If you have ever owned a gas station jacket or several pairs of Dickies at one time—and they were not for a work uniform—or if you have memories of eating the world’s worst vegan food because it was all that was available (mashed-together chickpeas and Vegenaise in a hot dog bun, anyone?); if your bedroom at your parents’ house was covered in CD longbox faces and flyers, if you wrote pretentious letters to your distro friends on your grandparents’ typewriter and included a Polaroid of yourself in a club bathroom and some Sanrio stickers (were we pen pals, perhaps?)—or if you didn’t get to experience this strange and tender time in American independent rock culture but find it appealing—you’ll be as charmed by this posthumous EP by Olympia’s Soggy Creep as I was. It sounds like my teen years in the best way possible: all the nostalgia, none of the actual pain.
The Olympia, Washington-Washington D.C. ’90s punk/indie rock connection had existed through the ’80s, but was cemented by Bikini Kill’s summer in the nation’s capital; coincidentally, the show mentioned in the linked Washington Post piece was also the very first punk show I ever attended (purely because I thought the flyer looked cool, not because I knew anything about any of the bands playing). From there, it grew; bands developed fruitful relationships with one another, and these two insular, peculiar outposts of independent culture grew their names and their draw in the national scene, which was considerably bigger than either city’s square footage. The sounds that developed between the two cities (and their suburbs) over the ’80s and ’90s—Hoover and Karp, Unrest and Beat Happening, Hose.Got.Cable and Lync—shifted and darkened as the sounds of the underground were snatched up by a mainstream that was hungry for the next Nirvana.
It’s this era and circuit to which Soggy Creep so lovingly pay homage, without sounding exactly like any of their predecessors—they’re a little grungy, a little shambly, a little whiny, a little churny. There are the faster ones (“Forgotten Skin,” “Eradicated Man”) and the slower ones (“Shallow Drownings”), but the whole thing never strays too far from the kind of mid-tempo shuffle appropriate for a crowd with their arms crossed and their heads nodding. While their previous EPs worshipped more directly at the altar of Greg Sage, this one has an array of patron saints—we can only hope that the band will, as they suggest on their page, potentially reconvene to explore this dusty territory a bit more. Most of the ’90s-indebted bands getting press these days owe more to Pavement than they do Universal Order of Armageddon; this is a welcome stylistic change to these old ears.