Posts Tagged ‘hhbtm’

Witching Waves at Finest Kiss

Full of buzzing noisy guitars that trace their lineage back through a jagged line connected byth’ Faith Healers, Pixies and Wire, Witching Waves second album Crystal Cafe is sure to of interest for folks who like noise rock with gashes of melody and ambient interludes. The band have professed a love of Sleater-Kinney, Dischord Records and Beat Happening and there is certainly a DIY aesthetic to their music. It’s raw sounding but their talent shines and rounds a lot of the rougher edges. Opener Twister features a swirling riff and Emma Wigham singing. Seeing Double switches to Mark Jasper singing /shouting. Back and forth it goes at a herky-jerky pace with a couple instrumental interludes that give you some time take stock and reflect right in the middle of the maelstrom.

If Kurt Cobain were still alive I could see him championing Witching Waves either by sporting a WW t-shirt or mentioning them in passing during an interview. As it is, they’ll have to rely on a few blogs and the digital underground to pass the word on about how great this is.

Crystal Cafe is out on HHBTM in the US and Soft Power in the UK.

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Witching Waves at Dagger

This U.K. trio’s 2014 debut, Fear of  Falling Down completely passed me by, but this one, a domestic release on HHBTM, surely didn’t. Along with bands like Joanna Gruesome and Veronica Falls they’d seem to have some cacophonous brethren in their homeland and I also hear bits of Sonic Youth, The Vaselines and Shop Assistants to name a few elder statesmen (mostly S.Y.). In other words Emma, Mark and Ed might be young but they know their history and cuts like “Twister,” “Red Light Loop” and “Make It Up” show a band that blast on their foot pedals when they want to and show a little restraint whne thee time’s right (sometimes in the same song….especially “Make It Up” …his vocal even remind me a lot of Thurston Moore). Keep listening and make sure ntot to miss ace cuts like “The Threat” and the record-ending “Flowers.’ Not sure if they’ve made it to our shores in the past but 2016 is shaping up to be a great year gig-wise and if these guys make it over then it’ll make the year even better.

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Try the Pie at Independent Clauses

Try The Pie’s latest album, Rest, departs from their slightly heavier punk sound from previous albums. Recorded in frontwoman Bean Tupou’s San Francisco bedroom, Rest has a refreshingly raw acoustic-punk sound. The tracks contain lovely acoustic guitar instrumentation with layered female vocals and an occasional dying smoke detector.

The idea of Rest is simple: the album is a rest or a break from a heavier sound. There seems to be less pressure, rules, and instruments within this album, compared to their previous works. With the exception of “Willing” and “Root to Branch,” each song begins with the acoustic guitar, giving them an immediately relaxing feel. The small additions of percussive elements provide layers to the tracks. For example, “‘Alu A” begins with the guitar, and as the track progresses, more and more surprising percussive elements enter in. The whole track feels like a DIY version of The War On Drugs. “‘Alu A” has a really chill vibe that makes it one of my favorites from Rest.

My other favorite element of Rest is the vocalization. Many of the songs feature more than one female vocal, and they all come together to make a refreshingly dissonant combination. The vocalization is akin to other punk bands like Amanda X. “Please! Please! Please!” brings in the multiple vocals almost immediately. It sounds like there’s about three female vocals looping and overlapping in a perfectly wonky way–the vocal dissonance pairs well with the old reliable acoustic guitar.

The raw nature of Rest makes me love it even more. The tracks are so short, yet so powerful. Take “Eight,” for example: a seemingly simple song about a spider. Yet, if you take a look at the lyrics, they explore what happens when you get in “sticky” situations where “the net gets so sticky/ and I can’t get out of it/ but I still try.”  The final lyric–“when you are using all eight it seems so dull/ to know that you are superior over all”–drops a metaphorical bomb that makes you want to read the lyrics all over again to try and understand it. “Eight” actually ends with a disgruntled “God damn it,” which I’m assuming was Bean’s response to the earlier-heard dying smoke detector.

Try The Pie’s latest release is a beautifully unassuming album with a slightly grainy music quality and a nonchalance toward interruptions. My recommendation is to relax, sit back and enjoy a little Rest. –Krisann Janowitz

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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.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
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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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Eureka California at Spop

Eureka California son un dúo procedente de Athens, ciudad perteneciente al estado de Georgia de los Estados Unidos. Voz y guitarra para él, bateria para ella.Presentan su tercer disco largo en tres años, aunque es el primero grabado en un estudio. Lo hicieron aprovechando la pasada gira inglesa, durante el verano del 2015, tras girar por varias ciudades y festivales –tocaron en el Indietracks- también se fueron a Leeds para encerrarse durante cinco dias en un estudio y dar forma a Versus (HHBTM Records, 2016). Un trabajo con canciones trepidantes e incendiarias que se intercalan con otras de calado mas introspectivo.  ‘Sign My Name With An X’ es uno de sus videoclips de presentación, fuzz y melodías espídicas.

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