Jon Hanna - treble guitar, voice
Abigail Ingram - bass guitar, voice
Kanako Wynkoop - drum set, voice
Formed in August of 2008, and hailing from beautiful Olympia - WA, Broken Water are the latest noise vehicle for Kanako Wynkoop and Jon Hanna of Sisters. Abigail Ingram of Olympia's Congratulations joins the pair playing bass. All three members contribute vocals which adds to the depth of the sound. Arguably a forward progression from what had been created by Sisters, Broken Water now stand as one of only a few Olympia bands that carry the torch that'd been lit by Unwound in the 90's. We're pleased to welcome Broken Water to the RID family.
web: Broken Water via Myspace
Peripheral Star Reviews:
Says Justin Spicer at KEXP:
As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Broken Water.
How three-piece Broken Water remains a mystery, even amongst the music-hungry masses of their Pacific Northwest backyard. The Olympian trio blasted open the time machine doors with their critically adored Whet. The joint release of the album — particularly its exposure to DIY aficionados under the cloak and dagger of premiere Iowa City label Night People — lent Broken Water an audience it may not have known it had: a group of experimental fans who thirsted for the grunged bliss of yesteryear.
The rebirth of the “alternative” 90s is now well in effect thanks to reunions and reformations. As Whet set Broken Water’s course toward the late 80s/early 90s confusion of Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth, they eagerly veered off course thanks to the darkly shoegaze of their follow-up 7-inch, “Normal Never Happened” b/w “Faux King Vogue.” Never content to be pinned down by retro references and daring not repeat them, it’s this same attention to challenging themselves that inhabits their latest EP, Peripheral Star.
The pained shoegaze of “Normal Never Happened” finds itself stuffed into a succinct package courtesy of EP opener and title track, “Peripheral Star.” The track isn’t as sprawling as its ancestor but more than makes up for it with a sensual melody and a chainsaw guitar riff. “Okane No” is a playful addition to Broken Water’s repertoire, utilizing a lazy fuzz bass and cute vocal inflection that showcases a band comfortable straddling the lines of experimentalism and pop. “Kansas” and its antithesis, “Stop Means Stop,” are Peripheral Star’s standouts, finding Broken Water doing what they do best: grow. “Kansas” is Whet post-college; slacker streak intact, but a head full of knowledge and a bowing book shelf heavy with sinister ideas and heady reads. “Stop Means Stop” stands on the strength of its brutal yet catchy punk influence.
Why the Pacific Northwest continues to sleep on their very own remains an open question but consider this your chance to check in with before the Sandman’s spell is lifted and everyone’s grogginess becomes wide-eyed devotion.
Normal Never Happened 7" Reviews:
Says Jason at 7INCHES:
I still play the hell out of Broken Water's full length from Night People, "Whet", it's immediately so familiar...it definitely brings back Goo and Repetition...experimental, voluminous trio rock. They must love this stuff as much as I do, to have come up with these sincere tracks that go some new places and fit right into the most revered and played section of the record shelves.
"Normal Never Happened". They have it nailed. Down to the cryptic title. Grungy off tuned guitar melody, that sludgy slower feel rock rolling in and out that plays off the following fast hi-hat section and harmonized vocals between Abigail and Kanako (I'm assuming Jon is the dead on Thurston vocal). They're raising the bar...it's one thing Unwound never had was that back and forth between Sara and Justin. They have an ear for those complex masses of distorted harmonies that come out towards the end on this track...they go from all delicate and Bloody Valentine to bowel breaking Mudhoney. It's authentic as hell, it's in every second of this. More than lost tracks from all the influences they bring to mind, it's a case in point for you only get to this point by working through you're history. They really could go anywhere from here... To sound this good already?
