The Wiyos 'One More For The Road' - Self-Release

This fun-loving outfit, well they are named after turn-of-the-century New York street gang, have now slimmed down to a trio. The Wiyos have put out this seven track mini-album to tie in with some live dates. They play music that could easily have entertained that Lower East Side gang that they're named after. It is a fusion of acoustic vaudeville jazz and roots influences. They manage to throw in guitar, cornet, double bass, washboard, harmonica and sundry things hit into the rhythm.

Other than Charlie Poole's Milwaukee Blues the remaining six songs are penned by the band in various forms. John Hartford is a tribute to the late great performer diner in a way he would have doubtless approved of. The remaining songs have an energy in the delivery that underpins their noted on-stage appeal. It will serve as a fine souvenir of their full-on live shows. Radio Flier brings to mind the flavour of the sea front entertainment that is conjured in the TV series Broadwalk Empire.

Though the roots of this music come from another time the way The Wiyos bring their influences together is done in a way that is just as appealing now and would account for their attraction on stage and as a recorded unit. One More For The Road, without being a band milestone, is journeyman music that can travel. 

The Wiyos 'Twist' - Self-release

This album sees the band expand their line up and deliverer their most accomplished album to date. Here they have loosely based the album on L. Frank Baums' Wizard of Oz tale alongside Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey and deliver an original song cycle that allows their eclectic musical mix full-scope and invention. The songs are written by Michael Franks and Teddy Webber and played with aplomb by the band and associate and vocal percussionist Adam Metta. Beneath the strong vocal presence and genre mix are the layered sounds of steel guitar, alto horn, accordion, organ and harmonica cutting up rough with the guitars, bass and drums that give these songs their kicks and twists. As with the Wizard tale itself you are brought on a musical journey that has its soul in the music of earlier times and its heart beating to the rhythms of today. Mary opens with a harmonica riff that sound not unlike the theme for the Old Grey Whistle Test while this is followed by Mama, an equally skewed tale that, as it says itself, is "very strange". Strange, true, but equally compelling. It is something of a surreal set-piece that has melody and mayhem side by side but never looses sight of entertaining the alert listener to its concept and convictions. The Wyios have been making many fans with their live show and now they have released an album that tries to match that multi-layered experience that moves them from any hint of pastiche or period drama to something much more tangibly Wiyos. They may not be everyones cup of tea or whatever brew you may choose but many will enjoy this energetic and enlightening conception.

The Wiyos 'Broken Land Bell -' Self-Release

This band offer a new take on some spirited jug band music and other muiscs popular long before their time. This Brooklyn based quartet deliver a new album of original songs that owe as much to Tom Waits' sound collages as they do to dusty 78rpm records. One of their quest is Adam Matta a human beat-box who add a strictly contemporary edge to the mix which is about using the instruments and sound of previous eras to create something that has resonance for today's listening audience. That writer Parrish Ellis calles his publishing company Piedmont Blues Music should give you another clue as early blues plays it's part here too. The other members Michael Farkas, Joebass Dejarnette and Teddy Weber are all multi-instrumentalist who bring a range of acoustic instruments into contention alongside such elements as tape delay and sound effects to create their eclectic mix. Drum is rooted in the words of Macbeth's witches. This music is mainly upbeat and uptempo but moments like Redbird are less frantic and show their vocal presence as well as the use of retrained ambient sound. Elsewhere there's double bass, steel, archtop and  banjo guitars blend with mouth trumpet and alto horn to give the music it's smorgasbord of now and then. While the album works as a whole there are standouts for this listener like Uncork The Whiskey, All Aboard and Valentina. Good as they are on record it's live were the Wiyos will really come alive but Broken Land Bell well prepares you in its own right fro that experience.