Release Date: Nov 9, 2010
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Noise Pop
California based independent Slumberland Records has been responsible for introducing the world to a treasure trove of delightful musical gems during its 20 year existence. The label set up by Mike Schulman, himself a one-time member of the short lived but legendary Black Tambourine, can lay claim to putting out embryonic releases from the likes of Rocketship, The Aislers Set, Crystal Stilts, and the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart among its largely impressive roster. While many of those mentioned arrived via New York's vibrant underground scene, their latest signings have crawled out of their own backyard so to speak.
Over the past few years, the words "lo-fi" and "noise" have been frequently and inaccurately associated with each other. Although there were dollops of feedback to be found in 2008's "Lo-Fi Boom" (Vivian Girls, Times New Viking, Eat Skull), these days the term more often defines the recent (and, seemingly, never-ending) crop of Brooklyn and New Jersey-based bands whose fey, slackened guitar rock sounds distanced from where the listener is at that very moment. This has a good deal to do with the bands' basement recording techniques, as well as the liberal use of reverb and echo whenever possible.
Weekend’s new album Sports starts off like some kind of rock-and-roll stem cell: a post-punk umbilicus whipping in the sonic void. We hear a classic rock backbeat played in jagged no wave style, a radioactive rhythm that could become everything and nothing — Joy Division, Ministry, My Bloody Valentine, No Age. It’s then joined by layers upon layers of distorted guitars and howling voices, a rush of sounds triggering all sorts of impossible references — Springsteen, The Cure, Pavement, Interpol, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
Like the growing noise pop scene itself, San Francisco trio Weekend (not to be confused with Baltimore’s similar-sounding up-and-comers Weekends) has been creating an impressive amount of buzz with its debut album Sports. In the vein of fellow left-coasters No Age and labelmates The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Weekend produces a chaos of sound with only three instruments, full of texture and depth that would make other, larger bands jealous. In its first full collection of songs, Weekend splashes a thin, shimmery veil of Psychocandy nostalgia over a mess of noise rock, transforming a seemingly schizophrenic cacophony of guitar wails into something melodic, foot-stompingly powerful and entirely enjoyable.
The problem with the American underground rock scene’s current fascination with third- and fourth-division late ‘80s indie label alt-rock (mainly focusing on C86 and the evolutional through-line from noise pop to dream pop to shoegaze) is that the upstart crop of bands enthused by that stream of music are by and large replicating their forebears wholesale, with little modernization going on and almost no attempt to distinguish themselves. It’s one thing to wear influences on the sleeve, and quite another to sound like a glorified cover band when in actuality you’re delivering originals. This is an issue that afflicts recent Slumberland Records signing Weekend.