Posts Tagged ‘crunch’

Eureka California at Wondering Sound

In the video for “Happy Again,” the two members of Athens band Eureka California — Jake Ward and Marie A. Uhler — inspect ham at a supermarket, walk Stand by Me-style down a set of train tracks, climb up a jungle gym and make shadow puppets against a tin wall. It’s light and carefree stuff, and it’s a perfect contrast to the song that’s raging behind them as they do it. A big, gnarled, guitar-driven number, “Happy Again” has the frantic quality of early indie rock, its edges jagged, its melody bug-eyed and hollered. The band’s pop instincts are undeniable, but on “Happy Again” they keep things loose and appropriately reckless, big, bleary and fun.

Eureka California’s latest record is available on the great label Happy Happy Birthday to Me.

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Eureka California at Collapse Board

Click through for the other top tracks at Collapse Board.

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Eureka California / Black Watch / Primitives at The POP! Stereo

18) The Black Watch – Sugarplum Fairy, Sugarplum Fairy
These guys have been kicking around forever.  They’ve never really gotten the respect they deserve but over the course of their career have been fairly consistent when it comes to producing very good pseudo-noise pop with an 80’s British pop feel. Sugarplum Fairy, Sugarplum Fairy is no different and only serves to build upon their mythos. As if to prove the point that they don’t get the respect they deserve they don’t have one single video on YouTube!


14) Eureka California – Crunch
Happy Happy Birthday To Me never let you down.  They’ve released so many seminal indie pop and indie rock records it’s hard to keep track of.  Crunch is yet another one in their catalog.  Crunch is classic indie rock in that Merge records kind of way.  It’s noisy, shambolic and seemingly held together by duct tape but the band create melodies out of all that and make it a fun, white knuckle ride through a set of guitar strings and broken pedals.  Not sure if they’re named after the earthquake that happened years ago (Google it) but it would kind of make sense if they were…


2) The Primitives – Spin O Rama
This was perhaps the biggest surprise of 2014.  Having been a fan of this band since 1992 (and collecting every single and album in every format imaginable) it gave me goosebumps when I actually got hold of Spin O Rama.   What’s truly amazing about this album is that they’ve somehow managed to sound exactly the way they did from 86 – 92.  Tracy Tracy sounds adorable as ever and the band sound as if they haven’t left the flowers they wen’t through in the mid-80’s.  Spin O Rama is a masterwork of fizzy indie pop that serves as a reminder that you can teach old dogs new tricks.

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Muuy Biien and Eureka California at Flagpole

2014 was the year Eureka California made the shift from “the band that could” to “the band that did.” With little fanfare and almost zero downtown club presence, the group quietly released a true kicker of an LP, toured the UK and steadily increased its stateside audience without jockeying for the ever-shifting hometown spotlight. The simple songs onCrunch never sound simplistic, and though the band’s early work owed a certain debt to ’90s-era power-pop, it has since been paid in full.


Steadfastly bratty local rock act Muuy Biien grew up in a big way with D.Y.I. (short for “Do Yourself In”), the imposing follow-up to 2012’s This Is What Your Mind Imagines. While that debut, with its frenetic, stop-start arrangements, invoked the sweat-soaked spirits of Darby Crash and D.C. hardcore, D.Y.I. scaled back the madness without losing any energy. With the “Cyclothymia” series, frontman Josh Evans and company continue to experiment with menacing drone. Elsewhere, the band finally, fully embraces the taut, Fall-meets-Joy Division gloom-punk it has been steering toward in its live gigs for some time, incorporating vicious low-end sneer and motorik precision into already-potent guitar hellscapes. It’s been a heck of a lot of fun for Flagpole to watch Muuy Biien develop over the last few years; it’s no shock that D.Y.I. emerged as our clear consensus favorite album of 2014.

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Eureka California at Collapse Board

Sometimes, all you’re looking for from music is a good romp.

This is a damn fine romp. No, don’t stop me. I’m going somewhere with this line of thought.

Oh wait… I’m not.

Damne fine. Rompe.

