• Wig
  • Lying Next to You EP (Nocturnal) 1990 
  • Deliverance (Island) 1994 

There are two parts to the story of Wig, a band that’s been around since 1989 but has only put out two records. The quartet formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, blending genres (rock, punk and hip-hop) in the same manner as townmates Big Chief and coastal kindred spirits the Beastie Boys and Jane’s Addiction. Wig’s particular approach was an ensemble wall-of-sound-light on solos, heavy on dense sonic mass, with Preston Cleveland’s guttural, angry and frequently distorted vocals fused into the mix rather than on top of it. Lying Next to You is filled with thick metallic funk (“John Shaft,” “Sweet Francis” and “Bullet”); reasonably inventive stuff, even if the lumbering “Toy Boat” and “White Ring” are too self-consciously arty. Mixing feedback, effects and power chords, guitarist Rob Schurgin is notably inventive.

Cleveland left to form the group Mule, and Schurgin, bassist Fran Falls and drummer John Burke bided their time until they found the right singer. They met Clark S. Nova, a veteran of the Ann Arbor band Morsel, at a signing party for his self-published novel Bone Cold and began Wig’s second phase. Nova is a more melodic singer than Cleveland, and Deliverance is bigger, louder, rockier and a little less subversive than its predecessor. This is textured, swirling music, ambient but aggressive. “Gun Groove” kicks things off with a fury, “10 Seconds” offers primal catharsis and “Tender Assassin” successfully treads the border of art rock and pop, a bit like U2 doing a Yes song. The remainder of Deliverance doesn’t quite live up to those songs, but the album shows Wig is on to something.

[Gary Graff]

See also: Mule