West Coast Grizzly Waves has always been a bit of a loosely defined entity. A quick bio intro quickly sums up the mutable act as “a musical project that started in 2014. Sometimes it’s a band. Sometimes it’s one guy named Luke MacDonald. It’s mostly loud and always honest.”
It’s the last line that rings truest for new EP Welcome to Wrangellia, a blast of semi-poetic energy that mostly knows one volume—one it only lets up on to build into something even louder.
Named after a geologic concept (itself a hard thing to get one’s mind around), the album is just a three-song snapshot of the years since 2015’s The Wild Life, a two-part release that saw Grizzly Waves expand for the first time in studio. Recorded in early 2017 at Rain City Recorders, MacDonald explains the songs are about love, nature, disconnection, and other stuff.
Given the album’s title, it should come as no surprise that the album’s first two tracks include more references to nature, as “Aurora” loops Northern Ontario into a rollicking love song. “It was subtle like you/Not bitter like me,” MacDonald wails, capturing the moving lights as he belts out the chorus.
Monarch butterflies get a shout out—or rather a whole tribute—on second track “Monarch (ft. Northcote)” in a crashing number that makes the red winged beauty feel like a real king of the skies before diving into some weightier reflections.
Chase from Living With Lions pops in for closer “The Stranger,” a surprise shift that makes MacDonald sound louder than ever, even as it adds a refreshing second layer for the final build to the EP’s end.
Loud, honest—and just a little bit wild, which is what I’d hope a geologic concept would be.
Top Track: “Aurora”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)