On Calpurnia’s debut album, Scout, the four-piece group from Vancouver, Canada show off their garage-rock influences and showcase the promise of a very talented, young band. The band consists of vocalist/guitarist Finn Wolfhard (from Stranger Things), drummer Malcolm Craig, bassist Jack Anderson, and Ayla Tesler-Mabe rounding out the group on guitar and backing vocals. To simply write-off this group simply based on their age would be a big disservice to yourself and Calpurnia.
The EP itself was recorded under the tutelage of producer Cadien Lake James (of Twin Peaks), and what he is able to get out of the four youngsters is remarkable. Not to say that Calpurnia were not capable of this album without James, but the polish and sheen that comes through the speakers is really amazing.
The band members may all be under 17 years old, but what they lack in age, they certainly make up for in their brand of rock. At first listen of Scout, I was not detracted at all by Wolfhard’s lyrics or musicianship. In fact, I was thoroughly impressed by the maturity shown by the group in both his and his bandmates’ songwriting and composure. I heard influences ranging from fellow garage-rock bands such as The Strokes, Cage the Elephant, and even Vampire Weekend.
The debut EP starts off with the song, “Louie,” and sets the tone for what is to come for this band. Wolfhard croons, “You see you’re drivin’ round town with your/Chip on your shoulder/Well, let’s see who gets the last laugh/After I call her/I feel cold/Oh lord, I feel cold.” The story that Wolfhard tells throughout this song, as he casually strums his electric guitar, is an interesting way of starting out a debut album. When the whole band kicks in at the end of this track, Calpurnia really begin to find their groove. “Louie” then begins to flow directly into “Wasting Time,” which features some of the best guitar work found throughout the EP.
“Greyhound” slows the pace down a bit at the beginning of the track and gradually builds up to the crescendo towards the end of the song, where Wolfhard sings, “I know you wanted to be here/But now you’re gone/I’ll be thinking of you/When the lights come on/Hats off to you/For you to go/Wish you were here/But now it blows.” The theme of loss and moving on are apparent on this EP, but the way that Calpurnia moves through each song with bluesy guitars and slick drumbeats and fills is way beyond what I would ever been capable of when I was their age.
The first single, “City Boy,” gets the groove/garage-rock feel going into full effect, with the exception of the closing seconds of the track. This particular portion features a blistering guitar solo, some backing vocals of “bah-bah-bah’s” to blend their style of rock with some surfer elements as well.
By the time I arrived at the closing near-seven minute track, “Waves,” I was already mapping out the next opportunity to listen to Scout. The last track in particular reminded me a lot of the debuts by Ash and The Young Veins. While Calpurnia’s influences may be broad and high-profile, they have still shown me enough of their own personalities as well to make me incredibly curious in their future career.