Chilmarker Elisha Wiesner’s band, The Martha’s Vineyard Ferries, released a new CD of straight-ahead hard rock, called Mass. Grave, on Kiam Records last week. It is a smart, finely tuned, multi-faceted, hard rocking album, the group’s first album since their debut EP, In The Pond, in 2010.
The puns in the CD’s title and the band’s name continue through the song titles as well as in the lyrics. For example, a couple of song names: “Blonde on Blood,” “Ramon and Sage,” and “Wrist Full of Holes.” The CD is a mix of rock styles that have influenced the trio over the course of careers that have ranged from playing in many different bands, and producing, arranging, and recording the music of others.
The influences are many. There is a major grunge factor, with raw shock lyrics sometimes thinly disguised by their proximity to really sweet and melodic, almost easy listening accompaniment. Oh, yeah, there’s also touches of the The Ramones and other CBGB bands, The Byrds, and head-banging heavy metal and dance beats, and sweet soulfulness. Many of the details seem like the rock equivalent of one-liners. They made this reviewer smile.
It is not, however, a comedy album, but a work of serious rock, finely produced and arranged.
The band’s three members, scattered across the country, may assemble for an East Coast tour to support the CD sometime in the future, according to Mr. Wiesner. He said there is a lot of interest in the album in Europe and they are mulling over an offer to play there.
Mr. Wiesner, who pays the bills as a carpenter and sells vintage guitars online, is the principal guitarist for The Ferries. He is a longtime member of the Island based band The Kahoots. Bob Weston, who plays bass, is a sound engineer in Chicago. He has been a member of the bands Shellac, Volcano Suns, and Mission of Burma. Drummer and guitarist Chris Brokaw, who also has a solo career as a singer and guitarist, played with the bands Come, Codeine, and The New Year.
“Chris and Bob have known each other longer than I have known either of them,” Mr. Wiesner said. “I met Bob in Boston in 1999 or 2000 when he, as a sound engineer, recorded Kahoots in Boston. Chris once opened for Kahoots and ended up involved with Kahoots projects over the years.”
The three friends were riffing on funny rock band names several years ago when the idea of using one of the names, The Ferries, for a real band struck them as possibility. An EP and a CD later, they have developed a sound that, according to Mr. Wiesner, is a mix of all the other bands they have played in.
“I think I said the band is something like Minor Threat crossed with ‘Eight Miles High’ by The Byrds,” he said. “But of course we sound nothing like that. Our sound just happens to be what it sounds like when we all play together.”
The band met in Chicago earlier in the year, fine-tuned their new songs while performing on a small Midwestern tour, and recorded the CD immediately after the tour in Mr. Weston’s Chicago basement. He and Mr. Wiesner mixed the album in the latter’s basement studio in Chilmark and sent copies of the work to Mr. Brokaw for his input while they put the finishing touches on the album.
“We are thinking of getting together for short East Coast tour and if we do we will definitely play on the Vineyard,” Mr. Wiesner said.
The album is available at aboveground records in Edgartown and online at kiamrecords.com.