The Wrens

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I'm surprised this hasn't happened yet, so I'll make it happen. The Wrens Thread.

The Meadowlands is just sad and brilliant, a detail rich comforting shove of a pop record. Songs like "Per Second Second" and "Happy" seem to leave little impression, then wedge their way in and get stuck, for keeps.

scott m (mcd), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 17:12 (sixteen years ago) link

Along with Neutral Milk Hotel, The Wrens are among the worst bands I've seen put forth as deserving (both here and by Pitchfork).

Chris Ott (Chris Ott), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 17:25 (sixteen years ago) link

deserving what?

Al (sitcom), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 17:36 (sixteen years ago) link

Of attention.

Chris Ott (Chris Ott), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 17:46 (sixteen years ago) link

Along with Neutral Milk Hotel, The Wrens are among the worst bands I've seen put forth as deserving (both here

Where on ilm?

and by Pitchfork).

Do we really have to bring this up?

scott m (mcd), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 18:17 (sixteen years ago) link

I sense great things for this thread.

Nick Mirov (nick), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 18:38 (sixteen years ago) link

But then again Nick sensed great things for the Yugo.

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 19:14 (sixteen years ago) link

i don't really "get" the wrens either. i guess they're OK and all that for an indie pop band -- but the accolades one reads about them are mind boggling -- you'd think in some circles Jesus had risen again. what is supposed to make them so "fantabulous"?

jack cole (jackcole), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 19:18 (sixteen years ago) link

I wouldn't call them Jesus, I merely like the record a lot; I didn't intend to add gas to the hype machine.

They do appear to be just another indie pop band at first. It took awhile to sink in. What generally sets them apart: the Wrens are harder working, the lyrics are better, the songs assembled and arranged carefully/thoughtfully, the eighties bent in production and songwriting, the willful rejection of any trends whatsoever, and finally, the hooks that don't immediately come across as hooks. You'll be humming them for days.

scott m (mcd), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 19:32 (sixteen years ago) link

oh boy willful rejection of trends!

mitch lastnamewithheld (mitchlnw), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 19:38 (sixteen years ago) link

Come on, John! A car that costs— and runs onAND IS MADE OF— pocket change? Don't tell me that wasn't a stroke of genius.

Nick Mirov (nick), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 19:43 (sixteen years ago) link

oh boy willful rejection of trends!

Ah! but this is something!

scott m (mcd), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 20:05 (sixteen years ago) link

something that isn't (necessarily) good.

mitch lastnamewithheld (mitchlnw), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 20:10 (sixteen years ago) link


Yeah, it's much better to follow trends.

But seriously, are you saying the record sounds dated because it ain't got disco hi-hat beats or something?

scott m (mcd), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 20:23 (sixteen years ago) link

The Wrens are a Grass Records band.

Chris Ott (Chris Ott), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 20:26 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm not sure what you're getting at?

scott m (mcd), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 20:37 (sixteen years ago) link

Ott means that the Wrens suck because they were on Grass. Y'know, just like Brainiac.

Nick Mirov (nick), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 20:44 (sixteen years ago) link

Yeah, that's what I guessed. That's kind of like saying "Chris Ott is a Pitchfork writer."

scott m (mcd), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 20:47 (sixteen years ago) link

Of the songs I've heard "Miss Me" (i think that's what it's called) is really great, and none of the others have any personality (that I can discern)

Sonny A. (Keiko), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 21:00 (sixteen years ago) link

i didn't say anything about the record scott! 'what i'm saying' is that trend-rejection isn't a virtue in itself. i like 'room on fire', but not because it doesn't have a uk garage influence

for the record, i've heard a few songs by the wrens (you know, i still have a kinda sucky but oddly comforting release of theirs called 'silver' that i bought used for dirt cheap and haven't listened to in a long time!), i was listening to different records then, but i thought they had a few nice, if relatively unremarkable, indie rock songs. i actually downloaded something from this new cd and found it lousy, maybe i've just gotten too lazy a listener to dig for hooks. and disco hi-hats couldn't hurt.

mitch lastnamewithheld (mitchlnw), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 21:03 (sixteen years ago) link

trend-rejection isn't a virtue in itself

I hear ya, I know what you mean. This is very true.

I think in this case it is a virtue because the sound, method, whatever, suits the band even if the record does sound dated. They haven't changed too much with the times, but I think it works, and their stubbornness (as I imagine it) is a plus. It has a lot of personality.

scott m (mcd), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 21:14 (sixteen years ago) link

Grass was a pretty awful label, for sure, but mostly for their tightwad label boss' practices. Fun fact: A Ten O'Clock scholar, Grass' last release (well, before becoming the label of Creed and Evanescense), according to soundscan, sold, literally, about 4 copies. But anyway, back to the Wrens. If one had seen them live and still decided that they "suck", one cares little about passionate rock music. Charles is simply one of the most entertaining guitarist I've ever seen, windmilling his forearm violently (to the point of spraying blood against his Telecaster) while wearing cheap baby blue tuxes. I love lefty bassists who can't afford a lefty bass, and just learn to play upside down.

Though it should technically matter little, the Wrens are possibly the nicest group of people you'll ever met.

But, yeah, Grass. When booking a Wrens show back in 96, that Fuckwad Boss, forced the addition of Commander Venus (his newest signing) to the bill. The little band of 14-15 year olds was fronted by a pathetic, pubescent Bright Eyes. Now THEY were terrible.

brent_D, Wednesday, 5 November 2003 22:18 (sixteen years ago) link

yeah, overall grass was a pretty terrible label (with a few exceptions, the wrens not being one of them (but pretty good for a Grass band) but there usually are always a few).


i guess i don't care about "passionate rock music." ha ha ha, etc.

jack cole (jackcole), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 22:28 (sixteen years ago) link

i don't really "get" the wrens either. i guess they're OK and all that for an indie pop band -- but the accolades one reads about them are mind boggling -- you'd think in some circles Jesus had risen again. what is supposed to make them so "fantabulous"?

That's how I feel about the Shins. But I love the Wrens' record. And I can't explain why...

peanut (peanut), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 23:36 (sixteen years ago) link

two months pass...
I like "The Meadowlands" album, but have a much greater appreciation for the band after seeing them in person last night. I don't recall seeing a band that features such diverse sonic personalities, all doing their own little things in pursuit of 'the whole', as those guys. A really great live band who has 'converted' me.

Baked Bean Teeth (Baked Bean Teeth), Monday, 19 January 2004 05:36 (fifteen years ago) link

It took awhile to sink in.

Yeah, me too and I didn't want to like them because pitchfork was all up on them, but after further listenings I came to love Meadowlands. Secaucus doesn't do much for me though.

By the way, as long as this is The Wrens thread, has anyone else read Meadowlands reviews with the words 'emo' included? I thought this was a little ridiculous. I mean then what isn't emo?

Also I have little knowledge of Grass as a mid 90s label, but I would think It'd be much easier to rip them for being on Drive-Thru for a minute.

christhamrin (christhamrin), Monday, 19 January 2004 08:08 (fifteen years ago) link

When I put them on a big playlist and was reading, the song from Meadowlands stuck out enough for me to actively find out what I was listening to. So the Wrens passed my test.

David Allen (David Allen), Monday, 19 January 2004 20:39 (fifteen years ago) link

i love the meadowlands. they played two shows in chicago on friday night; the first one at least was a little rushed because their van's alternator blew on the way in & start got pushed back like 30 mins? in any case they seemed very excited to be in chicago and playing to a capacity crowd. the stuff they played off the new record sounded great & got people excited, but they got all that out of the way early, which didn't seem like a great move to me. fairly short set.

andrew s, Monday, 19 January 2004 21:18 (fifteen years ago) link

has anyone else read Meadowlands reviews with the words 'emo' included? I thought this was a little ridiculous. I mean then what isn't emo?

ha ha. this was exactly my thought when I listened to the record. It's pretty good - and it's also definitely emo. Nothing wrong with that per se, but I was extremely perplexed that I hadn't seen any review refer to it as such - like you say. i guess most of the indie review places have worked so hard at slagging and distancing themselves from emo (trashing bands solely on the basis of their genre), that they can't conceive of an emo record that they like. what a sad place to be.

