I came upon Sea Patterns in a backwater way. I saw them twice initially in rare acoustic settings. Nice structured pop songs, indie, reminding me of a delightful Shins or something. Hyper vocals and blended choruses, two acoustics and snare. Little did I know plugged in, noisemeisters hid behind the poppy smiles.
Then in late winter, I saw Sea Patterns electric at the Swamp House in Fallston, opening, on a bill from loud to shattering, with One Watt Sun, Pipe Smoking Rabbits and Baltimore’s Roomrunner (a hometown party for RR’s drummer, Bel Air High grad Bret Lanahan, on their way to NYC, kicking off a northeast tour.) The venue is no longer. The notorious grandeur of din lead to it’s shutdown as soon as the weekend was over and lawyers were back at their desks.
Amped up, Sea Patterns’ pretty songs about buildings and food – “I took a nap today, ate three meals, and answered the phone, laid outside, in the middle of the driveway” – become a pedal laden assault of distortion and spit out vocals and pretty choruses. Still high on the charisma factor, a ’77 Talking Heads, spun through sonic washing machines
They are headed by Dean boyish looks, shorts and booted, often shirtless and restless, guitar strapped Kevin Wenger. Stoic, Jeff Koplovitz, fashionably dressed Kinks-ian, sometimes in cardigans and scarves, drives a mean bass and six string sonic ventures, and sheepishly smiling, easygoing banged Chris Sweeney tightens with clean inventive drumming. Kind of an inverted iggy ziggy vampire weekend kind of sight and sound.
Their debut vinyl 12″ ep, “Play Date” begins with two beats on the tom, “Backyard” – a faux campfire song, with rolling drums, an infectious chorus – “why do i wake up?, why do i go to work?”, as in the mundane, coming to life in the desperation and f’ off chant to release and create bliss. (A song so catchy that their friends Libyan Suite would cover as a laff when they opened for SP, but more so as a nod to it’s astral joyousness) Not posed really as a question, more a statement, vising on a world where everybody pitches in, gets the necessary work done, and spends rest of time on their adventures, religion of music, intellectual musings and important things, such as hangin’ out, fixin’ “ketchup on hot dogs.” Before the world turns off. “The boys in Sea Patterns are speaking to a generation that doesn’t know how to not participate in ‘the system,’ only equipt (sic) to ignore or cover up their confusion about their dissatisfaction” theorizes Hunter Hooligan in a feature and interview of Sea Patterns in the CCBC Connection.
The boys are currently separated by academia, with limited time to meet to pursue Patterns. They are currently planning a winter break (SP will be playing Charm City Art Space on Nov 23rd and Longshots in Abingdon on the 30th with Charm City’s sick Dope Body and Roomrunner) and summer tour. Koplovitz, from Bel Air High, tied up with Wenger, meeting on Main St at a coffeehouse, introduced by mutual friend and local musician Sean Wilson. Wenger met Sweeney while commuting to Loyola Blakefield.
“Smashed glass don’t bring me down, my roommates in the lost and found. One more noise complaint, filling trash cans, licking paint.” Wenger’s away at Lehigh, penning new songs and short stories and freelance writing. Koplovitz, going to Towson U is playing shows in Baltimore (11/14 at CCAS) and Bel Air of his ambient popscapes as Lean Horse Marathon (which will be releasing a limited edition cassette of new material, “Reflections” soon on the label Tricot) and writing new Patterns songs. Sweeney, from Abingdon, is playing some guitar and singing around Baltimore in a seven-piece Americana band called The Palace at 4am. They have one release, recorded on one mic, one take, and he attends Loyola U. Then there are those things they gotta wake up for.
And that thing, Sea Patterns, from backyard trysts to wistful, aching hook laden wall of bloody valentines- “I’ve shot her with an arrow tip, but she is still calling out my name in death, she still screams my name.” It’s just a twenty minute feast, not a weak moment. Songs with “teeth like Swans.” “Hearts beat wild if you play the perfect song” about such things as love, “tell me how many pills did you take? cause I don’t want to make a baby” – or romance, “Kevin, there’s a house with no lights on, let’s go inside, boy that sofa looks comfy, like a nice place to die” – playing dress up, “lose the laugh, and lose the smile, lose the cape, you’re not a child!” – and highbrow pursuits “stealing books and cigarettes.”
Onto clashian wolf calls, Wenger brings most of the lyrics, heavy tunes and Koplovitz produces them like a riffing Eno chemist. Sweeney simplifies, surprises and swings the rock beat, and an airy rawness is had.
The 180 gram vinyl and download release was recorded in Baltimore by Mat Leffler-Schulman at Mobtown Studios. It is on the Patterns label Liquorburger, which they financed themselves through those things you have to wake up for. Wenger wants to publish some writing there and maybe release a cassette of his bedroom stuff CP/M. Alot of songs on the ep started three years ago, and they hope to record a full lp soon, they have a bunch of new songs (one called “Hot Guts”) they’ve been playing, furthering the aggressive side.
Upon first listen to “Play Date” the vocals sound low in the mix, until one realizes this is meant to be played loud. It’s a guitar album. And the vocals shout from the depths of savior boredom to escapist heavenly refrains. Wire art punk, melodies and harmonies reminiscent of Sebadoh and naked Brian Wilson. A times new viking art collage on suburban vast lands and important things to do.
Listen to Sea Patterns http://thepoweroftheheartisone.bandcamp.com/album/play-date