“Why did you choose the medium that you did?” is in all likelihood the bane of some art school kids existence; somewhere. Despite that being true, looking through the same lens at a different truth, it’s hardly a question asked in music. Perhaps this has something to do with music being a generally less “self-conscious” art form; testament to the power of accessibility would not be an unreasonable thing to think. Still, a reasonable question to ask would be, ‘It’s 2015 and in a time when the means to record music at a decent production level are more accessible than ever, why do people still pursue this sort of lo-fi sensibility?’ On their debut cassette Burnt Out By 3PM, D.C noise punk outfit Witch Coast churn out a turned-up, greasy, and above all, up-front answer to this question.
With earlier releases, like the Witch Coast For President EP, the band managed to shimmer though this nearly impregnable lo-fi exterior, and what came of it were songs that could be driving and fiercely emotional, while somehow staying charmingly lackadaisical. Songs like “Dopesick” or “Waste Away”, both of which were re-recorded for Burnt Out By 3PM, flex this really lazy and pained vocal delivery. While the song “True East” (also re-recorded for the album) showcases the band’s ability to write a song that uses sharp and angular rhythmic passages; where there’s less room to be lackadaisical and timing matters a lot more.
Outside of the songs that were passed on to the new album from Witch Coast For President, Burnt Out By 3PM takes the band’s sound and gives it a dry boost. This decision to peel back some of the grime without completely abandoning their lo-fi compass makes the wailing vocal melody over incredibly straight forward lyrics on a song like “Feeling Sick” really enjoyable. The bands’ seamless performance on the surf rock infused “Noon Kill Love” is unrelenting; letting the bass guitar carve out intricate and potent melodic phrases. It’s at this point that you sense Witch Coast starting to move out of this youthful head space and into more refined and articulate musings.
What’s really amazing about this record is the way that certain songs could have ended up sounding complelelty diffrent. It’s in this that the bands decision to produce the record the way that they did becomes meaningful. The visibly gritty production style gives the record a dark and brooding sense. The title track “Burnt Out By 3PM” or the closer “Waste Away” could function just as well as super jangly pop tunes as they do enjoyably forlorn indie rock, and it’s special when a band is able to pull that type of thing off.
Burnt Out By 3PM will be released October 26 on Babe City Records. You can stream it in full below.