New faces in Crowd help power tight sound

There’s a band seated in a corner of a southside PT’s, sharing pizza, beers and a few laughs before a practice session on a Tuesday evening.

The group in question, A Crowd of Small Adventures, has been around for seven years — at least in name, if not always in practice.

ACOSA began in singer-guitarist Jackson Wilcox’s bedroom, where he wrote the songs for ACOSA’s debut EP, “In the Evil Archipelago,” before later assembling a band to play them.

Even on the group’s full-length debut, 2010’s “A Decade In X-Rays,” Wilcox still pretty much ran the show.

Since then, ACOSA’s lineup has gotten a full makeover, save for violinist-keyboardist-vocalist Megan Wingerter, the only other holdover from the previous incarnation of the group, along with Wilcox.

Now, they’re a band in the more traditional sense of the word — and that may be the only traditional thing about them.

“The last two records, I pretty much wrote all the parts, what everybody was playing,” says Wilcox, a tall man with an elongated voice that matches his physical dimensions. “I wanted to not do that as much on this record and let the band be more organic.”

This manifests itself palpably on “Blood,” the band’s excellent new EP. It’s a more focused, robust-sounding record, where the band’s buoyant, melodically adventurous indie pop is like a coiled spring under heavy pressure, pressed tight and ready to explode.

In the past, ACOSA has been prone to artistic tangents and creative asides. But here, they streamline things for maximum impact, be it the explosiveness of climactic album closer “Fire,” less a song than a cannonball fired from the band, or its sonic counterpoint, the gorgeously wrought ballad “Her Radiating Heart.”

The songs were written with the stage in mind, meant to be stormed through live, enhanced by new additions Sean Villaros (guitars/keys), Kevin Oakley (bass) and Anthony Sermano (drums).

Their presence is clearly felt on “Blood”: Villaros’ distinctive guitar playing is alternately muscular and chimerical, while Oakley and Sermeno add a new energy and harder edge to the core of the band’s sound.

Together, they’ve created an album powered by both urgency and a sense of discovery.

Speaking of the latter, even Wilcox himself is still hearing fresh details in the mix now that the band has finished, vinyl copies of the record.

Addressing Wingerter, he marvels at her playing on the EP’s fourth track, “In The Woods Jerry Killed 1,000 Wolves.”

“You’re doing some key work, and what you’re doing is like revolving around the melody in this bizarre way, it’s like rotating,” he says. “I didn’t even know that was going on, to be honest. It blew me away.”

He’s not alone.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.

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