Saturday, February 7, 2009

postpunk on the prairie: Seam

There once was a time when I wanted to be SEAM.

(Musically, that is.)

Still do, actually.

Something about this longstanding Chicago band captivated me at very first listen, and kept my rapt attention with everything I ended up hearing from them. If I have to pick my top three indierock bands, Seam easily makes the list, and would be in strong competition for the #1 spot.

Led by Bitch Magnet alum Sooyoung Park on vocals/songwriting/guitars - and fleshed out by various different bassists/drummers/second guitarists depending on the album - the band's penchant for huge somber-to-in your face dynamics, Sooyoung's barely-audible vocals, terrific minimalist songwriting, and just stellar guitars, it's truly a shame they never got more recognition.

While I never hope to solve that recognition thing with the 35 readers this blog has, if even one person recognizes this band's utter brilliance, my mission is done.

With every band I was in, and with nearly every song I wrote for a duration some time ago, I wanted to sound like Seam. That's the level of influence these guys had (and still have) on me. But my songwriting skills are nowhere even close to matching up, and I include myself in the inability of any band I've been in to perform them well. So of course I had to live vicariously through just listening instead (though here you can hear an utterly pathetic-yet-still-cool garage cover an old band of mine did of their first LP's track "Shame", with yours truly on bass guitar).

As far as I know Seam is still a going concern, but they've not released an album since 1998's THE PACE IS GLACIAL, and haven't played a gig (as far as I am aware) since 2007. Sooyoung's since relocated to the West Coast, and other band alum are scattered about Chicago either in other bands or doing who knows what.

But to hell with that - featuring here on this very blog are the finest works they've released, the stellar 1993-to-1995 run of an EP and two LPs.

First we feature 1993's KERNEL EP. With a remake of a song initially appearing on their debut LP HEADSPARKS (the aforementioned "Shame") but this time much more subdued than the original (my old band's cover version I linked above is based on the original), a cover of a Breaking Circus track "Driving the Dynamite Truck", again much more subdued/dynamic than the original, and two new tracks "Kernel" and "Sweet Pea", Seam comes roaring out with passion and energy.

Later that same year they blasted everything away - rewrote the book, if you will - with the utterly fucking phenomenal LP THE PROBLEM WITH ME - a landmark record, in my eyes. The first full-length to feature my favorite aspects of the band as mentioned earlier, there's not a duff track in the bunch. Blasting off with "Rafael", slowing the pace a bit with "Road To Madrid", flying off the handle again with a remade "Sweet Pea" (the E Bow guitar here is utterly stellar, that keening sound throughout the track that sounds almost like feedback), building and releasing tension all the way through to the closer "Autopilot" (what a song!) - this album is utterly unstoppable.

Then we segue into 1995's ARE YOU DRIVING ME CRAZY? - a refinement, if you will, of what they perfected with THE PROBLEM WITH ME. It's much the same spectacular sound/songs/dynamics but with added new twists, and a more developed sense of pacing. Had I never heard THE PROBLEM WITH ME this album instead would be tops - but the band had a hard act to follow, and while they didn't top it, they may have matched it with this one.

I've seen Seam quite a few times and each gig was spectacular - I even taped them once. I will upload that gig at some point to the blog.

So enjoy - and as usual, these records are (as far as I know) all still in print on Touch and Go, so for Chrissakes go buy 'em after sampling 'em here!

Kernel / The Problem With Me / Are You Driving Me Crazy

- - - - - - -


(1993 Touch and Go TG112CD)

01 Kernel
02 Sweet Pea
03 Shame
04 Driving The Dynamite Truck


(1993 Touch and Go TG118CD)

01 Rafael
02 Bunch
03 Road To Madrid
04 Stage 2000
05 Sweet Pea
06 Dust And Turpentine
07 Something's Burning
08 The Wild Cat
09 Autopilot


(1995 Touch and Go TG142CD)

01 Berlitz
02 Hey Latasha
03 Port of Charleston
04 Rainy Season
05 Two Is Enough
06 Haole Redux
07 Tuff Luck
08 Broken Bones
09 Sometimes I Forget
10 Petty Thievery

all the above split into two RAR files, need to download both to extract....

edit: removed link.


  1. Wow thanks for these 3 Seam albums!

  2. I have always enjoyed this band, and these are the core releases, Listening to this instantly transports me back to 1995. I have all on LPs and 7 inches but this is really handy THANK YOU SO MUCH YOU RULE

  3. sounds great ! you're blog is a rare gem in the an ocean of shitty blogs :)

    keep it up. you're truly a good soul.


  4. Thanks so much for posting these. Looking forward to hearing them!

    Cheers, K.

  5. Faaaaaack I keep missing the links

  6. hello, i bumped into your blog through searching for something new from bedhead.
    and i found it amazing that we share the same favorite bands, like bedhead and seam.
    it's a pity that i started to notice their fantastic songs after they have already stopped working, and probably i could never have a chance to see thier live show.
    i'm pleased to find your blog, please keep working on and share some more good music.
    by the way, my favorite song in "THE PROBLEM WITH
    ME" is "wild cat".
    (i'm not a english native speaker, so please forgive my poor english)

  7. Seam's music and The Problem With me especially has been the soundtrack to my life. Fucking phenomenal music. Shame, Grain, Rafael, The Wild Cat, and Bunch are my favorites to name a few. They deserve more recognition but then again I'm glad to be apart of the small circle that enjoys their music which changed my life.