Stroking Out To Eureka California

These days there is no dearth  of garage rock inspired by 90’s bands like Guided By Voices, Dinosaur Jr and Superchunk. That gets you in the door, but it doesn’t mean you get to stay.  Hell, would you want them to stay assuming you already have Propeller, Bee Thousand, You’re Living All Over Me, Bug, No Pocky For Kitty and On the Mouth?

The quizzically named Eureka California who hail from Athens, Georgia are making the case for you to add one more fuzzy, slightly psychedelic,  nuggets-inspired record to your collection.  Does their debut long player which they have christened Big Cats Can Swim merit your hard earned dough? Does it merely ape their idols or is it inspired by them? Do they have what it takes to sustain your interest for an entire album?

I say invite this trio into your house for tea, crumpets and tallboys and hope to god they accept your invitation and stay a while. Their album crackles and pops with great songs that retain the vital and immediateness that you would have experienced if you would have been in their garage when they were recording them. With titles like My Life as a Smokestack, My Kind of Battery and My Boy Black Metal, you get the feeling they copped Pollard’s notebook of song titles. Unlike GBV, many Eureka California songs go longer than a minute  thirty. They have a lot of good ideas about crunchy pop songs and infuse a playfulness in them that many bands often forget. This batch of songs will initially make you think of the 90’s and it’s bands, but this record pull from too many different places to be pegged as merely a 90’s throwback. Infusing the Kinks, Big Star and various Nuggets bands into the stew. That’s a good meal, especially after all of those crumpets and tallboys.

mp3: Eureka California – My Life as a Smokestack (from Big Cats Can Swim)

Painting the World in Analog

Athens, Georgia’s Happy Happy Birthday To Me seems to keep quietly releasing stellar music and the latest batch of singles is no different. Here’s the evidence:

Cleveland’s Afternoon Naps will get you ready for summer with a double A-side (there’s no B-side on this record, both songs are on one side so you don’t have to flip). Jangling guitars, swirling organ and pastoral melodies abound. The sounds are so smooth and sugary sweet you forget that this is coming from the rust belt. I think I’m partial to Short Sleeves and it’s nod to the Free Design and its mysterious refrain of ‘short sleeves they are mocking me.’ Are her arms so undeniable, or is it because she can wear them in the winter sun?
mp3: Afternoon Naps – Short Sleeves (get the single from HHBTM)

Orca Team are from Portland, Oregon, but play Seattle more than most Seattle bands. Their self-released album from last year had many highlights but my favorite was Vancouver, BC a song where they scoff at Seattle for being not that great. Go figure. Pacific Northwest rivalries aside, they’ve plucked Vancouver, BC and slapped it onto a 7-inch giving it  rightful single status. The two b-sides were recorded live, Take My Hand being a new one. One of my favorite bands in Pacific NW right now.
mp3: Orca Team – Vancouver, BC (get the single from HHBTM)

Eureka California hail from Athens, Georgia, but have named themselves after a town in California. This trio look to the currently popular 90’s indie rock scene for inspiration and sprinkle their hooks with a little supergrass and pixie dust. I kind of wasn’t sure about this record at first but its nerdy grittiness has endeared it to me.
mp3: Eureka California – Modern Times (get the single from HHBTM)