"Faux King Vogue", these are the vocals that are dead on Thurston, in the best way...to even try to pull this off proves they're just doing their own thing. A melodic picked electric melody goes from folk to jangly indie to steeple crushing almost Pelican metal. They obviously don't mind sounding like anyone...they have to know they do...but it doesn't matter, when it's done like this, they pay homage and innovate at the same time, continuing a line of thinking that I don't think is ever really gong to be finished. Great guitar tones that defined an entire decade, Jon pushes that sort of grunge sound into a huge pile, like the Big Sleep, the layers of low dissonant distortion. The song construction, drum recording, fading feedback...it's more than reminding me of an entire decade of Sonic Youth and Unwound... it's more than nostalgic, it might be a wake up call to get back to some basics...guys this is serious.
God knows I love Unwound, and this is very nearly filling that giant gaping wound. It's so great to think about some kid in Olympia coming across these guys and then working backwards to those ancient classic influences. Hearing that shit for the first time, after being blown away by this.
They also get major points for letter pressing all their singles so far, and these have random ink splatters all over the front. it's the kind of thing that makes the 7" so great...someone went through each one and flung the ink and hung it over the kitchen table from a clothesline to dry...and the best part is the blue cardstock sleeve was re-appropriated from some elementary classroom exercise hanging folder. Genius.
Says Jonathan Harnish of Built On A Weak Spot:
The Olympia, WA based Broken Water have been turning up gold thus far during their brief career. Their LP Whet is still a highlight among music I’ve listened to this year and I imagine it’s going to remain as such. Part of me would welcome a change in direction, however the other part of me absolutely loves what they are doing currently and I guess in the end it probably doesn’t matter a whole hell of a lot so long as that’s the case. Broken Water have a working formula and are more than locked in, as this new single on Fan Death merely solidifies that. The Sonic Youth comparisons are going to run rampant again, maybe more so due to the b-side ‘Faux King Vogue” with Jon on vocals and his practical Thurston like delivery. However, the muddy shoegazy aspect of the band has always kind of gotten them past that in my mind and really I sort of revel in the down and out bummer vibe that Broken Water are dealing with a bit more heavily in their tunes. The a-side “Normal Never Happened” probably sounds more in line with the tracks that make up their LP, kind of creeping along underneath a fog like a more fucked up earlier Lily’s I’d say. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of that.
Says Justin Spicer of Tiny Mix Tapes:
Much like the 80s revival that swallowed the Aughts (and continues to spill into the new decade), a 90s renaissance is brewing below the mainstream, ready to pounce on tired sounds much like it did when Seattle upchucked its flannel-clad missives onto Hollywood record labels. It was what brought many ears to Broken Water's Whet earlier this year. While the Olympia trio isn't cashing in on Soundgarden and Pavement reunions, one can't help but see Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. birdies circling their noggin when Normal Never Happened knocks 'em out cold. It's relatively easy to point to the EVOL/Daydream Nation mash-up A-side (and wax namesake), "Normal Never Happened," in proceeding with such an argument but one will also find a darker edge — one might say, showgaze. "Faux King Vogue" produces the more vitriolic 90s nostalgia punch in the alterna-teeth. But it feels cheap to lavish Broken Water with dusty praise and bygone comparisons. Maybe the hypothesis is all wrong; maybe Broken Water are waiting to quell the 90s resurgence with a bit of ingenuity and vigor all their own. As quickly as alternative music rightfully descended from its A&R throne, it was snuffed out before it had a chance to mutate. Consider Normal Never Happened that metamorphosis with a decade's worth of observation to make it worth the wait.
Says Christine of Subfeeder:
Honestly, there aren't a lot of bands recently that catch my eye long enough to talk about or listen to in excess....but Broken Water has blown me away in the best way. Unwound's Vern Rumsey even described them as having "a wall of sound that would make Phil Spector jealous...". I completely agree.
Broken Water is definitely a project made up of people with developed experience and vision. This project seems like something meant to remind us that indie-punk is still possible in the form it was originally intended. As much as the 1990's has been thrown around to describe almost every approachig new band as of recently, Broken Water really surpasses the trend in the best way... carrying on where Unwound, My Bloody Valentine, and (I'd even say) Black Tambourine left off.
