Category: Peter Wolf Crier

Review: Peter Wolf Crier, Garden of Arms

On their 2009 debut album Inter-Be, Twin Cities duo Peter Wolf Crier put an appealing spin on indie-folk thanks to the orthogonal approaches of its two creative halves, with the downcast, Nick Drakean songwriting and high-pitched, haunting vocals of Peter Pisano sent off in unexpected directions by the refreshingly experimental production of percussionist/engineer Brian Moen. Since it worked so well the first time, it’s good to find the duo doubling down on its collaborative technique on Garden Of Arms. Moen deepens and expands on Inter-Be’s rich palette, building out Pisano’s meditative and even somber songs into complex, layered creations spiced with surprising fills, melodic touches, and glitchier elements that keep the mood from ever settling in one place. It’s clearly a more polished piece of work than its predecessor, but never slick or lacking in personality, and never dull.

At the same time, the sometimes-confounding complexity also means the album lacks Inter-Be’s immediate charm. Sometimes the commendable desire to keep the sonic environment unpredictable and engaging gets in the way of a potentially great song, as on the lovely, lonely ballad “Having It Out,” whose abrupt finish undercuts the impact of its soaring, Arcade Fire-like emotion. But far more often, the constantly evolving layers of drum riffs and harmonies galvanize the material into something that practically demands repeated listens to savor its piquancy. “Right Away” and “Hard Heart” prove how compelling the band’s approach can be on more uptempo numbers, but the ethereal “Wheel” keeps the multi-faceted production in full spin without sacrificing its quiet and contemplative beauty.

Originally published Sept. 6, 2011 on Read the complete article.

Review: Peter Wolf Crier, “Inter-Be”

Slow, painstaking craftsmanship can make great music, but when inspiration strikes like a freight train out of the night, it’s best to just jump on and let the thing get where it’s going at its own breakneck speed. That approach worked well for Peter Pisano of Minneapolis’ Peter Wolf Crier, who pounded out the core of his duo’s debut, Inter-Be, in a single night after months of stagnation in the wake of the breakup of his previous band, The Wars Of 1812. The songs’ rough framework was fleshed out considerably later, especially when drummer and recording engineer Brian Moen came on board to help shape Pisano’s nascent folk-rock into something more sweepingly gorgeous and layered. To their credit, though, the embellishments respected the raw, lo-fi energy that powered the music in the first place, enhancing it instead of smoothing away its personality. The approach is superficially apparent in song titles like “Untitled 101” and “Demo 01,” but it weaves through the whole album on a more fundamental level via Moen’s rollicking percussion and Pisano’s melancholy, high-pitched vocals. There’s a touch of Bon Iver’s sad, haunted-sounding balladry in the mix here—not surprising, since Moen and Pisano have both worked with Justin Vernon—but also a refreshing exuberance, particularly on the bouncy album-opener “Crutch & Cane” and the angelic crescendo of voices that closes the terrific “Hard As Nails.”

Originally published on May 25, 2010. Read the complete article.

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