REVIEW: Walter - Get Well Soon

Kelly Kirwan

There’s a lot of overlap and interplay in the LA garage-rock scene. Aside from sharing the pillars of that genre in their music—the vocals that fluctuate from a bored, chant-like apathy to a howl of subversive frustration, a compliment of warped amplifiers—there’s quite a bit of intermingling and side projects between musicians. Take Patrick Nolands, Ross Chants and Misha Londs, who have come together to moonlight as the three-man band Walter.

Taking a detour from their respective ensembles (Meatbodies, Ducktails, and Sadgirl), the boys have dropped a brazen new LP,  Get Well Soon, under the Burger Records label. It’s a gritty, tongue-in-cheek compilation that’s still humming somewhat under the radar, at least for now. Set for a US tour with the group Fuzz, we have a feeling Walter’s press is about to go on the upswing—and here you are, ahead of the curve!

Fuzz and Walter are apparently a natural pairing, because when playing six degrees of separation, garage-rock style, Ty Segall is the analogous Kevin Bacon. And while Walter’s fuzz-filled album may be tinged with shades of Ty, these guys are definitely carving out their own unique standing in this arena. 

So let’s begin with "House on Fire," a track that comes barreling out of the gate with steadfast drums and spindly guitar solos. The instrumentals take center stage on this song, with the boys' dreamy choral delivery acting as the garnish, “She’s stopped sleeping / Smile she’s breathing / House on fire.”

Their voices have an almost lulling quality against the frenetic chords, giving the song a sense of pyromaniacal fascination rather than panicked urgency. There are definitely elements of The Troggs in their style, with their somewhat nasal pitch and waves of psychedelia woven throughout the album. In fact, that '60s-inspired, trippy kind of reverb is especially prominent on the indulgent guitar solos of "Everybody Says."

Then there’s "Ice Cream," with its monotonous, rough repetition of “Should I be worried” over staccato drums and guitar strumming. It's a shoe-in for the most infectious song on the LP. Its accompanying music video, directed by Nancy Shirley, features the bandmates in various stages of dismembering piñatas across Los Angeles.

It’s a montage of papier-mâché childhood figures being creatively torched and disemboweled, because what else captures the ethos of disenfranchised youth, right? It’s a video that seems to reinforce that Walter is more of a wry commentary kind of band than a pissed off, screw the mainstream, musical platform. Which is nice, because as the listener, you feel like you’re allowed in on the joke.

Get Well Soon is interesting in the sense that its vocals feel lo-fi while its instruments build to dizzying heights. It hovers somewhere between proto-punk and airy psych-rock, like a grunge-inclined teen who grew up listening to the records of their hippie parents. It's a new kind of interplay we’ve been craving.