I was fortunate enough to see them while on tour, we played with them in Denver and once the drummer (Kanako) took off her sweatshirt to reveal a huge, torn-up Unwound shirt, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. I'd say it was definitely one of my highlights from that tour. They do not disappoint live at all.
Their full length release, Whet is an amazing accomplishment. The third song on side A (Dead Light) caught my attention from the moment they played it. The melody is pretty and fuzzy and is sung in this way where your brain swears it's being played backwards.
Says Justin Spicer of Brainwashed:
Tucked within the psychedelic and synthetic lo-fi of Shawn Reed's Night People label is an album that is as much an anomaly to the label as it is a sibling to it in its reimagining of classic sounds. Broken Water, a trio from Olympia, Washington, tap into their region's roots to dig up the blue collar crunch of a past as quickly forgotten as it was widely embraced. Whet touches every stepping stone of grunge without falling into the tar pit of predictability, not only proving rock and roll is still a powerful genre but that it can be as weird and untamed as the bands that call Night People home.
Whet is an unapologetic blast from grunge's past. The album spills over with the distorted crunch once recognized as the Northwest's calling card. Yet nothing created by Broken Water seems disingenuous, rather Whet is perhaps the most authentic artifact of an era gone by from a new generation that couldn't give a damn about what once stood where grunge's tombstone now casts its shadow. The touchstones of Broken Water are immediate and the wave of nostalgia that initially greets the ears is soon surrendered with the band's own spin on the blue collar music of the '80s and early '90s. Album opener "Say What's On Your Mind" takes a cue from Northwestern neighbor, Phil Elverum. Combining the black wooden push and pull with a lazy Dinosaur Jr. melody, the track is both catchy and ferocious. That old crick in your neck from your headbanging days is bound to ache after the song has run its course. The mix of unhinged urgency and stoner cool that permeates "Say What's On Your Mind" seeps into the roots of Whet as it crawls deeper into the forests and mountains of the Northwest. "Dead Light" is a sleepy bong hit after a night of second shift shit and your last call bourbon has left you with little energy for anything else but slumber. The comfortable juxtaposition of mellow vibes with loud guitars and pounding drums is one that is as old as time but Broken Water's take is surprisingly fresh. With the spotlight returning to the Northwest in the face of reunions and rediscoveries, Broken Water proves able to carve their own niche without relying on a scene revival. Rather, the trio from Olympia seems poised to take the scraps of old and build a style anew—away from hot lights, designer suits, and the A&R buffet.
Says Jonathan Harnish of Built On A Weak Spot:
It’s been such a nice day here that I really don’t think this is the sort of album that I should be capping my night off with here. In fact, I probably should have thrown this on sometime late Saturday night after a good round of drinking and I sat laying in the living room on the futon as my night progressively began to slow down into a muddy blur. I think this would have tagged along nicely. Anyway, Broken Water has graced these pages before as some may remember with their excellent demo/7-inch that they self-released sometime last year. It apparently was enough to get the attention of a few people that led to their debut album Whet being put out, which somehow manages to greatly topple the demo by a significant amount. The heart of 90’s indie-rock continues to pump heavily within the band for their debut, which has just been released on LP through Night People and on CD through Radio is Down. If you heard the 7-incher then you kind of already have an idea as to what the album is going to throw at you, and that is some heavily distorted and slowed down rock that drifts off into some more shoegazey moments at times. However, this kind of destroys any of the sap that may come along with the aforementioned tag and dirties it up plenty with druggy atmospherics and vocals that nearly lull me into a slumber. Although as tired as I am right now, I doubt that would be tough to do. Whet shoots right up there for one of the better albums I’ve heard this year and gets even more excited to hear future releases. I really didn’t even know this album was already on the way, so hopefully the next to come is an equally short wait.
