Alex Wellkers’ journey to his new album famous now begins in full at six years old when he starts playing accordion. Keyboard, harmonica, and classical guitar came next before Wellkers settled, for a time, on a passion for blues electric guitar. His first songwriting efforts at eleven years old were in his native German, but it proved no impediment to pursuing a later passion for freestyle rap music as MC. He played concerts with a bass player as a duet. Rock and grunge began dominating his musical imagination as years piled up and we hear a lot of those strands present in famous now’s nine tracks.
“Get This Far” shows it wasn’t the only thing he’s been listening to. I expect a seasoned, even iconic, veteran songwriter, especially one with a penchant for rocking out, to surprise me with their opening song. Especially when they are on a bit of a “mission” to record something hopefully a cut above the rest. I confess surprise, however, when a young songwriter like Wellkers has this sort of audacity.
Setting famous now off with a piano and vocal track, nothing else, demands you take him seriously if you’re a newcomer. No buildup. It works spectacularly well. In some ways, the remainder of the album is anti-climatic as “Get This Far” is arguably the only other track capable of working as the album’s closer. It has that level of substance.
He sets the bar high with that track and clears it without a sweat, “We Saw It All Coming” and “Believe in What You Do Here” are very different songs in several respects, but a common sensibility unites them. These songs do a lot, but they highlight a core value of his songwriting insofar as they depict the importance of self-empowerment in unmistakable language. The rich musical backing for each of these songs, including violin among other improbable additions, rank among the album’s best parts.
“Dread Love Passion” is a dizzying musical workout. A superficial listen to this song would seem to say, hey, there is too much going on with this arrangement, he needs to rein it, focus on hitting his marks, and cut back. The track, for the most part, is a rhythmically diverse but nonetheless conventional alternative rock workout. He is not content with that for long, however, and the assorted turns layered into this arrangement never seem forced.
One of the album’s relatively unfettered rock tracks arrives with the later cut “I See You Give In”. Punk echoes are rife throughout this one, but it’s another example, albeit limited, of the restlessness in his musical imagination. It keeps things lively, however. No one will ever accuse Alex Wellkers’ famous now of being bashful or restrained; any holding back you hear is purely aesthetic and no reflection of his unwillingness to express himself. These nine songs are practically bursting with self-expression that will leave you entertained and emotionally charged, but they will also leave you thinking as well. Most importantly, they’ll leave you wanting more.