Worst Case Ontario
Once again Sam Weisberg and company have sucked our faces back to the summer of 1994. Worst Case Ontario and their fan base may get tired of people saying this, but it is meant in the best possible way. The epic two part guitar melodies juxtaposed with Weisberg’s gas huffing garage rock voice shuttles me back to the sidewalk out of Duffy’s Tavern to listen to the Flaming Lips sing Pilot Can At The Queer Of God. This is the stuff of geniuses; it was a time when you either sided with Pearl Jam or Nirvana; it was a time made for Little Bastard, Semisonic, Sponge, and all the other pop wrought bands that emerged mid-decade, after the descriptive “alternative” no longer referred to otherness or alterity, but rather the very essence of the mainstream. Slacker culture had won out on top. The only thing known about irony came from that damn Alanis Morissette video. This was a time for Mall Rats and Swingers; a time for being money. Tucked within those days of corduroy and flannel, were debates pitting Doolittle against Surfer Rosa, or Slanted and Enchanted against Wowee Zowee. Worst Case Ontario cannot help but evoke these memories. This isn’t the same thing as the Williamsburg music scene or the Bushwick art scene. Who had time for fine things? This band might circulate within the New York music scene, but they do not supplicate the trends of the day.
While their last record Burning Politely was noted to have had the same effect, Worst Case Ontario has made a shorter more concise EP trimming off much of the fat that weighed them down in the past. Like Burning Politely, Smallcraft is both endearing for its saturated musicality of the late 20th century, and inspiring for its display of rawness and earnestness. Particularly salient in this regard are the songs The Complainer and Starve, which encapsulate the very spirit of the band, though the other tracks on the EP are not nearly as interesting. The entirety of the Smallcraft project is displayed a marked improvement. The band has harnessed that space in the garage, that love affair we have with our slacker selves, and has added to it the slightest promise that they aim to be better, that they aim to be more. This is at no time more apparent than the 5:22 minute marker of the concluding track Capricorn every member of the band draws their instrument out full throttle, it is the very second where an otherwise bland track is given life and the band asserts themselves, that they aren’t exactly about not giving a fuck about life. Though the band does need to figure out how to find their sweet spot a little more often….the EP is so far from perfect…it doesn’t need to be perfect.