After several home-recorded cassette releases and a self-titled EP, Creeper Lagoon front man Sharky Laguana partnered with guitarist/vocalist Ian Sefchick (joined by Geoff Chisholm and David Kostiner) to form a band. Thus constituted, the Bay Area outfit delivered I Become Small and Go, which reprises a few selections from earlier releases. The opening “Wonderful Love” is typical ’90s radio fare, while “Tracy” suggests Fountains of Wayne with more booze and less wit, “Empty Ships” puts the Weezer fix in, “Sylvia” mis-cribs from My Bloody Valentine and “Dear Deadly” attempts to enroll in the school of Pavement. By-the-numbers contemporary alterna-pop for listeners who’ve never heard any.
Without any change of purpose, Watering Ghost Garden is better, with songs that evince actual writing effort. “Centipede Eyes” restates the musical point of I Become Small and Go‘s “Dreaming Again” with honorable intentions. “Roman Hearts” is (hopefully) a Flaming Lips homage. Despite the contrived sound and off-key vocals (“Chain Smoker”), the whimsical California dreampop sound suggests potential.
Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday vainly soaks a working rock band fluidity into the sponge. “Wrecking Ball” tries to swing on lyrics as lame as “Coming down like a wrecking ball / Breaking her heart like a plane that’s coming down,” but an energetic vocal adds character to “Up All Night” (“I was elastic and I was scratching everybody’s dreams”). “Sunfair” is likewise saved by a good arrangement and vocals that fit rather than grate. “Lover’s Leap” touches on Pink Floyd and “Hey Sister” sounds like Huey Lewis, but “Chance of a Lifetime” is Creeper Lagoon’s most anthemic song to date.
Sharky then assembled an entirely new band for Remember the Future (a title first used in 1973 by prog-rockers Nektar). Rather than diving into the kitchen sink, “So Little to Give” opens the album with straight dream pop. “There’s a New Girl” resembles contemporary Starflyer 59 (a good thing). Workable vocal effects strengthen “Kisses and Pills,” which is enlarged by a techno beat. But other tracks on the album are dampened by an indifferent drum sound and a hollow mix.
The group intended to release Long Dry Cold under a new name, Painbirds, but it was already taken, so Creeper Lagoon it remained. With only a few Meddle-era Floyd hints remaining from past releases, the opening “Henry Ford” makes it clear this is a new band. Newcomer Rachel Lastimosa’s vocals are a particular improvement, as are the songwriting and treated-acoustic arrangements. (The lineup also includes drummer Jason Bassler and guitarist Miles Tuffli.). “Parked Car” is intriguing in that it channels My Bloody Valentine and Mountain Goats. “Sell You Short” is a fine construction. “Come on Along” simply cribs the Beta Band, and “Nothing as it’s Going to Be” could be an MBV B-side. Creeper Lagoon’s best.
Sly Doc, an EP of home techno, is Sharky under a pseudonym. On the Speakers is Ian Sefchick’s guitar-pop band.