Friends! Enemies! Neutral Parties! It is I, Andy, husband of the illustrious Katie Mullins and overall good egg. Want to have some fun? Click play on this video below of our next Underwater Sunshine find, Wildermiss, and pay very close attention. It happens in the first minute. At the 35 second mark, after the introduction, the camera cuts to the band getting ready to play. Emma Cole, singer and keyboardist for the band, sways a little and smiles at the camera. The shot cuts to the drummer, who is triggering a catchy little loop, then starting the song proper with snare hit and crash cymbal. We’re at the 45 second mark now and the shot cuts back to Emma as she wraps around the microphone and starts singing and folks, it’s like a different person is standing behind the mic now. Emma Cole turns the switch and is suddenly the frontwoman of a guitar-driven, power pop band and friends, she slides into that role with authority. (Is “frontwoman” a word? Autocorrect is telling me that’s not a word but, seriously, it’s 2019 people. That should really be a word.)
Wildermiss hit the Denver, Colorado music scene in 2017 with the release of a 6-song EP called Lost With You and quickly began to develop a local cult following. Their fan base grew as they began to garner some radio play and tour extensively with acts like Oh Hellos, Jared and the Mill, and Bronze Radio Return. They’ve also scored some opening slots in Denver for acts like Revivalists, Elle King, and American Authors. 2019 has them in the midst of a new song cycle, releasing singles from what will eventually be their second EP, In My Mind. What becomes clear listening to their latest releases is that this is an ascending band on a compelling artistic rise. Wildermiss has taken the best of what made their first EP successful and built on it, showing exponential growth for a band that’s barely two years and two EPs into making music together.
The band has an interesting line-up. In addition to Emma Cole, Wildermiss consists of Josh Hester on guitar, Seth Beamer on guitar, and Caleb Thoemke on drums. What’s missing here? Well, nothing. Which is strange because they do not have a bass player. Now I’m sort of a traditionalist when it comes to my rhythm sections. Drums and bass go together like chocolate and peanut butter but somehow I didn’t miss the bass at all (Sorry all my bass player friends. I really do love all you guys even if it’s not quite enough to help you haul that 8x12 Ampeg speaker cab up and down that huge flight of stairs at the venue.) Caleb is a capable and tasteful percussionist and he’s more than able enough to drive the music and hold down the rhythm while Seth and Josh manage to make use of the space left by the absent bass to weave guitar parts in and out and around the drums and the vocals to create this lovely symphony of beautiful atmosphere.
And this isn’t to say that Wildermiss is just a dreamy pop band. The guitar interplay locks in and finds the perfect complement to the song, ranging from quiet echoes to pounding power chords. And when it all comes together, this is music that you can sway to and then shake your ass to, often in the same damn song, which is really, really a rare and perfect combination.
In the band’s website bio, they mention getting comparisons to other bands like Young the Giant, Coin, and Muse, and I certainly wouldn’t argue with any of those. I’d also show my age and throw in early 90’s pop rock perfection like The Sundays and The Cranberries. Emma Cole’s voice has the ability to travel easily between Harriet Wheeler’s soft dreamy delivery and Dolores O’Riordan’s most driving and urgent performances. In addition, I think the guitar work in Wildermiss is a great evolution of the immaculate tones those two bands relied on for the signature sounds.
But I have to say, the comparison that struck me first, that stuck around through multiple listens of the Wildermiss catalog, and has me the most pumped about seeing them live in November is that I can almost taste The Pretenders on them. Yes folks, those same Pretenders, fronted by frontwoman (I’m gonna make this a thing) Chrissy Hynde who owned rock and roll for a while as she and her band surfed across genres like pop, rock, punk, and even New Wave. That same The Pretenders now with a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I wholeheartedly and unabashedly LOVE The Pretenders and digging into some new music the last two weeks and finding myself listening to a new band that seems like the ultimate evolution of one of my favorite acts of all time? That’s made for a really, really good week.
Friend, enemies, and neutral parties, Wildermiss is for real. Come check them out at the Underwater Sunshine Festival at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York City on November 8-9 and see what I’m talking about. This band is going places and it’s not too late to jump on board the train before they become “the next huge band.” Better hurry though because this train will fill up fast.
Choo-choo, you magnificent, music-loving, maniacs.