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Track Review: ‘Flotsam’ by Wisteria

A throwback to the new-wavey ’80s.

Adam Shay

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After releasing a three-song demo on Spotify, Wisteria is bringing a familiar sound back: ’80s new wave. Aside from some of the miserable, yet popular mainstream songs of the ’80s (Jesse Springfield or Bon Jovi), there was actually some excellent music to be found. New wave, alternative, and punk flourished, and after listening to “Flotsam” by Wisteria, that time period is all I could think of.

The band from Pittsburgh, Pa., has a unique sound not heard in years, or by many people, considering their three-song demo has been streamed less than 100 times on Spotify.

“Flotsam” sounds like the last song of a set opening for R.E.M. in a basement bar called Underground in New York, circa-1981.

The song has a great sound, with deep vocals coming from lead singer Elyse Hoffman, who I envision having black and spiked hair. Hoffman has a haunting sound to her voice, entirely unique and different from mainstream singers. Supporting her vocals are Matt Schor on lead guitar, Aaron Grey on bass, and the talented Stephen Bucklin on drums.

Bucklin is prominent during “Flotsam” and their other two songs “Wormhole” and “Veil.” During the chorus of “Flotsam,” he crashes on the high-hat symbol, followed by rapid beats from the bass drum. 

Given their post-punk/alternative sound, it will be challenging for the band to enter the mainstream, unless their goal is to remain underground. 

Through Spotify’s Release Radar, or Discover Weekly playlists — or through word of mouth — Wisteria should attract more listeners than their low monthly count. But, all bands have to start from scratch and there could be a future for Wisteria.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Adam Shay is a graduate from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, During his four years at EIU, he wrote for the Daily Eastern News for two and a half years, covering multiple sports, news events, and writing feature stories. He was also on the rugby club team for two years, a member of the Society of Collegiate Journalists, and finished third in applying for his commencement speech. Currently, he runs a public relations system for a bar in Palatine, Illinois, and in his free time, he is always learning about music, sports history, and American history.

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