Week in Pop: Baywitch, Laurel Saints, unhappybirthday

Sjimon Gompers

Stockton sons Laurel Saints, from left, Jose Medina & Marcos Gonzales; photographed by Jameel Rasool.

Baywitch

Seattle’s radical Baywitch; press photo courtesy of the band.

Seattle’s Baywitch just won the world over with the release of their album Hellaspawn available today from one of our favorite independent imprints Halfshell Records & we present the following premiere first listen. A trio made up of Lila Burns, Jake Meierdierck & Casey Fischer; Baywitch refuses to be your pigeonholed surf rocking radicals but rather offer up some hedonistic lo-fi fun with clever compositions that completely obfuscate what & where their arrangement progressions are headed toward. Like a crew of coastal dwellers setting their sights on lunar bound fancies & sci-fi destinations; Baywitch performs a pop séance that sends outward a host of sweet, psych sensations that will enrapture your senses while sending you towards zones unknown.

Enter Baywitch’s bewitched & enchanted asteroid belt of freewheeling feels & the thrills of infinite fascination. The blastoff begins with “The Big One” as the Seattle trifecta strikes like a force of nature that sends the audience out to those outer-zones that only the most collegiate & scholastic minds can explain. Then all presumptions are met as you enter the “Cosmic Zone” that basks in the worlds that exist in the dimensions & galaxies that are less charted by cartographers of esoteric places. Delusions are dashed as our world is perceived with an objective point-view with Lila’s reiterations of she’s over it on “Unfairytale”, while those tradition meets contemporary arrangements move in expedient motions on “Lazy River Galaxy”, as chord progressions coupled with wall-of-sound rhythms decorate the scaling sound waves of “Dabble Trabble” that emulate an engagement with a host of space refuse that explores the discarded junk that exists both in the outer regions and the familiar realms that we all know too well.

Paranormal notions ride riff-roaring waves of exhilaration & mysticism as the showdown with Seattle’s current corrosive tech-bubble is tackled by the necromancing/dark-dancing “Technopagan” that chants down the startup-centric trend in an east meets west spell of the cryptic & spectacular. New meets vintage constantly throughout Baywitch’s Hellaspawn as “Heartbreakers” brings about classic Americana carnival-psych escapades that roll right into the guitar rhythm vision zone of “Dreamy” that provides some really intriguing & innovative executions well worthy of everyone’s attention. The heavy chord sailor song “Ghost Ship” eerily recalls the recent devastating tragedy last winter in Oakland, that plays out like an ancient derelict rime to ancient mariners, steering out toward the tributaries of wild water chop on “Sea Level She Devil” that blurs east/west arrangements that resemble an inexplicable storm.

Clowning about KISS style with Seattle’s own Baywitch; press photo by the group.

The Baywitch three broke down their Halfshell release Hellspawn with the following exclusive insights:

ALBUM REFLECTIONS

Hellaspawn is the soundtrack to a Saturday morning cartoon for stoned goth twenty-somethings. The cast includes genies, princesses, ghosts, poisonous spiders, and black holes within allegories about very real life including being ghosted by boys (“Ghosts”), having pot brownie induced panic attacks (“I.O.D.T.H.C.”), and the tangible effects of the all-consuming fascist abyss currently running the country (“Black Holes”). The opening instrumental is meant to welcome you to the Baywitch galaxy we’ve built, the subsequent tracks use familiar characters to navigate this scary and unpredictable solar system, and the title track “Hellaspawn” aims to be the moral of it all—to carve out a space for yourself in a world you don’t fit into. The instrumental outro “Potion Breeze” is best served with a slice of funfetti cake under the shade of a palm tree while stuck on a desert island.

The funfetti tape cover features a printed tropical cake being sliced/stabbed. The title-track music video features Baywitch eating this cake to celebrate the album. The practice of consuming little images of what we’re celebrating, while inherently traditional (communion, printed-sugar face-cakes, wedding figurines, those weird Barbie ones where the skirt is made of cake, etc.) is equal parts familiar and bizarre. This ritual aims to manifest the same kind of uncanny valley where common and pleasant things we all enjoy are actually kinda strange and eerie in practice.

MAKING OF HELLASPAWN

Baywitch began in 2015 as a solo project of Lila Burns while living in Philadelphia using a looping pedal and guitar. After moving back to home to Seattle, Burns wrote and recorded Moonstoners (released 420/2016). Jake Meierdierck (Drums) and Casey Fischer (Bass) joined the surf coven later that year, and the songs were re-imagined with the full ensemble—using human improvisation and wonkiness to pick up where the guitar loops left off.

With a steady stream of new (but still always thematically “spoopy”) songs, and a new full-band post-loop sound, Baywitch set out to record Hellaspawn this past February. They went up to a ‘cabin in North Bend, WA, where Daniel Onufer (Swamp Meat, Nixon Tooth, Killer Ghost) magically recorded 9 songs worth of tracks in the span of about 3 days fueled by black tea, frozen pizzas, and instant mac n’ cheese. During that time, in-between takes, Fischer also watched Point Break for the first time, which is essential to the surf music canon. Onufer mixed Hellaspawn back in Seattle, with mastering by Geoff Traeger (Stop Clicking, Swamp Meat, Killer Ghost). Together they highlighted the depth that the full-band brought to Baywitch, and bringing out textural details that make up the psy-fi Baywitch galaxy.

Catch Baywitch on the following August tour dates with Clone Wolf:

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