Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A post about Stymie that's really about Seattle

As I write this post—longhand, in a spiral notebook—I’m 20,000 feet above eastern Washington, having just crossed above the Cascades on my return flight to Chicago. I visited Seattle for the weekend to attend my friends Steve and Eliza’s wedding. Steve and I have known each other for 20 years now. They had a lovely ceremony, and the trip in general was fantastic.

In the 13 years since I left Seattle, I’ve visited six or seven times, and I always return to wherever has become home with mixed feelings about the place. It both alarms and pleases me to see how neighborhoods have changed, to the point that once-familiar areas seem almost foreign. For instance, on the south ridge of Capitol Hill, near Seattle University, where I lived in 1991, charming street-side cafes have proliferated where warehouses formerly existed—as have cookie-cutter, here-today-and-gone-tomorrow nightclubs that cater to the shiny shirt crowd.

The Comet Tavern, however, still stands, with its familiar dilapidated neon sign still serving as a beacon for the young, thirsty, and skuzzy. It comforted me to walk past it, to see its resilience to gentrification. It comforted me to see the original Vivace coffee bar on Broadway, to see young people sporting long hair (a rarity in Chicago), and to see Showgirls across from Pike Place Market, even if I was patronizing Pike Place on this trip to buy gifts for my wife and kids and not to buy produce or to hit the comic book shop on a grade-school field trip.



The constants—these harbingers to the glory years of local music—vacillated between the back and the front of my mind as I considered what to write about Stymie, a long-defunct grunge band featuring occasional Lamestain comment-writer Adem Tepedelen. Saturday afternoon, I hung out with Tom and his girlfriend, Emma, at their home (and Dirty Knobby headquarters) in Ballard. As we sat in the living room, Tom spun singles from the A-B box from his enormous, alphabetized collection of singles. We revisited Big Satan Inc. and Alcohol Funnycar (Stymie’s New Rage labelmates)—bands that, if we can be honest here, few people have considered over the past decade, decent bands that were extinguished in the shadow cast by Nirvana, Mudhoney, Sub Pop, etc.

This will sound disparaging, but I don’t intend it to be: in the late 80s and early 90s, bands like Stymie and Big Satan Inc. were almost like wallpaper. They filled out the bills at the Vogue and Moe’s and the Croc. They played music that locals would recognize as grunge because it was grunge and that Spin might classify as grunge because it came from Seattle. Moreover, I believe that, if these bands didn’t specifically set out to make grunge, they certainly didn’t set out to avoid making it.

Stymie also played the brand of grunge that we here at Lamestain HQ most appreciate: the original kind, the kind grown from the same waters that nourished TAD and Dickless. Even this single’s packaging—a recycled grocery bag—recalls the thrift store chic of the time. “Willy’s Gone” reminds me of the no-hope music made when Seattle bands had no realistic expectation of $2 million advances, before Los Angeles diaspora like Candlebox followed the trail of eager, naïve A&R reps up I-5. Somehow, they achieved this in 1993; like the Comet, they resisted gentrification.

In a sense, bands like Stymie were a paradox: bands like this were common; bands like this were unique.



Here are some of the basics. Membership at the time that they released this single was Patrick Barber on bass, Shane Bastian on vocals, James Halada on drums, Jeff Kleinsmith on guitar and vocals, Brian Taylor on guitar and bass, and Adem Tepedelen on guitar. (That’s a lot of guitar!). New Rage released the record in 1993. Nick Sherman and the band produced the record, which was recorded by Phil Ek at Word of Mouth Recording Studios. “Willy’s Gone” has elements of Skin Yard, and the two B-sides remind me a tiny bit of Seaweed. I’m sure that not even Styme would claim that this single is as essential as, I dunno, “Touch Me I’m Sick,” but you can’t really complete the picture of that era without accounting for Stymie, the New Rage roster, and the dozens of really, really good bands that were obscured by the giants.

I’m now about midway through the flight, and the landscape below has flattened and browned. A few closing notes:

While there’s good coffee in Chicago, I was reminded this weekend of what great coffee tastes like. Seattle, you can’t match us in pizza, but the cappuccino I quaffed at Vivace last Friday morning was heavenly, and it beat anything that Chicago has to offer.

