I once heard someone compare a band to a glass of wine. It may not be the best analogy, but I get it. A glass of wine is thought of as elegant, refined and I guess the band represented those same qualities. Well if The Wheelers were to be compared to a type of alcohol, I'd say the remind me of a Four Loko. Most of you are probably thinking 'Well, that's not good', but hear me out. Yes, a Four Loko isn't really the most acceptable of drinks to bring to the party, but it's ridiculous, brash and out of control. All qualities I'm sure The Wheelers embrace fully.
These guys play a form of garage-punk that seems to harken back to the early nineties. They namedrop The Pixies as influences, but I don't quite see it, which is in their favor since The Pixies are impossible to replicate well. It's sloppy and fuzzy as hell, but they don't always keep the same sound flowing throughout the whole album, which is fine since as I've mentioned before with countless other bands, it's not good to keep yourself grounded with only one sound, better to spice it up a bit.
"Tarantino" and "Passive Aggressive" really display these guys punk attitudes, delivering quick, bass-heavy tunes that earn them marks for good song structure. They're not going to make them seem like modern day Beethovens or anything, but for a band steeped in fun, it's nice to know they have an idea of how a song should be constructed instead of just going with the flow. "Costello" treads the same style path as these songs, but feels more mature than the others, making it stand out as the best track on the album.
They go a little bit Sonic Youth sometimes, as evident by the tracks "Pedestrian" and "Ride By Fire". It could be because these guys use the bass so prominently throughout the album, but these two tracks really felt a little more experimental than the others. They don't toss around spaz-like guitar riffs, but there's something different and unbalanced about these two in particular that makes them feel different as a whole. Not a lot different, but different enough.
"298" and "So Much Rain" reinforce my opinion on them being influenced more by Fugazi than anyone else, coming out strong with shades of artsy post-punk. What's really impressive with these guys is that, while they may not have mastered all the different styles and sounds they use, they at least manage to mesh them together well, blending together something all together unique, whilst still being recognizable.
The Wheelers self-titled album is pretty decent, and while it aims for a gritty perfection, things seem to fall just short of that because of some of the songs similar sounds. There's an overemphasis on bass here, and while that may be a format they love, it's something they should tweak in the future because of how some songs blend together. Still, there's an abundance of cool that oozes from their work, and I can see them really hitting their stride very soon. - Shane