We are all products of our environment. It just so happens that some are luckier than others when it comes to where they are from. Building off the rich history of the Washington DC scene, Olympiais able to draw from the diverse anthology of the bands that came before them. Where other bands end up being carbon copies of a fleeting trend, Olympia has forged a sound all their own. If the Washington DC music scene is a barrel full of gasoline, then Olympia is the box of matches.
Following the demise of their band Fairweather (Equal Vision Records), drummer Shane Johnson and guitarist Peter Tsouras joined up with bassist Nick Barkley and former Brand New Disaster (Tribunal Records) vocalist Phil Williams in late 2005. The band took shape and began writing songs, recording their first five songs in December.
Olympia quickly went into the studio with producer Matthew Ellard at the helm. Known for his work with a wide variety of musical acts (Motorhead, Converge, Morphine, BearvsShark), Ellard was the perfect architect for the bandís sonic vision. The resulting album, entitled Emergencies, showcases Olympiaís aggressive and dissonant musical creation.
For whatever reason, I'm a sucker for that understated catchy sound that very few bands can pull off well, the kind of tunes that get you moving quickly, but you don't really know why. The band isn't beating you over the head with cheap hooks and dumb pop lyrics, yet something still gets you going. Punchline is a band, in my opinion, that has always pulled it off with great success.
Along comes Olympia, comprising former members of Fairweather and Brand New Disaster. Disregarding most of the emo influences of their former bands and Washington D.C., except for maybe some silly song titles, these four gents created Emergencies, 11 songs and 42 minutes of almost straightforward, kickass rock. Sure, the title track might have more of an indie vocal style, but the heavy foot of a rock beat remains intact throughout. The combined experience of Olympia's members is evident in the songwriting, but moving away from the trends of today's music scene has helped them to create a refreshingly simple sound for this band.
The rock sound has garnered more than a few Foo Fighters comparisons, but the band isn't nearly as hard in its approach and compares better to some of the more radio-friendly alternative acts of the late 90s. If anything, the comparison applies more to early Foo Fighters, while the vocals of "Even Rome Had Sewers" bring Joey Cape to mind.
But whatever you want to compare it to, Olympia hits its mark with a great debut. Emergencies is diverse yet steady rock from start to finish. It's catchy, but not to a degree that'll make you feel guilty for liking it. Olympia is one of the first new bands worth checking out in 2007, and Emergencies is simply a great rock album