Athens, Georgia duo Jake Ward & Marie A. Uhler of Eureka California celebrate the arrival of their follow up to 2016’s Versus with an advance premiere listen to the new full-length Roadrunners ahead of it’s May 4 release date via Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records. An ambitious record that collects a series of songs that have been in the making for a hot minute (and even longer), wrapping them all neatly together in a marathon lap through the madness and marvels of our current era. Scenes around the globe are saluted and entertained in emulated tributes stitched nicely into the mix as the two continue to build off their synergistic economy with their own inspired designer brand of noise that relays modern ballads of angsts, ennui, anxiety & all the oddities witnessed along the way.
Roadrunners finds the duo running the gamut of DIY delights to enrapture your senses of fascination. “MKUltra” finds the group switching into a power pop mode for the album’s introductory anthem, that dips into increased rhythmic riding demonstrations as they dust off an oldie with “Perfect Grammar” that segues swiftly into the textile fashion sensibilities of “Threads” that flings the audience into the pit. “Time After Time After Time After Time” illustrates frustrations over time wasted & patience tested in a cool collection of tightly fashioned chords as Jake & Marie keep their arrangement succinct on the ode to eye-rolling endeavors on “Over It”, to the raw emotive catharsis of “I Can’t Look In YR Direction” that airs the misgivings by way of rock therapy that exhibits the feelings that can be difficult to articulate to involved parties.
Inspirations from the proclivities of casino tycoon iconoclasts set the scene for “Howard Hughes at the Sands”, to saluting the Bills’ failed Super Bowl bids on the one minute interlude rocker “Buffalo Bills 1990-1993”, kicking up more instrumental grit on “JJT”, right before diving into the two-minute vignette of struggling class blues on “SWDs”. Jake & Marie keep the Eureka Party party rolling on the classic cruising cut “Gila Monster”, to cutting the phone cables on the toxic folks in your life on the smooth & cool ring of “Telephone Tone”, right before entering into the inquiries of clandestine histories of pecadillos titled “How Long Has This Been Going On”, that leads to the group’s teeth & fist-clenched closing single “Mexican Coke” that takes a refreshing pause that resonates with the duo’s most realized sound to date (in short, this is the song that you need to bug your local radio DJs to play continuously).
Eureka California’s Jake Ward & Marie A. Uhler broke down their new album Roadrunners track for track:
This song was born out of listening to lots of Elliott Smith and George Harrison and was originally much, much slower. In a true That Thing You Do moment, Marie realized that the song worked better uptempo than it did as a quiet acoustic song. I’ve gotten more compliments for the phrase Kroger brand Morrissey than I have for anything else the band has ever done.
2. “Perfect Grammar”
Definitely the oldest song on the record, written around 2008. It’s been changed a bit over time. I was 20 when I wrote it and the old lyrics didn’t really fit with how I feel now.
Written while listening to specifically “Every Day I Write the Book” by Elvis Costello, which is really heavy on wordplay. It is the song on the record that took the longest time to come together.
4. “Time After Time After Time After Time”
Some of the riffs of this song were written around the time of Versus but never coalesced into a proper song. The main riff sounds like Superchunk to me but MJ said it sounds more like The Wedding Present, so who knows? The title is, of course, a reference to the Cyndi Lauper song. On Versus, everything was so lyric-heavy and word-heavy, so it was a conscious effort on this record to have some songs that weren’t so driven by the vocals.
5. “Over It”
I remember writing the first version of this song after listening to “Lilting” by Oh-OK on repeat for half an hour. That song is about a minute long. I listened to it a bunch, tried to figure it out on bass, couldn’t do it and ended up coming up with something else while writing the lyrics in the shower. Subject-wise this song is pretty obvious as to what it’s about, isn’t it?
6. “I Can’t Look In Yr Direction”
I’m pretty sure this song came together while I was house-sitting for Marie. I just posted up in the practice room and came up with the two parts. I think I made up the lyrics on the spot when I first brought the song to Marie.
7. “Howard Hughes at the Sands”
This one was written after watching the movie Chaplin. I’ve always really been interested in the story of Howard Hughes and how he kind of lost his mind when he was at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. He was a massive personality and became a total recluse. He kind of disappeared completely. I think I probably found out about him from the episode “$pringfield” in the Simpsons, where Mr. Burns kind of turns into a Howard Hughes figure.
8. “Buffalo Bills 1990-1993”
The Buffalo Bills went to the Super Bowl four years in a row and lost each time.
Marie: I wrote this song on guitar, showed it to Jake, and he made it a little more of a real song. I don’t play guitar. I wrote the lyrics in the studio at the last possible moment, just a couple of weeks after quitting a job that had done a real number on my health and honestly nearly killed me. We live in a poor town where everyone is always struggling, the cost of living continues to rise while wages stagnate. It hurts to watch beautiful, brilliant, creative people constantly stifled by the inability to earn enough money to live.
We’ve heard it already.
11. “Gila Monster”
This was originally written sometime during Crunch. Without being too specific, it’s kind of about the downtown bar scene. And I grew up in the Southwest and really like Gila monsters.
12. “Telephone Tone”
This was originally recorded for Big Cats Can Swim but left off because Mike said it sounded too much like Pavement and Weezer. It’s about superficial friends that you cut out of your life.
13. “How Long Has This Been Going On?”
I don’t remember how this song came together. It seems like for a long time it wasn’t here and then bam—magically, there it was. Sometimes when we’re playing music together a song just happens; I think it is probably common for lots of bands but we have super different schedules and are often out of sync when we get together. It’s one of my favorite songs to play live because the distorted part reminds me of The Who.
14. “Mexican Coke”
The chorus was written sometime around when we left to go to the UK to record Versus. The songs on this album are from a time spanning almost the entire existence of this band. The older the song, the more changes it’s gone through. Some of the tracks are things we tried to work with, couldn’t figure out, and had to just place aside; then, one day, they clicked. This one kind of came together right at the end as we were solidifying what would be on the record.
Eureka California’s new album Roadrunners will be available May 4 via HHBTM Records.