SEASONAL MEN’S WEAR / WILLIAM WESLEY & THE TINY SOCKETS: Split: CD

Nov 13, 2013

Wow, this is a strange release. How did these bands get together? Seasonal Men’s Wear play vaguely comedic pop punk that sometimes ventures into a kind of light youth crew hardcore. I guess this is Propagandhi-esque? Maybe low-stakes Propagandhi. The music is fine, or serviceable. The problem is the lyrics are just piles of bad jokes. Just confusing in-jokes and flat attempts at satire, if you can call it that. It was a struggle making it past the “pizza pants” song (I think it’s track three), or figuring out what “pizza pants” means, or understanding what they’re getting at in any of their songs, really. I look forward to these guys growing out of this phase. But then there’s William Wesley & The Tiny Sockets. William Wesley is a guy named Wess Hess doing oddball lo-fi bedroom pop with a broken Tascam and a microcassette recorder, a 4-string guitar, and a Casio and other things. His best songs are the ones that maybe barely qualify as songs, the ones that feel spliced together, that kind of drone on and seem like field recordings. I’m thinking of “We Lead a Miserable Life,” which starts with a chopped and screwed loop of someone saying “we lead a miserable life” over a basic beat and a wash of guitar noise, then fades to guitar strumming, like fake Jim Croce, the whole thing lasting just over a minute. Or “Party Line Jamming in the 21st Century #37,” a collection of actual phone line recordings (?) and bleeps and tones and noises. It’s almost like Gray, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s band. Though he has what could loosely be considered traditional songs, there’s also an anti-music quality, a willingness to construct and deconstruct at any moment. Hess has a perspective that seems distinctly his. His voice is not the greatest, there’s a deep gremlin-ish feel to it, but I’m not going to correct him. Whatever he wants to do is fine with me.

 –Matt Werts (Brown Bear)

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