While for most artists choosing a stage name or professional alter ego is a quick, one time decision (ok, maybe in David Bowie’s case, a career-long, breakneck revolving door), the good folks behind the juggernaut eclectic rocker Terry Ohms choose to weave a lengthy, almost cinematic, sweeping and musically eclectic tale sweeping two decade tale of how Birmingham native Wes McDonald slowly evolved into his current persona.
It involves various geographic locales, several popular bands (one called The Ohms, another the recently split Vulture Whale) and even a trans-identity album called Terry Ohms Plays Wes McDonald. The double entendre title of his latest jangle and crunch filled guitar epic Terryfirma lets us know that he’s at last settled into a solid sense of self for the time being, at least from his own perspective.
Longtime fans following the fun, breakneck tilt-a-whirl should be on notice anyway. For now, that solid ground finds the onetime rootsy garage rocker playing the part of a British 80’s retro frontman, infusing an irresistible UK accent and some colorful Jaggerisms into peppy, percussive poppers like the opening track “Mind Blow” and “Opportunity,” the quirky fuzz rocker “Bring All To the Front” and the more intensely Stones-influenced “Peaks and Valleys” (which features some of his most scorching electric guitar work).
The first single “We Love You” is a gem of a whole other kind, a trippy, Prince meets Devo-like synth-pop delight where Ohms’ monotone vocals – paired with staccato drums and synth lines - remind us of who loves us – Mama, Daddy, Jesus, the camera, the microphone, your lover, your haters, God, ladies, Telly Savalas (baby!), rednecks, all the girls, and of course, Terry himself (tucked purposefully right after Jesus).
Despite the cool album title, it feels like we’re only getting glimpses of some of Terry’s fascinating influences, which he channels quite brilliantly. Overall, though, it’s like we’re still being caught up in his 20 year identity crisis – which as we keep listening and enjoying, we pretty much kind of hope never ends!