Photos: Pooneh Ghana
Finn Wolfhard is one of today’s most in-demand stars, and he may have just set himself up to become one of today’s most in-demand rock stars. Joined by lead guitarist Ayla Tesler-Mabe, bassist Jack Anderson, and drummer Malcolm Craig, Wolfhard creates tried-and-true indie rock music under the moniker of Calpurnia. The band’s debut EP, Scout, is a commanding venture into the history of indie rock, which would be an impressive feat from any band, let alone a group of teenagers.
It’s hard to understate the surprising musical knowledge contained within Scout’s six tracks. It’s a deep dive into some of indie rock’s best moments, from the Beach Boys sun-tinged stylings to sprawling moments psychedelia you would expect to find on a Tame Impala B-side. All of it and more is here. It’s in large part because of this that makes Scout and Calpurnia feel so authentic. At no point, for even a second, can one question if this is a mere passion project or a case of another Hollywood star giving music a shot. Calpurnia is very much the real thing.
Take “Wasting Time,” which sees Wolfhard taking up a nasally surf-punk vocal styling, only to be joined by sunny backing vocals, then interrupted by what sounds to be a flock of seagulls, before diving into an electrifying guitar solo. In a matter of one song, Calpurnia exemplifies decades of indie rock’s love affair with breaking the mold. Yet, at no point does it ever feel like sonic whiplash. Even when Scout’s following track, “Greyhound,” adopts a confessional approach for an experience that altogether verges on the side of talkative art-punk, Scout never feels disjointed.
What is arguably Calpurnia and Scout’s tour-de-force is its final track, the expansive psychedelic trip that is “Waves. The track, which nears seven minutes, sees Tesler-Mabe taking center stage for a bout of progressive psychedelic rock that is nothing short of transcendent. Tesler-Mabe’s voice on “Waves” is imbued with an unnamable magical quality, giving it the rare ability to simultaneously draw from the past while moving ever-forward. In many ways, it’s the perfect culminating moment for Calpurnia, crystallizing Calpurnia as a band that draws from indie rock’s storied history to create something entirely new unto itself.
Listen to Scout below: