Hours and Hours: a Tribute to Seaweed (Engineer Records)
“Seaweed took an important role in both myself and my partner David Gamage (Engineer Records/Ignition founder) in our label and listening habits over what we consider our formative years. An impression was made that still hangs on us today. Whether it be a musical combination of how well 'punk' and ‘rock’ fit together or just Seaweed’s aesthetic of a no-frills/no-gimmick style band, I think it’s something man ‘kids’ of our generation hung onto in the underground. By the reaction we’ve received since putting together this project – bands from all over the world getting in touch as well as music writers and fans themselves giving their adulation – I don’t think we were far from the mark in our assumption.”
While, grammatically speaking, this paragraph from the back of the soon to be released Engineer Records compilation Hours and Hours: a Tribute to Seaweed isn’t the soundest – the sentiment behind the passage rings true. Seaweed is a Tacoma institution, for all of the reasons pointed out above and then some. More than that, the band is a worldwide influence on rock of today. When Hours and Hours officially hits the street on June 24, the record will already be long overdue.
Here at the Weekly Volcano, we got an advance copy of the disc a few weeks ago. I guess that’s one of the perks of being in the biz. Considering the CD was among 10 pounds of promotional garbage we receive on almost a daily basis – maybe it balances out.
Either way, Hours and Hours is typical of a tribute compilation – some of it shines; some of it, well, doesn’t. Based out of New Jersey and East Sussex, England, Engineer Records truly did gather bands and musicians from all over for this album. Familiar names like Kane Hodder make cameos, as do a whole slew of acts I’ve never heard of. The only connection these bands and musicians seem to share is the fact they’ve been influenced by Seaweed. That’s enough for me.
The biggest issue I have with Hours and Hours is the cover art of the disc, which features a map of West Seattle and Elliot Bay. What the fuck is that all about? It chaps my Tacoma hide.
But, other than the cover art faux pas Hours and Hours is solid. Drawing heavily from Seaweed’s Spanaway record, as well as Four and Weak, Hours and Hours kicks off with Ryan Mills of Kover lacing into a straight forward version of “Start With.” It’s the perfect note to get things going with, and one Seaweed would be proud of. While Mills plays it pretty straight, the result is one of the compilation’s highlights.
Hours and Hours does have its moments of divergence. When the band Nora channels “Clean Slate” through a Cookie Monster growl, most unschooled ears would have trouble identifying it as a Seaweed tune – mainly because it’s metal as all hell, but also because when Seaweed did the song it was actually good. Kane Hodder’s rendition of “Stagger” is in a similar boat, at least when it comes to being different from the original; but unlike Nora’s effort, when Hodder gives Seaweed their patented screamy, hardcore makeover, the song actually becomes one of the best tracks Hours and Hours has to offer.
Steve Brodsky’s sparse acoustic treatment of “Chalk the Cracks” also rises to the top as a highpoint from this compilation, as does The Action Design’s version of “Kid Candy.” The femininity the band provides to the song almost sounds like it was meant to be. If nothing else, it’s a pleasant surprise.
Hour and Hours: A Tribute to Seaweed comes out next Tuesday. While, for the most part all it did was make me want to dig out my ACTUAL Seaweed records, as far as tribute compilations goes the folks at Engineer Records have done good work. It’s about time someone released a tribute to Seaweed. Next time, maybe, they’ll even put a map of Tacoma on the cover.