Arthur has been talking about Wayne Kennedy a lot as of late. Be it two separate opinion pieces on the state of Wayne Kennedy’s $2 Punk shows and charity work, or a full-length interview with Kennedy earlier this year, Kennedy has been an influential source in the Peterborough music scene.
Whether negative or positive, his name keeps popping up in controversy and praise.
However, one thing that seems to be left out a lot of the time is Kennedy’s music itself. It seems us journalists have been caught up in the political side of things, that we have forgotten that at the end of the day, he is a musician.
Therefore, this review will try to be as impartial as possible, take no political stand, but rather look at the music. What can be said about Kennedy’s punk shows has already been said. Now let’s focus on the music, for good or for bad.
He recently released a three-song EP entitled Train Wrecks. Originally scheduled for release April 2, the EP was released online on March 10.
Three songs, although short, is quite indicative of the punk style: let’s get it out there, let’s do it quickly and let’s not give a fuck about the consequences.
The cover consists of a caricature of Kennedy. The illustration is in simple black and white. His pants look almost like leather with a presumably leather jacket paired on top. Both are strewn with uneven white and black lines to emulate the creases in articles of clothing. His hair stands straight up comically, as he sports an almost smug smile. A cigarette dangles from the caricature’s mouth.
At first glance, the cover seems simple. It is a simple drawing of Kennedy. However, this drawing may be the complete embodiment of him; Kennedy at his most punk and his most ‘in your face.’
The caricature is slightly embellished, but maybe that’s the point. It represents an ‘I’m gonna be me’ viewpoint, which is something that he has increasingly tried to purvey in recent months with his contemplations of leaving the punk shows behind and focusing on his solo work. Train Wrecks, without even taking a listen, seems to say something about truth. Be yourself, as drastic as that can be.
The first song ‘Train Wrecks’ is a short one minute and 35 seconds. Frantic guitar strumming is mixed with Kennedy’s snarl-like vocals. A simple background refrain of, ‘hey, hey, hey’ keeps the song catchy.
The chorus claims, “We’re just a couple of train wrecks/ we don’t care what happens next,” showcasing the typical punk aesthetic of nihilism and destruction.
The song is not unusual. It sounds like a typical punk song, but he utilizes the absence of a band in a way that makes his sound unique.
It is fast, very fast, something that most acoustic punk lacks. Acoustic punk is usually called just that because it draws from punk influence, but does not fit closely into the mold of typical punk.
However, Kennedy’s punk could fit neatly in the band. He just chooses to play on his own.
The second song is entitled ‘Anxiety,’ and runs two minutes and eight seconds. This song starts with a very melodic riff that sits in place of a chorus. The subject matter draws a little bit less from typical punk.
It is not angst-filled, but doubt filled. Kennedy admits his weaknesses here with lyrics, such as, “save from me from myself,” and the one-word summation of his thoughts and worries, “Anxiety!”
Although, as much as this song is a song about weakness, it is also a song about working through it and prospering, which is something Kennedy has been trying to do for a long time.
The third song, Right Back to You, is the longest at two minutes and 41seconds. The typical punk sound is back. Fast strumming and rough vocals continue. The absence of a band is noted here and this song, albeit not weak, is not strong either.
Pseudo-melodic “na’s” are heard and the song moves forward quickly and without abandon. However, any intricacies that the song may have are lost due to the singularity of his style. Solo-acoustic punk needs a delicate balance in order to not only sound good, but also be unique.
What is unique in Kennedy’s sound, as heard in both ‘Anxiety,’ and ‘Train Wrecks,’ is the way he transcends what is considered acoustic, while drawing on punk influence.
What is not unique is when his sound seems stagnant and held in place by a lack of personnel. Both are found in the EP.
The short album is worth a listen, but subsequent releases are needed in order for his audience to realize the true manifestation of his sound.