It feels like yesterday that UUVVWWZ released its first, self-titled album.
But it has been closer to four years since it was released on Saddle Creek Records.
Now UUVVWWZ — pronounced “double-U, double-V, double-W, Z.” — has released its latest “The Trusted Language,” which came out on Saddle Creek last week.
“We lost a member and spent way too much time writing songs,” said guitarist Jim Schroeder. “I guess, about two years writing, recording, mastering.”
The band’s former drummer left the group and they added David Ozinga, which caused the band to toss out the songs they had written.
“Pretty much everything we completed with him we ditched to give Dave a fresh start,” Schroeder said.
UUVVWWZ’s sound builds upon itself. Schroeder and singer Teal Gardner make the initial arrangements and the band adds sounds and lyrics until it’s complete. It’s like building a sand castle: keep adding clumps and shapes until finally you have the finished product.
It sounds very open and free — very much a mish-mash — but the band is quite meticulous about the songs and the way it creates them.
“The arrangements become really confined,” Schroeder said. “When we really start working on them and setting them into stone, there’s moments of improvisation, but I know in three bars I have to go into this other part.”
“The Trusted Language” is clashing and strange. And it’s heavy, like a glitchy, clamorous version of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” — the opposite of serene.
It can be a frustrating or alienating listen, considering things aren’t ever going to go where you think they will. I’ve listened several times and I’m still getting to understand the record.
Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out if I like it or not. It’s dense and you may not make that decision yourself until after a few listens.
Still, the band thinks it’s not so tough to get into.
“I think they’re pop songs, personally,” Schroeder said. “The pacing, I think, is pretty accessible.”
The most accessible song is “Open Sign,” which plays a few guitar melodies over a steady rhythm, which are an interesting contrast to Schroeder’s licks and Gardner’s wailing, wavering vocals. The end of the song turns into a messy jam with nothing matching up.
The band calls themselves avant-blues. If you’re trying to label them, that one is as good as any. You can also compare them to Deerhoof or the non-pop side of The Flaming Lips.
“Open Sign” is maybe the best representation of the band’s unwillingness to do anything other than what it wants. It tells of kicking through the glass of a business displaying an “open” sign, which Gardner said comes from the frustration of finding businesses saying they’re open but only “for business.”
“It is about looking for and finding a way to be open and exuberant under conditions that make no space for such wildness,” Gardner told Rolling Stone.
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My column, also cleverly titled Rock Candy, appears every Thursday in the GO magazine of the Omaha World-Herald and on Omaha.com/GO. It’s reprinted here on Fridays.
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