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Free Music Friday: Tumbleweed Wanderers

(The Verge) – Tumbleweed Wanderers is probably the coolest band name I’ve heard in a while. That’s all it took for me to click on a link to hear their music, and luckily, they didn’t disappoint. They have an awesome four-song EP out, “Worn Down Welcome”, which is available for free.
The San Francisco based band is in the middle of a West Coast tour in support of the album. They formed about two years ago and quickly made a name for themselves in the Bay Area. They have opened for Angus Stone and Jackie Green, and they released their first full length album, “So Long”, a year ago. “Worn Down Welcome” was released at the end of April.
Truthfully, their first track didn’t impress me in the beginning. There isn’t actually anything wrong with the song. In fact, the title track is really good, and “I know that you love singing someone else’s song/Won’t get you closer to where you belong” is one of my favorite lyrics on the EP. But it starts out sounding like every other indie band. You’ve got a nice male voice with an acoustic guitar singing a ‘chill’ song about love that should be played in a Starbucks or a quirky Zooey Deschanel movie.

A picture of the band, Tumbleweed Wanderers. Image taken from: pdx.twistedwire.com

Then, just as I was giving up, the horns and flutes kick in. Woah. Suddenly, I can dance to this track, and it’s not sexy club dancing but embarrassing in-my-room-singing-into-a-hairbrush dancing. Their music kind of wanders into the soul genre, which is really different and completely welcome.
The organ they’re playing really gives it an old school ’60s vibe.’ I wasn’t sure what they meant when their website called their music “psychedelic”, but after listening to it, I can’t think of a better word. It throws back to the soul and funk music from the hippie era, but still sounds like the indie music of today. It’s a really great combination.
“Troubadour” is the first single that’s been released. It’s a lot like “Worn Down Welcome”, but it skips the fun part. It could be that they thought this was a good way to get attention from people in the indie scene. If that is anyone’s first taste of the band, they’ll be in for a shock when they hear the other tracks.
It sounds all too familiar (kind of like any other indie folk band), but it is still good.  “Troubadour” is about the traveling life of a musician (a troubadour), but sweetly declares that he’ll come home eventually: “The road will treat me right/Do it’s best to remind/ Me that you’re waiting/San Francisco by your side.” It’s a really cute song, but a kind of misleading introduction to the band. Catch the music video, which beautifully observes San Francisco, here.
“Fire” is also a cool track, but I got thrown for a loop when they changed lead singers. Three of the band members are credited with vocals (Zak Mandel-Romann, Rob Fidel and Jeremy Lyon) on the band’s website, and apparently, they don’t mean backup singing. They still have their sound though. It is still distinctly Tumbleweed Wanderers, which is exactly what should happen if you play musical chairs with the microphone.
Overall, “Worn Down Welcome” is definitely a welcome addition to my collection of EPs. You can get it from their website or bandcamp, and check out their Facebook for updates from the band.
Zak Mandel-Romann focuses on the chord progression as apart of the Tumbleweed Wanderers. Image taken from: tumbleweedwanderers.com