restaurant or bar. Outside and feeling the energy of the sun or the moon. It’s exhilarating without being completely amplified. It definitely rocks. I can easily see audience members dancing to this track, too.
“What’s Your Price” has a bit of an outlaw bite. I like how the song center’s on everyone having a price they pay. While the lyrics don’t actually get specific, I like the idea of mulling over the idea that this could be about making a big life decision. Like, do you take the job and sell your soul? Or how far do you want to take a one night stand. It has a bit of a seedy undertow to it. The guitar riffs are really rocking – and the percussion is more subdued.
Other songs definitely worth mentioning include “You Just Hurt” and “Raw Deal”. With 14 tracks, blues/rock and Americana roots fans are going to find a hit on this album. Wreckless Strangers are Amber Morris (vocals), David Noble (lead guitar, vocals), Joshua Zucker (bass), Austin de Lone (keys), Mick Hellman (drums, vocals) and Robert Anderson (guitar). When the Sun and a Blue Star Collide is produced by Colin Linden and engineered by John Whynot and assistant engineer Sean Beresford.