Says Doug Mosurock of Dusted Magazine:
Built from the ruins of OlyWa outfit Sisters (sounds like the screaming guy is gone), Broken Water retains the services of psychopharmacological image consultants to an ideal of indie rock once owned by fashionplate Sonic Youth or chainsmoking Unwound, right down to the vocals. If you ever heard Sisters, you probably came in expecting this, a band from Olympia, picking up the torch of the burly, fuzzily-remembered late ‘80s/early ‘90s flannel explosion from roundabout that way. Broken Water certainly possesses the required atmosphere to get there in a hurry, with eight songs that balance things we know with a homespun, accepting feel throughout, like getting to hide out, smoke cloves, and draw shoegaze band logos on your backpack in the art studio throughout all of junior year, or finding your own secluded oasis in nature before some asshole comes along and deposits a soiled copy of Swank and an empty halfrack there. Heaviness and noise are well-balanced with syrupy vocal harmonies, and an overall moldy weirdness that suits them better than you’d expect. The album’s running order is a bit lopsided, with the stranger songs taking up a bit more space than they otherwise would, but several listens in and I find their willingness to experiment here and there quite redemptive, bolstered by the right kind of studio grit (handily applied by Capt. Trips, who did up the Sex Vid records). Parts of this sound like they would fit right at home somewhere between Evol and the first Dinosaur record, which is where a portion of my own tastes were developed, so pardon my bias – if you liked the ‘90s, welcome back. Can’t wait to hear what they do next. There’s a beautiful, hand-screened test pressing version of 100 copies, and the regular release version, which doesn’t look nearly as nice. Still though, highly recommended to teenagers and those over 30, as well as select twentysomethings.
Says Jeremy Krinsley of Impose Magazine:
Broken Water would do a mean Sebadoh cover. The band throws us further from the scent by housing two members of the west-coast Sisters, who sported some Sonic Youthy east coast chops. But Broken Water are from Olympia, not the East Village or Massachusetts, so if you're going to hear the glum pre-grunge past in the forlorn male vocals and the crankin' guitar solo, pick off contemporaries like Talbot Tagora, who would make some great touring buds for their current trip with Whet, their new LP out this week on Night People. Or refer to our new compendium of favorite Sub Pop antiquities, some of which might offer some clues.
Says Raven Sings The Blues:
Crusted with the debris of the northwest rock tradition owing to their Olympia roots, Broken Water pluck subdued melodies out of murky rock touchstones. The band, comprised of two former members of Oly band Sisters and one member of Celebration, nail the smoldering grind that washed over the Northwest output in the mid nineties. Though they do so without ever treading the same footsteps as those that came before them, rather paying homage and moving into a new era of crushing female pop. This marks yet another great vinyl release from Night People, who seem to be slowly catching the wax releases up to their fervent waves of excellent tape output. The classic Shawn Reed design on the cover only makes this all the more desirable.
Says Jeff Bell of Cheese On Toast:
It’s nice when a band wears the influence of their hometown on their sleeves. Olympia, Washington, USA is the home of Broken Water, among so many other great current and former bands – most notably, Sleater-Kinney, Beat Happening, The Microphones, and the pre-Seattle roots of Nirvana. The drear of the Pacific Northwest shadows its big treetops and rushes a grey wind through the rain that falls like broken water. If such a fleeting sense of environment and place in the world can be taken out neatly and be put into words and music, Broken Water have uprooted the sludge of Olympia and kindly spattered it over their own somber, disheveled brand of grimy post-punk shoegaze. “Heal” off the new Whet LP is a wrestle between soft female pop melodies and the noise of guitars that both trickle out in defeat. “I got lost in the past in the future…I can’t escape,” murmurs drummer and singer Kanako Wynkoop before the fated build-up of distorted guitars. Somewhere between Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, Broken Water give a new direction to the current path of music coming out of the Pacific Northwest. Their LP Whet is out now on Night People Records, and the band is currently touring the States (as I hope for a NZ show).
