Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Summer We Went West


The Summer We Went West were a pretty incredible band from College Park, MD.

Featuring current/ex-/former members of current D.C. sweethearts Monument, as well as Dawn Treader, Boat Water, Gentlemen, For The Agenda, (and others I'm sure), The Summer We Went West has kind of flown under the radar in comparison to projects they have played in, or friends they made while a band (like a band you may have heard of named Algernon Cadwallader), but that does not mean that they should be counted out. These guys are a great, great band.

The band began as more of an acoustic project featuring Erik Pecukonis and Anton Krupp before they enlisted their rhythm section and grew into more of a Kinsella-esque emo band. Anton explains it in TSWWW's Scene Point Blank interview, which you can find a link to below.

Anton: We all lived in this suburb in Maryland called Columbia that had a surprisingly active music scene while we were all in high school there. That's how I met Jeremy, Erik and Al originally, though I only recognized them from shows I went to. When I went to school at the University of Maryland, I saw Erik at one of the dining halls and asked him if he wanted to play some music with me. We actually started as an acoustic duo, famed for our ridiculously drunk performances. Jeremy had seen me around campus and at shows at the University and started to come onto my radio show that I did at WMUC, and we started to become friends there. We all moved in together because Erik and I were at the WMUC recording studio one day and Jeremy called asking for roommates. Erik and I immediately agreed. The Summer We Went West as a full band came out of Erik and I drunkenly playing the guitar in our living room and Jeremy saying "lets take this party downstairs" which really meant "I'll play drums, you two idiots play the guitar." Al has known Jeremy for a really long time and hung out at our house all that year. It was only natural to ask Al to play bass because he was the only bass player we knew. Al lives with Jeremy and I now, and Erik moved to an apartment down the street but still sleeps on our couch more often than not.

The 8/9 split and WMUC set features the Anton/Erik line up, and "Following The Holy Moon Goddess", the band's first full length and first release as a proper band shows progression in the group's sound by leaps and bounds. The album incorporates elements of emo, punk, folk, indie rock, and even electronica (the instrumental tracks which feature Baltimore native Frank O'Hara reading poems over the glitchy beats are actually some of the highlights of the album). The album also features TSWWW's most popular and well-known song, "Jackon Hole, Wy." which is an absolute giant of a song. I'm not sure anyone who has heard this band hasn't become obsessed with the song for at least a week or two. Pecukonis' bare-bones honesty and wild, drunken vocal deilvery is instrumental to TSWWW's power as a unit. Other highlights on the album include "Gin" and the epic nine minute long "Drive, Green Sky and Blue Grass".

My favorite release by these guys by far though is the Summer 2006 Tour CD-R. It takes all the elements that made "Following the Holy Moon Goddess" a great album, cuts the slack, and amps up the energy by a few notches. One listen to the opening track "Counting Time with Coins" should be all it takes. The album's flow is also a major accomplishment: the album swings between loud, racuous, tracks that are much louder and heavier than anything on "Following", (largely due to more band members piping up to add vocals, which gives the songs a chaotic feel), and beautiful, lilting "emo-folk" (I'm going out on a limb with that one) ballads like "Mr. Johnson", and "Red Carpet Blues," a song which is unbelievably moving both lyrically and musically. The album closes with "That Midwestern Town", which seems like it could be a kind of sequel to "Jackon Hole, Wy.".

The other three releases here include a drunken acoustic set at Small Brown House, a collection of b-sides compiled from their website, and their posthumous cassette release, which features some really great acoustic songs that Krupp and Pecukonis were working on early on as well as some electric tracks recorded before the band's break up. It also features the playful "Ashlee Simpson", a love ballad about...well, you can guess who, and a spoken word track with an acoustic guitar in the background while one of the band members tells a story about being on tour on the west coast, which may well be the highlight of the tape.

Really cool guys, I've had the pleasure of playing a show with Anton and hanging out with Erik, and their music, past and present, deserves to be listened to. Check it out.

Read an old interview from Secne Point Blank.

Check out the band's website here.

The posthumous cassette release was just put out by Anton (guitar/current guitarist in Monument) and is limited to 100 pieces. It can be purchased on their myspace here for the reasonable price of $5, so if you like the mp3s, BUY THE TAPE.

Here is a video of "Praise the Holy Moon Goddess", the intro to "Following the Holy Moon Goddess".

8/9 Split

Songs From Third Rail Radio (WMUC 11/13/05)

Following the Holy Moon Goddess (2005)

Live at Small Brown House (2006)

Tour CD-R 2006

B-Sides and Demos

The Last Recordings (2009)

1 comment:

al said...

dictionaries, member of SWWW: