News updates for Eureka California

Eureka California at the Red & Black

Athens-based band Eureka California doesn’t boast supreme vocal abilities or particularly complicated instrumentation, yet it succeeds in spite of this.

With the band’s latest album release “Versus,” they exhibit the versatility to embody the original punk movement of the ‘70s as well as its rebirth in ‘90s grunge, while simultaneously making listeners comfortable in the garage-rock scenario that the band thrives in.

Although almost all of the album carries a similar sense of hopelessness and an understanding that society is much less than perfect, it is extremely dynamic otherwise.

The second track “Sign My Name With An X,” feels as though it could have been played at the classic New York City punk club CBGB with an instrumentation that is best described as loud, gritty and in-your-face. With only three unique lines of lyrics, “Oh I’ll show you where I hide/Cause I guess you couldn’t guess/Sign my name with an X,” the track is simple and straightforward at its core, which is characteristic of the punk movement.

On the other hand, “I Will Write Mine Over Potomac” contains a self-aware characteristic of grunge. From the lines, “Is this the way the future’s meant to be/It looks a lot like yesterday to me,” to “Cause sometimes you just want to go/Where nobody knows your name,” the track carries the sense of disenchantment with both society and the future that could also be found in tracks done by the poster-child of grunge, Nirvana. This track also contains a beautifully picked introduction that separates it from others in the album and adds a simplicity to the song.

The ability of the band to represent two unique genres in one album without feeling disjointed is certainly something to note.

Another important success to note in “Versus” is the band’s ability to keep the album relatable, especially to those living in Athens. The track “Fear and Loathing in the Classic City” not only gives a dark narration to the fears of the average 20-something trying to get established, but also ties it back to Athens fairly directly. This song is also the closest thing to acoustic on the album, and it actually works surprisingly well.

Also in the category of relatable is the song “Sober Sister.” Although quite upbeat, it offers a fairly disheartening description of what seems to be the downtown scene that Athens is known quite well for.

Though Eureka California’s latest album carries a similar sense of hopelessness throughout, the album remains dynamic. With it’s often relatable, albeit dark, lyrics, the album is likely to attract listeners from the Classic City as well as elsewhere.

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Eureka California at Mad Mackerel

Versus is Athens GA duo Eureka California’s third album in three years – a white-knuckle ride through a tattered psyche and a brain that just won’t shut up.

Too smart for self-pity and too drunk to think clearly, it is endlessly self-referential and endlessly self-destructive, stuck on a non-stop treadmill of tension and release, of megalomania and doubt.

Versus is agoraphobic fight songs, songs about loving television more than people because people always let you down and the static from the set makes more sense than the static coming out of their mouths. EC songs exist in a world where ordering a pizza is fraught with anxiety and you have to laugh to keep from dying.

Click through to stream the track!

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Eureka California at When You Motor Away

You might think that a band called Eureka California is from California.  You would be wrong.  The band is a duo comprised of Jake Ward (vocals/guitar) and Marie Uhler (drums), and they are based in Athens, Georgia.  Of course, the location really doesn’t matter.  What matters is that when is comes to punk pop and ’90s influenced noise pop, this band delivers the goods on their new third album, Versus.  At times they sound like a fierce four-piece garage band, which certainly is a tribute to Jake’s guitar.  But it also is a tribute to Marie, whose drumming more than holds its own against the shredding.  And when they dial it back and get slow, reflective and acoustic they are just as adept as when they are making four-piece level rock.

Eureka California has always been a good band, but on Versus they have perfected their stripped-down brand of pop punk into a very impressive guitar/drum triumph that may become a permanent resident on your daily playlist.  A few streams are provided below, and you can listen to the entire album at the Bandcamp link.  Trust me, you’ll like it.

Versus was released on March 25 via HHBTM Records, and is available in CD, vinyl, and digital formats.

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Eureka California at Here Comes the Flood

Watch the new Eureka California video for Sign My Name With An X, a track from their new album Versus (April 1st on Happy Happy Birthday To Me records). The clip was directed by Jordan St. Martin-Reyes.

Click through for the video!

