Vinyl Destination – PART 2
Yet more reason to be…elated. I’m turning this post over to Alex Stimmel, who has written a review of my reissued album for Ugly Things Magazine. I’m head-over-heels grateful for his remarkable writing prowess and astute musical sensibilities. THANK YOU, Alex!
UGLY THINGS MAGAZINE: http://ugly-things.com/
Spare Changes / Gotta Groove LP / REVIEW, by Alex Stimmel
This first-ever reissue of Tom Wachunas’s brutally beautiful Spare Changes, with its collage-art album cover and general air of DIY mystery, is a welcome late entry for Find Of The Year.
Recorded with grad school friends as his MFA thesis project for Ohio State University, Wachunas tapped One St Stephen guitarist Bruce Roberts to help out and recorded this low-key opus at Ohio’s fabled OWL studios (founded by the Tom Murphy of local garage heroes the Ebb Tides). The sound is crystal clear, rather than the lo-fi efforts one might expect from a one-off grad project.
Wachunas also channels some erstwhile northern neighbors: Neil Young’s shadow looms large, although to my ears Joni Mitchell has an even larger impact. In this way, Spare Changes is unique in its centering a male singer influenced by her phrasing and chordal approach, especially on “Each Day’s Passing” and “I’ll Be Better Soon.” Even with these identifiable influences, there’s a uniquely dolorous individuality to Wachunas’s singing, and interesting instrumental choices, including kalimba, tabla and accordion (although the sax on “Poets Never Win'' may bring some listeners to the verge of an easy listening cliff).
With its easygoing vibe and woozy folk-rock arrangements, Spare Changes works excellently as both a late-night Saturday sign off and an early Sunday morning comedown. To wit, Wachunas closes things out with a powerful one-two punch. The title track, on which he laments, “Can’t tell the ceiling from the floor/I can see all the windows but I can’t find the door,” could be both ecstatic or delusional, while the final track, “Happy The Man,” is an energetic send-off: one of the only tracks to feature a full band, with pumping electric piano and Roberts’ eloquent lead lines coming to the fore.
Meticulously mastered by the good folks at Gotta Groove, this is one that’s worth searching out for lovers of private press folk.