We saw a pair of shows: Deranged Diction w/ the Suck Machine at the Crocodile on Friday (sadly, we arrived too late to catch Police Teeth, who I wanted to see) and Obits w/ the Lights and the Unnatural Helpers at Neumo’s on Saturday. The best band of the bunch, by a country mile, was the Unnatural Helpers. Deranged Diction were also good. As ridiculous and, frankly, banal as their music was—this was, after all, a reunited high school band—the guys played with an infectious giddiness. I smiled throughout their set.

One of the wedding guests was Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic. A minute after Steve pointed him out, I made some cracks to Steve about Stephen Glass, only to realize that Foer had vacated his seat and was now within earshot. His facial expression fell somewhere between a smirk and a cringe. So, if you’re wondering why you’re reading this in Lamestain and not The New Republic . . .



Willy's Gone

Pretty Now

Frogs







They're also available in the zip file here. Adem, if you're reading, I hope it's okay to post these tracks! Let me know if you'd like us to remove them.

--Wm

20 comments:

AT said...

Thanks for the Stymie post. It's totally cool that you put those songs up. We're just glad people will be able to hear them. And I don't really disagree with anything you wrote about us and Seattle. Well, except that you misspelled my last name, but that's something I've gotten used to.

Lamestain HQ said...

Ach! Thanks for pointing that out--I've corrected the spelling.

(Our last name is Ojendyk, so we know what it's like.) :)

Joseph said...

Unnatural Helpers are great. I listened to em after I heard they got signed to Hardly Art.

Thank for the Stymie tracks too, I'm really digging them.

Anonymous said...

Hi, stymie is great and jeff kleinsmith too I got a supersuckers t-shirt with a print on it it that's designed by jeff,...

What about a post on a sst band,...?

cheers

AT said...

One other thing, the link for Frogs is actually Willy's Gone, and vice versa. The files themselves are actually mislabeled.

Steve said...

Hey Lamestain --

What an honor it was to have you guys at our wedding -- thanks for coming!

Later dudes -- Steve

mickey said...

Have you guys heard of this band called Great Northern. I've been hearing them on KNDD. They got this song out called "Houses." I really dig the guitars. WHat do you guys think?

mickey said...

Have you guys heard this band called Great Northern. I've been hearing their song "Houses," on KNDD. What do you guys think of them?

Rick Copeland said...

Lamestain guy,
Can you possibly supply us with a downloadable version of The Young Fresh Fellows' "Dark Corner of the World"? I have looked high and low for it and can only find it on their MySpace page. Sadly, I cannot purchase it from there, otherwise I would...

Zork said...

at the dude above..

http://www.box.net/shared/nxvlet995n

Jackson Loyal said...

Hey, you haven't blogged in a while. BUt I'm a big fan of the blog. Keep it up!

apple said...

AV,無碼,a片免費看,自拍貼圖,伊莉,微風論壇,成人聊天室,成人電影,成人文學,成人貼圖區,成人網站,一葉情貼圖片區,色情漫畫,言情小說,情色論壇,臺灣情色網,色情影片,色情,成人影城,080視訊聊天室,a片,A漫,h漫,麗的色遊戲,同志色教館,AV女優,SEX,咆哮小老鼠,85cc免費影片,正妹牆,ut聊天室,豆豆聊天室,聊天室,情色小說,aio,成人,微風成人,做愛,成人貼圖,18成人,嘟嘟成人網,aio交友愛情館,情色文學,色情小說,色情網站,情色,A片下載,嘟嘟情人色網,成人影片,成人圖片,成人文章,成人小說,成人漫畫,視訊聊天室,性愛,a片,AV女優,聊天室,情色

Anonymous said...

Anyone who knows anything links london about jewelry understands the hierarchy of precious links of london bracelet metals with platinum being atop it. links of london charms While many people pine for gold, platinum is more highly prized
links of london watches by the informed. Platinum is an extremely rare, links of london rings even more so then gold which in part the reason links of london necklaces why it is considered superior.

yezi said...

