Side projects, whether they be fantastic or dull, share many a common theme but one specifically. The undercurrent is generally: “Person A has a conflicting musical vision than Band B and goes off to pursue it.” It can be cordial split where said artist pursues that vision and comes back energized and refocused to work with band B. It can be a painful one that leads to snide comments in the media behind passive-aggressive comments wishing Person A or Band B the best in their future endeavors.
For Christian DeRoeck, I hope it was amicable. He, of Woods fame, certainly felt the need to change up his musical output, as evidenced by my first listen to Weird Freedom from his new adventure, Little Gold. Expecting the filtered folk that has been permeatingBrooklyn over the past half decade, I was not prepared for what hit my ears.
Gone was the 60s acoustic vibe and affected recording style. In was a raw, grab-you-by-your-ears-and-make-you-listen rock sensibility of late 80s and early 90s college radio. I enjoy Woods as much as the next person, but Little Gold has a solid punch to it that is missing from DeRoeck’s alma mater. His distorted guitar riffs and twangy vocals, Brian Markham’s thumping bass and Pat Broderick’s audio attack on drums create a vibrant soundtrack that is difficult to ignore.
Weird Freedom is a fun ten tracks rife with catchiness. Venturing into rock sound with a sandpaper edge and hooky Americana undertones, DeRoeck shows Brooklyn has some teeth to it; most of all, he shows that Little Gold wants to spread its fingers across genres. “Half of the Time” opens up the album with driving drums and a building A/B chord progression that shifts into a catchy-as-hell chorus. “Mike Swan” carries on with a bouncing vibrant tempo and crisp trumpet, courtesy of Mike Irwin. A cover of Wooden Wand’s “Oh, Dad!” offers the listener a taste of punk. The album closes on the southern rock anthem, “Bird’s Eye,” complete with wailing group choruses and weeping pedal steel guitar.
According to Little Gold, they cut their teeth making this record by playing live for people domestically who didn’t seem to care for what the band was trying to accomplish. If this is somehow tied to DeRoeck’s departure from his previous band, then this is unfortunate. People inEuropegave a damn, and in this situation, I err on their side. Little Gold is putting out music worth caring about.
As spring emerges and we all begin to peak our heads out like some hibernating creature fearful of non-cloth-on-face confused