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New Release Friday: Terry Ohms’ Terryfirma

Posted by Greg on Jan 18, 2019 in Music

There’s no easy way to say this: Wes McDonald of Birmingham, AL is one odd duck. Performing under the name Terry Ohms since 2006, he has vacillated between fuzzy garage-rock and good-natured, Southern-tinged indie rock. Terryfirma (Jan. 19, 2018, Cornelius Chapel Records) is his latest release and arguably one of his best. While press notes indicate that McDonald considers Terryfirma his most fully realized Ohms record to date, it’s hard to think anything can top 2010’s What Do You Mean, What Do I Mean? .

That being written, Terryfirma has a bevy of deep cuts. Album opener “Mind Blow” has a vibe that marries Paul Weller with The Minus 5 and 1970s AOR. In true Ohms fashion there is a psych freakout in the song’s final two minutes and well, it’s downright invigorating. “Bring It All the Front” is scuzzy garage pop that sounds equal parts snotty, ticked off and utterly danceable. McDonald has always performed with swagger and attitude but nowhere is it more elucidated than in the left-of-center cut “Bring It All to the Front .” There’s a celestial and ambient interlude in the middle half of the song that helps make this seven-minute opus vibrant, colorful and wholly moving. In short, it’s one of our favorite songs of 2019.

Terryfirma’s most straightforward and digestible cut is “Peaks and Valleys” a jangly bright iteration of Dillon Fence and The Connells that is simple, a sterling effort from an artist who continues to chart his own unique course. A bluesy Stones vibe is channeled in “Doubtin’ It.” Once again, that same sass and swerve exemplified in “Bring It All To The Front” returns in “Doubtin’ It” which is punchy, memorable and packs the best hook on the album. Unfortunately the album drifts into filler mode for much of the album’s middle portion. “We Love You” has an 80s synth vibe but never moves beyond its vanilla and derivative composition. “Those Eyes” is arguably the apex of the album’s second half but even it borrows from a touch of boredom. Thankfully, there’s a solid guitar solo at the two-minute mark and an indelible start-stop ending. But that’s where the superlatives end. The album’s final triumvirate has very little to keep the listener engaged.

While Terryfirma falls short towards the end, there is indeed much to celebrate. McDonald performed every instrument on the album, produced and engineered it, created all the artwork and was in charge of the video content for all the videos of the album’s songs. While that sense of DIY is not uncommon it is indeed a testament to McDonald’s distinct musical vision. This is an artist that makes art on his terms, even if it makes little sense to us. The bizarre and sometimes head-scratching compositions that make up the back half of Terryfirma might just be the glue that cements his next album.

Here’s to hoping. For now, we’ll blast “Bring It All to the Front” and What Do You Mean, What Do I Mean? on repeat.

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