Obama Is Lying<1>
When was the last time the MSM took a Republican's side in a fight over credibility with a Democratic opponent?Microsoft OfficeOffice 2010Well, it has been a while.Microsoft Office 2010However, conservatives have little to grumble about in the recent Office 2007face-off between Barack Obama and John McCain over McCain's statement that Microsoft Office 2007troops might have to remain for "100 years" in Iraq "as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed" afterOffice 2010 keyfighting had concluded, Office 2010 downloadMost recently, ABC's Jake Tapper noted that at least on three occasions Obama had personally said that McCain favored continued fighting in Office 2010 ProfessionalIraq for 100 years. Tapper concluded that "Obama has in the past distorted McCain's comments" and "that he is violating his own stated Microsoft outlookaspirations...[b]ecause not only has he distorted what McCain said, he is not being honest about having made those distortions."Outlook 2010Tapper is not the only MSM reporter to point this out, Windows 7of course. It is not every day that the RNC sends around e-mail blasts quoting Frank Microsoft outlook 2010Rich ("Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should be ashamed of themselves for libeling John McCain") and reports from the Chicago Tribune,

aa said...

When was the last time the MSM took a Republican's side in a fight over credibility with a Democratic opponent?Microsoft OfficeOffice 2010Well, it has been a while.Microsoft Office 2010However, conservatives have little to grumble about in the recent Office 2007face-off between Barack Obama and John McCain over McCain's statement that Microsoft Office 2007troops might have to remain for "100 years" in Iraq "as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed" afterOffice 2010 keyfighting had concluded, Office 2010 downloadMost recently, ABC's Jake Tapper noted that at least on three occasions Obama had personally said that McCain favored continued fighting in Office 2010 ProfessionalIraq for 100 years. Tapper concluded that "Obama has in the past distorted McCain's comments" and "that he is violating his own stated Microsoft outlookaspirations...[b]ecause not only has he distorted what McCain said, he is not being honest about having made those distortions."Outlook 2010Tapper is not the only MSM reporter to point this out, Windows 7of course. It is not every day that the RNC sends around e-mail blasts quoting Frank Microsoft outlook 2010Rich ("Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should be ashamed of themselves for libeling John McCain") and reports from the Chicago Tribune,

aa said...

When was the last time the MSM took a Republican's side in a fight over credibility with a Democratic opponent?Microsoft OfficeOffice 2010Well, it has been a while.Microsoft Office 2010However, conservatives have little to grumble about in the recent Office 2007face-off between Barack Obama and John McCain over McCain's statement that Microsoft Office 2007troops might have to remain for "100 years" in Iraq "as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed" afterOffice 2010 keyfighting had concluded, Office 2010 downloadMost recently, ABC's Jake Tapper noted that at least on three occasions Obama had personally said that McCain favored continued fighting in Office 2010 ProfessionalIraq for 100 years. Tapper concluded that "Obama has in the past distorted McCain's comments" and "that he is violating his own stated Microsoft outlookaspirations...[b]ecause not only has he distorted what McCain said, he is not being honest about having made those distortions."Outlook 2010Tapper is not the only MSM reporter to point this out, Windows 7of course. It is not every day that the RNC sends around e-mail blasts quoting Frank Microsoft outlook 2010Rich ("Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should be ashamed of themselves for libeling John McCain") and reports from the Chicago Tribune,

yezi said...

As I write this post—longhandOffice 2010in a spiral notebook—I’m 20,000 feet above eastern Washington, having Microsoft Office 2010just crossed above the Cascades on my return flight Microsoft wordto Chicago. I visited Seattle for the weekend to Office 2007and I have known each other for 20 years now. They Microsoft Officehad a lovely ceremony, and the trip in general was fantastic.Microsoft Office 2007In the 13 years since I left Seattle, I’ve Office 2007 keyvisited six or seven times, and I always return to wherever has Office 2007 downloadOffice 2007 Professionalbecome home with mixed feelings about the place. It Outlook 2010both alarms and pleases me to see howMicrosoft outlookthat once-familiar areas seem almost foreign. ForMicrosoft outlook 2010neighborhoods have changed, to the point Windows 7 as have cookie-cutter, here-today-and-gone-tomorrow nightclubs that cater to the shiny shirt crowd.

Adim said...

Hey i do love your post and this blog make me awesome..very useful and i like to share this into my friends just to read your post...well this blog say in keep up your dream and lets make that together..thanks again for posting..what a great blog.

Retailers Logo

Adim said...

This article is very nice i like it this is paragraph is so nice its very informative.

Internet Marketing

Admin said...

Really nice information i get from your article. I share your article on stumble as well. Keep Sharing nice posts

Ready-Made Logo