Dave Wanamaker's previous band, Expanding Man, had a series of high-profile opening slots including a tour with Stone Temple Pilots following their 1996 album Head to the Ground (Columbia). Despite a ton of promise, their second CD was put in limbo thanks to the fast-buck mentality of their corporate label, and the muscular Expanding Man collapsed. But Wanamaker soldiered on, writing songs and demoing them with Peter Armata, Expanding Man's bassist.
When they had a passel written, they decided it was time to form a new group. A sticking point for Wanamaker was who would sling the groupís other six-string as he sang. "Pete and I were sitting around hashing that out and, chauvinistically, I was just thinking about guys who were good," he explains over the phone. "Then I remembered that Jen Trynin and I had joked around about playing guitar together, so I called her and asked, 'Do you want to play in my band?' And that was it." Trynin, a respected songwriter and performer, had also been through the major-label wringer with her own solo career, but it was obvious right from the start of Loveless - a band name Wanamaker nicked from a My Bloody Valentine album title - that their joy in playing rock and roll hadn't been squashed by their bad business experiences.
Although Trynin and drummer Tom Polce live here and Wanamaker and Armata in New York City, Loveless became tight as neighbors who share coffee everymorning over the course of hitting the stage and putting out the 2001 EP Loveless (Q Division). Their new album has the big-balls title Gift to the World (Q Division). And though Wanamaker's lyrics are threaded with thoughtful introspection, the CD's 10 songs often sound audacious. In the title track, the guitars play out in a gigantic spray that practically screams along with Wanamaker on the fat choruses. On the other tip, thereís the affirming ballad "You Wore Me Out," where Trynin's high backing harmonies and Wanamaker's own warm timbre capture the complexity of surviving a hard relationship with soul and pride intact.
The sheen and the depth of the album may surprise fans of the bandís raw live attack. Wanamaker says thatís the result of his and producer Mike Denneen's taste for expansive sonics. After all, there's Wanamaker's nod to My Bloody Valentine, and he confesses to a love for Catherine Wheel, the late British band who were one of his models as he made the transition from guitarist to frontman. Turn the reverb up on Gift to the World and Loveless would sound like an English band themselves, right down to the precision of the vocal inflections on the choruses of "Beautiful" and "Cold."
The opening "Go," meanwhile, has been put in rotation at WFNX and is getting spins at WBCN and it jumps out on both stations. With its straddle of guitar grind and sweet vocal harmonies resting on catchy lyrics that reflect on self-worth, it's a refreshing break from the bland and brainless stuff thatís the stock of most contemporary rock radio. Wanamaker is encouraged by the warm airwave reception, and he's happy to be working with the conscientious, near-communal Q Division label, a home for some of the area's finest purveyors of bright-eyed pop with guts. As far as aspirations go, "if Loveless is going to develop into something bigger, I'd just like to see the album and the band grow naturally." Live, Loveless still pack a nasty snarl as their trump card, and it's the vocal and guitar interplay between Wanamaker and Trynin that turns the trick. "Jen and I both like to play loud. She wears earplugs, so she never really knows how loud her guitar is. But what we both like to do is rock out and have fun, and that's what Loveless lets us do at our own pace, without any pressure."
- Ted Drozdowski
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