LP Review: Eureka California’s “Versus”

cover - eureka california versusEureka Califonia is one of those myriad band names that’s irritating as hell to search for online, but the difficulty’s kind of the point. This is a band you want people to have to earn the discovery of, which makes this review kind of a double-edged sword. I want you all to know about the band’s rough-hewn power pop, but I feel like it’s something for which you should work. Versus is one of those records you put on, and you’re rewarding with track after track which reward you for taking the time to pull the record out of its jacket and onto your turntable. Calling the whole affair ramshackle implies that the duo put the record together hastily and without thought, but it’s actually more that it feels as if it’s being played so enthusiastically, it might fall apart in delightful shambles. Songs like “Sign My Name With An X” are the Replacements playing My Bloody Valentine songs, or vice versa, even. The loud, rocking midwestern feel of all this belies Eureka California’s Athens roots, but it’s not your standard rock music. The duo twists tropes and standards in a way that recalls the genre-bending efforts of so many other artists which have made their way out of that Georgia town and into American consciousness. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/hhbtm-records/eureka-california-sign-my-name-with-an-x[/embed] “Fear and Loathing in the Classic City” is a downtempo piece of strummed acoustics, and it manages to have enough life it in that it doesn’t kill the momentum of Versus. There’s still a level to it that maintains the energy off the first side and onto the second -- and that’s important, because the second side is where the gold is. Hidden in the middle of Versus’ second side is the slow rocker, “Realizing Your Actuality,” which might just be the album’s highlight. It’s not a blaster or flat-out rocker, but manages to convey a sense of urgency and intensity, even at its grinding pace. It’s a precursor the slowed-down quiet jams of “Everybody Had a Hard Year” and the loud-quiet-loud epic closer, “I Will Write Mine Over the Potomac.” If you freaked out over Titus Andronicus’ latest, or anything that’s come down that bearded indie rocker doing punk rock pike in the last few years, this is for you. If you find that style of music detestable, here’s it done right. If that closer doesn’t grab you and shake your emotions loose, you’ve no heart. Get on it. The cover’s a little bit faux screenprint, which is kind of a bummer. I don’t know if it would be cooler as an actual screenprint, or if the art was just a little less garish. The cover for Crunch was understated and classy, but this seems to scream “LOOK AT ME!” a little more than I’d like. The vinyl sounds amazing, and has a really nice range. There’s also an insert with lyrics, along with a download card. Solid package. You can pre-order the LP from the HHBTM store. It's due out March 25.

Muuy Biien, “D.Y.I.” LP

cover - muuy biien dyiI'd never heard of Muuy Biien before I got an offer to have some records sent to me. They were kind of a secondary, last-minute throw in with another record for review. That other record will not get mentioned, because I didn't care for it at all, buuuuuuuut ... D.Y.I. is pretty frickin' great. The album title -- at least judging from the cover -- stands for "Do Yourself In," and the music is angular and bleak. "Cyclothymia I," which opens the album, is almost three minutes of droning, chiming guitars. It then goes into this sharp-edged garage rock. It's evocative of late-'90s indie rock, when everything was taking influence from electronic music, but reproducing it with live instrumentation. We're not talking electroclash, though. This is garage rock, dirty and dissonant, but it's rhythmically Krautrock. Kind of like if Jay Reatard had listened to more Warsaw and Neu. "Cyclothymia" repeats twice more, giving the listener a chance to slow down and take a breath after the frantic energy and insistently beating rhythm. Each one thrums more loudly than the one before, however, so the sense of intensity and nervous panic doesn't abate. If anything, the second side of D.Y.I. is even more tightly found than the first. Songs clock in under less than a minute, tightly-coiled pieces of twitchy killing you with every listen. Going from the back-to-back bursts of "Virus Evolves" to "Dust" into "Crispin Noir" makes that cut's running time -- which is still under 3 minutes -- seem like a ponderously-long epic. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/hhbtm-records/muuy-biien-white-ego[/embed] You can snag Muuy Biien's D.Y.I. from the HHBTM Records store. That artwork looks amazing on the LP cover -- it's one of those rare album covers I'd actually like to have signed, framed, and hanging somewhere in my house.