Sensory Overload: Fresh Wreckage

By Columbus Alive
From the June 7, 2012 edition

Fresh Wreckage presents an intriguing convergence of styles: a pop-minded rock band with big guitars and prog keyboards, led by soulful strains from the daughter of jazz organist Bobby Floyd, signed to the label founded by emo and nu-metal producer Dan Malsch, set to collaborate with hip-hop upstarts Chiddy Bang (the guys who flipped MGMT’s “Kids” into a rap hit).

I stopped by Kobo last Tuesday to see what all of this adds up to. The answer: Phantods stopping by church on the way to the mall. These were finely crafted pop confections, thoughtful but not subtle, easy to imagine on a larger stage.

First of all, the girl can sing. Bobbi Townes holds her hand high like a gospel diva, bounces with the spritely energy of Paramore’s Hayley Williams and hits the high notes with a furious power that reminds me of Beyonce. Her voice seems genetically engineered for slow jams, but it certainly gets the job done in the context of Fresh Wreckage’s upbeat tracks — the occasional bricked note be damned.

“If you haven’t noticed, all of our songs are really lyric driven,” she explained, but you can rarely pick up on lyrics amidst the ruckus of rock songs you’ve never heard before. The music, though? It was tight and approachable, wrangling a wide range of impulses into friendly, familiar forms.

The rhythm section held it down. Matt Seward’s bass parts were complex enough to steal the spotlight every now and then, but he was wise enough to disappear into the mix most of the time rather than subject us to some invasive post-Flea slapping spree. Combined with Harold Townes’ drums, they made sure Fresh Wreckage was building on something solid.

The only time I noticed Charles Beacham’s keyboards was when he blasted in with some arpeggio wizardry straight out of the ELO playbook; otherwise his contributions were more in the way of texture. But it was hard to miss Brandon Chapman’s guitar work — blaring monster nu-metal riffs that gave this music a dissonant edge that only occasionally felt forced.

It’s easy to imagine this band on Warped Tour or on the soundtrack of a teen comedy, and now that they’re signed to Malsch’s label Soundmine MusicWorks, perhaps they’re moving in that direction.