Freya Wilcox is a throwback. She has the voice of a dive bar angel whose affinity for whiskey and cigarettes is palpable. Her on-stage demeanor is reminiscent of the devil-may-care style of Donita Sparks. And her song writing is both powerful and soulful, with a decent dose of fuck you, so you don’t get too comfortable. The Oh My Snare!/Freya Wilcox and The Howl – Split gives the listener a decent sampling of both soul and fuck you.
With an appearance on three of the four split tracks, the EP is clearly a showcase for Wilcox and an amplifier for Oh My Snare!, the Montreal quartet that is unapologetically French while also forgivingly Canadian.
The album leads with “L’arbre Blanc” (which my limited French tells me is either a white tree or an oaky wine) a manifestation that 2015’s Hoyeste Gang was truly the beginning of so much more to come. The song features all the defining features of Oh My Snare!, most notably Jorel’s inimitable vocals and keyboard.
Bassist Lily takes vocals on “Quantum Entanglement” (my favorite of the Split) and has her friend Freya to assist. It was slightly ironic that the Canadian and Australian would sing about not wanting to be another fucking tourist in Times Square (you’ll never get Ryan Seacrest’s attention that way, kids), but it works. The song is a ballad with excellent chorus vocals, pounding guitars and drum fills, but behind it all is, once again, Jorel’s keyboard. Set to xylophone, the keys provide an unexpected balance to a track not meant to take itself too seriously.
“I Beg” is where Freya Wilcox and the Howl take over. It’s a bluesy, up-tempo slap in the face that is equal parts depressing dive bar and angst-filled knife fights. Everything about this band makes me think of East Coast rock meets Southern blues. It’s hard to bottle the sound, so best to let it flourish.
The Fleetwood Mac cover “Rhiannon” carries a stronger appeal than the original. Where Fleetwood’s version has that pop rock feel to it, Freya Wilcox and the Howl, remove the luster, strip away the pomp and add a smoke-filled bar. Do yourself a favor, when the track comes on pour a shot of whatever bourbon you have at your disposal and let Freya ease you into a blissfully depressing state.
Oh My Snare!/Freya Wilcox and The Howl – Split was released on August 12, 2016 on FtLP Records.