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Eureka California at Scene Point Blank

When I hear the phrase “indie rock,” I think of about 4-5 things: Pavement, The Pixies, maybeWeezer, glasses, skinny guys, and bizarre instrumentation or time signatures. Some of that (queue the ‘90s references there) is due to my age, as the former part of that description is a bit more rock oriented than the latter. That former part of my name game associations is also apt for Eureka California, a band I know little about and picked up from my mailbox mostly because of the, er, eye catching cover art.

When I hear Eureka California, I hear the aforementioned genre gods, and a bit of Athens, GA in there too. It’s slacker rock that’s defined by caterwauled vocals and tongue-in-cheek witticisms. It’s far from “alt rock,” whatever any of these terms mean, in that it plays to a different set of people, a smaller room, and is generally a bit more learned. It’s built on guitar hooks and turning the volume dial up, evidenced well with the great intro chops to “This Ain’t No A-Side,” and the similarly repetitive and punchy “No Mas.” Both of those titles should also give the general vibe of the lyrical tone within.

The songs are driving and emphatic, less focused on time signatures and abstractions and more focused on the power of song. That is well exemplified in the very first song “Edith (One Day You’ll Live in a Bunker)” and second track “No Mas,” which uses familiar phrases from nursery rhymes, cultural references such as a flying Dutchman, and start/stop dynamics to keep the song more forward and powerful. While the “all the king’s horses/ and all the king’s men” line works here, it also treads dangerous ground that nears cliché. That summary is apt for Crunch as a whole. The band successfully straddles that familiarity line even on first listen, managing to sound just unique enough to stand out in the process. The lyrics are self-aware, sometimes glaringly so.

The songs where the guitars are pushed back in the mix works to their benefit, bringing the percussion more forward, as in “Sneaky Robby.” There’s less crunch to the song but more toe-tapping sway and less predictability. The same applies to “#1 in the State,” in which vocalist Jake Ward’s soft and wavery vocals convey vulnerability that builds into the more positive-vibed chords that carries most of the band’s sound.

Somewhat reminiscent of Jad Fair in style, the vocals can drain energy depending on the song’s tone. “Art Is Hard” sounds whiney and repetitive, in part because of the limitations of his delivery, which has a touch of the complainy already so, when the lyrics turn toward the more negative, it piles on fast. It’s a trick that works to stand out from the pack, but it also gets old a little fast. Enjoyment of Crunch is going to hand on how long you can handle the voice.

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Eureka California at Lost in the Cloud

Also among the great garage and punk rock records released this year, Eureka California’s Crunch distinguishes itself with a shelling of persistently energetic, witty and hook-laden gems.  As singer/guitarist Jake Ward confesses in the track of the same name, ‘You put your hand to the pencil and the pencil to the pad, never has anything so sharp ended up so dull and bland … because art is hard‘, good art is indeed difficult.  But I’m pleased to report that Crunch is anything but dull and bland.  Sadly, it seems many reviewers, to their own loss, have largely overlooked this record.  Here at Lost in the Cloud, we [and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I, Elijah’] encourage you not to let this one pass you by as it has so many others!

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Eureka California at Dandelion Radio

Eureka California recorded a session for Dandelion Radio while on tour in the UK last month.

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Eureka California at Razorcake

Pleasant pop offerings from Happy Happy Birthday To Me are not unusual, and Eureka California (no comma, and from Athens, GA, not Eureka, CA) is no exception. This platter offers eleven fun scrappy pop songs with a punk bent from a two-piece on guitar, vocals, and drums. The songs range from happy, to smartass (see “I Bet You Like Julian Cope,” which uses its title as half the lyrical content), to introspective. The music has variety, but comes together cohesively as a singular piece, and the vocals are a nice snotty whine that has an underlying sense of urgency that give the songs a sense of honesty. EurekaCalifornia might have been more appropriately called SacramentoCalifornia, given the semblance they have to bands from that fair city (that’s a really good thing). –Vincent Battilana

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Eureka California at Artrocker

Click through to stream the podcast.

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