The Set List

By Brian Washburn

New players, new EP
It’s no surprise to music fans when member changes occur, or even when a few key members decide to leave their favorite bands. Just ask any Taking Back Sunday fan how that feels. But when a lesser-known, locally famous band has had several line-up shifts then it usually results in a break up or a completely new band, which puts all the old, fan favorite songs on the shelf.
Northwest Arkansas based The Wedding have had several changes over the past couple of years. The current incarnation of the band is made up of only two original members plus three other “new guys.” However, this incarnation looks to be the one to sky rocket these hometown boys to the major labels and maybe even the rock charts if their new EP, “The Sound, The Steel,” is any indication.
“The Sound, The Steel” is The Wedding’s fourth release on Nashville’s Brave New World Records. Their two full-lengths, their self-titled and “Polarity,” have been immensely popular with the “scene” crowd, as well as with Christian music crowds.
With a new drummer and guitarist— Matt Jameson and Adam Thron, both of former hardcore outfit The Gentleman Homicide—a new vocalist, Matt Shelton who fronted underground rock band Letterkills, and original guitarist Trevor Sarver and bassist Cody Driggers, The Wedding recorded the new EP to give fans a new sound, which sounds, not-so-surprisingly, like The Wedding, just with a new vocalist.
The band has previously mixed emo rock with southern metal, piano-rock and pop-punk, mix all the same genres once again.
The new release starts off with the sound of a train then jets into the hard, fast rock Receive. (All of the songs on the five song EP start with the letter R. Yes, it’s kind of lame). While Receive is not the catchiest song on the release, it does give listeners the same song The Wedding has been producing for years. Shelton’s pipes even closely resemble those of former singer Kevin Kiehn, just not as nasely.
Return is another fast rocker with big vocals, big guitars and big beats. It is definitely the catchiest song off the new release. However, the lyrics can be seen as cheesy and cliche at times (“sing of my love like a bullet from a gun”). It is also the song that has the most southern feel; which is not a stray from the mass quantities of southern metal/hardcore bands found in the area.
Renew marks the first track on the EP to feature a piano. The piano intro gives listeners a break from the previous two fast paced tracks. Shelton’s voice goes hand in hand with the track, which could pass off as a track from a Something Corporate album.
Reveal starts off a bit slower, but then progresses into another hardedge song with fast guitars and heavy drums. Reveal offers nothing more than the previous three songs.
Redeem provides the second piano outlet for the band. It is extremely slow until the end, but does have some catchy lyrics. Not the perfect closer for this “train” themed EP, but, it does offer a different side of these hard rock boys.
Shelton provides the same Christian themed lyrics Kiehn did. Even though it might not be obvious, if you pay attention you can definitely pick out the theme of every song.
The Wedding has found the resources (and band mates) to possibly make their run at the top of the rock-pop charts. It’s only a test of time to see if they can make it. If these Arkansas boys want to be more than the run-of-the-mill, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus one hit wonders, then they definitely need to branch out more than they did on “The Sound, The Steel.”
Final thought: Although bands do not need to change sounds completely on every song, I don’t understand why some albums sound exactly the same the whole way through. Do these bands only have one song writing mode? If greatness is the objective, then they definitely need to take some time, branch out and write some songs that are different and will still matter 10 years down the road. I mean who else remembers Barenaked Ladies “One Week?” I sure know I do.

Categories: LIVE! In NWA