Pop Guilt – Vinyl // CD // DD
Rogue Wave Records – June 23rd 2017
Reviewed by Andy “Dinger” Beresky
Believe it or not, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I don’t particularly like reviewing stoner rock and doom metal. Not all the time anyways. The less I listen to that kind of material, the better, because it just makes it more memorable when I do reach for my old Kyuss albums.
That’s really the crux of the issue for me – those Kyuss albums are indeed old. It’s hard to believe that I bought Blues For The Red Sun 25 years ago, based solely on an offhand comment that Nirvana’s Krist Novoselik made praising the band in an interview. It’s even harder to believe that 25 years later, there are still bands that go out of there way to sound like Kyuss. I can remember thinking that was cool around 1999-2000, when there were only a handful of bands going for that sort of sound, and it was truly exciting every time a new one popped up. Ah, the Golden Age, it’ll never be the same….Okay, it’s 2017 now, and frankly, I can’t keep up with all the stoner/doom bands coming out, nor do I want to. It’s like glam rock from the 80’s – there was only so much we could take of it before it was just formulaic, cliche, and ultimately passe. It’s also simply a case of “too much of a good thing” at this point for me personally. I like to be a LOT more selective and diverse about what I listen to nowadays. I’m sure some of you have seen me go off on similar rants in other reviews, so I’ll cut this one short today.
With that all being said, I still have quite the insatiable curiosity when it comes to new music, and I do love writing these here reviews. So when Taste Nation LLC founder Matthew Thomas ran the idea of reviewing a band named Screamfeeder by me, at first I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. That name could really suggest anything, any genre. I listened to about 30 seconds of the first track, “Half Lies”, and immediately told him “I’ll take it!! This sounds very 90’s indie guitar rock.” Matthew was kind enough to inform me that this was probably because they were an indie guitar rock band from the 90’s, and they were from Australia, so lo and behold – here we are!! I’m very fortunate that Matthew puts up with my nonsense, and seems to have good instincts about just how finicky I really am, and that we’ve also got a terrific writing staff here at Taste Nation who are passionate enough to compensate for my disillusionment with certain styles.
I’d heard through the grapevine that Ripple Music owner Todd Severin was going to be starting up a second label, one that focused more on indie rock and shoegaze, and I was really excited to hear this news. Actually, I’m pretty sure that Todd and I discussed this briefly at one point, in full disclosure. I listened to a lot of that stuff in the 90’s. I was a huge fan of Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, The Pixies, The Replacements, The Breeders, Guided By Voices, The Posies and Sugar. There was something special about these bands that could write a totally sugar-coated melody, and just juxtapose it with over amplified guitar, brash fuzz, and abrasive noise. I mention this because A) this Screamfeeder album is the first release from Todd’s new label, Rogue Waves, and B) they are definitely cut from the same mold as those bands I so adored in my youth, while they don’t directly sound like any of them.
Screamfeeder formed in Brisbane, Australia in 1991. They’re were originally a three piece, though their current lineup is composed of Tim Steward on guitar and vocals, Kellie Lloyd on bass and vocals, Dean Shwereb on drums and Darek Mudge on second guitar. This is the first that I’ve ever heard of them, which is a real crying shame, because they’ve got quite the back catalog going for them and I would have eaten this up back in the day. Well….I guess that gives me something to do with all my copious amounts of free time. Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1992!
Pop Guilt proper is 13 songs, which is a very lucky number, because that’s how many people were seated at the last supper, and it’s also the name of the LP that Fugazi released which combined their first two EP’s. However, I’ve got two bonus tracks (NOT on the Fugazi record) included in my promo package, which is pretty sweet, especially considering that they’re both just as good as any of the album tracks. This really isn’t surprising, considering there isn’t a clunker to be found on here, so I’m really not sure what these cats are feeling so guilty about. My favorite of the bunch is “Got A Feeling.” It’s a driving number written around an upbeat two chord progression which reminds me of Pearl Jam’s “State Of Love And Trust”, which is my favorite PJ song. (don’t worry haters, they otherwise sound nothing like Pearl Jam whatsoever, and Tim doesn’t sing like Eddie Vedder at all) Another track that I really love is “Alone In A Crowd”. It features a more jagged, abrasive main guitar riff, though once Kelly’s dreamy vocals drift in and the beautiful swirls of layered guitars take over, it’s overwhelming. “Sonic Souvenirs” starts off eerily reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr’s MTV classic, “Out There”, with its blown-out lead guitars and fragments of distorted chords before Kelly’s distinctive vocal style sets the tone. “Karen Trust Me” has a really strange, off kilter ending that even gets a bit on the heavy side. “I May Have Some Regrets” is the best song that Paul Westerberg never wrote. “Sciatic Heart”, the closing track, is also an early favorite, due to the quirky lyrics and Kelly’s more energetic vocal delivery. Really, the whole album is ear candy, with no two tracks sounding the same. Every track stands on its own and has something unique to offer. I’m not sure who’s written what, though it seems like I generally like the tunes that Kelly sings just a little bit better.
If you’re like me and missed out on these guys and gal the first time around, do yourself a favor and check out Pop Guilt if my description sounds at all intriguing. It’s such a fun listen, and I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those classic summertime records for me, the kind of record that reminds me of cruising around the back-roads with the windows down, meeting up with my friends, lying around soaking up the summer sun and sensing the sweet smell of the newly mowed grass with just nothing particular to do whatsoever but enjoy each other’s company and whatever happened to be playing on the stereo at the time; that magical time in one’s life when we were all still so bright eyed and bushy tailed; every crush is just like first love and every new record just like heaven in our ears. That’s the kind of mood this music puts me in, and it’s not just nostalgia. This is something special, a bygone relic from a lost age, fully actualized in our present day.