Annuals show off a different side – and side project – on Wet Zoo EP, adding a little bit of country to their rock ‘n’ roll. The Raleigh, North Carolina six-piece are currently working on their Canvasback Records debut for later this year, but in the meantime, they throw down the five-song Wet Zoo EP, a split with Sunfold, the side-project of lead Annuals guitarist Kenny Florence. Not quite as out-and-out unusual as 2006’s excellent Be He Me, there’s some alt-country expanse added into the mix, while Sunfold plays the alt-rock more straight up.
The slow and sweet “Sore” opens the split EP with Annuals delivering a real touch with their high melody, a different take for the act. But it’s the catchy country-strum of the following “Around Your Neck” that’s maybe the most stand out piece on the record, with a great up-tempo beat and fun twang. This is the band that dressed up as characters from HBO’s Wild West drama Deadwood for their Halloween show last year (QRO photos), so maybe the alt-Americana ways aren’t quite so surprising. “Just Stay In” plays it more like “Sore”, sad and stripped, but gets more expansive and orchestral as it goes along.
Sunfold isn’t just Florence taking up vocals – singer Adam Baker moves completely to drums, while the rest of Annuals stick to one instrument (multi-talented, band members often play more than one, even in a song). “Between The Worlds” is definitely more rock than the first side of Wet Zoo, but can get a bit emo. Stronger is closer “Watering Pail”, some pressing, epic alternative rock.
While fans wait for their follow-up to Be He Me, the inventive Annuals switch things up again on Wet Zoo EP. However, they still have the skills to pay the bills, no matter how they play it.