Thursday, Dec. 7, marks the return of Bay Area Americana and blues band Wreckless Strangers to the iconic Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley.
The band will celebrate the release of their latest album, an EP titled Orange Sky Dream, by co-headlining the show with Mark Karan’s Buds, another local favorite.
The EP, released on all music platforms on Sept. 29, features six songs and comes a year after their debut album, the 14-track When the Sun and a Blue Star Collide.
Vocalist and lead guitarist David Noble—who also plays with local bands Poor Man’s Whiskey and Pardon The Interruption—and frontperson Amber Morris said they were looking for a larger “rock” sound with this album. This led them to enlist the production skills of four-time Grammy winner Dave Way. Their impressive track record includes mixing work with Whitney Houston, Foo Fighters, Phoebe Bridgers and Macy Gray, just to name a few of his numerous collaborators.
Of all the big names on Way’s list, Morris said his work with Macy Gray attracted her to him. “His working with Macy Gray on that first album was just kind of organic to me in terms of what I understand [musically], so that was very appealing,” said Morris. “When we first met with him, there was a lot of interviewing going on because we wanted to make sure we had a good fit and that there was somebody willing to be that other band member in a way.”
Noble echoed this sentiment, saying that working with Way was a true collaboration and that the producer wasn’t “afraid to push back” regarding song arrangements, notes and chords. He said that he likes “the fact that he listens to the band; he’s not trying to be like, ‘OK, here’s my vision, and I’m gonna jam it down your throat.’” Added Noble, “And sometimes he would be like, yeah, we’re going to go with your idea, and other times it was more like, may the best idea in the room win.”
Wreckless Strangers started out in 2016 as an informal jam session among friends. A six-piece band, in addition to Noble and Morris, they feature Joshua Zucker (The Jones Gang, Rowan Brothers) on bass, Austin de Lone (Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, The Fabulous Thunderbirds) on keys and vocals, Mick Hellman (The Go To Hell Man Band) on drums, vocals and Rob Anderson on guitar. As one might think, bringing together six disparate musicians into one band might create a unique sound, and that’s another thing that makes Wreckless Strangers so intriguing.
Orange Sky Dream takes its name from a day back in October of 2020 when the skies over San Francisco and the Bay Area turned orange due to wildfire. Some of the songs on the album have an environmental theme, which, while a bit of a bummer, Noble said he feels like “are things that need to be talked about.”
Kicking off the EP is the grooving “Break the Line,” which has shades of Big Star mixed with an ’80s pop-music vibe before veering into the more contemplative and layered “Roses of War.” The band also recently released a video for their song “Fast Girls,” which leans into a twangier, Texas sound—think Billy Joe Shaver—with a chorus sure to be stuck in one’s head for days.
Morris says these musical styles are intentional and leaned into on this album, as the band seeks to capture the members’ diverse musicality into a “Bay Area gumbo” sound.
For more information, visit wrecklessstrangers.com.