This is a great split that brings together two bands thousands of miles apart, Good Grief from Liverpool and Eureka California from Athens, GA. The single also brought together three labels, Rok Lok, Strictly No Capital Letters and HHBTM. I’m glad my previous brushes with Rok Lok had them want to pass this one along as both sides are filling that late 90’s indie hole that’s been empty for a long time now. A time when keyboards were utterly shunned, you could name the alternative labels on one hand and all it took to be friends was seeing someone crossing the street wearing a Sonic Youth t-shirt.
Good Grief‘s first track, “Rusty Nail” opens in shrieking feedback that slides right into the thick indie chords, to me it’s got a Husker Du punk sound through a real pop lens or the sensitive stuff written by Grant Hart anyway. It’s got the same guitar focus, the same warping strings into harmonized melded tones. Maybe it’s their gritty massive sound or this Robert Pollard vocal, with maybe even some SebadohHarmacy in structure. It’s got that polish but the sheer velocity and inertia of this plows right through any question of mainstream ambition, the landscape has changed. It’s scrappy but really just relying on that speed while being so shiny that it’s a single you come across randomly once and they sink their teeth right in. You can hear the camera shaking, shot slow and played back at normal speed, completely dizzying. All of the fourth of july in two minutes. “Another Round” comes on with straight forward jangle that blows up again, deliberately holding back with a great vocal doubling completely different from that first track which now gets into later Husker on me. The guitar here is taking a bit of the back seat and they remain hyper, with some aspects of the Swirlies or later Replacements even. The optimistic, anything-could-happen-today-is-going-to-be-pretty-great, soundtrack.
Eureka California‘s side opens on “Turn on Autopilot” in a similarly huge sound but a little rougher and with more separation in channels, completely different fuzz distortions with a little bit bleeding over into the vocal. They hit on a similar catchy groove and ride it like some kind of spazzy Pavement track. Not garage but fired up indie jammed through static valves, blown out the other side. The same vocal and static party as Times New Viking, a similar underwater plaster texture to this. They aren’t trying to question sonic taste as much as this texture just happened during the recording. Towards the end of this the bass really rumbles in on vinyl with major banging on the kick.
“DC Sniper” has me thinking these guys sound more like GBV especially in track name, buried vocals and the guitar. Bass and hiss piles up into that turn shoegaze took in the early 2000’s? The lessons of shoegaze were turned into faster melodies the way that hardcore started to get faster and faster testing the limits of the genre. Or they just hit all those nostalgic notes for me.
If you’re in the UK, get it from Strictly No Capital Letters, or locally from Rok Lok or HHBTM.