"Are you telling me that computers can save this unlistenable disaster?"
February 15, 2020 12:15 AM   Subscribe

Before he was considered a noted podcaster or something of a raconteur, before he made a Christmas album with Jonathan Coulton, before he said that punk rock was bullshit, before his music opened every episode of My Brother, My Brother, and Me, and before he was the frontman of The Long Winters, John Roderick led the short-lived Seattle buzz-band the Western State Hurricanes. The missing link between the Grunge scene and Seattle's late 90s indie rock explosion (led by tour mates and frequent collaborators Death Cab For Cutie), their debut LP Through With Love, recorded 20 years ago and long-thought unsalvageable, is finally available to listen to now. YouTube. Apple Music. Spotify. You can purchase the limited edition vinyl LP here.

Roderick and Merlin Mann longwindedly discuss his history with the Western State Hurricanes, and how their album went from "unsalvageable" to "salvaged" in a two part Roderick on the Line special, episodes 341, "The Head of Two-Thousand" and 342, "The Scrappy Sessions" (with some followup in episode 352, "Bellingham Notes").

Many of the songs on Through With Love also appeared in less knotted and complicated forms on the first Long Winters LP, The Worst You Can Do Is Harm, in 2002 (produced by Chris Walla from Death Cab). The song Delicate Hands was eventually rerecorded for 2005's Ultimatum EP. This is the first time a studio recording of the album's title track has ever been available.

The Western State Hurricanes performed on 29 Live, "The Northwest's Premier Music Television Showcase" Episode #112, aired 10/2/1998.

Video of Western State Hurricanes performing (about half of) Car Parts at The Tractor on Feburary 8, 2020.
posted by JimBennett (13 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
(you left out his run for office)
posted by mwhybark at 12:50 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


before his music opened every episode of My Brother, My Brother, and Me

I have listened to those 2 bits of "It's a Departure" 438 times.
posted by straight at 12:58 AM on February 15 [5 favorites]


Is he a mefite? It just seems like he would be
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:59 AM on February 15


he's not a mefite but he is a big fan of matt haughey
posted by JimBennett at 1:06 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


finally available to listen to now if you live in America!

So tired of geo-blocks. It ain't 1998, ffs.
posted by dobbs at 2:11 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


I can listen to it just fine here in Germany on Spotify and I have friends in other countries, where it works, too. Not sure about other services, though.
posted by dominik at 3:08 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Roderick and Merlin Mann longwindedly discuss his history with the Western State Hurricanes, and how their album went from "unsalvageable" to "salvaged" in a two part Roderick on the Line special, episodes 341, "The Head of Two-Thousand" and 342, "The Scrappy Sessions" (with some followup in episode 352, "Bellingham Notes").

Can someone give a summary of what happened to the album? I’m not listening to three hours of audio to find out.
posted by zamboni at 3:14 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Can someone give a summary of what happened to the album? I’m not listening to three hours of audio to find out.

The tl;dr is that they were young and made some extremely poor decisions about who to trust in the recording process, going with someone who had a bunch of fancy gear but no idea how to use it, and no track record of success. IIRC, the biggest casualty was the drum tracks.

The band broke up soon afterward, with all of the members later saying that they didn't realize they had captured lightning in a bottle until long afterward. John Roderick shopped around the tracks repeatedly over the years, and each time was told that a professional mix could not be salvaged from what they had.

Recently, John found out with someone else that, with superhuman efforts, it might be possible to salvage it by essentially recreating the drum track from scratch, by retriggering everything (this is a process where you identify where and how hard the drummer is hitting everything, and then using that to independently play back individual drum hits). With a large capital investment, that by all reports is unlikely to ever be recouped, John eventually worked with a producer to recreate a workable drum part by hand from the original.

Ofc, with John Roderick, the story itself is where the fun lies. I could listen to John talk about this WSH drama for two days. Roderick on the Line is a weird thing that's hard to explain and hard to explain how to get into, but these two episodes aren't a bad place to start. They're nice and self contained and you can see in them what makes the show work.
posted by billjings at 8:07 AM on February 15 [5 favorites]


It's worth noting here, btw, that probably the best, most accessible work John is doing right now is his work with Ken Jennings on The Omnibus podcast. You can jump into that by choosing whatever topic looks interesting and jumping right in. They both do great research work, and you get to hear great John Roderick stories on the way (e.g. how it was that John came to smoke crack for the first time) without having the immense John context that makes Roderick on the Line what it is.
posted by billjings at 8:22 AM on February 15 [4 favorites]


great summary! for an even shorter TLDR, see the title of the post.
posted by JimBennett at 8:24 AM on February 15


He's familiar, but not too familiar...
posted by wellifyouinsist at 12:19 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Still hasn't finished those 13 songs, I see.
posted by lantius at 12:31 PM on February 15


I'm 41 and I still maintain a very small list of people I would love to meet and talk to in a non "after the show so it's quick and kind of weird" way. It's more than a little desperate and sad, I admit, but John Roderick has been at the top for about ten years now. He's easily one of the best songwriters working.
posted by littlerobothead at 8:26 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


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