Hello From Waveland: Strangeways

Jeremy Schneyer

Hello from Waveland


Label: Mt. Fuji
US Release Date: 2002-10-08

Hello From Waveland are a firebrand of a live band -- dressed in vintage suits, the four-piece exudes more energy than most punk bands you could care to name, and do so with style and panache. Guitarist John Randolph used to have a bowl cut that made him look exactly like John Fogerty, and he shook that shit like it was the last time he'd ever have the chance to shake it. Singer/guitarist Mike Jaworski belts his lyrics into the mic with a passionate intensity, and has a sandpaper voice reminiscent of a cross between vintage Paul Westerberg and Jay Farrar of Son Volt/Uncle Tupelo. All the while, bassist Doran Bastin skulks around the stage, providing an interesting comparison to his more animated bandmates. And dammit, these guys rock, with the fervor of the aforementioned Paul Westerberg's old band at their finest mixed nicely with some classic pop moments, and a little twang around the edges.

The band recorded Strangeways by themselves, on a newly purchased computer. Now, if they had asked me, I would have said something like "get all y'all in a room together, make sure you've each got at least four beers in ya, and get somebody to press 'record'". That sort of bare-bones recording would, hopefully, have resulted in something that captured the ragged-ass intensity that these guys put out in their live show.

Of course, for someone who's never seen the band's live show, all this ranting is a load of nonsense. With nothing to compare it with, the question remains "did they make a good record?" And the answer is, well, yeah, they did. It might not be the record I wanted them to make, but it's pretty damn good nonetheless. Songs like "Powerless" and "Speaking4clapping" evoke an effortless, rootsy, crunchy vibe that is extremely addictive. "Powerless", in particular, stands out for Bastin's simple, loping bassline that holds the song together like aural krazy glue. Slower burners like "Deepest Lake" and "Trains and Earthquakes" are beautifully expressive, and showcase the full range of Jaworski's extremely impressive voice.

Other songs canvass the spectrum from the raucous, rowdy "Call to Complain" to the acoustic, introspective "Overnight Sensation". "Strange" is a waltz-like number, with Jaworski ruminating on a broken relationship: "grass used to be so green around here/that's when the sun was shinin'/now all it does is fuckin' rain around here/makes me feel like I am dyin'". Jaworski's songs are typically plainspoken, no-bullshit exercises, but his lyrics possess an unmatched resonance: "Our kisses taste like salt water from the tears down your face", he croons in "Trains and Earthquakes".

In the end, I will say this: Hello From Waveland are a great band. They exude a maturity and self-confidence that few "new" bands can match. They play with conviction, style and a tremendous amount of energy, and they write great songs. Given this, Strangeways could have been an awesome record. However, it's merely really good: its recording quality and less-than-live performances keep it from being truly great. However, it is still well worth purchasing, because in whatever form, you need these songs. So buy the record, listen to it, absorb it -- then see them live when they come to your town this fall and get yer ass blown off.





Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Gloom Balloon Deliver an Uplifting Video for "All My Feelings For You" (premiere)

Gloom Balloon's Patrick Tape Fleming considers what making a music video during a pandemic might involve because, well, he made one. Could Fellini come up with this plot twist?


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Brian Cullman Gets Bluesy with "Someday Miss You" (premiere)

Brian Cullman's "Someday Miss You" taps into American roots music, carries it across the Atlantic and back for a sound that is both of the past and present.


IDLES Have Some Words for Fans and Critics on 'Ultra Mono'

On their new album, Ultra Mono, IDLES tackle both the troubling world around them and the dissenters that want to bring them down.


Napalm Death Return With Their Most Vital Album in Decades

Grindcore institution Napalm Death finally reconcile their experimental side with their ultra-harsh roots on Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism.


NYFF: 'Notturno' Looks Passively at the Chaos in the Middle East

Gianfranco Rosi's expansive documentary, Notturno, is far too remote for its burningly immediate subject matter.


The Avett Brothers Go Back-to-Basics with 'The Third Gleam'

For their latest EP, The Third Gleam, the Avett Brothers leave everything behind but their songs and a couple of acoustic guitars, a bass, and a banjo.


PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.