Oz in the News 1.2.12

Off to See the Wizard: The Wiyos   Rather than being yet another collection of retreads of the film’s Harold Arlen-Yip Harburg chestnuts, Twist is a song cycle loosely based on the Hollywood epic. The disc’s 14 tracks offer dreamlike, impressionistic, wryly funny snapshots rendered via the Wiyos’ high-energy cabaret/blues rock. The introductory “Yellow Lines,” pumps with barrelhouse piano and honking brass and harp, its verses a winking nod in line with film’s infamous stoner appeal (“the Knickerbockers [who] stop to smoke their bowls,” and old Farmer John, who won’t share his joints), and the hazy, pastoral  “Poppy Fields” aptly amps the hallucinogenic quotient. “Scarecrow 2” staggers with Tom Waitsian drunkenness and trucks out like a rockabilly train asit serves up contemporary commentary by its titular character, who laments his lot amid encroaching Monsanto factory farms. Recorded over the course of a year, Twist unravels, track by track, like a surreal Americana opus—Big Pink meets Pink Floyd.

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