Sean M (Sean M), Monday, 19 January 2004 21:35 (fifteen years ago) link

Doesn't emo sound like fugazi? I mean there's not even any screaming.

Maybe I'm one of the billion trillion people who aren't quite sure on what emo is.

David Allen (David Allen), Monday, 19 January 2004 22:05 (fifteen years ago) link

Uh I didn't intend to get into yet another emo thing. But maybe I wasn't clear...I meant to say I didn't think it was emo (and I did read reviews calling it emo). You could say it had its Jimmy Eat World-ish moments (weird new-wave-y moments and other things, thankfully no goofy eletronic parts), but no, I am voting for not emo. Yes they do display emotion, but ahh fuck it...FUCKING EMO, WHY CAN"T WE JUST PRETEND IT DOESN"T EXIST?

Seriously. When is everyone going to start using the term 'post-emo' - its about time. Certainly theres a lot of stuff that has been influenced by it, but it just doesn't fit to really call anything emo anymore unless it is used as an insult.

Power pop I say. Sounds like indie rock update on Big Star/Flamin' Groovies.

And if it didn't have the 6 minute long turd that seems like it lasts 13 months it'd be near-perfect.

christhamrin (christhamrin), Tuesday, 20 January 2004 13:15 (fifteen years ago) link

I'm glad to see the Wrens getting some ilm love. I understand why people don't like it. It's a throwback to the early-mid-nineties (before Jimmy Eat World was emo, ahhh ferget it). I like the fact that it sounds surgically composed from another time. I also think it sounds like a classic rock album recorded on pro tools in 2002.

scott m (mcd), Tuesday, 20 January 2004 15:31 (fifteen years ago) link

They've been around the block a bunch of times and are explicitly not burnouts who want a medal for it. That's rare enough.

Dock Miles (Dock Miles), Tuesday, 20 January 2004 16:09 (fifteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
Well I have had The Meadowlands long enough to say that it definitely turned out to be a grower for me. Secacus was an immediate hit with me but I have to admit that I now think The Meadowlands is better.

Jim Reckling (Jim Reckling), Monday, 16 February 2004 04:41 (fifteen years ago) link

I was sort of bored with Meadowlands when I first heard it, but I kept listening and it just sort of clicked. Now I listen to it all the time. And it has a lyric I can't get out of my head: "Rural poor at 35 / I am the best 17-year-old ever." Story of my life.

I just wish I could find the old CDs.

subgenius (subgenius), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 06:15 (fifteen years ago) link

one year passes...
the meadowlands is about to be released in the uk by lomax records. what to expect? i just got it but haven't listened to it yet.

CharlieNo4 (Charlie), Sunday, 31 July 2005 16:15 (fourteen years ago) link

You're in for a treat, one of the best albums of the 2000s.

kornrulez6969 (TCBeing), Sunday, 31 July 2005 22:35 (fourteen years ago) link

three months pass...
remember when people used to pretend to like these wrens

arif mardin, Friday, 25 November 2005 22:33 (fourteen years ago) link

Meadowlands is one of my favorite records from the past few years, and they are definitely my favorite live band. They are also genuinely nice people. It's good to see them having some measure of success and appreciation after all they've been through.

subgenius (subgenius), Friday, 25 November 2005 22:39 (fourteen years ago) link

pretend nothing! I eagerly await their new album, it should hit in 2013.

erv (Abe Froman), Friday, 25 November 2005 22:59 (fourteen years ago) link

the only song that stuck with me from both Meadowlands and Secaucus is "I've made enough friends." fantastic track, the rest was blah to me...

Jimmy_tango, Friday, 25 November 2005 23:05 (fourteen years ago) link

i think the meadowlands holds up well, even if it may not have kept pace with the indie backlash

andrew s (andrew s), Saturday, 26 November 2005 01:26 (fourteen years ago) link

People who hate on the Wrens without qualifying it just come across as obnoxious to me.

Matt McEver (mattmc387), Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:08 (fourteen years ago) link

man, the Meadowlands was so overrated. Secaucus, on the other hand ...

lemin (lemin), Saturday, 26 November 2005 04:01 (fourteen years ago) link

that'll do

Matt McEver (mattmc387), Saturday, 26 November 2005 04:22 (fourteen years ago) link

Along with Neutral Milk Hotel, The Wrens are among the worst bands I've seen put forth as deserving (both here and by Pitchfork).

File under: Perfect Sound? Whatever.

nancyboy (nancyboy), Saturday, 26 November 2005 11:44 (fourteen years ago) link

I like The Meadowlands having listened to it on and off for about a year. Probably a dozen times in total. What this thread says to me is that this like will grow stronger if I persevere, so I will.

thousands of tiny luminous spheres (plebian), Saturday, 26 November 2005 23:58 (fourteen years ago) link

Though I started this thread, I have not listened to the Wrens since 2003.

mcd (mcd), Sunday, 27 November 2005 04:22 (fourteen years ago) link

two years pass...

Upon relistening, The Meadowlands really is a pretty devastating record. I'm really hoping these guys can keep it together long enough to make another record.

Simon H., Sunday, 27 July 2008 03:00 (eleven years ago) link

How the fuck has this thread gone all this time with no mention of "Everyone Choose Sides"? Agreed that devastating is as good a word as any for this.

rogermexico., Sunday, 27 July 2008 05:21 (eleven years ago) link

some of the other recent posts are written by charles for sure

call all destroyer, Friday, 5 December 2014 18:09 (five years ago) link

Given their luck, maybe they all got cepsis.

Simon H., Friday, 5 December 2014 18:16 (five years ago) link

that'd be charles

the portentous pepper (govern yourself accordingly), Friday, 5 December 2014 19:13 (five years ago) link

Dammit!

Evan, Friday, 5 December 2014 19:18 (five years ago) link

The Meadowlands is probably in my top ten all time records. I almost dread anticipating this new record. Yet can't wait all the same.

a pleasant little psychedelic detour in the elevator (Amory Blaine), Sunday, 7 December 2014 23:44 (five years ago) link

eight months pass...

Alright, looks like it reeeeaaaaally is done this time (the album)? I just happened to randomly google them to see what the latest is...

http://www.wrens.com/it-was-five-years-ago-yesterday

Rod Steel (musicfanatic), Saturday, 5 September 2015 22:24 (four years ago) link

six months pass...

just the worst news

thom yorke state of mind (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 22 March 2016 20:05 (three years ago) link

hopefully it's not dire. he's so self-effacing that it's hard to really tell.

dc, Tuesday, 22 March 2016 20:48 (three years ago) link

one year passes...

So apparently the new album is done; Charles has been posting invitations on FB for people to come by his house and listen to it, if there are any NJ ILXors interested. I guess we can expect a release date at some point in the near future? Maybe?

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Wednesday, 13 September 2017 15:40 (two years ago) link

is it actually done this time? he's been having people come by to listen to the new material for quite a while now, so until there's a release date i won't hold my breath. the last concrete details from twitter were that it was nearly all sequenced & mastered at the start of august, with only a few songs left to tweak

ufo, Wednesday, 13 September 2017 15:58 (two years ago) link

So apparently the new album is done; Charles has been posting invitations on FB for people to come by his house and listen to it, if there are any NJ ILXors interested. I guess we can expect a release date at some point in the near future? Maybe?

― a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Wednesday, September 13, 2017 11:40 AM (one hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I thought Charles lived in BK? Or are you saying only us NJ ILXors are qualified to get an first listen?

Evan, Wednesday, 13 September 2017 17:07 (two years ago) link

nah I just assumed he lived in jersey

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Wednesday, 13 September 2017 17:16 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

he talks about that a bit here

http://gothamist.com/2017/10/27/charles_bissell_the_wrens_interview.php

sktsh, Tuesday, 31 October 2017 14:51 (two years ago) link

I actually went to one of his listening parties in his little studio just off the kitchen. He was very welcoming. It was great to talk about music and art and listen to the new material. The songs themselves are very collage-like and are sounding really good!

