The Wrens

Tues Feb 25

Berbati's Pan

10 SW 3rd

Bands that critics parade around to the public can end up falling off the face of the earth when a label decides it doesn't like a band's unwillingness to bend to the corporate line.

Such was the case after the Wrens' release of their sophomore album, 1996's Secaucus, helped them rise from a Pixies cover band to something that could have a place among the indie rock elite. But then, nothing. What their then-label, Grass Records--who went on to be Creed's label, Wind-up--gave, Grass took away. The following seven years saw the band caught in hype's undertow, releasing another critically acclaimed album, an EP called Abbott 1135, that led to more major-label courting bullshit and seemed to drive the band into the forgotten corners of the indie rock landscape. Until 2003, that is, when The Meadowlands came out and all was right again, as they returned with a record that poured Hüsker Dü-style momentum into melancholy, rustic rock.

Not only was the new release bubbling with skinned-knee laments and sunbreak harmonies, it also kicked back at the industry, namely via a song about Interscope scout Steve Ralbovsky called "This Boy Is Exhausted." Meadowlands is an album that opens with crickets chirping, only to shake off the sleep and reveal a band picking up perfection where the hype left off. Whether delivering the hushed laments of "The House That Guilt Built" or more upbeat barnburners, the Wrens have created another cornerstone that will hopefully house them far away from the industry's fickle relationships.