While the American West Coast has often been romanticised for its breezy, indie-pop, the contrastingly rugged Eastern seaboard has arguably never quite captured the poet’s glance. One band setting out to right that wrong is Wildflower, five close friends based on the coast of Maine. They emerged back in 2019 with the appropriately titled debut album, Part One, and have gone on to tour their home state extensively, as well as across the wider United States. In the summer of 2020, the band decamped to the Machines with Magnets studio with producer Seth Manchester and recorded the songs that would become their second album The Ocean Rose, which is released today via Night Bloom Records.
Discussing their music, Wildflower have suggested that they are always influenced by place, and The Ocean Rose aims to split that idea into two distinct halves, songs of travel and songs of making a home. At its heart the album is a search for simple pleasures, trying to reconcile a desire to see the world, with a desire not to see it descend into climate-induced chaos, asking if we can ever find paradise in the simple life that is best for the planet’s health. Musically, the record is a subtle departure, while the influences of 1970’s pop and soft rock are still evident, there’s a focus here on a more live-driven sound, the luxurious slide-guitars and prominent piano flourishes serving as a back-drop to Adrian O’Barr’s vocal style that’s pitched somewhere between Neil Young and Wayne Coyne. Ultimately the joy of Wildflower is in their music’s winning simplicity, an earthy and honest record, the sound of a sea breeze rushing in as you watch the seasons change, the waves crash and slowly discover your place on this planet we’re all lucky enough to call home.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Wildflower?
Wildflower is a contemplative soft rock band from the coast of Maine. We are five close friends who are committed to making peaceful, thoughtful music, and playing shows both within our community and touring.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
Wow, we played our first show in our guitar player Alex’s backyard in Parkside, the defunct and legendary “venue” SAANDY’S. At the time we were a three piece (two guitars and bass) with an old drum machine. We had six songs and it was the only time we have ever played a cover (Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend”). The thing that sticks with me the most is how many friends and people from town came to support us. Everybody was so kind, the night was truly joyous, and it felt like we were setting a bird free into the sky.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I’m sure like many people who write songs, it was just something I was called to do, and that impulse has been one of the most consistent and rewarding through lines in my life. I see all the songs I’ve written as a continuous path, so following them has never been a question for me, just a part of who I am. I love other art forms, particularly film, but I only ever think of them in terms of how I can make songs do the things they do, you know? Can I make a song as transportive as an old movie?
The other big part of it is the communal aspect. Playing with a group of people you love and sharing the space of live music with others is really an incomparable feeling. It seems ever more relevant and precious as our lives move increasingly online and content gets divided from substance, especially with all the ongoing devastation of COVID.
FTR: What can people expect from the Wildflower live show?
Warmth and that easy breezy feeling. I think people often feel transported and laugh more than they expect to when they see us live.
FTR: What’s next for Wildflower?
It’s tough to say with the state of things, but if it is safe we hope to get back to touring and playing in some beautiful places with our new record. Either way, we will be here in Maine making music.
They Listen To…
Little Wings – Black Grass
Michael Nau & The Mighty Thread – What’s A Loon
Judee Sill – There’s A Rugged Road
Kacey Johansing – I Try
Andre Ethier – Slow The Wheel