Evan, Tuesday, 31 October 2017 15:10 (two years ago) link

Ah that's so great!

sktsh, Tuesday, 31 October 2017 17:37 (two years ago) link

one month passes...

I’m curious, are they self-releasing?

Allen (etaeoe), Monday, 4 December 2017 14:15 (two years ago) link

Bissell said about a year ago (?) that they had signed to a label, even showed him signing paperwork, but he declined to say what label. Who knows what the deal is now though

Simon H., Monday, 4 December 2017 14:17 (two years ago) link

When I was at his place he told us the label... I'm not sure whether it's supposed to be a secret though?

Evan, Monday, 4 December 2017 15:16 (two years ago) link

I think it is? Maybe you could tell us what it rhymes with.

Simon H., Monday, 4 December 2017 15:18 (two years ago) link

I have an urge to tell you, but I'm starting to second guess my memory? My wife is also fuzzy on it but she agrees it's probably the one I think...

Evan, Monday, 4 December 2017 15:38 (two years ago) link

I sorta reckoned as much anyway

Simon H., Monday, 4 December 2017 15:42 (two years ago) link

Again, for the record we're both not 100% sure we remember correctly, but pretty sure.

Evan, Monday, 4 December 2017 16:12 (two years ago) link

iirc he's said they're intending for the label announcement to be part of the proper album announcement and everything

ufo, Monday, 4 December 2017 16:15 (two years ago) link

ah nice! had no idea they had a new album in the works of

I gues this puts them on track to release their 5th record some time around 2045 :D

constitutional crises they fly at u face (will), Monday, 4 December 2017 20:24 (two years ago) link

works of

constitutional crises they fly at u face (will), Monday, 4 December 2017 20:25 (two years ago) link

it's been in the works since 2010 and has been 'almost done' for like two years now, does seem like there's a chance of it finally coming out next year but i'm not getting my hopes up until there's a release date

ufo, Monday, 4 December 2017 20:25 (two years ago) link

He gave us some very specific timing estimations based on the promotional/manufacturing process... so it should definitely be for real this time. We'll see!

Evan, Monday, 4 December 2017 20:28 (two years ago) link

every time I hear the jeff rosenstock lyric "perfect always takes so long because it don't exist" I think of this goddamn album lol

Simon H., Monday, 4 December 2017 20:41 (two years ago) link

Probably my most-anticipated release of '18. We'll see.

Rod Steel (musicfanatic), Tuesday, 5 December 2017 01:21 (two years ago) link

I've been anticipating this thing for so many years that the idea of it ever coming out sounds like something that's just forever off in the future. If it comes out in 2018 i'll be downright ecstatic.

josh az (2011nostalgia), Tuesday, 5 December 2017 01:42 (two years ago) link

nine months pass...

my lord is there a more self-deprecating songwriter alive than Charles Bissell? today's update:

Super-short super-unimportant...I’d said I was gonna post an update at the end of Aug., and because these things often end up being sprawling multi-page affairs, I put it off. The new work-fast me is going bullet-point:

* Mastered finished songs last summer, i.e. Aug. 2017
* Mastering really just revealed that about half-doz. of them were either not so good or if on the right track, just not quite done, musically speaking.
* I worked on those all fall & winter
* Finished everything by the end of the school year, which was the goal ‘cause I knew summer was gonna be bonkers (family-wise, at-home-parent-of-three-grade-schoolers-wise), and it was. In a nice way. And one of the only stretches, health stuff aside, of really not working on the record at all. It was heavenly.
* With youngsters now back in school (this is the first full week), pulling up the now-finished songs & final-mixing them.
* Honestly, first time I”m happy. I mean I hate them, and myself now, but the record’s good. Not great, overworked maybe, but good (at least as much due Kevin’s anchoring anthems, which have largely been done for at least a year or two)
* Will mix the next little bit (I won’t dare give a specific time-frame but, I don’t know, into Oct..?), hand it in and let you know. Ta-da.
* Thanks, as always.

