Review Rewind: The Cheeps-Self-titled 12″ LP

1,405. that’s how many local recordings have been reviewed in What’s Up! over the last 15 years. Some good, some not so good, all offering something to the local scene and in these pages. A review was and will always be a band’s chance to get some press and show folks what they are doing. If a band lives around here, or on a local label, we review it and have never turned anyone away if they met one of those qualifications. Among the recordings reviewed, a few really stood out for one reason or another – it might have been how good it was or the impact it had on the scene or the statement at that time. This issue, we re-reviewed 15 of our favorite records over the last 15 years (and included a blurb from the original review) and talked not just about the music, but why the recording is important in the music scene’s history. Every one of these recordings should be on your iTunes, find ‘em, listen to ‘em, love ‘em. We do.

 

February 2004: “The material is strong, the arrangements loose enough to be interesting and the mix dynamic enough that nothing gets lost in the fray. Put simply, this is everything a debut record should be.” –Kasey Anderson

 

Side one begins with an off the rails drum fill. The band rushes in and the Cheeps’ vocalist, Leatherpants, coolly deadpans, “Don’t you track that shit in,” over a hairy guitar riff. The sound is lo-fi, buzzing, needles in the red. Leatherpants’ vocals are hot and flat on the tape machine. The entire band seems to be pushing the tempo faster, yet there isn’t that awkward tension you hear with inexperienced bands. They are collected, calm, and nonchalant, but their sound is like bees fighting, jalopies racing, and teenagers raging. They’re locked in – a result of playing together since they learned how to play. The songs are propulsive, catchy and masterly crafted. The recording is perfect. Play it at a party, or while you work out, or whatever you use this stuff for.

By the third song the Cheeps have already spun a lot of serious Northwest shit. Train wreck punk rock, sing-a-long pop hooks, sloppy garage blues, heavy ass Sabbath-esques, and grey weather fuck-all. The record recalls Northwest pop garage bands like The Makers, Bikini Kill, The Spits, and The Fall-outs. The Cheeps manage their Northwest history well, nodding with ease to heavier bands like Mudhoney, Melvins and Unwound. There is also an unmistakable quality that made the Cheeps a regular and loved visitor in the Bay Area scene – a certain pop and punk rock sensibility shared by Oakland bands like Hickey, The Peechees and Fleshies. And when “Little Bug” arrives on side two it hits you that this is love pop, like K Records and old issues of Cometbus.

As Bellingham knows, LP has proved himself to be an exceptionally talented songwriter in rock and roll and balladry. But in the Cheeps, his first band, LP collaborates with a group of childhood friends to create unique garage punk. Kyrial and James sculpt a wall of punk noise. Christian smokes, unfazed. Mike Michael, who is a Bellingham treasure, brings nothing but apt, mind-blowing, and apparently effortless Keith Moonisms. Justin McIntyre of the Narrows recorded this record in a basement on F Street. The owner of Slovenly Records (The Spits, Scared of Chaka, Billy Childish) signed the Cheeps after a night of partying with LP at F and Dupont. This record brought the Cheeps to the national stage. You can find this record at Slovenly’s website for only 6 bucks. You’re ridiculous not to get a copy right now.

-Ben Wildenhaus