Check out these reviews of Wilfred N & the Grown Men releases!

Edmonton Journal "Fresh Tracks": Review of Impossible World

Wilfred N & The Grown Men seek out an optimistic future on latest release 

Chad Huculak   Aug 04, 2022

Local music luminaries Wilfred Kozub and Jamie Philp have been recording as Wilfred N & The Grown Men since the 1980s, releasing projects in between their other artful passions, and, well, life. You can’t find the time to put together that IKEA desk sitting in the basement, but these dudes have been cranking out albums at a steady clip. 

Impossible World is the group’s 12th release and it continues the sound minted from the Thunder on the Tundra days more than a decade ago. The electro-soundtracks are smoother, less urgent than in the group’s nascent era, but it’s evolved into a cultivated, wistful vibe as presented on the new release. 

Swelling, soothing synths ease the listener into the album, before giving way to the thumping I Guess We’re in Love, accented by vocoder and searing guitar licks. Awake Asleep takes a page from Leonard Cohen’s synthesizer period, with its hushed spoken lyrics gauging the validity between the dreaming and waking worlds. 

Kozub keeps the overall mood sunny and optimistic while allowing some of the darkness of our reality from the past few years to creep into the corners of the songs. Hope for the future is the prevailing theme here. 

Impossible World’s hefty tracklist of 17 songs means there are a few duds, such as the infantile Playing in the Mud, but it’s followed up by the catchy New World Coming that toys with a Kraftwerk-esque loop. Do You Listen to Me is a radiant stab at psychedelic pop, all airy vocals and noodling guitar. Coming full circle, Thunder 2020 is a chamber-pop reworking of 2009’s Thunder on the Tundra, softening the original’s spunk with strings. 

It’s hard not to use the album’s cover art of a shaggy doggo as a metaphor for the songs: optimistic for the future or downtrodden by what’s to come? Perhaps a mixture of both. 

Kozub keeps the overall mood sunny and optimistic while allowing some of the darkness of our reality from the past few years to creep into the corners of the songs. Hope for the future is the prevailing theme here. 

Impossible World’s hefty tracklist of 17 songs means there are a few duds, such as the infantile Playing in the Mud, but it’s followed up by the catchy New World Coming that toys with a Kraftwerk-esque loop. Do You Listen to Me is a radiant stab at psychedelic pop, all airy vocals and noodling guitar. Coming full circle, Thunder 2020 is a chamber-pop reworking of 2009’s Thunder on the Tundra, softening the original’s spunk with strings. 

It’s hard not to use the album’s cover art of a shaggy doggo as a metaphor for the songs: optimistic for the future or downtrodden by what’s to come? Perhaps a mixture of both. 

chuculak@postmedia.com

Impossible World/Living in the Future mini review

ZevDev, August 7, 2022

I have been listening to Impossible World over the last few days. I love that it is not too distracting – with a chill vibe but interesting enough to keep me listening, which is the perfect combination for the focus required in school work and programming. 

  

Currently my favourite song in Impossible World is ‘Living in the Future’, particularly the bit from around 1:25 to 2:00 where the lyrics let off for a moment to let you breathe with the guitar gently sliding you into the line “Somebody’s out there; Somebody knows; Where the wind’s blowing; Where does it go”. For some reason, however many times I listen to this bit, I find it extremely satisfying! 

  

I noticed that this was a theme within the structure of many of the songs in this album – they often have a moment that cuts out other instruments and focuses around just the lyrics and guitar, like the moment in Living in the Future. These moments lighten the mood and break up the song, which contrasts with and enhances the 'Feelings of a dark reality lurking in the shadows’ mentioned in the album description. Another example is in Waiting for the Sun (1:35-1:40). 

  

My other favourites in the album include ‘Knocking Down the Door’ and ‘Do You Listen to Me’ but it is hard to pick favourites when each of the songs have such a smooth feel. As well, my all-time favourite Wilfred N and the Grown Men song ‘Thunder On The Tundra’ gets a fresh coat of paint in ‘Thunder 2020’ with a unique but familiar feel. An excellent album – home to new favourites!

