Chappaqua Wrestling: Plus Ultra (EMI) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Monday, May 27th, 2024  

Chappaqua Wrestling

Plus Ultra


Apr 24, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Chappaqua Wrestling are a prime example of what happens if a band is allowed the space and time to nurture and develop at their own pace. They were formed five years ago by Brighton-born multi-instrumentalists and songwriters Charlie Woods and Jake Mac. Inspired in part by their nomadic existence; both Woods and Mac went to University in Manchester before settling in London via brief sojourns in Brighton and New York. With it, they’ve amassed an eclectic collage of styles and sounds that range from early ‘90s indie and shoegaze via ‘60s baroque pop to present day mood music, and as a result created one of 2023’s finest debuts. Plus Ultra is the culmination of five years hard graft, whether it be Woods and Mac honing their crafts as songwriters and arrangers then recruiting drummer John-Paul Townsend and fellow multi-instrumentalist (and solo artist in her own right) Coco Varda on keyboards. Together, the four-piece make a formidable noise that doubles up as a soundtrack for today. Whether that be opening gambit “Full Round Table,” where Spacemen 3 collide elegantly with lyrical asides a young Paul Weller would be proud of (“In 15 years will our wages change?”).

Likewise, the cinematic world view pop of “Wayfinding” acts as a smoother yang to the full-on yin of “Full Round Table.” Indeed, its Chappaqua Wrestling’s unerring ability to create a record where no two songs sound the same that makes Plus Ultra a delectable listen from start to finish. All killer with no time for filler. So, across all 11 tracks it feels like a ride, or more specifically a collection of diary entries set to music.

Such as the widescreen pop of “Wide Asleep” (“Worry about your present then your future’s fine”), an anthemic beast that recalls Surf’s Up era Beach Boys. Or the Teenage Fanclub-esque homage in two parts—“My Fall” and “My Fall II”—which combined equals just over six minutes of sonic bliss. Better still is “Not In Love,” a break-up song inspired by the likes of Mazzy Star or The Sundays where Woods and Varda duet and swap couplets over a melancholic backdrop.

Elsewhere, “Kulture” takes its socio-political ideals from The Clash while “Need You No More” is a ballsy rocker from the Springsteen stable of polemics. Closing number “Can I Trick” has a comedown feel about it that brings Plus Ultra’s lively mantra to a sedate finale while heralding its creators as one of the most diversely exciting outfits to emerge from the UK this year. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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