Eureka California – Roadrunners: Roadrunners  CD/LP   (HHBTM Records)

Release date: May 4, 2018

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Bio: Roadrunners by Eureka California comes a decade in for the band, and it’s a record only possible to write by having had that span of time to cycle through members, tour and sleep on endless floors or when there are no floors in the van at rest stops or Wal-Mart parking lots, argue over where to eat, turn around after missing exits, log those relentless hours of driving all day to get to the venue only to sit around hours and hours more ‘til performing. A decade of side hustles and and soul-sucking jobs just to be able to go on the road and continue the grind for those handful of minutes you get to perform or to record. This is an album that could only have been written by living it. There’s no trust fund, no start-up money; this is a record made by a band that works. It’s real, it’s now, it’s a record about frayed nerves, exhaustion, triumph, and being fed up and calling it out. Roadrunners is a records of truths.

Roadrunners, their fourth album in six years, had Eureka California returning to Leeds, UK, to record again with MJ of the band Hookworms at his Suburban Home Studios, and this second time around you can hear Eureka California being a bit more at home in the studio. The “play it hard and fast and whatever gets left behind… oh well, it should have kept up” attitude from their last album Versus has been replaced with layered guitars and vocals, sonic experiments, and the extra time to try to get every song just right. Roadrunners is an album where the harsh truths about society and self are hidden in pop songs.

Jake Ward (vocals, guitar) continues to climb to the ranks of Costello, Westerburg, and Mould as songwriter and lyricist with anthems like “Mexican Coke,” which could be placed next to Husker Du or Superchunk and no one would argue. Or “Threads,” which tackles the panic of nuclear war and the fear of who has the launch codes while sounding like Pink Flag-era Wire writing a sunny pop hit about the end of days. Then you have “Gila Monster,” which could be English Settlement XTC, but it doesn’t meander for four minutes -- it’s in and out in roughly two. “Perfect Grammar” covers being told you can do anything only to not live up to your expected limitless potential. Where do you go when even the lowest bar can feel so out of reach at times?

Then you have the other half of the band, Marie A. Uhler (drums), who attacks the drums and holds nothing back. She’s known as one of the most energetic drummers out there with her signature Cousin It hair hanging over her face like a dark veil as she pummels her kit night after night. She’s playing even harder now after losing time from her life working a job that nearly killed her. She even wrote the lyrics to “JJT” about this universal truth a lot of people are currently living: “All of my adult life is working to nearly die, to barely get by under the poverty line.”

As more and more bands release albums that hardly hit above mid-tempo or are based around laptops and beats and write songs that are engineered for moods and playlists, Roadrunners might be of the last great guitar albums. No filler, all hooks, loud drums, and smart lyrics. It’s a record made by a band who live for live performance, who work to tour, who tour to create. Four albums in, they continue doing it on their own terms without worrying about being on trend. Eureka California are worn down but not jaded, and are more driven than ever.