A horrible hack


Start to Finish

Year Released: 2013
Format: CD
Label: Coolidge Records
Reviewed by Andy Malcolm on Sep 17, 2013
This was a bit of an unexpected one to come through the door. A Speedwell discography CD. Must be all those old emo guys getting to a certain age. Braid touring again, the Jazz June back together, Speedwell putting a discog out. Speedwell merited two mentions in the history of the website, here is mention number one from a review of Emo Diaries 3:

“in case you've forgotten what the Promise Ring sounded like when they started out, Speedwell are here to remind you, but their singer is not so fun”

OK, given how irrationally angry I got about emo diaries in my early 20s, I guess I must have quite liked the Speedwell song. Giving it another listen here, that couple of sentences is pretty much spot on for “Pacifique”, it’s got a lovely P-Ring style intro, and the singer is no Davey but it works OK, gets a bit Jeremy Enigk at time with his emoting which is fine. This is a really nice song, and more up my street than some of the more refined stuff that kicks this CD off. If new emo bands sounded like this instead of what they actually sound like, the world would be a better place, for me. Not for many others I guess.

The only other mention is from a review of a Shudder To Think comp that mentions one band on it was ex-Speedwell.

It seems these songs go in almost reverse order, the first songs are from a 2001 EP, and these songs are the ones that do the least for me - kind of comfortable indie rock, but with a bit of Get Up Kids mixed in when they pick up the pace. We have to get all the way in to track 8, Pacifique before we get something that clicks with me, and that one is from 1997. Everything after that is from ‘97 too, and is much better as far as I am concerned. It’s classic late 90s stuff, lots of miserable songs with and out of tune vocals, quiet and loud, twinkles, melody, Minerals, that kind of thing. There is a total Indian Summer thing going on in “Hydrogen”, which is almost 10 minutes long, the first half of which is all build up and a long sample from Herb Morrison talking about the Hindenburg just prior to and during the moment it burst into flames, which is quite an astonishing piece if you have never heard it before. Once the song kicks in, Speedwell are yelling and falling over in classic fashion. Strange to think this is the same band that recorded the first few songs on the CD.

The final 6 songs are rough and ready demos, lots more sobbing and amateurish guitar flailing in the typical midwestmo fashion. Nothing wrong with that for me, it’s solid stuff for the most part, packing plenty of riffy melody and whiney vocals, there was a stage in my life where I lived for this kind of thing. “Truss Rod” is the pick, a killer piece of Mineral style action.

There is some good stuff on here, and I expect a few people miss Speedwell enough to pick this up. Stand outs for me are Pacifique and Hydrogen, nobody really writes songs that sound like the latter any more. This CD is an interesting insight into a pretty minor band from the genre but for old emo heads there is enough here to intrigue if you didn’t catch it the first time round (I certainly didn’t), and it might excite a few new folk too.

Share this: