Wake In Fright


"Finely thuggish debut LP by a trio led by guitarist Micah Blue Smaldone, a well-known figure in the same South Portland Maine scene that gave us Big Blood and other treats. Indeed, Micah's fourth solo album was a split with Big Blood, but the fingerpicking sound of his solo recordings is a far cry from Wake in Fright. WIF are a trio. Micah plays guitar, Greg Bazinet plays bass, Jonas Eule plays drums, and all of them add vocals. It was Greg who sort of got things going when he convinced Micah to record some demos in 2022. Because of the lousy quality of almost everything in that year, the material Micah put together ended up being a lot harsher and hard-edged than anything he'd done since his days with the Pinkerton Thugs. Greg and Jonas eventually decided to assemble WIF to perform these songs the way they were supposed to be played -- loud, proud and punky. The models Micah had used while writing were largely '70s Australian bands -- from AC/DC to the Saints -- but to my ear, he has gotten pretty close to recreating the same vibe as that which drove early '80s Mission of Burma. Indeed, many of WIF's songs have the same lop-sided anthemic weirdness that Clint Conley's tunes in Burma did. There is also a whiff of the Twin Cities in their propulsion. I can hear echoes of both the Suicide Commandos and mid-period Husker Du inside WIF's manic churn. And like both those bands, they display a lot of attention to central riffs as a compositional motif, with the vocals howling to keep up. Very cool stuff. I can almost close my eyes and imagine these guys on stage at the Underground in Allston during the long cold winter of 1981, when Reagan had just been sworn in as president and we really thought the world was gonna end. So maybe this is just the kinda music everyone needs when it's Crisis Time. Which means we probably need Wake in Fright right now. As much as we've ever needed anything in our lives. Selah, motherfucker." --Byron Coley, 2024