Wedren’s Magic Wand
Craig Wedren isn’t just a band singer with a solo career. Yes, the Shudder to Think frontman released his first solo album, on Conor Oberst’s label in 2005. And yes, Shudder to Think weren’t your typical band anyway: they moved from major label albums to film soundtracks (including the glam-rock spectacle Velvet Goldmine) before they broke up. Wedren has still managed to transcend the “lead-singer-turned-soloist” category, however, carving out his own unique place in the entertainment industry. He led the indie-rock group Baby, composed scores for everything from School of Rock to Hung, organized a music event for Barack Obama, and can now call himself a digital pioneer. His second solo album, WAND, has an interactive 360-degree film accompaniment. Besides being groundbreaking technology, the surreal project (directed by Tim Nackashi) is a perfect complement to his second solo effort.
Wedren’s composing work has found its way into WAND‘s sixteen tracks. While the film was structured around the songs instead of the other way around, there is a definite cinematic quality to the album. Like a film score, WAND doesn’t feel constrained by pop structures. Though the album isn’t without its hooks, it often seems content to meander or venture into new aesthetic territory. “Bloodwarmer” feels inconclusive, fading into following track “Lady Ghost” like they’re parts of a rock opera.
“Uh Oh Oh No” is reminiscent of the xx, while other tracks (“Rectory Girl”, “I Know”) lean toward punk and its derivatives. Still others employ lush, layered instrumentals and Wedren’s ethereal falsetto (“Are We”, “Heaven Sent”). WAND feels cohesive in its lack of cohesion; Wedren has created a palette of sounds that he mixes at will, with remarkably diverse results.
WAND is as multifaceted and experimental as Craig Wedren’s own career – full of different stylistic strains. It makes sense that this work would have a groundbreaking film component. Like WAND and its dynamic creator, Nackashi’s piece also transcends boundaries.