Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The way that we tend to survive is by having help. We simply cannot survive on our own. We find others to align with and we build out a protective force that we can then call upon whenever we find ourselves getting into those wee bits of trouble. It's that safety in numbers thing that gets a lot of press. Houston band Wild Moccasins thrives musically using this theory of scratching each others' backs while they're writing and playing. It's a communal feeling that comes across on the band's debut "Microscopic Metronomes" and on its just-released full-length, "Skin Collision Past," with vocal duties shared almost equally between Cody Swann and Zahira Guitierrez, making for a delicious slush of male and female parts bouncing off of one another. Together, Swann and Gutierrez make for an indie pop style all mixed up with a lounge flair from those days when you stunk like a bar every time you left a bar and nobody cared all that much - you just couldn't get away with wearing the same clothing two days in a row was all. It's that thick smell of booze and cigarette smoke that comes forth on occasion and the instrumentation of all five young members of this band - which also includes drummer John Baldwin, guitarist Andrew Lee and bassist Nicholas Cody - gives the songs a shimmery, 60s feel to the garage-y wonder expressed within. Most of the songs seem to take on a rampant pace, just flowing and careening wherever they might go, with parts escalating together and catching each other like trapeze artists, and there we usually have Swann and Gutierrez dangling in the air together, playing off of each other's voice to make something that's not a call and response, but almost the same inner monologue that's happening in two different, far-off places. It's as if the two voices are joined together in spirit and yet they somehow wind up on the same frequency as well, giving the songs an interesting current that never seems like it's too busy or congested, just a different way to hear about things. In some ways, the Wild Moccasins come across as sounding very New Pornographers-like, but then Swann will spring a Robert Smith move on us and, all along, Gutierrez sounds more like a sought after session singer from deep in the heart of Texas (so appropriate) or Nashville, Tennessee. The two are both so involved in each song's execution that there's no way of discerning who's who or what's what and you wind up just considering the two voices one voice, reaching out for us. And when a line like, "Wondering who's meant to hold?" from the song "Fruit Tea," off of "Microscopic Metronomes" comes at us, we hear them almost answering for the other in something inadvertently romantic.