Published June 1996, The Aquarian Weekly
The album's dark, chaotic, almost industrial artwork, song titles such as "Love And Anarchy" and "Scar," a New York City address and the band's name itself would seem to indicate a New York City group trading in the usual brand of dark, alienated, slightly apocalyptic New York City-type musical visions.
So, the loose and loopy acoustic guitar jangle, frenetic pop beat, twangy violin solo and buoyantly-goofy Jonathan Richman-meets-Gram Parsons vocals and lyrics that jump out to greet you on "February Sun," the first track on Kind'a Wanna, the band's Big Deal/Caroline Records 11-song debut, come as a bit of a surprise.
Comprised of guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Gary Meister, ex-They Might Be Giants and Lisa Loeb drummer Jonathan Feinberg, violinist/accordionist Todd Reynolds (John Cale) and bassist/vocalist (and ace A&R guy) Ken Weinstein - YAWA defy all attempts to classify the group's sound as folk, pop, country, quirk, lo-fi, ethnic, ska, surf, alternative, grunge or lounge by constantly blending and cross-pollinating several disparate, but effective, genres, often on the same song.
Despite the catchy, hook-filled diversity of the group's music and the relative simplicity and first take casualness of his vocals; Meister's deceptively-skewed lyrics portray an odd, often confusing world populated by dead lovers who live on in the form of heart-shaped scars, lovers who don't come home, lovers who break your heart, lovers who lie and lovers who just don't love.
Couched in phrases such as "You're turning blue in front of me, A color that I like," "We are held, Held together like, Like a piece of ice, Ice 'til we melt," "Death was a little puppet, I wore on my hands to scare myself" and "You can't use an old candle, To burn a new flame, Don't carry a torch, For yesterday's pain"; Meister (who recently endured a serious bout with Hodgkins Lymphoma) exorcises a few demons with his songs and clearly isn't afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve as long as his band is behind him helping his fragile, twisted, personal and strangely beautiful words speak a little clearer.
Contact the band at: PO Box 142, Old Chelsea Station, New York, NY 10113; or send e-mail to: SpikeC9@aol.com.
For information on other Big Deal releases by bands such as the Gladhands, Wondermint, Shonen Knife the Vandalias or Splitsville write to: PO Box 2072, Peter Stuyvesant Station, New York, NY 10009-9998.
-- AL MUZER