Premiere: A Jubilant Cacophony in Wesley Jensen & The Penny Arcade’s “Everything”

Wesley Jensen © Bailey Dale
Luminous and gleaming, Wesley Jensen & The Penny Arcade’s dreamy “Everything” is an infectiously bright spark of baroque pop wrestling with inner conflict.

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I was first introduced to Wesley Jensen & The Penny Arcade through the tag line, “that feeling when you find an unreleased track from ‘Pet Sounds’.” Though words may deceive, thankfully it’s not by much: The band’s dreamy new single “Everything” is an infectiously bright spark of baroque pop wrestling with inner conflict that almost too perfectly complements the musical and emotional complexities of The Beatles and The Beach Boys’ songs of the late 1960s. Luminous and gleaming, it’s a good old fashioned pop song with layers that will make you think, feel, and maybe even grow a little.

When everybody’s calling you up
and they’re calling you out,
you can’t seem to get lost
but you’re surely not found
Well, the first thing to know
is the last thing you do
will go down as something
you were not something you are
“Everything” – Wesley Jensen & The Penny Arcade

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Everything,” the kaleidoscopic lead single off Wesley Jensen & The Penny Arcade’s forthcoming EP, Something New (independently out May 25, 2018). Having previously delivered solo recordings as a folk-styled singer/songwriter, Northern California-born, Denton, Texas-based Wesley Jensen has now taken off in a new and exciting direction. Comprised of Jensen, Gunnar Ebeling, Andrew McMillan, Ramon Muzquiz and Pablo Burrull, Wesley Jensen & The Penny Arcade deliver a mesmerizing fusion that evokes the sounds and feelings of the past, while unquestionably pushing themselves forward to the future.

Something New - Wesley Jensen & The Penny Arcade

Something New – Wesley Jensen & The Penny Arcade

As the sprightly pop song on the EP, “Everything” shows perhaps the greatest amount of ’60s elements and influence. The bubbling Rhodes piano entrance recalls The Beach Boys, The Zombies, and even Three Dog Night, immediately throwing listeners into a nostalgic reverie. Jensen’s vocal line, dashed with soulful inflections and emphatic holds, has a modern flare that bridges the gap between past and present. Still, it’s easy to close your eyes and imagine just the psychedelic colors and images of an “Everything” visual accompaniment.

According to Jensen, “Everything” started with him in his living room, on his upright piano. “It was a cold rainy morning and I sat down to play some chords that I thought were really nice together, kind of milking the mood of the moment,” he tells Atwood Magazine. “I put them in a form of this slow anthemic ballad, which was really cool and very pretty. However, the more I thought about the song and approach I wanted on the instrumentation, I could hear it begging to be a bit faster, with much more life and energy and layers to it. After messing around with a sped-up version a bit on my own, I shared it with my band and we all threw some ideas at it together. I always have a very good picture of what I think the completed song could sound like even when it’s very fresh and sparse, but in this particular case it turned out quite a bit differently. Luckily, that usually means that we were able to come up with something much better than I could originally dream up, and in this case I think we did just that. This was one of those tracks where the song itself really got to decide where it wanted to go, and all of us kind of got to watch from the outside looking in.”

Wesley Jensen © Bailey Dale

Wesley Jensen © Bailey Dale

The song’s origin story is not quite akin to Brian Wilson instructing his brothers, cousins and session musicians exactly which notes to play, but “Everything” does retain a tempting light/dark duality. Its lyrics depict a turbulent reckoning between oneself and the surrounding world:

 

Going to war with yourself,
win or lose, you know that
it’s bad for your health
Oh, I know, everything
you buy gets sold
and everything that’s new gets old
Wasting our dreams on making bread
I don’t have to sleep at night
but either way I’m making my bed
Wesley Jensen © Bailey Dale

Wesley Jensen © Bailey Dale

“Someone once told me that if anyone wanted to really get to know me all they’d have to do is dive into my records,” Jensen explains. “This song is no different being that it is just another very real and honest thought taken from my mind and straight onto paper. In this particular case, I wrote about the very wild times we live in and the struggle to make sense of it all. I, like many, have a hard time trying to find the good in a place where things are often so dark and overwhelming, it’s really tiring trying to stay positive some times. The main battle in this specific track is “the world’s view of success VS my own” (money, power, making a name VS living a life doing what you love with the ones you love).”

The repeated verse line, “Everybody’s calling you up and they’re calling you out,” echoes the narrator’s struggle to feel balanced and achieve some form of inner peace. Jensen follows that statement with the curious phrase, “you can’t seem to get lost” – a curiosity, because why would somene want to get lost?

Well, the first thing to do
is the last thing that’d ever seemed sound,
not something you should
but something you felt
Going to war with yourself,
win or lose, you can change
the hand that you’re dealt
Oh, I know, everything in life is gold
Everything is rock and roll
Wasting our dreams on making bread
I don’t always sleep at night
but either way I’m making my bed

When we’re drowning in our own thoughts and unable to break free from ourselves, it can feel as though the entire world is caving in. “Everything” evokes this unnerving energy through emotional contrasts: Jensen sings a sad song through happy sounds and bittersweet melodies. It’s a jubilant cacophony, embittered and brilliant, dynamic and euphoric all at the same time.

As “Everything” climaxes and climbs back down, we’re left with its feverish lead guitar riff running through our heads. Wesley Jensen & The Penny Arcade may not be a Pet Sounds B-Side, but they’ve definitely got an underground hit in their hands: Stream “Everything” exclusively on Atwood Magazine, and stay tuned for the band’s Something New EP, out May 25, 2018!

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Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com