On Monday, Athens garage pop band WANDA released its second single of 2016 through its Bandcamp page. Titled “jessica mystic (live at the 40 watt),” the song works as something of a partner to the band's earlier release this month, “brass pa$$ion (live).”
As its title implies, the song is a live recording that lacks much of the polish of a studio effort. While “jessica mystic” does seem to have been a one-take affair, it serves as a great example of why this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Considering the dreamy, surf-inspired feel WANDA tends to aim for, the ambient crowd noise and general sense of space on the recording add more than they might detract.
Breaking convention for live recordings, “jessica mystic” doesn’t waste its first moment on an awkward count off or some mumbled banter. As the track starts, frontwoman Avery Leigh Draught and bassist Zack Milster immediately cooperate to establish the song’s central melody.
This duet doesn’t last long, though, with guitarist Dillon McCabe and drummer William Kissane both managing to sneak into the song before the 20-second mark. Although the two players enter subtly, they quickly work together to build the band’s full sound early on.
Leaning more heavily on surf rock influences than WANDA’s first single, “jessica mystic” is the sonic equivalent of a tropical reverie. Sounding both laid-back and playful at the same time, the track brings to mind a warm coastline despite its January release date.
A little after the one minute mark, McCabe treats his audience to a guitar solo that adds some variety before the song returns to its main melody. Harmonizing well with his band mates, McCabe is able to make his playing stand out without interrupting the track’s flow.
Although some listeners might complain that “jessica mystic” is too simple structurally, the song’s short duration helps stop it from overstaying its welcome. Excluding the applause and brief banter that end the track, “jessica mystic” only clocks in at around 2’40”.
With this most recent release, WANDA has once again managed put out a great standalone track. Fans of the band are likely still hungry for a full length release, though, and “jessica mystic (live at 40 watt)” is a good reminder of why.