2nd night of Chanukah: The Wake - s/t ep (1985, Stonegarden)
If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery. R.E.M. should have been tickled pink, assuming they ever heard this obscuro L.A. bunch. Just as the Beatles inspired untold hundreds if not thousands of wannabees to follow their legendary lead, Athens, GA's own fab four had more than a pronounced effect on impressionable collegiate dudes who might have otherwise still been mired in Ramones riffs were it not for incendiary missives like Murmur and Chronic Town.
Given a highly ubiquitous moniker, common last names, and their existence a solid decade before most of us had our hands on PCs, querying anything relevant regarding this L.A. based five-piece is an exercise in utter futility. Yes, The Wake were undeniable acolytes of R.E.M., with a mouthpiece in Michael Horton who bore more than a faint resemblance to Michael Stipe. Guitarist and songsmith Todd Larsen isn't the second coming of Peter Buck, but the aesthetic is present on the brisk and strident "Lion's Heart" and more so on the arpeggio laden "The Crystal Mile." The record's comparative 'ballad,' "Forever Fair" wields a charm of it's own even if it's considerably meager to what Stipe & Co. could have done with it were it their own concoction. Throughout The Wake, Larsen's prose is gently enlightened and pretension never bests him. The Wake's formula was a simple yet effective one, something of an antithesis to all the Paisley Underground hoopla that was transpiring in the quintet's own backyard.
Despite the concluding "Flaming Crown" striking me as a bit of a slouch, this ep ranks as one of my best retro discoveries of the year.
01. Lion's Heart
02. Forever Fair
03. The Thunder Man
04. The Crystal Mile
05. Flaming Crown