ZevDev


Album Review: "Passing Through Time" (2016)
Wilfred N & The Grown Men
Zönik Records

Sometimes, you forget it’s more than OK to be cheerful, happy and optimistic — but Wilfred Kozub hasn’t. A staple of Edmonton’s music scene since the era of the original Star Wars, the band consists of Kozub, guitarist Jamie Philp and a whole lot of yummy, ’80s-sounding keyboards. This pleasant bouquet of upbeat electro-pop songs marks, according to the liner notes, the “33 1/3 anniversary of our passion for making surprising and enjoyable music.” 

And delightful it is — strange whispers, Armenian flutes, endearingly unpretentious movement through musical scales, some super-cute wife vocals, and, in the chipper and jazzy number It’s Spring!, the rather alluring declaration: “There’s life in the air! I just feel alive!” This is the sound of robots discovering they’re real people in the least Westworld way possible, of the slushy ice on the river breaking under the High Level, of new love. 

At Royal Bison craft fair selling his colourful art (he even painted the album cover), Kozub was especially proud of the song Pushing My Buttons, a document of keeping his wife Daryl up (who does guest vocals here and elsewhere) as he makes music late into the night. It’s delightfully personal, a song looking at itself in the mirror with a coy smile. And, like the rest of the album, the production is phenomenal through the headphones: layered and dazzling. 

33 Revolutions, with drums by Shout Out Out Out Out’s Clint Frazier, is actually a pounding dance-floor banger, the singer’s repeated “Ah-oh-wahs” accompanied by an Eastern vibe, verging on the mystical. Where’s the repeat button on this old Discman player? 

Say Something, the opener, and I’ll Never Understand Why, the closer, are thoughtful, philosophical bookends about trying to communicate, the great issue of our polarized time. As it nears its end, he sings, ambiguously, “We live like we’re in a dream, a life on Earth like there’s never been.” If that’s good or bad, up to us. 

But we could all use a little more Wilfred N optimism in our lives, is the specific lesson here.

4 stars out of five                      Fish Griwkowsky (Edmonton Journal) for Montreal Gazette  February 2, 2017

 

 Album Review: "Passing Through Time" (2016)
Wilfred N & The Grown Men
Zönik Records

As nostalgic as many music scenes have become, with throwback acts making as big of waves as boundary pushing ones, it can be refreshing to hear nostalgic music by the very musicians who were making it in the first place. The aptly named Passing Through Time, the 10th album from Wilfred N & The Grown Men, wonderfully recalls and updates the sounds of 80’s new wave, rock and pop that immersed the band years ago. 

The group, helmed by Wilfred Kozub, has been active in Edmonton since the late 70’s, when the band first began making local (new) waves. While most throwback acts only encounter the music scenes they pay homage towards second hand, Passing Through Time has a sense of authenticity from actually being there. While the 80’s are very well represented throughout, this album sounds at home in 2017. Title track “Passing Through Time” is a piece of blissful pop that reaches its peak as twinkling, cascading synths and intertwining vocal lines vie for the listeners ear. “Pushing My Buttons” is nostalgic in the weirdest of ways, loaded with bleeps and bloops while remaining catchy as hell. Finishing off the album’s strongest streak is “33 Revolutions,” a track so dancy that James Murphy could rip it off for the new LCD Soundsystem album and nobody would notice (that one hurt to write). 

In an age when nostalgia is king and vaporwave is still a thing, it’s the perfect time for bands to show their younger peers what the days of years past were really about. As acts like Tame Impala and Neon Indian try to replicate the sounds of yesterday, it’s a breath of “fresh” vintage air when a band can stay true to the music they made back in the day without it sounding dated — while also being, y’know, actually good. Passing Through Time is a fantastic addition to the discography of one of the OG’s of the Edmonton music scene.      Sam Beetham, The Gateway Jan 22, 2017

 

