Wooly Woman gets in on the free music movement by giving away its new 7" | Local Beat | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Wooly Woman gets in on the free music movement by giving away its new 7"

"It's hard to say plainly whether free music is a good or bad thing."

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Gregory Smee of Wooly Woman - PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF SMEE
  • Photo courtesy of Jeff Smee
  • Gregory Smee of Wooly Woman

Wooly Woman, a project of pro-BMX-biker-turned-musician Gregory Smee, will release its official debut by the middle of this summer. And if the two tracks that appear on the 7" that Smee is currently handing out for free is any indication of his talent and creativity, Wooly Woman will hit the ground running.

Backed by some of the city's most prolific musicians (Nate Campisi of Shaky Shrines, Chris McCune of Locks and Dams/Bear Skull/Dendritic Arbor, Greg Decarolis of Harlan Twins, Matt Fiorillo and Nick Charters of Andre Costello and the Cool Minors/Ghost Guts), Smee has found a sound that will complement the coming summer heat. The release's A and B sides — "Strange Eyes" and "Selling Sunshine," respectively — contain poppy hooks that hover over jangly rhythm guitar with plenty of reverb recalling the psychedelic ‘60s. While Wooly Woman directly cites ‘60s bands like the Kinks and Beatles as influences, there is also an early-‘90s nod to the Brian Jonestown Massacre and contemporary pop/psychedelic Aussies, Tame Impala. The chain of influence is intentional.

"I enjoy borrowing from bands who are borrowing from bands that I enjoy," says Smee.

Wooley Woman's loose and warm recordings give the band its charm. This vibe was attained by recording the songs live as much as possible, and then running overdubs through an Ampex reel to reel.

With many modern listeners acquiring the bulk of their music for free, some bands are skipping the part where they try to convince you to give them money. Wooly Woman's free 7" is Smee's contribution to that movement.

"It's hard to say plainly whether free music is a good or bad thing," admits Smee. "As a music consumer, it's a mistake to devalue music. At the same time, if you're blowing through writing and recording without much thought, and then saying, ‘Here it is, now give me twenty bucks,' you're not going to get a positive response."

So far, Wooly Woman has been a rotating cast of characters, but Smee thinks he's found a permanent line-up that contributes and helps achieve his vision.

"I do chase a specific sound," he admits, "but I never want to be the maestro."

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