“...I feel like this is the kind of music that could break through to people and get them to start asking questions, to start thinking about the choices they make in their lives.”
“They’ve managed to craft a dozen tracks that are thoughtful, warm, friendly, melodic, and addictive as all hell (it’s seriously impossible to not sing along to “Chemicals,” for one)….”
"...the band has gelled and evolved, and the results can be heard on "Past to Present," which retains the melodic ease of the Wheel Workers' previous album but with a more assertive sound that downplays some of the folk elements for something louder and more urgent"
"....the thing I like most is the lyrics. Steven has a superlative way of wielding the magic of words..."
I have a penchant for socially conscious bands. Somehow the music and lyrics let us all experience just a bit more of the human condition. From the plight of 20th Century Ireland voiced by U2′s War album and Black 47′s “James Connolly”. To The Housemartins’ “Caravan of Love” becoming an anthem for the striking coal miners of northern England and their railings against the British monarchy in the album The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death. To The Farm’s “All Together Now” heralding the soldiers of World War I who took a break from the trenches of war to play some footie on Christmas Day. And even to Chumbawamba’s anarchist bent. I could keep going, but I want to talk about a new band to add their voice to the amalgam of social ideals.
Froglix is pleased to add to The Big Mix two (2) tracks from The Wheel Workers debut album Unite. The Wheel Workers consist of Steven Higginbothom (vox, guitar, ukelele), Jason Williams (bass), Craig Wilkins (guitar, keyboard), Allison Wilkins McPhail (keyboard, vocals, theremin), and Jason Carmona (drums). Their sound ranges from alternative pop to folk to rock. And their music and lyrics will go from the atmosphere of a ragtime band on Bourbon Street to a fight for the proletariat against Wall Street.
My favorite track from the album is probably “Stereomad”. Steven’s steady and smooth delivery perfectly juxtaposes against the slightly ephemeral quality of Allison’s voice, over the backdrop of masterfully crafted alt-pop tunage. “The MOP” carries the sentiment of all who have a minimum wage job on their résumé typified with the lyric “let’s kick out the bosses and run it our way”. Now I’ve held both minimum wage jobs and “professional” jobs, and I think that desire is universal. I’ve even felt that way when I’ve worked for myself.
There are a bunch of other standout tracks. I’ve had the hardest time trying to pinpoint what “Open Door” sounds most like, maybe something like The Klaxons?? The middle of the album holds tunes perfect for an afternoon daydream in songs like “Spidermazes” and “Soft”. They kick it back up a notch right at the end with the stellar “The Seal and Whale”.
Grab the album for yourself…
[Live] they were phenomenal. an acoustic set and might of not fit the bill that I had strung together (my fault) but they were great. I knew these guys had it. The MOP (first song of theirs I had ever heard) hooked me immediately, the horns just tore into me as the lyrics cried the plight of the laborer in such a soothing manner.
The Wheel Workers are a band from Houston who, in their album, Unite, employ progressive ‘blue-collar’ lyrics over full-sounding rock with horns. Their music would go well with the Occupy movement, although their appeal isn’t necessarily limited to the progressively inclined.
“New music with an old soul”
Much like a certain kind of young person is said to have “an old soul,” so does the music of The Wheel Workers, a Houston-based band that has only been making music together since late 2010, but who sounds seasoned beyond their years. That’s not to say that the songs on Unite don’t sound fresh, but rather that the arrangements, vocals, and instrumentation feel worn-in and played just as they should. No false steps here. Take for example the opening track, “The MOP,” which begins with simple acoustic guitar strumming and builds to a swinging jazzy number complete with muted trumpets and handclaps. It’s the perfect introduction to an album that blends a variety of instruments, including a more prevalent use of keyboards in later songs, all to great effect. Or listen to the lush “Soft,” which highlights the complementary background vocals that permeate each track. Other songs on the record offer the vibe of a band that doesn’t have to try too hard to be good. Simple, beautiful melodies are more than enough here, and The Wheel Workers don’t need to reinvent anything to succeed in crafting an outstanding debut.
Really nice smooth well-produced pop that features wonderful winding melodies and incredible vocals. The folks in this band are doing everything right. This self-released CD is housed in a beautifully designed digipak sleeve complete with a cool lyric booklet. The artwork on the front is great and gives a good indication of what the music sounds like. The tracks on Unite have a cool thick organic sound and a classic feel overall. But unlike many modern bands whose music is a throwback to the past these folks utilize their influences to catapult their own music to another level...and the songs sound very comfortable and current. Although we could probably come up with dozens or even hundreds of possible influences if we concentrated hard enough...in the end these folks' songs end up sounding fresh and unique. And that's probably because they seem to be making music because that's what they are driven to do. The band's pure artistic integrity is obvious on each and every track. Rarely do we hear self-released albums this good. Killer cuts include "The Mop," "Stereomad," "I Don't Know," and "Right Way To Go." Exceptional stuff...and an obvious TOP PICK.
There’s something about them that screams, “we should be on tour opening for The Decemberists,” and that’s really saying something.
In the tradition of Fugazi, The Wheel Workers are a rare conscious band in the modern music age. Expect inspiration and lush arrangements, not preaching or predictability.
"Steve Higginbotham’s Wheel Workers are spinning after a quiet five-year spell [with] the lush and radiant pop album Unite."
"If not careful, you’ll find yourself slipping away into your own daydreams. Perhaps that’s the reason that Unite is written. The lyrics are full of “everyman” struggles of day-to-day life and love. As much as Unite is a personal introspection for Higginbotham via songwriting, it inspires one in the listener...The Wheel Workers might not pull off an indie upset like Arcade Fire winning best new album, but Unite is a record that will demand an audience from a hungry Houston music scene."
Click on link above for interview.
"[Track 1, The MOP] is pretty freaking great — Higginbotham and his gang make it work, sounding like a quirky protest-ragtime band that’d be right at home marching on Wall Street, tubas and clarinets a-blazing, gathering people behind them as they danced their way in to tear down the financial giants."
“...melds the dreaminess of early-’90s Britpop and shoegaze with the electro-laced sincerity of prime ’00s indie groups like Death Cab for Cutie while venturing into rockier waters on 'Fine Time' and 'Compromise.'”