FEW THINGS are more frustrating than trying to fall back asleep after waking up in the middle of the night. You're just lying there, in silence, consumed by an endless stream of vivid and abstract thoughts that run wildly behind shrouded eyes. You keep hoping the sandman finds you before the rising sun does. Restlessness is an inescapable white noise for the mind, busy with ideas, hopes, regrets, and doubts. Sometimes, the only solution to finding peace is by sealing off your mind and opening your ears to even harsher sounds, with tones and lyrics that channel the dead spirit of a sleepless night.
This case could be made by the dour, San Francisco post-punk band Weekend, whose full-length debut album Sports (due out next week on Slumberland) has become my official 3 am soundtrack over the course of the last few restless weeks. Not to say that listening to Sports at some point in the late night/early morning is superior to getting a solid night's rest, but it's nearly become a necessary evil to help drift back into the subconscious. Once I hit play, the air is fed by a blistering rush of shoegaze-y garage punk, whose morose, reverbed vocals, piercing guitar squalls, ominous low ends, and steady, Thomas Dinger-esque kraut rhythms give light to a whole new kind of darkness.
"I find inspiration from darkness and isolation," explains guitarist Shaun Durkan, who formed the band less than two years ago, and released a 10-inch on boutique vinyl imprint Mexican Summer not long after. "We really try to emphasize atmosphere and space."
Sports' 10 tracks stretch out over 45 minutes, allowing the mind to lock into the tones that massage you all over, then beat you senseless (wash, rinse, repeat). Durkan's dreary, reverbed vocals evoke a sense of distance and disconnect from the listener, attacking with a sustained scream that could wake the dead when the songs' sonic climaxes are reached. "It's easy to assume that I'm tortured," he says, "But I'm not a particularly sad case. Everyone has their troubles."
Weekend's combination of elements has birthed an exciting, wide-eyed, focused sound that you'll think about when you go to bed, as well as when you wake up. Now let's try to get some damn sleep.