“Long Time Listener, First Time Caller” single review
Release Date December 3
By Melanie Stangl
Photos by Christopher Sprowls
Concert Poster by Mike Artman
A staple in the Pittsburgh scene, local rockers Wreck Loose have been hard at work in recent months on a new album, their first since 2013, due to be released next March. But we don’t have to wait that long for new tunes: the first single from the record, “Long Time Listener, First Time Caller,” comes out on December 3rd, complete with a celebratory headlining show at Brillobox. It will be released digitally and, in limited quantities, as a 7” vinyl, with another new B-side track, “Heart’s Been Broken.” The songs are a promising sign of things to come: the piano riffs and passionate vocals from lead singer Max Somerville return as unmistakable trademarks, but Wreck Loose has definitely progressed from their earlier material. Multiple layers of guitar give the tracks a fuller, more complex sound. Too, the band clearly feels more comfortable experimenting with song structures, instrumental builds and retreats, and melodic lines. The result is rock tunes which are musically interesting, accessible, and genuine—Wreck Loose 2.0.
The band consists of Somerville on lead vocals and piano, Nathan Zoob on guitar and backing vocals, Derek Krystek on drums and backing vocals, and Dave Busch on bass and backing vocals.
“Long Time Listener, First Time Caller,” a midtempo number, confronts the ebb and flow of inspiration, a topic close to all musicians’ hearts. It does so through the lenses of several unconventional characters, including the Statue of Liberty and a pro wrestler, but a first-person plea in the chorus keeps things centered: “…I’m a long time listener/and I’m down on my knees tonight/I’m prayin’ that the next song saves my life/I’m prayin’ that the next song saves my life.” The guitar parts alternate between classic-rock-rollicking and shredding, with pauses for pensive piano chords to take center stage during the choruses. This back and forth is appealing, particularly in the build-up to a triumphant instrumental halfway through, when Somerville’s vocals briefly scream before Zoob swoops in with an assertive riff. This climb is repeated in the track’s epic, exultant ending—which suggests that “the next song” just might have saved someone’s life. The lyrics travel through a spectrum of morbid, scared, desperate, and honest (standout lines include “You take the blood and the guts/and it all looks the same/But when the blood gets spilled/everybody knows your name.”) This provides an interesting contrast to the generally upbeat, powerful instrumental parts (including a recurring chime/bell riff), and Somerville conveys these emotions with skill and authenticity. This blend of familiarity and freshness bridges the gap between old and new Wreck Loose, making it a strong choice for a first single.
“Heart’s Been Broken” picks up the pace with great drumming from Krystek, and goes even further off the wall, which is a good thing. We’re brought in with a cool, frantic electric key riff layered under a drawn-out, distorted guitar line, with subtle percussive parts interspersed throughout. Then Somerville comes in with fast-paced vocals: “I feel like my heart’s been broken, for the very first time/How many more of you can say that?/Oh, I don’t really need anyone to tell me.” Power chord strums accompany the frank lyrics. The frequency with which both the instrumental and vocal lines drop into a melodically unexpected place, particularly in the transitions between sections, keeps you on your toes. It also musically mirrors all the unforeseen ways a broken heart can find to hurt you over time. The chorus sums up both the frustration of heartache and of the knowledge that eventually things will be fine, but they’re not right now: “It could take a while to end my life/I know everything is, going to be all right/I feel like my heart’s been broken, for the very first time/And I don’t know what to do, no.” A killer electric guitar solo is briefly interrupted by a xylophone phrase, which adds a cool, unexpected element. The song’s final build in intensity, with Somerville’s anguished repetition of “And I don’t know what to do, no,” accompanied by Zoob’s wailing guitar riff, is fantastic.
These two tracks offer an exciting glimpse of what’s to come from a more confident, more experimental, and more rocking Wreck Loose. For now, you can stream “Long Time Listener” on Soundcloud here. Additional information about the album will become available closer to the release date. The songs will be available on Bandcamp on Saturday, December 3rd. The release show is on the same day, starting at 9 PM at Brillobox on Penn Avenue. It’s 21+ and features openers The Big Bend and DJ James Hart. Tickets are $10 at the door.
The band will also be performing at the HughShows Secret Santapalooza concert on December 17th, along with many other local acts. It starts at 8 PM at the Kollar John Slovak Society at 3226 Jane Street. Tickets are $20 at the door on a first-come, first-serve basis; more information on that can be found here. Follow Wreck Loose on Facebook here.