“Well, that’s punk rock,” said singer Aaron Stauffer.
Seaweed sounded great that night, as they did at each of the four or five times I saw them. They had a youthful, punk rock spirit and enthusiasm that many bands from that era (as awesome as they were) lacked. Not long after the first show, I bought some of their singles, as well as the Sub Pop Despised EP when it first came out. We later bought their first proper full-length, Weak, and the follow up Four (both on Sub Pop). I have pretty good memories of those records.
. . . which is why it was such a shock to hear the early singles and EPs again after so many years and to feel an undeniable sense of disappointment. I’m guessing that, as a teenager, I liked those early records because they served as mementos of Seaweed’s fantastic live shows. Listening to them now, I’m not moved at all. They lumber where they should sizzle, and the songs all kind of sound the same--a common criticism of the band at the time. “Star Girl” (from the self-titled EP) reminds me a bit of early Screaming Trees, and “Love Gut” has some Bleach-ish riffage, although the song sounds little like early Nirvana otherwise. Only “Foggy Eyes” (from the Estrus Half-Rack compilation) really rises above the pack, and that’s a Beat Happening cover. The remaining songs are basically mid-tempo punk, with dashes of emo and hardcore. Tom compares them to Dag Nasty and early Bad Religion. That seems reasonable to me, but I haven’t delved too deeply into either of those bands’ catalogs.
One bit of trivia I find kind of cool about Seaweed: they released songs both on K Records (motto: “Let’s hold hands and eat candy”) and Estrus Records (motto: “I’m gonna fuck you on the back of my El Camino”). I honestly can’t think of another band that had a foot in both camps.
The fellas likely recognized their own limitations. I can remember liking Despised more than these EPs and the full-lengths more than Despised. We likely have Despised kicking around somewhere; however, Sub Pop still sells it via their website, so we likely won’t post it. But hey, now you know where to find it! (They’re also selling an mp3 version of Four, but the CD isn’t in print; Weak remains out of print in all formats.)
The band’s lineup remained pretty consistent throughout their career (Aaron Stauffer, vocals; Clint Werner and Wade Neal, guitars; Bob Bulgrien, drums; and John Atkins, bass). Alan Cage took over on drums in 1999, as the band wound down. Jesse Fox has taken over on drums recently. Recently? Yep, recently: the band has been active again. They’re slated to play at Sub Pop’s 20th Birthday Bash, so make sure to catch ‘em. More can be found via their myspace page.
Seaweed EP (1990; Leopard Gecko Records)
"Just a Smirk" 7" (1990; Leopard Gecko Records)
"Deertrap" 7" (1991; K Records)
From the Estrus Half-Rack compilation (1991; Estrus)this dandy-as-candy zip file.