This is kind of a case of cordiality born out of an axe to grind, I have to admit. I’d been on the covert mission of exposing Sub Pop as an artistically vacuous enterprise, completely ready to write them off (and do so of all recorded music, in the process), when I came across one killer punk album from the label that’s even beholden to a pretty sweet band name and album cover, to bolster things even more.
Weird Nightmare is the solo project of Alex Edkins, who also plays guitar in the group METZ. Actually, this album opens with this strange, anathema little period of electronic drums, which made me expect some sort of evil Passion Pit/Twin Shadow type of indie pop. Much was it to my surprise then when this motha blew a hole through me with some raw, uncompromising grunge rock and a pithy knack for direct lyricism that calls to mind No Age, Fu**ed up and this entire recent wave of fuzzy indie drollery.
The strongest effort here tends to be “Nibs,” track two, which stomps along with some richly explosive guitar sound that might almost call to mind USA/Mexico (gasp), and a flatlined groove nifty in its adamant simplicity. “Lusitania” is a brief twee pop foray with “Wrecked,” toting some vocals help from Bully’s Alicia Bognanno, more encompassing of Weird Nightmare’s default song structure — simple chord progressions delivered with broad sustenance and some maniacal singing/screaming duality at the front.
“Darkroom” opens with an ultra-cool Buzzcocks-type riff and again, Edkins cloaks his singing in some textural sheen, blurring the sound’s edges and refreshing the album’s vibe with some unruly sound undulation. “Dream” keeps the ball rolling with some disillusioned, tough-love lyrics while the Chad VanGaalen number, “Oh No,” unearths some tired, hackneyed vocal splicing but does spring forth with a glut of piercing guitar peal to get your head spinning.
The album also contains this brief interlude track “Zebra Dance,” which is kind of a misnomer given its andante pace and gentle acoustic guitar shtick that reminded me a little of Radiohead’s “Faust Arp” from In Rainbows. Anyhow, the wild card had to be “Holding out,” which closes the album at a mastodon seven minutes and 40 seconds. Ultimately, “Holding out” takes about the stature of Weezer’s “Only in Dreams”: it’s neither an album centerpiece nor a failure and kind of reminded me of that charming, smiling old man at the party who just doesn’t want to leave and wants everybody to keep having a good time.
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