Waxwing – Intervention: Collection + Remix

Intervention: Collection + Remix

Rocky Votolato has gotten a fair amount of attention recently in the indie community for his more folky solo work, and so it seems natural to turn at least a bit of that focus on the full band he’s fronted for many years, the enigmatic Waxwing. For some reason, Waxwing never found the attention it deserved. Over the course of several albums and compilation appearances, the band continuously performed dynamic, powerful, yet moody rock.
This release, as good as the songs contained on it are, is something of a disappointment. As a grab-bag of vinyl singles, live tracks, covers, and a lone remix, it doesn’t capture the brilliance of a Waxwing album. Instead, it feels disconnected and thrown together, and Waxwing fans are bound to recognize the songs here. Where’s the unreleased tracks? The new song or two? The ultra-early songs that show the band’s earlier more raw feel. Instead, the songs feel very familiar, which is nice but not quite essential.
The highlight of the album is likely the opening, “Intervention.” Beginning soft and moody with some layers of keyboards, it explodes in the chorus in typical Waxwing style – dynamic and urgent, raw and intense. Bits of strings, multiple vocals, and melodic guitar add to the urgency of this brilliant song. Also taken from a vinyl release, “Kill the Messenger” was also on Waxwing’s most recent studio album, and so it doesn’t seem important to release this song again, as it feels like the exact same version. A bit more intense, “Manicotti” shows how the band began, with high-powered guitars and Votolato’s vocals on the verge of breaking into a scream, and “Charmageddon” combines the feels perfectly, with high-powered choruses and moments of more moody, chilling rock. “Laboratory” is another track from One For the Ride, only included because it was first released on a split 7″ with the Casket Lottery.
The other tracks are a mixed bag. You get live versions of “All of My Prophets” and “Laboratory,” which is already on the album, so why do it again? They cover U2’s “New Years Day,” which makes it obvious that the Irish band was a big influence on Waxwing, and later do a rough yet fun cover of Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” The remix of “Spanish,” by Logic Probe, is a waste of space, highly repetitive and redundent.
So this album is hardly essential, even for die-hard Waxwing fans. As an introduction to the band, it isn’t band, but I would suggest starting with Waxwing’s amazing album One For the Ride. Still, there’s some good songs here that can easily grace a mix tape or two, and it’s fun to see the band pay tribute to their 80’s influences. They sure do know how to rock, and if you’ve only heard Votolato’s solo work, you have to have a dose of Waxwing. It also makes a nice tease for their new album, Nobody Can Take What Everybody Owns, scheduled for sometime this summer.