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WYGALS (Buy CDs by this artist)
Honyocks in the Whithersoever (Rough Trade) 1989
In the Grass (Koch) 1995

Though New York's Wygals existed in one form or another since the mid-'80s, it took singer/guitarist Janet Wygal and her drummer brother Doug (both ex-Individuals) four years to release an album under the family name. By that time, ex-dB Gene Holder (who had produced both of the Individuals' releases) had joined as guitarist/producer, helping to refine a once-sprawling sound into a refreshingly nonformulaic brand of guitar-based art-pop that's aurally attractive but never sappy. On Honyocks in the Whithersoever, tracks like "Eat a Horse," "Creature Comforts" and "Slap Me Like a Wave" balance Janet's mischievous wordplay and offhandedly impassioned vocals with inventively layered melodies that even sound good backwards (as on the title track). A fine record by an under-recorded band.

After the Wygals ceased to be a band, Janet and her sister Tricia (bass/vocals) formed Splendora with cellist Cindy Brolsma, violinist Jennifer Richardson and drummer Delissa Santos. If Veruca Salt were a decade older and a bit less pleased with themselves, or if the Breeders favored the Throwing Muses side of their parentage rather than the Pixies, either might sound a bit like the now-defunct outfit, which played smart and engaging harmony flower-pop with a jolting rock spine and the textural benefit of strings used in various imaginative ways. Holder co-produced In the Grass with thin, harsh sound and paceless sequencing; still, the folk-rocky "No Place," surging "Beautiful," moody and keening "Rat Fink," salty "Pollyanna" and feedback-flecked "Shirt On" are satisfying and distinctive examples of a dandy band loaded for modern pop bear.

[Scott Schinder / Terry Rompers]
   See also Individuals