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Vegas band replaces sap with fun

The bassist calls them happy songs about the end of the world.

The guy who writes them kind of sees it that way and kind of doesn’t.

"One thing I hate about some music is that it’s all about how sad I am and ‘It’s raining in my mind,’ " begins Jack Wilcox, singer/guitarist/songwriter for Vegas indie popsters A Crowd of Small Adventures. " ‘Hey, don’t you want to feel sad right now? C’mon, I know you want to.’ Even if it’s something dark and scary, I don’t want it to be this sappy sort of vibe. I want it to be more fun."

"It’s more of like an escape, right?" drummer Mike Weller offers.

"Yeah, yeah, an escape," Wilcox agrees.

Wilcox and Weller, along with bass player/producer Ronald Corso and violinist/pianist Megan Wingerter, are talking up ACOSA’s excellent new record, "A Decade In X-Rays," over beers at a Big Dog’s on a recent Wednesday evening, encapsulating one of the defining dynamics of the album: Even when the skies are dark, in certain songs, they tend to sound solar powered.

"There’s fighting and death and monsters in them, but at the same time, there’s a marching beat," Corso notes with a grin. "It’s insane, is what it is."

Wilcox’s voice, sonorous, forever full of emotion, pinwheels up, up and away on songs such as slow-simmering rocker "Fast Travel," sounding surprisingly sharp at times, as if the dude just sat on a tack. "I always feel adventurous," he announces on "Death of an Idol," an equally rousing and wistful number that Wilcox sings as if he were trying to dislodge his heart from his throat, his words setting the tone for an immediate, yet nuanced record that’s one of the best releases to come from Las Vegas this year.

Whereas ACOSA’s first record was largely a studio project with Wilcox working on his own and then assembling a band to play the material, this time around, it was a more collaborative affair.

"I think a lot of the songs on this new record are definitely the way they are because there’s a band now," Wilcox explains. "It feels like they’re more actual songs and less concepts than I had on the first record."

"Having a full band just adds more texture to Jack’s songs," Wingerter adds. "It gives them more possibility."

"Possibility" being the operative word here: Wilcox seldom spells anything out in his tunes, they’re as open-ended thematically as they are sonically, and the fun is in filling in all those blanks.

"I feel like if people knew what I was really singing about or thinking about, it would probably weird more people out than anything," Wilcox says, chuckling. "I just want to sing about cool stuff that I’m really into."

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

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