Rating: 7.5 green goats out of 10
American Aquarium are well loved here in Raleigh where I live and where they hail from, and I've known the singer BJ Barham for a number of years now. In some ways that connection actually plays against them for me, because it's kinda weird to critically write about people you've played basketball and shot the shit with...then again I'm not much a of a critic so I'm not sure it matters.
Anyways, blah blah blah, this record is damn good. I find more often than not I prefer a band's earlier output to their later work, but AA has grown steadily into their sound over a few records, and without a doubt "Wolves" is their best album. I'm sure getting Megafaun's Brad Cook didn't hurt (content aside it sounds amazing), but I think the real credit just comes with age and maturity and the band growing into the professional musicians they are today. They also play 300ish shows a year, so I'm sure that hasn't hurt either. Their music floats somewhere on the spectrum of shit-kicker alt-country, but somehow that seems a little too limiting for what they are trying to do. If I were to give a specific comparison I would say Bruce Springsteen with more slide guitar and less saxophone...and knowing BJ, he'd be more than happy that someone compared him to his idol Bruce. "Man I'm Supposed To Be" is one of the best songs to come out this year and the title track "Wolves" is very strong, but there isn't a bad track here. Nice job fellas - now get back to town and let's play some basketball.