Based out of Birmingham, Alabama, Wray – comprised of lead singer/bass player David Brown, guitarist David Swatzell, and drummer Blake Wimberly – have a history that reaches back over a decade in the Birmingham music scene. Expectations for this compelling act continue to grow with the groundswell of support and patronage they’ve received since they first made their debut in 2013. Having received accolades from everyone from The New York Times to MOJO – alongside appearances on MTVu and Daytrotter – their penchant for adventurous music-making will pay big dividends in the years to come.
Following 2014’s self-titled debut via Communicating Vessels, Wray has spent the better part of the past year developing the ideas and sonic palette that would become their sophomore LP ‘Hypatia’. Through experimentation and a robust full length band, Wray has finally come into its own as a distinct entity. “We were trying to make a more cohesive record this go around. We weren’t sure until the last week of mixing how well we’d gotten to that point! We did fall into a mood with this album.” – David Brown. Co-produced by the band with Lynn Bridges (Jack Oblivian, Devendra Banhart, Dan Sartain) and mixed by Daniel Farris (Man or Astroman?, St. Vincent, Azure Ray), ‘Hypatia’ takes its own path from swift energy to quiet contemplation while exploring a space of subtle contrasts and originality. “A lot of the tracks you hear on the album are first takes. Lynn Bridges is all about that, the first take and the first time if you can. And that’s really cool, because a lot of the time, you can get the feel right from that first take.” – David Swatzell
Brown, the band’s lyricist, singles out the title track as a particular favourite, explaining its meaning as an example of how he approaches songs as a whole: “A lot of times my lyrical inspiration comes from documentaries or listening to science podcasts. ‘Hypatia,’ she was a 4th Century scientist / philosophical / mathematician. [‘Hypatia’ was esteemed by contemporaries for her notable intellect, and was reported to have been killed at the hands of a religious mob in Alexandria, Egypt.] Meanwhile, a lot of the lyrics I write also have romantic undertones, similar to New Wave and post-punk bands as well.”
From standout tracks like the surging rhythmic workout of May 23rd, to the back-and-forth college rock/guitar crescendo overdrive of Shiva, the group’s triangulated presence is in full force, offering a glimpse into the forward-thinking minds of one of Birmingham’s best and brightest bands. Combined with decidedly uptempo numbers like the rollicking Giant and their inverted take on Faust’s krautrock classic Jennifer – ‘Hypatia’ has set the bar exceedingly high for progressive music coming out of the Deep South. Take a listen to May 23rd via Soundcloud below.
‘Hypatia’ will be available on vinyl, CD, and digital formats – complete with brilliantly conceived album art by New Zealand-born/New York-based Tamaryn, and Shaun Durkan, from San Francisco’s Weekend – in early 2016 with supporting tours.