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Fronted by the insistent vocals of Dave Callahan with a tightly wound band backing him, the Wolfhounds were the dark horse of the legendary C86 cassette. They split the difference between the avant noise and sweet jangle pop factions, while staking out their own idiosyncratic territory. They didn't last very long; after releasing one classic single, a near-brilliant album with 1987's Unseen Ripples from a Pebble, and a couple more fine examples of noise pop, the group burned out in 1990. Most of the members kept their feet in music (Callahan most notably with Moonshake), so it made sense when they re-formed in 2005. Intermittent incendiary live shows followed, as did a couple bracing albums like 2016's Untied Kingdom (...Or How to Come to Terms with Your Culture).
The band was formed in Essex, England by singer Callahan, guitarists Paul Clark and Andy Golding, bassist Andy Bolton, and drummer Frank Stebbing. Evolving from the ashes of the local garage band the Changelings, the group debuted in the spring of 1986 with the Cut the Cake EP; despite the record's gritty, intense approach, it nevertheless landed the Wolfhounds a spot on the NME's C86 compilation cassette, a release that otherwise spotlighted a much sweeter jangle pop sound. Even as C-86 emerged as something of a genre unto itself, the Wolfhounds continued exploring a darker, more experimental direction on the follow-up single, "The Anti-Midas Touch," and the full-length Unseen Ripples from a Pebble in 1987. Guitarist Matthew Deighton and bassist David Oliver replaced Clark and Bolton prior to the 1988 single "Son of Nothing," with the subsequent LP Bright and Guilty remaining the band's creative peak; long-simmering internal tensions reached their boiling point during the sessions for 1990's blistering Attitude, however, and upon its completion the Wolfhounds disbanded. Callahan later resurfaced in the much-lauded Moonshake.
The group buried old resentments in 2005 and re-formed at the behest of Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley to appear at a concert honoring the 20th anniversary of the C86 cassette's release. Callahan and Andy Golding were joined by Peter Wilkins (drums) and Richard Golding (bass), and that group played live shows over the next few years before heading back to the studio to record new material. The first release was EP001, which comprised new recordings of songs the bandmembers wrote in their early days but never recorded. More singles followed; then Odd Box Records issued Middle Aged Freaks in 2014. That same year an expanded reissue of Unseen Ripples from a Pebble helped remind people just how good the band sounded in the '80s. Not to be outdone by nostalgia, the Wolfhounds released Untied Kingdom (...Or How to Come to Terms with Your Culture), an album that was just as ferocious and inspired as anything they had done previously. Another reminder of their fiercely melodic and often abrasive '80s sound came with the 2018 release of Hands in the Till: The Complete John Peel Sessions on Slumberland Records, a label that over the years featured many bands inspired by the Wolfhounds. ~ Jason Ankeny
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