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Eureka California at Innocent Words

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Eureka California at New Noise

With their third record in as many years – and third full length since 2012 – Eureka California are proving to be the Willie Nelson of indie pop; not a year goes by without at least something new.

Their latest, Versus, finds the Athens, GA duo at its best, playing quirky, witty rock with loud guitars and louder drums. Comparisons to a band like Pavement are obvious, but singer Jake Ward arguable sounds better. You can even hear someone like Jonathan Richman in a song like “Sign You Name With an X” or “Caffeine.”

The 11 tracks here are bursting with neurotic energy and self-doubt, which can be both cringe-worthy at times and easily relatable. Though distortion runs wild throughout the record, the band is just as powerful on the softer tracks, like “Everybody Had a Hard Year.”

Though 2014’s Crunch, as well as their debut Big Cats Can Swim, were both great records, Versus finds the band at its best, with one satisfying song after the next. (John B. Moore)

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Eureka California at Austin Town Hall

Being prolific doesn’t seem to be a problem for Eureka California; they’ll be releasing their third album in three years this week! But, while some acts can just push out tracks that blend into album after album, I like that Eureka California always seems to be refreshed with each track; it’s what makes their album’s so enduring in your personal catalog. This song from the albumVersus is a high energy rocker, hitting you in the face right from the start, and never letting go until the distorted guitar rings in your ears as the track fades. Feel free to have yourself some fun, turn it up, and buy the LP fromHHBTM this week!

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Eureka California at This Is Book’s Music

Click through to watch the video!

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Eureka California at the Vinyl District

Athens, GA-based melodic rockers Eureka California debuted on record almost exactly five years ago; since that time the music’s gotten louder as the lineup has slimmed down to a duo. Wielding sticks, electrified strings, and copious shouting, their 2014 sophomore full-length brought them to the edge of great things, and its follow-up Versus, which hits stores and online shopping carts March 25, carries their material slightly over the border; it’s available on compact disc, vinyl, and digital through Happy Happy Birthday To Me.

Formed by guitarist-vocalist Jake Ward, right from the start Eureka California specialized in stripping things down, blending ’90s indie rock and pop-punk catchiness with a garage orientation and on their 4-song “Modern Times” EP from 2011, flashes of a lo-fi feel. Rather than luxuriating in muffled hiss ambiance, they seemed to desire the turning up of stereo volume knobs as 2012’s full-length debut Big Cats Can Swimwas rawer and more urgent.

A 2013 spilt 45 with the Liverpudlian trio Good Grief marked the departure of Eureka California’s bassist Charles Walker; subsequently, Ward and drummer Marie A. Uhler simply plowed forward and left the spot vacant. The shift to the duo lifestyle did nothing to radically alter the sound, which was and continues to be more about raucous and memorable motion than heaviness.

2014’s Crunch made an even deeper racket in part because Ward’s voice box was gushing with even more enthusiasm than before, underpinning the pop-punk in their equation as the amp gristle and sheer velocity accentuated the garage end of the spectrum, and to the pair’s credit they avoided planting their flag in any particular antecedent’s stylistic sandbox. Snatches of precedent could be discerned, however; to name a couple: ‘90s NYC duo Kicking Giant, and early Built to Spill (more to the point, the vocals of Doug Martsch).

Key to Crunch’s success is its sense of balance; a recurring humorous side never dominates the overall thrust, which is consistently loose without teetering over into sloppy as the songs alternate between punkish simplicity and moments of sophistication. Versus hones the equilibrium as it offers a quick dish of strong tunes and sustained vitality.

Tallying 28 minutes and change, the new album also maintains the alternating of short blasts of two minutes or less with a few lengthier and pop-savvier tunes; after a clean guitar progression opener “Eureka California’s Night In” roars to life, the serrated edge of persistent distortion heightening a showcase of Ward’s raw throat and Uhler’s impressive kit battering.

Adequately clamorous to suggest the speedy mauling of a full band yet with no palpable strain, “Sign My Name with an X” basks in buzzsaw riffs and lithe thumping, but at its core is a solid, if abbreviated, piece of pop songwriting. These clipped sonic blossoms can perhaps hint at the similar strategy of one Robert Pollard, though Eureka California navigate an aural lane distinct from the one traversed by the Ohio-based tippler.

