Someone in Madison is Praying for You (And It’s Not Me)
There’s really no guess work with Wax Cannon; what you see is what you get. It’s a musical hodgepodge that’s sometimes straight ahead rock and roll and other times a swirling undertow of grungy guitars. The Iowa City duo of Jay Miller and David Murray offer up a double disc 2005 release that doesn’t just limit itself to the Wisconsin’s capital but takes us on a tour of entire Midwest. Miller and Murray conceived Wax Cannon in 1999 and Someone in Madison is Praying for You (And It’s Not Me) is their fourth full length release on which they each pick up the drums, bass, shaker, harmonica, mic and guitar.
The interesting song titles ask questions and scream back story, and if you listen closely you just might hear what’s going on in the spiritual fast food snapshot of “JC Says” and the agitated whisper “I’m Built Like a Saxophone (Platteville’s Alright).” Most of the songs are cloaked in ambiguous lyrics and are further masked by the catchy melodies; it’s all a long subversive ride through a merging of Nirvana with Velvet Underground and bits of The Stooges’ primal undertones. The vocal delivery is parts kerosene-soaked Cracker and quivering anguish of Elliott Smith.
The uppity melodies are fun for awhile but then the joy ride drags you get antsy and ask Murray and Miller if “we’re there yet!” What’ll stick with me about this release is the duo’s cathartic injection of the overbearing and looming emotions of rejection, disappointment and pain that make the upbeat (rhythm, that is) tracks “Lemon Boots” and “Quicksand” work. The production is simplistic and the music is raw and whatever you can’t pick up in the muddled lyrics slither across as the songs sprint to their end.
This double album is tough to swallow in one gulp and could have been clipped to just one disc, using the strong tracks and tossing the rest.
Wax Cannon: www.waxcannon.com