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The Other Steve Miller
Posted in Album Notes, Behind the Scenes

Wanna listen to an excellent band with a storied legacy? Look no further than Wanna?’s Legacy

All questions, great and significant, are answered by this band. (Photo courtesy of Flickr.)

Oh, hello there. I didn’t see you come in there. Welcome. Please, enter.

I know it’s been a long time. A long time. In the past, I’ve tried justifying my blogging absence with well-reasoned — if not somewhat overwrought — explanations, as if my handful of faithful readers were constantly checking their inboxes for an email notifying them of a new blog post, only to be disappointed when nothing appeared, as has been the case since my last post (published two and a half months ago). I won’t offer such an apology now; your time is too precious in this skim-over, rapid-media-consumption society, and, well, I have other things to do than to write 2,000 plus words on playing a three-song mini-set at a coffee shop — not that those weren’t fun times that warranted such a detailed account, but I think we’re all busier now, what with this economy and al1. And with very important topics in the works (you didn’t think I made you read a fivepart history of Newsfeed Anxiety for nothing, did you?), I thought it best to reconnect with my devoted readers with something more lighthearted, fun, lively, but by no means superfluous or unnecessary; of the latter, you will find no such content here.

Today, I would like to introduce you to a very special collection of songs by yet another permutation of the Billings Central musical commonage: the group is known as Wanna?, and the album in question is Legacy.

The full-detailed legend of Wanna? will have to wait for another time and place — I must be conscientious of your time, and mindful that family members read this blog — but I will offer a brief synopsis: Wanna? formed in the summer of 2006 (around the same time as the making Metal Face’s sophomore slump, Justice Lake On Lemons) after a conversation between myself, Alex Miller, Charlie Ray and Edward Longo one night on the Billings rimrocks. We wanted to tap into a … umm … different style of music than we had previously. This resulted in our first EP, The Statue.

Then, nothing happened for a while, until one night summer 2009, the original Wanna? gang — plus now-priest-in-training Kirby Longo — assembled in Edward’s basement for a group of wildly experimental musical explorations that came to be known as 1-800, which featured the commemorative 1,000th entry to the Ark-Hives, the 28-minute epic “Colors of Life/Baby Party.” Since then, Wanna? has assembled every six-12 months to further delve into the great unknown, producing such classics like the enrapturing “You’re Sweet,” the Seinfeldian “Loan Debacle,” the liquid jazz of “Blue Oprah” (all of which can be found on the must-have Wanna? FOREVER!!!) and countless other masterpieces. Wanna?’s 2012 album, Relax, etc., continued to forge from the flames of uncompromising genius, as heard in the tear-inducing emotive of “Lil’ Dollboy,” the Adele-inspired cosmic croon of “Space Babes,” and the shadowy introspection of “Wind and Smoke” (the lyrical portion won Alex an award for creative writing at Montana State University).

For Legacy, the band took advantage of an expanded instrument arsenal — made due in part by Edward’s re-relocation to his Nutter Blvd. basement, an unplanned moved courtesy of one of the utter ridiculous consequences of the Affordable Care Act (that’s another story) — and added bassist/guitarist/producer extraordinaire (and recent college grad) Anthony Thompson to is its ranks to craft something really, truly, utterly, wonderfully special. Hence, the title: Legacy.

In true Wanna? fashion, Legacy was recorded in one night while employing the click-record-and-go songwriting (non)method of old. The songs appear on the album in order of creation, which gives the listener a look inside our thought process, an in-depth look behind our demented psyches. As any sophisticated listener versed in the ways of Wanna? can discern, Legacy once again relies heavily on Alex’s imaginative impromptu lyrics (although Charlie and I make a couple attempts) but also introduces some new flares as well, like Edward’s jazzified guitar, Anthony’s clever Korg manipulations, Charlie’s apt keyboard drummer, Kirby’s fanciful violin frills, and my, well, hmmm — I’m sure I contribute something. You can watch a behind-the-scenes clip below. It was recorded just before cutting “Digital Love (Digital Version).”

I’ll save the over-descriptive track-by-track breakdown for a different project (which you shall read at some point in the future). For now, enjoy the joy that is the joyous Legacy, and from now on, if someone begins a question with the word(s) “wanna (or want to)…,” cut them off immediately and say, “Yes, I would love to listen to Wanna?. Theirs is a Legacy that brings me great emotional fulfillment and happiness.”