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Around Our Town...Music to My Ears

The Waifs - A Brief History...

10/01/2005 - Honestly, sometimes I feel like I'm the last one to know. I'll hear of a "new" band, rush out and buy some of their work, and find out that they've been around forever. Happens all the time. So please, forgive my ignorance. But if you, like me, suffer the curse of the perpetually uninformed, read on.

The Waifs are a band from Australia. For over ten years they have criss-crossed the world, playing their brand of infectious folk-pop for people who appreciate good music. The core of the band is an extremely talented trio consisting of two sisters, Vikki and Donna Simpson, and a man named Josh Cunningham. Vikki and Donna have a vocal sound reminiscent of the Indigo Girls, and sing with unabashed sincerity, retaining their strong Aussie accents and a deep, resonating sense of who they are. Josh sings a little, but plays the fire out of his acoustic guitar.

A Brief History... is a live album with one studio cut, which has been released to radio, although I couldn't tell you exactly which radio format is right for the song. The song is called "Bridal Train," and it's an absolute slice of brilliance. It's country, folk, and pop enfolded in an engaging story and delivered with stunning vocals. This is one of those tunes that could quickly become canonized into our pop culture lexicon if only people would hear it. But as with so many other incredible songs by fantastic bands and musicians, it will probably fade into obscurity without ever having been heard. This is really kind of tragic, especially when an overwhelming majority of music that gets widely heard is marginal, at best.

As for the rest of the album, the listener is treated to a collection of remarkably well-written live songs recorded in various locations and on various dates spanning the last several years. The result is so strong that the net result leaves us feeling left out, like we really missed something intimate and special by not being in the audience. The vibe is undeniable, and as the music plays, it's easy to imagine being among those treated to a close, familial sing along in a dark, warm little pub in Sydney or Perth. I couldn't help being impressed by the level of devotion these audiences displayed for the band, and it sort of made me wish I was in that circle.

Well, I'm not in the circle, and I don't foresee myself heading down under anytime soon, so I'll have to appreciate this little, underappreciated folk band from Australia from afar. That's okay. I can listen to "A Brief History..." and pretend. With any kind of a break at all, I think this band could rule the world. In the meantime, I think they're doing the right thing. They tour almost incessantly, and they've released (independently) a very strong live album that I believe portrays what they're all about with pinpoint accuracy. I sincerely hope this band can one day be heard by as many people as possible.

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