Sunday, February 04, 2024

WiMP! - Black Sheep

My takeaway from WiMP!'s debut album Black Sheep is that it sounds like something that could have been released in 1996. That is one of the highest compliments I could give to a piece of music. I came up on '90s punk rock, and anything that reminds me of that will have a special place in my heart. Rockford, Illinois's WiMP! does have some actual '90s punk lineage since guitarist Kevin Kalen was in Mulligan Stu with Bill Maynard — who recorded and mixed Black Sheep. Bassist Cheyenne Dean is Kalen's daughter. Guitarist Jordan Acosta and drummer Joe Salamone were in High School Pizza with Dean. Acosta has also played with Kalen in Mono In Stereo. With all these individuals playing together, we get the best aspects of all their other bands combined into one group. WiMP is punkier than Mono In Stero, but the band still has a similar Midwestern heart-on-sleeve appeal. I can hear some of the punch and melody of Mulligan Stu and the energy and attitude of High School Pizza. Overall, this album is a super-refreshing listen. There's nothing fancy going on here: just gutsy, straight-forward punk rock that comes straight from the heart and relates to real life. Honestly, there just aren't that many bands that play this kind of music these days. These tunes exude a real DIY punk spirit to the point where you'd wish WiMP! could come play at your next basement show or backyard barbeque. The title track is both an undeniable earworm and a gut punch to your soul. "Hypocrite" is a throwback to the glory days of American pop-punk. Anyone who's ever been burned or betrayed by a romantic partner will want to sing along to "Suitcase" at the top of their lungs. "Set You Free" sounds an awful lot like Mono In Stereo, and that's never a bad thing. "Yesterday" is definitive Heartland punk with hooks for days.  

Malibu Lou, who's been championing Mono In Stereo for years and was one of the biggest Mulligan Stu fans back in the day, was quick to jump all over this debut album from WiMP! and bring the band into the always-growing Rum Bar Records family. At a lean eight tracks clocking in at just under 20 minutes, Black Sheep is a terrific little album that will remind you why you love punk rock.

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