Pete Krebs and the Gossamer Wings
Sweet Ona Rose (Cavity Search Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Formerly of Sub Pop's Hazel, a wild power-pop band that could shatter your with loud melodies one minute and have you singing along the next, Pete Krebs is ready to unleash his new band onto the world, Pete Krebs and the Gossamer Wings. On his debut album with the band (on top of the numerous releases he's had with Hazel and other bands he's been in, he also has three full-length solo albums on Cavity Search Records), they shine. Not to be pigeonholed or labeled, Pete and the band travel through country, pop, and most often rock 'n' roll beats to come up with their very interesting, soulful sound.
"Johnny Come Lately" displays the enormously energetic rock Pete Krebs and the Gossamer Wings are capable of. Full of pop hooks and Pete's solid vocals, the song jumps and bounces around with a tremendous flair. Billy Kennedy handles the lead guitar work with such passion, as he slides over note to note you can't help but feel the soul his guitar is generating. Then there is the combination of Ben Shepherd (ex-Soundgarden) on bass and John Moen (ex-Fastbacks, ex-Dharma Bums, The Maroons) on drums. Creating a solid rhythm foundation for the song to blossom, the drums keep the energy level high, while the bass holds everything together nicely. The addition of horns helps to add an even more uplifting, get-up-and-move impact to the song, creating an overall environment you'll find hard to resist.
Adding a little country tingle to the sound, "Dressed to the 9's" slow, gentle approach makes it a sure-fire hit to the heart. Pete's potent lyrics tell the story of loneliness and isolation, which quickly strikes you and makes you feel every word, note, sound that comes from the speakers. Very relaxing, the song doesn't need a lot of muscle to get across its message. Rather, it uses the strength of Pete and his lyrics, with a steady flow of background music, to allow you to fully absorb it all.
"Pacific Standard Time" is one of the many possible singles from this album. Blending folk and pop-rock, the song pulls you in with a strong sense of sincerity and hooks to back it up, while providing an adequate backbone to keep the song from becoming too gentle. The guitars evenly glide through the song, while the light tap of the percussion keeps everything on its toes.
Then there is the full-on country attack of "Ashes Back to Vegas," one of the two songs re-recorded from a split EP between Pete Krebs and his bluegrass band Golden Delicious (the other being "Dressed to the 9's"). The EP version featured Pete and his guitar, with accompaniment in the form of a violin. And, although I miss the violin, after listening to this song a few times, the new version has slowly grown on me. I love the drums and the more up beat nature of this version, but the sad pull of the violin leant a lot to the song as well. Of course, with the full band playing their hearts on this one, I can't complain. There is definitely more energy here, and when I want the slower, sad version I'll just slip the EP in. Besides, the fire of the pedal steel and the rattle of the drums make this one a hotter version by far.
Another rock 'n' roll number with plenty of pop to go around is "Analog." The drums, once again, set fire to the song with a tremendous beat that gives the song all the energy it needs to feed off of. Then there are the guitars, which know how to keep things poppy, yet still hard enough to rock. Billy Kennedy's lead work is sly and steamy, giving the song all the identity it needs. And, don't forget the lyrics, which are something to pay attention to as well. One listen to this and you'll be singing along, because it'll burn itself in your brain and make a home.
Ending with "Patiently," Pete nods back to his solo folk beginnings, traveling through the song with just his voice and the guitar. Gentle and steady, the guitar decorates the song, while his voice and words set the atmosphere. A nice closer to a superb album.
With a strong band behind him, and a new beginning to work from, SWEET ONA ROSE is Pete's best album to date. The lyrical content and honest approach Pete has brought to his solo records in the past is included, but this time around the songs are flushed out and brought to life with the help of others who share Pete's vision for the music. I'll give this album an A+.