Minneapolis duo Peter Wolf Crier released their sophomore album Garden of Arms this week on Jagjaguwar entitled Garden of Arms. After being completely enamored with their stripped down debut, Inter-Be, I wondered where they could possibly go from there—turns out, everywhere.
I saw Peter Wolf Crier at Bottom of the Hill in late January of this year. The crowd was intimate; it was a classic San Francisco winter night. The air was dank and chilly but the inside of the club radiated warmth from the beginning of their set until the end when we all exited in a hazy fog. For a duo playing relatively simple low-fi americana / folk their live show was perfect. The songs translated to stage elegantly and earnestly, with some added effects and loops to beef up the presence slightly.
Singer and guitarist Peter Pisano and drummer Brian Moen share an intrigue live that makes their performance wholly captivating, and that, coupled with Pisano’s graceful songwriting, is a true recipe for success. So, after loving their debut Inter-Be through and though, I worried that their next release would be overblown.
They had just performed over 100 shows in 6 months. They were no doubt exhausted. What would come of this next phase in their career? Would they be plagued by the sophomore slump? Would they be discouraged by the regime of the industry machine? What is to become of this everyman’s band?
Put your worries to bed people, Peter Wolf Crier has done it again. Garden of Arms is every bit as great as Inter-Be is but with the added confidence that only months on the road and hours behind your instrument can provide. The songs are much more experimental than the previous release, layered with electronics, keys, and punchy rhythmical tracks. They seem vast in comparison, limitless and weighty. Pisano and Moen have broken the mold, have molted from their own design, and though the old chrysalis was a thing of great beauty, what has emerged is a whole new species of sorts. Songs like “Cut a Hand” and “Beach” contain shades of the old days but present much stronger, displaying elements of newfound strength within each of the members. Pisano’s voice is much bolder – confident, less layered, and not dependent on the constant doubling of before – and his instrumentation is vast and varied, exploratory and meandering. Moen’s sundry beats fully guide some tracks (as in “Krishnamurti” and “Hard Heart”) – his role far from a timekeeper, he has turned into more of a conductor. The straightforwardness of the band has been lost but in favor of a more expansive sound which opens the possibility of continued growth and a greater cross-section of mass appeal, and all this without losing their original essence and beauty. Peter Wolf Crier is reborn. Join the revival.
Peter Wolf Crier’s new album is available on iTunes and through Jagjaguwar. They play San Francisco November 4th at Café du Nord. Local sensations Birds & Batteries provide main support. Doors are at 8:30, tickets are $10 and the show is 21+.