Says Brendan T of Sonic Masala:
I know Ive posted about Broken Water before. The Olympia, Washington three piece rose out of the ashes of Sisters to create something that held onto the Sonic Youth noise, but brought to the fore the elegaic, raw and ghostly vocals of drummer Kanako Wynkoop (such a juxtaposition will be explained shortly). They are still a relatively unchampioned band however, which is a massive shame, for if their debut LP Whet is anything to go by, these guys are a force to be reckoned with. There is no doubt that Whet showcases a sound that is steeped in the late 80's to the early 90s - heavily distorted drudging guitars, echoed vocals, sharp sparks of noise - everyone of that era, from Kim Gordon to J Mascis to Kevin Shields, have had their playbooks scrutinised, with Broken Water using it all to their own nefarious means. Opener 'Say What's On Your Mind' opens with a white noise blaze before settling down into a Dinosaur Jr wail of guitar - even guitarist Jon's voice has the affected tones of J Mascis, which is in fuller effect in 'Memory'. Kanako is the mainstay vocals wise here though, and second track 'Hear' has a slower grind to its pulse, the echoey chamber of the guitar slowing things right down, before amping up in a Raveonettes circa Whip It On scrawl. The vocals evoke Corin Tucker, a bit of grrl riot to go with your grungey squall. Elsewhere on the album, 'Web' has a more lo-fi styling a la Vivian Girls, yet with a sunnier disposition (a la Best Coast?), whilst 'Kamilche House' drawls away hazily, Kanako et al sounding like a disaffected Sub Pop cast off (in a very good way). Therefore experimentation is very much the key here style-wise, yet is all firmly entrenched in pre-Seattle explosion era, and yet somehow sounds both new and vintage. A constant juxtaposition that enhances the album rather than hinders it. Overall though Whet is refreshing in its use of noise to harken back to the days when it was ceremoniusly linked to harmony. Broken Water have constructed songs that are both abrasive and sensuous, joyous and melancholy - with their eyes nailed to the floor and their hair in their eyes one minute, their instruments in a pile and a maniacal grin on their faces the next. Its nothing new per se - but it is something that is done impeccably well. Whet to be in the running for my top ten list come December - yep, its that good.
Says Steve of Ongakubaka:
Big thanks to Jason out in Washington for dropping this in my lap. Broken Water features a couple of the guys from Ongakubaka favorite Sisters. The music here is in the same vein, with some big nods to Sonic Youth. Unlike Sisters, Broken Water has cleaned up their sound a bit and the better production really makes the record that much more dynamic. Whet is about as good a debut LP as a band could hope for, effortlessly restraining their droning psychedelic weirdness just enough to let the fantastic songwriting shine through. Whet is out now on Raccoo-oo-oon's label Night People. Buy a dozen copies and hand them out at your little sister's graduation party while you drink warm beer and hit on her friends.
Boyfriend Hole / Mother 7" Review:
Says Jonathan Harnish of Built On A Weak Spot:
I think I’ve listened to this debut single from the Olympia, Washington trio Broken Water a dozen or so times now and I am still not quite sure what to say about it other than it’s pretty damn good. Yeah, it kind of sounds like MBV if they were slowed even further down to a molasses like pace, in fact I thought I was playing it at the wrong speed to begin with. However, that’s not the best way to put it really, as there are elements of that cold dingy 80’s gothic post-punk mixed in here and there and the singer sounds so exhausted on these two tracks that I can almost feel the energy being sucked right out of me. Which really isn’t surprising I guess when taking into account that two thirds of the band is made up of members from Sisters, the other member being from Congratulations. Anyone who listened to the Sisters album on Parts Unknown already has an idea as to the type of after hour’s activities that they are channeling. Not too dissimilar from early Sonic Youth records I suppose, which really probably works just as well for Broken Water. Judging by the other tracks they have up on their page, they seem to venture more down that path than the two feature on this single. No matter, take a listen and decide for yourself. I know I’m hooked.