DIG! | UUVVWWZ
by Lee Adcock
Why is song structure important? For a band, the structure maps out the sections in a tune so that each member stays on track. Verse, refrain, verse, refrain, bridge, solo, refrain. Boring, right? Not when UUVVWWZ (that’s “double U, double V, double W, Z”) chart out the tracks. This “avant-blues” band (as they’ve dubbed themselves) from Lincoln, Nebraska often careen to the brink of stability, and yet still cling to the rails of rather complex, inventive song structures. Jim Schroeder wrangles a riff-ripping guitar, Dustin Wilborn wields a dangerous bass, and David Ozinga pounds out the brazen beats – but Teal Gardner is the band’s crazed soul, a true gymnast of a vocalist that matches Jack White’s sensual charm and Captain Beefheart’s manic persona. Their self-titled debut was indeed a scattered beast, flipping from slow, lengthy grooves to spastic jams to bona fide blues. However, in this second LP from February, the trusted language, UUVVWWZ reign in their spontaneity for a more focused, cohesive work, that nevertheless remains exhilarating and fresh.
With UUVVWWZ’s plucky song structures, a track can turn on a dime into “No Apart” crashes through the gate with fat riffs, crashing drums, and Teal’s sultry, acrobatic vocals; suddenly, with a soft trickling guitar, the tune surges forward into a drum-driven marathon, before slamming back down to its bluesy opening. “GRIPS” is a dexterous and dirty number reminiscent of the White Stripes’ Elephant, but the jungle groove in the middle and the trick ending stir up the old formula. “Perfect House” rumbles at first with a simple surf-y verse, but with some shuffling drums and a dramatic key change, the track winds into a beefier, more sinister tune that bursts out in pounding spasms. Even the slower “Broad Sky Blues” slips through a subtle twist, for the track sways from breezy to blustery with its ENORMOUS chorus. Elsewhere, “Possible Project” bounces on a stuttering beat and a choppy strum, while Teal leaps between her usual croon and sweet falsettos.
Ohh, but the driving single “Open Sign” needs no twisted structure to rock out the stratosphere. Beastly riffs tear through the track, and the drums and the vocals charge forward together, until everything spirals into madness in the final 30 seconds. GOLDEN.
It’s followed, however, by “Charlotte’s List”, the sweetest track on the album – though the bass still throbs and the drums still slam, Schroeder strums lightly, and Teal checks her demented delivery for a very tender, pretty performance. The album closes gently on the slow stomp and enigmatic air of the title track with its shimmering guitar lines. These two tracks make a slightly disappointing finish, as both lack the maddening energy from the opening, but UUVVWWZ have certainly earned a breather.
Overall, the trusted language is a blast, most likely because these four fun-loving musicians had the time of their lives composing these songs together. Their collective glee and tight teamwork are apparent everywhere on the record, reminding us that the four-man rock band is still as vital as ever. Buy UUVVWWZ’s thrilling record as either a digital download or a vinyl at Saddle Creek’s store, below.