Thursday, January 9, 2014

HEALTH PROBLEMS "A Glut of Plastic" CS


Punk Rock is a strange thing to get right. Mathematically, everyone in the universe should logically be able to put out a stellar punk rock cassette. But even though two acts can play the same song almost note for note, the difference can be as drastic as Stevie Ray Vaughan to Jimi Hendrix, the former sounding cold and the later sounding full of soul. What separates the Ramones and early Devo from some dinguses off Burger Records or the flavor of the month band that just passed through your one trick pony town on the Warped Tour? The answers aren't always black and white. They can be straight up mysterious at times.

This brings me to the case of Health Problems new EP "A Glut of Plastic". Logically, this should be a four song cassette I can really get behind. Health Problems recorded this cassette in Olympia, Washington in February 2013. That communities specific sound is very present; add a guitar to their line up and Health Problems sound a lot like "Some Velvet Sidewalk", a main player in the early nineties Olympia indie rock explosion (watch the documentary Songs for Cassavettes to see them interviewed and rocking out).

Health Problems minimal and untraditional trio set up is also in line with the Olympia DIY philosophy. The band is a vocalist, a bassist and a drummer. Bands like Cadalatica (guitar, keys, drums), Beat Happening (Guitarist, Vocalist, drummer), Kicking Giant (guitar and drum duo) GodHeadsilo (drum and bass) also fall into this category, bands whose instrumentation imply that perhaps getting a more formal power pop trio line up is not accessible due to a lack musicians in the area. But these minimal line ups is also what made Olympia sound special and unique.

Health Problems kind of feel 20 years late to the party. If this came out on Kill Rock Stars in 1994 I wouldn't be surprised at all. It isn't over produced, the lyrics are great and the vocalist truly sings his lungs out and the drummer has some pretty good rolls in here.

This cassette is simply just not innovating. They're good at what they do but the envelope isn't being pushed, which is what punk rock is all about. Emotionally I completely trust these guys. Their hearts are in the right place and it is obvious. So I give this cassette a solid B-. I hope Health Problems keep it up and push forward!

-- Jack Turnbull
www.jackturnbull.com