Working with Wayne Kennedy is always a pleasure. In the last issue of Arthur newspaper, I interviewed Wayne about his upcoming EP. Our talk touched on his $2 punk shows, where his sound has gone, and his growth as both a person and a musician. You can catch this interview in a physical copy of Arthur probably still around campus, or online.
Wayne told me that he thinks his new EP is the best thing he’s ever done. I agree with him. That’s not to say that things he’s done in the past are bad. It’s just that his new project feels complete in ways that his past releases didn’t quite get at. Veiled beneath the familiar hyper-speed rhythm guitar and gnarled vocals is a fuller sound.
As Wayne stated in our interview, he often received the complaint that his sound was not full enough, and had no low-end. While I would argue that’s not really the point of Wayne’s music, I can understand the complaint. His last two EPs were basically just vocals and a guitar. They are raw, yet fun listens. However, to individuals more used to a band-focused punk sound, they could sound incomplete.
His new EP doesn’t necessarily stray that far away from the solo-punk thing. It’s still acoustic-punk, one dude and a guitar. However, additions to most tracks include a bass guitar, underlying distortion, and even some gang vocals. While obviously not a full band, these simple additions could very well bridge the gap for individuals hesitant to listen to acoustic punk. It is easy to dismiss acoustic punk, as it doesn’t contain the almost violent volume that punks are used to.
Having said that, however, acoustic-punk is a bit more accessible, while staying angst-ridden. It is fast, and angry, yet catchy, while being generally easier to listen to. Acoustic punk also allows for the individual to shine through, just as a singer-songwriter would. Some examples that spring to mind are Violent Femmes and more contemporarily, Jeff Rosenstock.
Wayne’s album is a great example of all of these things. From the opening, and title track “God’s Rejects,” Wayne sets the tone for the EP and his new, yet familiar, sound. This song is the longest on the EP at a staggering(a joke) 2:03. It begins with the sound of a patch chord being plugged in. The guitar starts sharply and pulsates arhythmically. Wayne scream-sings, while the bass underneath echoes. Midway through the song, an almost electronic filter is applied to Wayne’s voice, making it sound like his vocals are being yelled through an old school, fuzzy radio. The chorus rings out, “I don’t have much to regret / I’m just another one of God’s Rejects.” Simply and effectively, this song gets its point across.
“100 Graves” and “Television Warfare” sit at 1:33 and 1:34 respectively. The former strums along at a breakneck pace, Wayne screams, “With no god or consideration / we are the mutant generation.” The latter slows down a bit, but is by no means slow. A steady rhythm, with a muffled voice and some palm mutes shrieks the story of our generation’s complacency through media. The song closes with gang vocals, group claps, and then a short solo guitar riff.
“I’ll Be Alright” sits at 2:00. The guitar alternates between a distinctly folk progression, and a short solo-esque riff. Wayne enters into the personal here, speaking of insecurity and anxiety, while ensuring the listener, just as the title says, that he’ll be alright. Discordant piano can be heard just past the midway point of the track. Although it only appears briefly, it peaks the listener’s interest. The song chugs along, and ends with a familiar pounding guitar.
“Ugly Face (The Party’s Over)” is the final track on the EP, and sits at 1:52. This is definitely the slowest track on the album, a punk-ballad if you will. This song has an almost redemptive quality. Wayne sings, “I was raised on lust and greed / in a world so full of make-believe.” An electric guitar accents Wayne’s acoustic nicely, while a piano plays underneath. As the songs breaks down, claps are heard, and a crowd cheers. The party’s over, but it’s worth celebrating. The EP concludes with prolonged and distorted feedback, as a presumably young girl or girl’s chant, “you’re just an ugly face.” Kinda creepy, but cool as fuck.
To summarize, Wayne’s new project feels urgent, attempting to get it all out as efficiently as possible. 5 songs in 8 and ½ minutes, while not unusual to punk, is very efficient to say the least. Growth can be heard in each track, as Wayne has eliminated his past criticisms, while building a new outlook on life. In other ways, however, Wayne’s sound is very similar. There is still anger and angst, fast and hard rhythms, and a strangled voice. Wayne remains true to his sound, while crafting 5 new songs that show us that he can grow too, just in his own, unique way.