Sleep Capsule – “In Half” 7”
Sub Pop, 1996
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2013
Coming in at the very tail end of the grunge boom, Sleep Capsule mightily roll out four crunchy, throaty tunes that bleed between punk, noise rock, and the aforementioned destroyer, Grunge. These songs drip with the sound of Seattle. If you ever watch Sunday Night Football and the Seahawks are playing at home, they ALWAYS roll out grunge tunes when they go to and come back from commercial break. Usually with a shot of the Puget Sound or the Space Needle. It’s like whoever is programming the broadcast Googles “SEATTLE” and uses cultural landmarks to pepper up the broadcast. SHOW THAT DUDE THROWING THE FISH AT THE FISH MARKET! You know what I mean? Anyway, every time that happens, I go “Oh yeah, grunge.” A genre I missed entirely by virtue of being a child. I started paying attention to music in the radio-friendly, post grunge alternative rock boom, where I bought cds by bands like the Gin Blossoms, Dishwalla, and Third Eye Blind, listened to the single, and didn’t ever bother to venture into the rest of the album (with the exception of Smashmouth’s Fush Yu Mang, which was the first album I loved). I didn’t care about albums until way later, and for good reason: those late 90s alt-rock radio friendly albums were mostly shit. There were some good ones (Dynamite Hack, best known for their white-boy cover of “Boys in the Hood,” had a bunch of other fast, fun, power-pop tunes that their label just didn’t know what to do with because that’s what happens when you establish yourself with a joke song) but honestly, the people making albums in 1997 were indie bands that I had absolutely no access to because A.) The internet barely existed and I don’t even think Napster was around, muchless a reputable music blog to hip my absolute beginner’s brain to the good shit B.) I didn’t really care enough about music to seek out Pavement or Guided by Voices or Sonic Youth because MTV didn’t play music videos and even when they did they rarely played bands on Matador, Sub Pop, or Merge and C.) CDs were expensive and, if I was going to use my allowance to buy one, I was going to buy, like, Led Zeppelin’s greatest hits or make my dad drive me to Sam Goody to buy Blink-182’s Dude Ranch (although Blink-182 was the band that got me into punk rock, and thus actively enjoying music, my first encounter with them was my guitar teacher spending a half hour of our hour long lesson writing down the tab for “Dammit” on a legal pad and me feeling incredibly naughty because there’s a line in that song that says “He fucked her” and me going “THIS IS SO EDGY!”). I digress. It must have been awesome to have been in one’s twenties in the 90s. Maybe I fetishize that music because, for one reason or another, it’s what I respond to and love with every fiber of my being (Superchunk, Pavement, GBV, the Lemonheads, all that stuff). I can’t explain it, but I’m sure a psychologist could find the latent reasons why I’m obsessed with heyday-era indie rock. Sleep Capsule don’t blow my mind, but they do capture the era perfectly. The grunge elements are still ever present in the almost metal sounding chunky guitar riffs, but they have a lot of elements that are hallmarks of the noisier side of indie rock. Dissonance, a lot of screaming, and more! There’s vital energy coursing through the four songs of this 7” and while it’s a little outside of my wheelhouse, I can definitely appreciate it.