Seiche: Demo Press (Jackpot Records)

Seiche

You’ve probably never heard of Seiche until now. Understandable, as they were a suburban trio that never managed to get out of the basement. When they did attempt to step out into the world, they fell apart almost instantly. They recorded a demo tape and pressed up a handful of vinyl records in hopes of landing them gigs and possibly a recording deal and radio play in the Chicago area.

It didn’t.

In fact, the band came to an end less than four months after receiving their demo album and playing their first and last gig. Thus, the Demo Press–which they never considered an album proper–simply disappeared into the ether of unrealized dreams and youthful disappointment. It would find a new life in the “private press” circuit, where an original copy trades for quite a pretty penny.

But is Demo Press worth the fuss?

It is hard to dislike or fault the ambitious work of guitarist Steve Zahradnik, bassist Tom Vess, or drummer Marc Levinson. In the artwork, a classified ad seeking a keyboardist likens their work as falling “between Crimson and Floyd.” It’s an ambitious claim–the kind this writer has experienced over the years and can best be chalked up to youthful naiveté, especially considering Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer are much more apt points of comparison. The arrangements are bare, clunky, and sound like a quickly recorded demo tape would sound like.

But it’s the little things that make Demo Press an interesting listen. Take, for instance, “Evidently Me”. It’s lackluster blues rock, but then a guitar solo comes out of nowhere nearly four minutes in. Suddenly, you realize that this kid can play. “Islands” is a balls-out acid rock freakout that suddenly and without warning turns into a beautiful folk ballad. (Unfortunately the band doesn’t seem to know how to end it, and it falls apart.) “Good Mourning,” perhaps the best of the lot, is a focused progressive rocker that works wonderfully as an album closer. “The Maze” and “Medicine Man” are concise, conventional rockers that highlight the band’s potential.

That’s the keyword here: potential.  Had Seiche played some gigs before recording their demo, the songs might have blossomed. Instead, Demo Press feels undercooked and uncertain. The promise is there, but the songs needed to grow. Then again, that might not have mattered. Unfortunately for them, in the wake of Chicago’s burgeoning punk rock and industrial rock scene, their sound was dated.  Still, for those who love obscure garage rock from the late 70s and early 80s, this record will appeal and provide curiosity for what might have been.

Purchase Seiche Demo Press:  Jackpot Records

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