In the duo’s favor they carry on to sidestep immediate comparisons, and the likenesses that do occasionally creep up can be unexpected and are reliably understated, e.g. “Sign My Name with an X” briefly brings ’80s-’90s DC act Shudder to Think to mind. “Another Song about TV” registers a bit like Built to Spill in miniature.

“Sober Sister” is the first of Versus’ selections to attain standard pop song duration and would in fact be even longer if Eureka California didn’t elect for such a brisk tempo; ultimately, it’s not so fast that the pop-rock flavor gets overwhelmed, with Ward’s axe retaining hooks amidst the reverberations as his vocals display a touch of restraint.

Where much of their stuff hovers around the pop-punk neighborhood without wallowing in the negative connotations of the style, following track “Ghosts” hits upon a chunky indie rock mid-tempo while evading the underwhelming atmosphere of swiped formal tropes. Side one closes with “Fear and Loathing in the Classic City,” a solo acoustic ditty that’s accomplishment is partially based on resisting the terribly overplayed tendency to boost the scenario with amplification.

Throughout the LP Ward engages with assorted emotions while shunning the maudlin, and “Cobwebs in the Wind” begins side two in an uptempo mode flaunting equality of vocal expression, guitar dynamics, and drum gallop/cymbal crash. “Caffeine” does employ the tactic of softer strum into louder rocking but without succumbing to bombast as the cut trucks along in a manner appropriate to its tile and then rapidly dissipates.

“Realizing Your Actuality” precedes in the opposite direction, sprinkling a dash of standard power pop into a muscular indie situation and then spreading out to four minutes. Versus returns to acoustic environs and brevity for its penultimate track, though the crisp strumming and unperturbed voicing combines with lyrical snap mildly reminiscent of Lou Barlow, insuring that “Everybody Had a Hard Year” is a fully formed prelude to the album’s closing highpoint.

Also the LP’s longest number, “I Will Write Mine over Potomac” cultivates an air of tension through a simple guitar line and vocals and then interweaves it with sturdy rocking but at a slower pace fitting the contemplative nature of Ward’s calm expressiveness. For a unit that’s generally excelled at youthfully bounding forth and energetically flailing, the song folds a level of maturity into their recipe.

That additive frequently accompanies a loss of edge and/or energy, but here the added breadth strengthens the whole. Delivering on their early promise, Versus exceeds its mixture of styles and prior models and sounds a lot like Eureka California.

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Eureka California at Bandcamp

“Go to bed well before the evening/ but I don’t sleep, I just lay awake,” sings Jake Ward on “Caffeine,” a rare moment of quiet on the band’s roaring new record Versus. It’s a good summary statement for the record in general: after a string of charming but decidedly lo-fi releases, Ward and bandmate Marie Uhler scrape the mud from the corners of their songs and make a panicked, restless record about panicked, restless times. Versus operates almost entirely in the red: “Sign My Name With an X” pits supercharged riffing against Ward’s bottom-of-a-well vocals; on “Sober Sister,” Ward skips a twitching guitar line over Uhler’s ricocheting drums. That song serves as the record’s unflinching personal center, cataloging Ward’s struggle with sobriety. It also continues the band’s tradition of referencing other songs (the breakout single on their last record was called “I Bet That You Like Julian Cope”.) In this case, they nick a line wholesale from Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.” In honor of the release of Versus—which we’re premiering exclusively at Bandcamp—we chatted with Ward and Uhler during a tour stop in Brooklyn.

What were some of the first records you can remember hearing that rearranged the way your brain thought about music? There’s a reason I’m asking you this.

Ward: There have been a few. I remember when I was 13, my dad gave me Quadropheniaby the Who. That was a huge, sprawling concept record, and it really changed the way I thought about what music could be. And then in High School I heard Superchunk and Guided by Voices, and they changed it again. And even more recent things—like David Comes to Life by Fucked Up, that was really cool. It feels like every couple of years there’s something that I hear that just changes how I think about things.