wayne trotsky (Simon H.), Wednesday, 26 September 2018 01:31 (one year ago) link

going back not to the recorded songs but to the songs themselves because mastering "revealed them as not so good" is a pretty intense stance. never heard of it really. like, when a track's mixed, ok. but mastering exposed something missing in the actual song? wild

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Wednesday, 26 September 2018 01:39 (one year ago) link

overworked maybe

mookieproof, Wednesday, 26 September 2018 01:41 (one year ago) link

I had a sad chuckle at that

wayne trotsky (Simon H.), Wednesday, 26 September 2018 01:46 (one year ago) link

lol this album is never going to be finished

ufo, Wednesday, 26 September 2018 02:02 (one year ago) link

ffs even D’Angelo, dr dre and MBV have released their albums by now

josh az (2011nostalgia), Wednesday, 26 September 2018 02:58 (one year ago) link

I would be more annoyed about it but Charles seems a bit fragile and tbh it's probably for the best that he take his time! (and it's not like he/they have D'Angelo or MBV-level fanbases or resources to help them out...)

wayne trotsky (Simon H.), Wednesday, 26 September 2018 03:00 (one year ago) link

i can only imagine how much has been spent during this process. i mean they went to abbey road nine years ago

mookieproof, Wednesday, 26 September 2018 03:17 (one year ago) link

they didn't start working on it properly until 2010 or 2011 iirc

i don't blame charles for taking his time, especially with the health issues he's had and not having the resources to work on it full-time, but it's a bit sad that he doesn't seem to have the confidence to just let it be done, like deciding to re-write half the tracks after they've been mastered just seems bizarre

ufo, Wednesday, 26 September 2018 03:32 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

congratulations to the Wrens for cutting out a section of one of their still-unreleased songs and releasing it on its own, resulting in the best guided by voices song ever

I've lost myself to work
and lost Betsys to heaven
hard drives damn(ed) Kevin's house
putting demos of this down
please let these forfeit years put up profit and then some
fear far more handsome men come
able, funded, crowned

https://soundcloud.com/thewrens/and-its-all-guns-arrows-cut-bridge-as-of-122317

resident hack (Simon H.), Tuesday, 18 December 2018 19:43 (eleven months ago) link

i rolled my eyes at this stalling tactic and then listened to it about 30 times -- it's so good!

orifex, Tuesday, 18 December 2018 21:09 (eleven months ago) link

this is like the fourth time they've done it, too

resident hack (Simon H.), Tuesday, 18 December 2018 21:32 (eleven months ago) link

when charles is finally done with the album, he clearly should spend another decade stitching all the parts of songs he cut out into a new album

he says it's going to be done "next week" there so maybe we'll actually get it next year... lol

ufo, Wednesday, 19 December 2018 02:16 (eleven months ago) link

yeah sure

jolene club remix (BradNelson), Wednesday, 19 December 2018 03:00 (eleven months ago) link

seven months pass...

This boggles the mind - 240 gigobytes for one song! Content warning - the actual song isn't included here.

http://www.wrens.com/news-etc/2019/8/1/too-big-to-fail

hot dog go to bathroom (cajunsunday), Thursday, 1 August 2019 21:24 (four months ago) link

"180-some tracks" on one song feels about right tbh

Simon H., Friday, 2 August 2019 04:10 (four months ago) link

I hope Merge or whoever understands that idiots like me would pay good money for a release format that somehow contained this entire dumb archive

Simon H., Friday, 2 August 2019 04:20 (four months ago) link

four months pass...

just stumbled across charles' latest update - as of a week ago the recording & mixing is done after being 'almost done' for the past 5 years or so

looking forward to 5+ years of updates on how the mastering is going

ufo, Monday, 2 December 2019 12:06 (one week ago) link

lol the meadowlands was #1 on my 2000s albums poll and even i've long given up on this album

josh az (2011nostalgia), Monday, 2 December 2019 22:20 (one week ago) link


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