If you’ve been listening to the radio lately, you’re aware of the sorry state of affairs that pop music has been in currently. Almost completely devoid of any truly creative personalities, like no other time before have there been more reasons to look underground for a glimmer of hope that music can still be real amidst these times of fake news and Grammy-winning songs that basically amount to jingles. It’s in the underground that we find bands like Wave 21, whose latest countrified release is easily a more superb selection than anything major labels are pushing out these days and then some.

The 2020s are going to be a very surreal era for music, and the self-titled Wave 21 is a sneak peek into what lies ahead for country music and its ever expanding pool of artists. This record shows us that country isn’t about to be left behind when it comes to facing the future head-on, and each one of its tracks demonstrate a different postmodern dimension to Wave 21’s classic country/western sound. Anyone who thinks that big things aren’t happening in Nashville right now is one hundred percent right – Wave 21 is based out of Montreal, Canada, and they aren’t just saving country music for their own sake but for America’s as well.

Wave 21 has a very progressive flow to it, building our tensions up gradually b4efore finally cutting everything loose in the stunning climax that is “Far Away,” a song that I think should’ve been the lead-off single from this album. In the track, Wave 21’s fusion of country-rock and folk-pop is brought full circle in a comprehensive setting that gives listeners a sample-sized summary of who the band is and where their motivations really lie. It’s beautiful, brooding and ironically optimistic, but it never comes off as self-righteous, much like the other nine songs that precede it.
This was the first time that I had ever heard this band before, but if they’re going to keep making content that is as compelling and intellectually stimulation as this it definitely won’t be the last. This has got the potential to win nominations at every music awards ceremony that I can think of (outside of the jazz scene that is), and its crossover appeal is comparable to none. Even if the country music establishment isn’t ready for them or their tenacity, the world of pop music is, but so far Wave 21 isn’t struggling to make a name for themselves on either side of the aisle.
Efficient, clean cut and remarkably ambitious, Wave 21 makes for a strong breakout album that introduces a wide range of listeners to their sound, and I can’t say that I’ve personally listened to a country record that was as polished as this one in at least the last five years. This is the shot of adrenaline that country music was so desperate for and it couldn’t have come at a better time or place. Anyone who loves good music should do themselves a favor and secure a copy of this record whenever they have the opportunity to.


Sebastian Cole