Speaker Speaker
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Speaker Speaker


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"Seattle PI review of "Call it Off""

"Call It Off," Speaker Speaker's debut full-length record, kicks off with the quick-hitting one-two punch of "Parties" followed by the record's title track. From there it's one big romp through a musical playground of jangly guitars and memorably melodies while Speaker Speaker greases the skids of rock n' roll with feverish firecrackers of crisp pop songs.

The band blends the perfect mixture of all things that make up edgier side of Seattle music, making "Call It Off" sound like Nirvana and The Posies are having a battle of the bands inside your stereo.

You'll be drawn in by the pop-driven sensibilities of "I Was Wrong" and "Radio Days" and by the time you get through the squalling intro of "Stuck" and the banging blasts and screams of "So Many Nights" you'll realize you just found your new favorite band.

This is a record that would fit in perfectly during the early 90s heyday of Seattle music and fits even more perfectly in the current climate, providing a fresh shot of rock to today's scene as each of its 13 tracks are filled with machinegun drumming, irresistible hooks and amps that are cranked to 11.

Simply put, this is a must buy for anyone hoping to latch on to Seattle's next big thing before they explode. - Seattle PI

""Call it Off" review by punknews.org"

Seattle's Speaker Speaker pick it up a little bit with their debut full-length, Call It Off. While a bit straightforward, Call It Off is a fun number that's reminiscent of a more pop-punk version of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists circa Shake the Sheets (especially thanks to the voice of singer/guitarist Colin McBride), or the Thermals' more energetic days.

Speaker Speaker tend to operate on one, albeit multi-faceted tactic: upbeat, and uptempo. Granted, this is filtered through some good and varied structures and slightly altered moods. Thus, all of the songs on Call It Off are fairly distinguishable and make for sure standouts: Songs like the title track find the band driving and excited, while "Radio Days" seems like the band's half-accomplished attempt at updating Elvis Costello's "Radio" for the new century. "I Was Wrong" and "Pick Me Up" offer back-to-back batches of pure, college radio-friendly hooks that keep you paying attention and, at worst, nodding along.

The brash "We Won't March" makes a re-appearance from its position as the title track of the band's 2007 EP, here as a perfectly paced midpoint. Elsewhere in the second half, "Turnout" sort of bums me out because it sounds like the song is cut off a second or two early, and it abruptly shifts into the equally rambunctious "Got Away." I don't know if it was intentional or just a total engineering flop, but it sort of hurts the album's momentum. Luckily, the last few songs here are good enough to just about make up for it.

J. Robbins was even roped in for production here, and his is a ragged, well-done flair. Speaker Speaker would probably border on annoying with super glossy production, so Robbins did a superb job otherwise toning them down a bit.

Call It Off is as solid a debut as they come. I'm not entirely sure what Speaker Speaker are referring to in their title, but hopefully it's not their career as its start is pretty promising. - www.punknews.org

"Seattle Weekly article by Rachel Shimp"

By Rachel Shimp

Kurt Cobain, who in the '80s appeared on a ragtag project of Calvin Johnson's called the Go Team, was such a fan of the Northwest indie-pop scene that he inked the "K shield"—the insignia of Johnson's K Records, on his arm. In the Oct. 24 Pitchfork article "Twee as Fuck," Nitsuh Abebe points out that devotees of the indie-pop scene—who've reclaimed the label "twee," once used to negatively refer to the style's emotional directness and amateurish musicianship—are "some of the only people in the world who remember that Kurt Cobain used to kind of be one of them."

That fact is not lost on the members of Speaker Speaker, a young Seattle band whose take on pop is neither here (syrupy, simplistic) nor there (brooding, aggressive), and who—like many of their musically attuned peers—transform equal affection for Nirvana and '60s pop into jangly songs with just enough seriousness to avoid the polarizing "twee" label. Nevertheless, they were asked to play the "Twee, Pop Fest" Saturday, Dec. 10, at Chop Suey, to their admitted confusion. "I didn't know if I was out of it for not knowing it was actually a word," says bassist Danny Oleson. Twee Speaker Speaker may not be, but pop they definitely are.

"I Was Wrong," the best song on their brief, self-issued new EP, Again & Again & Again, is a familiar tale of romantic disillusionment complete with hand claps, Phil Spector–like drum hits, and punk power chords alternating throughout. Oleson and guitarist Colin McBride, who share vocal duties, started the math-rock band Vermillion almost 10 years ago in high school and called it quits in 2002. "Vermillion was a very arty band, difficult to listen to for a lot of people, and we got tired of it," says Oleson. A year and a half ago, they found themselves together again with the common goal of penning a few old-fashioned pop songs. Drummer Jasen Samford had idolized the guys in their former incarnation and was enlisted years later as a member of Speaker Speaker. The easy camaraderie among the three prevents any undesirable power dynamics.

This joviality carries over to Again & Again & Again, recorded at Orbit Audio—the band members met the studio's Joe Reineke at his "Localpalooza" showcase last summer. The crisp recording displays the tightness of the new band. "Statues/Shadows," which has received airplay on KEXP and the End—Speaker Speaker was recently picked as the latter's "MySpace Band of the Week"—recalls They Might Be Giants as McBride tries to shake off an unwanted object of affection in a scant two minutes. The title track reverses the situation, letting a goofy, noodly guitar solo occasionally break through McBride's proclamation: "Three long years and not a girl has ever touched my heart/You did it in two days; you ripped it apart." Sing/scream-along background chorus "Again and again and again and again/The only one I want is you" contrasts with "ooh-ooh/ba-ba-ba" for a charming result—an unlikely marriage of girl-group harmonies and fist-pounding, heart-on-the-floor drinking songs.

Although the band has released precious little of its material, the EP's artwork, done by Patent Pending's Jesse LeDoux—who was nominated for a Grammy for his work on the Shins' Chutes Too Narrow—may garner it some extra attention. LeDoux's signature style of bright colors, quirky shapes, and imagery is practically a stamp of quality for many Northwest musicians. Speaker Speaker hope the look of professionalism will run parallel to perceptions of their music. "The presentation was important to us. We didn't want to do it yet if we didn't have the capacity to do something we were proud of. So we planned it out, got the resources, and did as much as we could," says Oleson.

Speaker Speaker's sound caters to a younger crowd, with audiences at all-ages and now-defunct venues like the Punkin House (where they played one of its last shows) more receptive than the bar-band crowd. "I think there is a dichotomy in Seattle between bands that are starting out. There are only so many Friday and Saturday nights and only so many good venues in town," says McBride. Occasionally the bar scene offers surprises, though, as during one recent show at a Pioneer Square venue. "We played with two really quiet bands; we headlined and were really loud," says McBride. "A song in, we got a note to turn it down, and all the waitresses were plugging their ears. Meanwhile, there's a Rolling Stone article on the wall about Alice in Chains, and Layne Staley is saying, 'When we started out, we just wanted to play here'—and I'm like, we just got told to turn it down?" Seattle may change, but the feisty spirit of indie pop—or whatever you want to call it—stays basically the same.

- Seattle Weekly

"CD Reviews - Speaker Speaker - Again & Again & Again"

New local band Speaker Speaker (featuring members of Vermilion and the Murdered Housewives) are bringing back the beloved sound of the early '90s, when power pop was spiked with punk and the songs were all about awkward boys getting crushes on too-cool-for-school girls who really weren't all that awesome in the end. Just like Weston, early Superchunk, or even Sicko, Speaker Speaker concentrate more on having fun and playing something snappy—and less on getting the harmonies so perfect. Their well-crafted tunes are sloppy enough to be endearing and innocent, but also loud enough with distortion to be bitter and edgy. The occasional handclap breakdown and lyrics like "I need barbeques in the sun and kisses just for fun," remind us they're just happy-go-lucky softies at heart, though. And even though their debut EP, Again & Again & Again, is only three songs long, it's still an impressive introduction for the band. It's also a great reminder that good music doesn't always have to be so serious. MEGAN SELING - The Stranger

""Again & Again & Again" review from Three Imaginary Girls""

By Joseph Riippi, Imaginary NYC Correspondent

The best moment on this three-song debut EP by Seattle band Speaker Speaker occurs less than a minute into "Again & Again," the pseudo-title track. In the midst of a barrage of innocuous guitar, singer-guitarist Colin McBride yells out in all his summer-punkness, "This is a love song and I just want you to know / my heart is true." The moment encompasses the oxymoronic mash of this somewhat-brilliant, somewhat-irrelevant EP (their LP will be the one to get Speaker Speaker attention): punkishly sweet, sweetly punk, think the Shins-meet-Green Day. Their 50's pop knowledge of power chords — and probably a lot of Adult Swim — meets unexpected vocal melodies that end as abruptly as a slap outside a roller rink.

"Statues/Shadows" kicks off the EP with the most fleeting of the three tracks; simple, persuasive and enjoyable, the song passes quickly like the soundtrack to a documentary about watching Grease at a drive-in. But it sets the tone for the rest of this lovely and delicate "twee-punk" record (or at least makes up for whatever tone-setting the hot pink CD casing didn't cover).

The best track of the three is the last, entitled "I Was Wrong," which really sounds like three songs put together. It changes pace as often as the stair-step machines in a Bally's, and has just as much energy in its high points as it does Tullycraft-like coyness in the chorusing comment: "I should have known that when you said you hate the Beatles that I was wrong."

Again & Again & Again isn't anything more than a fucking riot and a blast. The band is good, very good; their hand claps and "ooo-ooo"'s are on key and wonderful, very wonderful. And the album art by local graphic-Michelangelo Jesse Ledoux, famed for the cool cut-out Chutes too Narrow art for the Shins, makes the record even more an appealing a buy. - Three Imaginary Girls

""Again & Again & Again" review from tastyfanzine.org.uk"

Speaker Speaker - Again and Again and Again
This Seattle based three piece could not be further removed from their darker hometown cousins Nirvana. Jeez, that must get annoying getting compared to Nirvana just because you are from the same city.

Speaker Speaker expel rapid fire 3 minute pop nuggets full of scratchy guitars and punk rock sensibility but in a way that your mother would approve of. Cool robo-alien style graphics too. - tastyfanzine.org.uk

""Again & Again & Again" review from iheartmusic.net"

Don't let the Jesse Ledoux artwork fool you: Speaker Speaker's debut EP, Again & Again & Again, may look similar to The Shins' Chutes Too Narrow or Rogue Wave's Descended Like Vultures, but as far as the music goes, there are key differences. "Again & Again" (which is streaming on both the band's website and their Myspace page, along with the EP's other two songs), for example, has thundering drums and a urgent riff that puts the band closer to any number of punk bands than anything those indie-poppers have ever come up with. Similarly, "I Was Wrong" has an audible sneer, giving Speaker Speaker a bit of an edge, and "Statues/Shadows" has more in common with The Weakerthans than anything else.

If anything bad could be said about Again & Again & Again, it's this: at three songs, it's not nearly long enough. Hopefully Speaker Speaker will come out with more in 2006, and they'll show everything they're obviously capable of doing. - iheartmusic.net

"KEXP's John Richards on Call It Off"

Great buzz in town for this band who have been hard at work here in town playing a ton of ever improving live shows and putting out one of the best Seattle rock releases of the year. This is a band to keep an eye on and see early. Good things come to talent like this. - John Richards

"Seattle Weelky Review"

Seattle trio Speaker Speaker don't screw around with formalities—like any good power-pop band they get right to the crunch, right to the hooks, and right to the melodies that usually stick in your head for hours, if not days. Singer-guitarist Colin McBride, bassist Danny Oleson, and drummer Jasen Samford spike their punch with familiar spirits: the punky thrust of Buzzcocks and early Elvis Costello; the "magnetism of Robin Zander and the charisma of Rick Nielsen" (as Damone put it); the busy bass lines and speedy drumming of such melodic hardcore groups as Dag Nasty, Descendents, and All; and the strangled croons and howls of countless emo/screamo outfits of the '90s and '00s." -Michael Alan Goldberg, Seattle Weekly - Seattle Weekly

"DIYing to Be Heard - Speaker Speaker Generate a Buzz"


On an uncharacteristically cold spring evening, Capitol Hill's Pine Street is buzzing with its usual animated Saturday-night crowd. A river of messy-haired hipsters flows in and out of Linda's and the Cha Cha, while those looking for a place to dance continue up the street to the Bus Stop. People duck into Bimbo's and Hot Mama's Pizza for a quick bite to eat before scurrying up a few more blocks for a show at Neumo's, while others dodge traffic in the crosswalks or patiently wait for a bus going downtown. Everyone is looking for a place to go—to drink, to eat, and to see and be seen. The streets are crawling with cool.

In the midst of the night's familiar action, a 10-foot Penske moving truck pulls over to the side of the road across from Linda's. Before anyone takes notice, three unassuming young men hop out of a nearby van and, in a matter of seconds, the back of the truck is opened up, revealing a drum set and small PA. A couple of microphones are quickly set up while Colin McBride and Danny Oleson strap on their guitar and bass, respectively, and their bandmate Jasen Samford jumps into the back of the truck and sits behind the drums. Curious onlookers begin to crowd around them and just as McBride strums the first chord, he hollers into the mic "Hi! We're Speaker Speaker!"

The band burns through a loud set of infectious and angsty pop songs. One friend circles the action with a handheld video camera while strangers snap pictures with camera phones and bob their heads approvingly to the beat. Even the cops seem to enjoy the show; their only request is that someone needs to move the double-parked "getaway car" out of the flow of traffic.

Then after four or five blisteringly quick and catchy tunes, McBride, Samford, and Oleson jump into the waiting van and drive away with the group of strangers still cheering them on.


"I think your article should start out saying something like, 'Man, I can't believe how amazing Speaker Speaker are,'" says McBride while holding back his laughter. He flicks a cigarette butt from his fingertips, brushes his brown shaggy hair out of his eyes, and jumps down from the curb on which he was carefully balancing. "Speaker Speaker," he continues, "are the next Nirvana, Beatles, Jawbreaker, and Sunny Day Real Estate—combined!"

McBride grins and then opens the door and heads back inside Magpie Cage, a recording studio hidden inside a small brick building on a side street in Baltimore, Maryland.

It's June. And even though only a couple of months have passed since their guerrilla-style street performance, that memory is far from their minds as they sit 3,000 miles away from the Pine Street intersection they once invaded. Right now, they're focused on their future. Speaker Speaker have spent at least 12 hours a day for the past four days here at Magpie Cage, and that's just the beginning of the two-week process of recording their debut full-length album with J. Robbins, the celebrated producer of a long list of artists including Against Me! and the Dismemberment Plan. (Robbins is also the illustrious frontman of the defunct posthardcore band Jawbox, but I'll spare you that long fan letter).

That Speaker Speaker find themselves in this position, one for which many well-established musicians would likely give up a kidney, is an awesome accomplishment in itself. But to see such a big and ballsy move from a band that's been playing together for just over a year, well, that only supports what their attention-grabbing antics suggest—Speaker Speaker are out to make some waves.

Their blueprint for world domination began in 2004, when Oleson and McBride (who were bandmates in the disbanded math-rock group Vermilion) began playing music together again. The next year they met Samford through a mutual friend, and before the end of 2005, the band self-released a three-song EP titled Again & Again & Again. Impressively, the CD flaunted bright cartoon cover art by Jesse LeDoux, the talented former Sub Pop employee famous for his distinctive album art for bands like the Shins and Pedro the Lion. But Again & Again & Again was more than a pretty package. It was a quick punch of power pop that appealed to those with a soft spot for bright and catchy melodies. Along with local music fans, Seattle radio and newspapers took notice, too, often praising the band for their endearing, well-crafted tunes.

Then Speaker Speaker got put on The Stranger's 2006 Big Shot ballot. At the time, the band had high hopes of recording a full-length record with Robbins, but since they were (and still are, actually) without a label and outside funding, they needed to come up with the cash to pay for the project themselves. To make it happen, they had to win the $2,000 cash prize that came along with the Big Shot title.

To ensure they stood out on the ballot of the 13 local artists, including heavy hitters like Panda and Angel, the Bats of Belfry, and Common Market, Speaker Speaker and friends took to the streets of the city and relentlessly bombarded crowded bars, record stores, and restaurants, urging people to vote for them. The band's sweet acoustic serenades and upbeat songs blaring from a boom box impressed the people enough that most of them happily obliged. But it was the aforementioned surprise street performance that sealed the deal. Speaker Speaker's hardcore campaign tactics earned them over 800 votes in the contest, and they were announced the grand-prize winners at the Big Shot finale, defeating fellow semifinalists Tennis Pro, Romance, and Thee Emergency. Speaker Speaker's fate was decided; they booked studio time and traveled to Maryland.


