TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 79: Gabriel Birnbaum from Wilder Maker

The first time I played Wilder Maker’s new album titled Male Models, I thought someone sent me the wrong link; I assumed that instead of the actual record, I was listening to a mixtape from the record label. The wide-reach and scope of the record seemed to be too much to accomplish from one group of musicians. But, as I listened, I began to piece together similar voices and instrumentation and—maybe, most interestingly—the style of musical composition. Finally, it dawned on me that this was the same band all along; this was Wilder Maker.

Gabriel Birnbaum has a history in jazz, but loves his rock and roll too. With Wilder Maker, he’s taken those free-form chops, and a healthy respect for clever composition, and juxtaposed it with rock and pop and folk and whatever else he deems necessary to share his vision with you, dear listener. He’s erudite, he doesn’t shy away from overarching themes and references; this Wilder Maker album is just like graduate school: scholarly, but fun and—most importantly—rewarding.

Birnbaum joins me from a farmhouse in Vermont to explain how the album was constructed during the pandemic, the players who currently make up the band, and his musical influences and goals. Birnbaum is at Wilder Maker’s helm, but the contributions of all of the talented musicians who helped create Male Models demonstrates that—like a good mixtape, or playlist—the best musical ensembles are greater than the sum of their parts.

Evan Toth is a songwriter, professional musician, educator, radio host, avid record collector, and hi-fi aficionado. Toth hosts and produces The Evan Toth Show and TVD Radar on WFDU, 89.1 FM. Follow him at the usual social media places and visit his website.

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