Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Screeching Weasel/Seam

Screeching Weasel- Emo

Man, did I ever love Screeching Weasel. My favorite band for a year or more, no joke. Then they released a farewell album and broke up. Months later, three-quarters of the band formed the Riverdales, an act that sounded like a Ramones tribute band.

Flop.

After that, Screeching Weasel got back together again. That’s about when I stopped buying their albums (although I must say that the Riverdales were pretty cool).

I picked ‘Emo’ out of a used bin a couple years back, curious. Musically, it’s a little bit dull, doesn’t strike me as terribly dynamic and isn’t insanely poppy the way some of the earlier stuff was. But the lyrics! Jesus, for years Ben Weasel was this purveyor of snot and bile, attitude that had a stage both musically and in his Maximumrocknroll column. Weasel songs were about girls and I don’t wanna _________. I thought the record was facetiously titled ‘Emo’ to pick on kids of the ilk, but, as it turns out, the record is about Ben growing up, trying to shed the contrived image he used to shield his true self from the world. Making the leap of faith and trying not to be afraid any more, caring less about real/imagined haters. Like the Dismemberment Plan’s “Emergency and I”, this record makes more sense as I get older.

Screeching Weasel- Thank You Very Little

I woke up the morning (okay, afternoon) after seeing C4RT play Zuzu’s. I had gone to hang out at Ned and Eliza’s, drank a few more than I should have, got to bed at like five-thirty for the second night in a row. All this after work, no less.

So yeah. Got up, slogged through the humidity to the kitchen, put some coffee on, checked email. You know, the morning routine.

‘Thank You Very Little’ was the soundtrack to my bleary morning, the second odds n’ sods collection that Screeching Weasel released. The first one, ‘Kill The Musicians’, was fairly revelatory: b-sides and alternate takes, rarities. Not saying that all of ‘em were amazing or anything, but the material was pretty solid, from the era of the band where I think they were at their best (pre-Riverdales). Best album notes I’ve ever seen, as well- Ben Weasel gives this thorough, entertaining sorta travelogue of the records and sessions that the tracks were culled from. An amazing amount of information, exactly the kind of read I had always envisioned but had never seen.

So, I was looking at my email, a couple of message boards, all that, while ‘Little’ played. I certainly haven’t spent as much time with it as some of the studio stuff or the aforementioned ‘Musicians’- a lot of the tracks were recorded after I stopped buying Screeching Weasel albums. I burned out on pop-punk after a while.

On one of the boards I check every day, JB the BCBJRJJ mentioned that he was watching the ballgame while working from home.

I looked at the schedule taped over my desk. Yep, there it was- 1:05 against Tampa.

I’m up and in front of the TV set every time there’s a day game on before work. I had totally forgotten to check the schedule when I got home from Ned and Eliza’s.

A quick check of a few Sox pages revealed that new guys were in- Graffanino, the second basemen acquired from KC, and Hyzdu, the new/old guy back on the team again. Fucking awesome. I’m all about the trade deadline, look forward to the moves and daily drama with the same fervor as the playoffs.

Still a half hour before I had to get in the shower. One more song, I thought, and then I’ll check out the game.

Then just like that it was a half hour later- 30 minutes of lo-fi bratty pop gems, buzzsaw Ramones guitars with melodic five-note leads, Ben Weasel singing about girls, being poor, whatever- and it was time to get in the shower. And I didn’t even get to the second disc, the one with the live set from the height of the band’s power. Screeching Weasel kept me from watching the new guys debut.

Seam- The Pace Is Glacial

A few months into my tenure at the record store I got sick of listening to like the Titanic soundtrack and started calling record labels, asking for promos. My coworkers would roll their eyes when packages bearing my name would arrive in the mail- another barrage of screamy, off-time freakocore which would be played over the store’s stereo system (usually once).

Seam was one that everyone liked.

It wasn’t until years later that I found out that Sooyoung Park, Seam’s singer/guitarist, was also a member of Bitch Magnet, reviewed elsewhere on this web page (damn, I think I did that review in February). To recap briefly, Bitch Magnet is a band that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me unless Ed is sitting on the porch playing air guitar to it. Seriously, such are the time changes and everything- a band whose records my coworkers would have begged me to take home so that they’d never have to hear any of it again.

Seam was a band that played these well-crafted pop songs that were slightly off-kilter, gentle, and occasionally shimmering. That’s what me and my coworkers all thought back in the day, anyway. The more I listen to ‘Pace’, though, knowing more of the band’s history, the more I hear how much the record is an exercise in restraint. These are guys who could be blowin’ up, completely going off and smashing your head on the math rock. Little hints show up every now and again, moments of barely controlled fury bulging through the college radio sound like a hernia before popping back into place. Quietly seething, trying to retain control lest another one of those episodes happens, the kind where conciousness is regained to find blood on shirt and jeans. Whose blood? Can’t remember. But most of the time it’s just Norman Normal, playing good ol’ fashioned college rock.

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