"What’s Gonna Become of Us" (2015)  - Wilfred Kozub Solo Album 
"Edmonton singer-songwriter Wilf Kozub (of Wilfred N the Grown Men fame) goes (mostly) instrumental with 18 tracks of glitchy, keyboard-driven art-pop that wouldn’t sound out of place in XTC’s odds-and-ends box. The lack of vocals serves to highlight Kozub’s impeccable melodic instincts and sense of whimsy, especially on tracks like Soft Summer Day, where piano and vibes battle it out with the developing sound of nature, eventually losing out to a rainstorm interlude. The Moonlight Surfer and Memory Bank conjures a bit of the mood of some early Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark B-sides, or the late album instrumental tracks that Split Enz used to give keyboardist Eddie Raynor. It’s Spring wanders into new territory, with longtime musical cohort Jamie Philp adding banjo and Bob Tildsley trumpet to an electro pop background. This is soundtrack music of sorts, but only if the imaginary film in question was willing to be upstaged by the many unexpected and imaginative textural leaps that Kozub likes to take in his music."  Tom Murray, Edmonton Journal

"A couple of years back we praised I'm in Love With the City the ninth album from veteran synth-pop combo Wilfred N & the Grown Men. Mainman Wilfred Kozub is now back with a new release, What's Gonna Become of Us, the first one under his own name. This is a mostly instrumental album (there are subtle vocals on four cuts), one the talented Kozub describes as an album that 'can be found somewhere in the Air between Ennio and Eno'. He plays all the instruments on the album, except for the addition of trumpets (Bob Tildesley)) and banjo (Jamie Philp) on two of the tracks. Excellent stuff." Kerry Doole, New Canadian Music  

"I'm in Love With the City" (2013)  
"Prolific synth-pop artist Wilfred Kozub has been turning out quality work for quite some time, and this is his ninth release. This collection features three songs given multiple and fascinating extended remixes (the title cut has five versions here). The sounds are suitably hypnotic, and those enjoying the work of Junior Boys or Caribou should investigate closely." Kerry Doole, New Canadian Music

“Stop Go Romeo”  (2009) 
“Kozub has surfaced from the studio with a 12-song set titled Stop Go Romeo, a continuation of themes from albums gone by. Presented in alluring, layered arrangements that alternately flash across and flex the lyrics, Kozub goes from strength to strength as a composer and singer.”  Peter North, The Edmonton Journal

“Waiting for Luck to Come" (2004)
“Waiting for Luck to Come is smart, crafty pop containing moments both unexpected and lovely:  some stray Hawaiian guitar, a gentle bossa nova groove, melodies that recall Sparklehorse as much as the Beatles . . . their music sounds the way all great music does, playful, inventive and alive.”  Tom Murray, SEE Magazine

 WNGM Archival Reviews  
“A complete alternative to the usual ‘alternative fare’ . . . They make music that expands the mind.” 
Gordon’s Flash; What’s Hot That’s Not Signed, September, 1995 

 “With their Beach Boys-like vocal harmonies and strong sense of melody, this quartet deserves far more than just regional recognition.” 
Music & Media, Europe’s Radio-Active Newsweekly, July, 1995 

“Displaying their enormous gifts for exquisite melodies and delightful harmonies, Lift Off is another high-quality, memorable offering from the Grown Men . . . Kozub’s writing is refreshing and meaningful.” 
Neal Watson, The Edmonton SUN, January, 1991 

“Lush melodies, wispy vocals – it’s slick without resorting to any production gimmicks or conventional AM radio artifice. Very tasty, especially if you think that Katy Lied was a great LP."
Hi Fi News & Record Review, UK, February, 1991 

 “Not only do Wilf Kozub and Jamie Philp consistently sing gorgeous harmony inside gracious melodies and immaculate production, they’re doing it in a strata of the market that’s woefully unrepresented by meaningful music.” 
Helen Metella, The Edmonton Journal, December, 1990 

“This collection of 14 tracks cries out for a major record company with promotional clout.” 
Richard Flohil, The RECORD, December, 1990 

“What sets this independent release above most others is the execution: tasteful, very tuneful and immaculately produced . . . It is  commercial in the best sense of the word, and intelligent. Sound quality and musicianship rank with the best of the majors; they deserve national airplay for an effort of this calibre.” 
Robert Carlberg, Electronic Musician Magazine, December, 1987 

 “Wilfred N and the Grown Men, experts at rolling snatches of the familiar into something uniquely brilliant,  have attached billowing, Beach Boy-ish harmonies to a loping cowboy beat on the single Indian Summer.” 
Helen Metella, The Edmonton Journal, 1987