As I so often do, I struggled for a while to pin down exactly where Berkeley-based four-piece Wicked Man was supposed to fall on the genre spectrum. Their latest EP, Terranean Tremors, is a clever amalgam of folk, chamber pop, rock, and even funk that's almost as inscrutable as it is fun to listen to.
Among the tags on their Bandbamp page, though (that last refuge of music journalists looking for a clue), was the perennially difficult-to-define "math rock." And while I don't think that captures exactly what Wicked Man are doing, it does shine a bit of light on what makes their sound unique.
The staccato guitars and atypical time signatures that are the hallmarks of that genre pepper Terranean Tremors, but they do so against a multi-instrumental backdrop that's more pensive and jazzy than the name would typically imply. Rather than an aggressive, academic vibe, the resulting sound has all the approachability of folk with the energy and depth of experimental pop.
Coupled with understated vocals reminiscent of Radical Face's Ben Cooper, Wicked Man have hit on a really unique, likable sound. In an East-Bay scene that seems to be embracing this style of organic pop (see groups like Trails and Ways), I'm sure an intriguing release like this will see them thrive.