A chap by the name of Jeff Shelton got in touch* with me a couple of weeks ago about his band The Well Wishers. He asked the perfectly reasonable question, “Would you mind having a listen?”, to which my first thought was “Why me?”.
Once I got over the shock of a US musician asking an Australian listener with faulty ears to appraise their hard work, I bunkered down and started listening.
The Well Wishers is basically Jeff, who plays all the musical instruments with strings on them, and another chap called Nick Laquintano who pesters the drums. They’re pretty much a two-man band, a pair of do-it-yourselfers who record everything themselves except for when they occasionally let someone else have a go (such as an extra guitar once in a while – because you can’t have too many guitars).
As well as playing almost all the instruments, Jeff also writes all the songs. And sings them. And produces them. And occasionally does the album artwork. And if that doesn’t make him busy enough, Jeff also hosts two weekly radio shows: The Power Pop Show and The 80’s Underground. (You can hear podcasts of them here.) Does this man have any spare time at all?
Once I started listening to The Well Wishers I noticed that Jeff likes guitars in songs. Lots of them. So do I. Jeff also likes melodies. Me, too.
Oh, by the way: a few people have mentioned elsewhere online that The Well Wishers are reminiscent of power pop bands such as The Posies, Matthew Sweet, Cheap Trick etc. That may be so, but it’s actually Jeff’s singing that I find to be most reminiscent of another artist. The tone and timbre of Jeff’s light, high tenor sounds to me like Gerry Beckley from America (think “Sister Golden Hair” or “You Can Do Magic“).
Enough of these unhelpful comparisons. Let’s get to the music.
The following tracks are from two albums, Under The Arrows (2005) and Jigsaw Days (2008). You can buy those CDs at CD Baby or Not Lame if you’re so inclined – and after listening to the tracks, you may very well be.
Anyway, I’ll offer my thoughts on each song. You’re under no obligation whatsoever to agree with them – or even read them. You can just press “play” and make up your own mind instead.
The Well Wishers – “In Search Of Alter Egos” (2005)
This song is a nice introduction to The Well Wishers Sound™, and gives you a good idea of where Jeff’s coming from. Guitars, guitars, guitars. I can dig it, baby.
The Well Wishers – “Double Vision” (2005)
This song reminds me a little of Green Day‘s “Holiday,” or maybe “Minority” (probably because of the foot-stomping beats), but for me “Double Vision” is infinitely preferrable to either of those songs because it has, you know, tunes.
The Well Wishers – “Lost At Sea” (2005)
One reason I like “Lost At Sea” is that there’s a little musical coincidence involving it and Split Enz‘s “Give It A Whirl” (1979). Jeff may not like this, but here’s the coincidence:
The Well Wishers – “Lost At Sea” (2005) (excerpt)
Split Enz – “Give It A Whirl“ (1979) (excerpt)
Jeff may now be sitting in a chair, gnashing his teeth, glaring in my direction, and muttering something along the lines of “OK, smartypants – you come up with a tune…”
But any song that gets me thinking of Split Enz is alright by me.
(By the way, you can hear all of “Give It A Whirl” in a previous Song of the day post.)
The Well Wishers – “All The Suckers” (2008)
Every time Jeff sings the phrase “super fragile love life” in this song (at 1:52), I automatically think he’s going to sing “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” instead. Every time. It’s mildly annoying.
The Well Wishers – “Moving Mountains” (2008)
If you’re in the mood for a Foo Fighters song but don’t want to hear Dave Grohl yelling at the top of his lungs all the way through it again, then this may be the track for you.
To summarise “Moving Mountains”…
1. Driving beat: check.
2. Lots of distorted guitars: check.
3. Vocal harmonies: check.
4. No Dave Grohl screaming: check.
The Well Wishers – “I Don’t Know” (2008)
I do. It’s a good song.
I hope that all of those songs give you a fair idea of what The Well Wishers sound like. I also hope that Jeff doesn’t contact me and say “Hey, stop giving all my songs away!”
Nevertheless, that’s The Well Wishers for you.
The Well Wishers on MySpace
(*I guess there may be some people would read the phrase “got in touch with…” literally. For those people who do, I just want to let you know that Jeff didn’t actually touch me. He’s in America and I’m in Australia, so I haven’t even been able to shake his hand, let alone give him a big blokey hug and say “I like your songs, Jeff!”.)