Uhler: I grew up in a small rural town with really strict parents, so I wasn’t allowed to buy CDs. My mom would go into my room, find the CDs I’d bought, and look at the lyrics—one time, she had to ‘have a talk’ with me about profanity. The closest music store was half an hour away, and it was a chain store. When I was 13 or 14 I found Led Zeppelin 4—as a drummer, I was pretty into that. When I was in high school, I got into pop-punk, and when I moved to Athens when I was 18, I went to see The Ergs at a house show. I didnt know anyone there, I’d never been to a house show before. It was really cool.

Ward: When we were both in high school, it turns out we were both massive Thursday fans.

Uhler: That was the one concert my parents would drive me to see. I saw Thursday like four times.

Ward: We were coming home from a show with Mike, who runs our label, and were like, “Alright, you need to hear these two records.” We made him listen to Tell All Your Friendsby Taking Back Sunday and Deja Entendu by Brand New. Like, back to back.

Uhler: He was dying.

You know, a lot of people look down their nose at pop-punk, but if you’re a suburban kid, or a kid from a small town, and you don’t have access to house shows or a DIY scene, those records can actually be a really important gateway to that world.

Uhler: Listening to Victory Records albums in 2003 is totally what led me to start going to house shows when I moved to Athens. And then once I figured out, ‘Oh, you moved to a place with a music scene. You can leave your dorm and walk three blocks and see 20 bands in one night,’ That blew my mind. I went to shows almost every night the first two years I lived there.

Ward: That’s how it was in Raleigh, where I grew up, too. I remember Reel Big Fish covering ‘Boys Dont Cry’ by the Cure and I was like, ‘Whoah, who wrote this song?’ When you don’t have these cool bands from the ‘80s and ‘90s coming through your town, the bands who are covering those bands are your introduction. And that led me to The Jam and The Damned and all kinds of different stuff.

The reason I asked that very first question is because there are so many little embedded clues in your lyrics to other records—I caught a Springsteen lyric on this one from Nebraska, for example: “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact.”

Ward: There are smaller ones, too. In one song I sing about being, ‘crazy from the heat’—that’s the name of a David Lee Roth record. We put a lot of clues in there, and listening to our songs and the lyrics, it’s really easy to tell who our influences are. I always liked it when other bands did that—when I’d hear things and it was an allusion to something else. It just makes it easier to search around and find new bands. Plus, I have a lot of fun doing it.

The thing that struck me about this record is that it’s so much bigger and brighter than the stuff you’ve done before. There was always a layer of distortion in the past, and a kind of “lo-fi” feel to the songs. This record is a full-on rock record.

Ward: There were a couple of changes we made that were very conscious. One was in the actual sound. On Crunch, it’s just me playing out of a guitar amp, but around the time we started writing the new songs, I started playing out of a guitar amp and a bass amp to make it sound fuller. I added fuzz and delay to create a mood and an atmosphere. As we would play the songs, we went in different directions. Not every song had to be breakneck fast all the time.

Uhler: When we did “Realizing Your Actuality,” I was just trying to see if I could play a basic 4/4 drum beat slower than I’m used to playing it. I’ve always had a hard time playing more slowly—even when I was a kid. That’s why a lot of our songs, when we play live, are twice as fast.

You’ve expanded lyrically, too. Jake, on this record it seems like there’s a lot of internal frustration on your part—almost like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Ward: Lyrically, it was very much a conscious effort to be 100% honest about what was going on with me in that year. The end of 2014 and then all of 2015, I’d had a shitty year. A lot of the songs are just a snapshot of that time. So some of the songs deal heavily with things that were happening at that time. ‘Sober Sister’ is my thoughts on and problems with sobriety. ‘I Will Write Mine Over Potomac’ was about leaving town saying goodbye to everything that you knew. ‘Realizing Your Actuality’ is about social anxiety. Those are very personal songs to me, because I know what I was going through at those times. I don’t feel like I’m a very negative person or a very dark person, but writing these songs was just a way of coping with what was going on. I think it just came out a little darker because I tried to write more honestly. And maybe also it seems darker when it’s so fast, and the words are being yelled, and there’s fuzzy guitars and pounding drums. Maybe if the same lyrics were over Steely Dan, it would be like, ‘Eh, it’s not so bad.’

Click through to stream their new album!

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