Back in Baltimore, the evening air has "cooled" to a sticky 90 degrees. An army of delicate fireflies lights up the twilight air with their fluorescent green glow, while a thunderstorm looms in the distance and threatens to wash out the entire city. Inside the studio, the boys are exhausted yet ecstatic despite the oncoming weather. Most of the instrumentation is done, many of the vocals are tackled; smiles abound while they listen to the rough mix of songs blasting from the speakers.

While Again & Again & Again may have led listeners to believe that Speaker Speaker were all about sugar-coating a broken heart with magnetic melodies and poppy handclaps, the full-length incarnation of the trio brings out a more intense side of the band's songwriting. Now they're kicking and screaming to be heard. They feed back and distort their guitars while refusing to go along with anyone's bullshit in songs like "Call It Off" and "We Won't March." But unsurprisingly, the sometimes-sour messages still come wrapped in a catchy and upbeat package. This time around, there's just some grit to make sure their point isn't simply brushed off as "cute."

They wrote their record, they played every show, and saved every cent in order to get their asses across the country to record it with the producer of their dreams, but now Speaker Speaker have yet another obstacle to tackle—they have to get this still unnamed album out to the masses.

It was a brave move to make the thing before they had a way to release it (read: a label), but it was also a smart one. They did everything on their own terms. The risk is worth it, says Oleson. "Even if nothing happens with [the album]," he says, "it'll still be worth it because we're walking away with what we wanted, a record we're really proud of."

Something tells me, though, based on the boys' track record so far, if there's any band that can make it work, it's Speaker Speaker. Even if it means they have to force themselves onto the masses via another surprise attack.
megan@thestranger.com - The Stranger (a weekly seattle publication)


Debut EP, "Again & Again & Again" self-released Fall 2005. Artwork by Jesse LeDoux; Recorded by Joe Reineke. Peaked at #143 on CMJ charts.

"We Won't March" EP released by Burning Building Recordings (www.bbrecordings.com)

"Call it Off" LP released by Burning Building Recordings (www.bbrecordings.com). Recorded by J. Robbins. Artwork by Jesse LeDoux. Peaked at #83 on CMJ charts. Entire album streaming at www.speakerspeakermusic.com

Regular rotation on Seattle's KEXP and KNDD from Nov. 2005 - Present.

Entire Call it Off LP streaming at:
More songs available at:



"Established in the Fall of 2004, Seattle trio Speaker Speaker generated a quick and substantial buzz within the Seattle music community. Their 3 song introductory EP, Again & Again & Again, earned them regular rotation on the influential KEXP 90.3 and airplay at over 150 more college and public stations across the country, peaking at #147 on the CMJ Top 200. As a result of the exposure, they ultimately were nominated for Seattle Weekly's Best Pop Band of 2006 and were also voted by the community as the winners of The Stranger's Big Shot competition.

Their second EP, "We Won't March" (April 2007), featuring two originals, two live songs, and a cover of Jawbreaker's "Do You Still Hate Me?", left critics describing the group as a "nosebleed on overdrive" and a "defiant answer to indie rock's disparaging past couple of years". It also garnered them comparisons to Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Jawbreaker, The Thermals, and Mission of Burma.

Following up two successful EP's, the band builds on their foundation to release their finest work to date, the full length entitled "Call It Off". Recorded in Baltimore, MD with the illustrious J. Robbins (Against Me!, Dismemberment Plan, Promise Ring) at his Magpie Cage studio, and featuring original artwork by Jesse Ledoux (Shins, Pedro the Lion), "Call It Off" pounds through 13 songs in under 33 minutes. It is the perfect mix of punk rock and a pop sensibility; each song gets stuck in your head for days. If you've never heard Speaker Speaker, let this work be your introduction."

Debut EP, "Again & Again & Again" self-released Fall 2005. Artwork by Jesse LeDoux; Recorded by Joe Reineke. Peaked at #143 on CMJ charts.

"We Won't March" EP released by Burning Building Recordings (www.bbrecordings.com)

"Call it Off" LP released by Burning Building Recordings (www.bbrecordings.com). Recorded by J. Robbins. Artwork by Jesse LeDoux. Peaked at #83 on CMJ charts. Entire album streaming at www.speakerspeakermusic.com

Regular rotation on Seattle's KEXP and KNDD from Nov. 2005 - Present.

Entire Call it Off LP streaming at:
More songs available at: