Published Jul 08, 2015It's been ten years since Montreal-via-Edmonton singer-songwriter and producer René "Renny" Wilson played his first show with his punk band the Subatomics. The group is inextricably tied to Edmonton's current pop royalty, as it featured both Travis Bretzer and later Peter Sagar (of Homeshake and Mac DeMarco fame). Wilson himself has since emerged as a sought-after producer (his warm tape abilities are all over that Faith Healer record) and a solo artist to watch (his 2013 LP Sugarglider is likely the best post-modern disco pop release Edmonton's ever birthed). He's recently opted to return to his roots, however, with the Renny Wilson Punk Explosion.
Birthed as a live act first, Wilson's latest project has now emerged with a self-titled debut. The artist has routinely explained that the project's mandate was to combine classic rock anthems with the dingy production of Crass without overthinking the process (like he admittedly did on Sugarglider).
Opener "Youngsters" sets the tone nicely, offering Devo-esque guitar jabs, driving drums and Wilson's vocals, which maintain a monotone falsetto throughout. It's simple, direct and endearing, and it sets the tone for the rest of the release. That said, it's hardly a one-note LP. Tracks like "Stiffed" add some sneer to the mix courtesy of Wilson's deliberately throat-shredding vocals, while "Sick" offers up some noisy post-punk. The album's real artist statement is its closing cover of Foreigner's "Juke Box Hero," which pairs harmonic melodies with rock'n'roll.
Despite the grit, attitude and Maximum Rock'n'Roll-ready cover art, Renny Wilson Punk Explosion is likely too self-aware and tongue-in-cheek to win over anyone who knows how to sew back patches or stud their own leather jackets. Instead, the album's a fun and frantic pop oddity that adds some chaos and energy to Wilson's oeuvre. And there's certainly nothing wrong with that. (Mint)