Thursday, September 8, 2011

Paisley Underground Series, #23: Wednesday Week- What We Had (1987) / Betsy's House EP (1983) MP3 & FLAC

"There's no going back, too much has changed. It's mostly me though that's not the same."

While often unfairly overshadowed by Paisley Underground cohorts The Bangles, Wednesday week boasted an impressive pedigree that at various points in the band's evolution included stints by Steve Wynn & Dave Provost of The Dream Syndicate and Kjehl Johansen of The Urinals. Driven creatively by sisters Kristi and Kelly Callan, the band went through several name changes before issuing their first recordings on a pair of legendary L.A. underground music comps: Warf Rat Tales  and Radio Tokyo Tapes. In fact, it was Vitus Mataré, the curator and producer of the former, as well as the keyboard player for The Last, who forced the Callans to come up with the name that would endure for the remainder the band's existence. When they first drew interest from Warf Rat Records, the Callans' called their band Narrow Adventure, a name Mataré wisely objected to; as a result, he issued the band a terse ultimatum: change your name or you'll be dropped from the comp. Inspired by The Undertones' classic song of the same name, the band rechristened itself Wednesday Week and set to work on the Betsy's House EP, a group of songs that demonstrate Wednesday Week's Garage-Rock origins to a far greater extent than the significantly more polished work they later issued on Enigma Records. For example, on "I Don't Know," the band's trademark jangle is certainly there, but it's dressed in harsh, cutting tones, lending the song, with some help from Kristi Callan's wonderfully wounded lead vocals, a significant emotional bite.

By the time Wednesday Week had issued their presciently-titled debut album, What We Had, a staggering four years later, the Paisley movement was showing signs of decline, and though Jangle-Pop was still popular with the college-rock crowd, any hope Wednesday Week might have had for a commercial breakthrough along the lines of The Go-Gos or The Bangles was in vain. Nevertheless, their Enigma debut, though a bit over-polished in places, stands as a fine example of late-eighties Jangle-Pop and also has the distinction of being produced by one of the architects of the eighties jangle-revival, Don Dixon. Interestingly, Dixon manages to give the album both a glossy sheen and a dark murkiness that results in a sound that is certainly reminiscent of The Bangles' earlier work, but the band consistently demonstrates a melodic sensibility that sets them apart to some extent from their contemporaries. On "Missionary" for instance, the Callan sisters reach for a heavier sound that they beautifully punctuate with yearning lead vocals and a memorable harmony-driven chorus, resulting in one of the better singles released during the waning days of the Paisley scene. Another distinctive characteristic of the band's sound that tended to go unmentioned in the context of all the Bangles comparisons is their emphasis on Power-Pop over psych-rock. While there are certainly subtle psychedelic flourishes sprinkled throughout What We Had, songs such as "Why" and the brilliant "Forever" suggest the Callan sisters spent as much time listening to Big Star as they did The Byrds. What We Had is the kind of album that can slip by unnoticed but if given half a chance, has a wealth of hidden gems to offer. Unfortunately for Wednesday Week, few took the time to listen in 1987, and the band called it quits three years later.

What We Had   
(Noble Rot ~ 2007/1987 ~ Remastered & Expanded Edition)


-What We Had
 1. Why  (3:14)
 2. Feel So Small  (2:28)
 3. I Wonder What You Hear  (4:04)
 4. Sometimes  (2:36)
 5. I Thought  (2:33)
 6. Missionary  (4:19)
 7. If Only  (2:43)
 8. Circle  (2:47)
 9. All That Again  (3:15)
10. Suicide  (2:58)
11. Boy (You Got Me Good)  (3:27)
12. Looking Back  (2:40)
13. Forever  (3:36)

-Betsy's House EP
14. Perspective  (1:56)
15. I Hate Lying to Mom  (1:57)
16. Sad Little Dog  (2:30)
17. Pretty Cities  (2:18)
18. I Don't Know  (3:39)
-Bonus Tracks-
19. You Wanted Me to Hang Around  (3:34)
20. The Leopard  (3:40)
21. Christmas Here  (4:20)
22. Also Clear  (2:52)
23. No Going Back  (3:18)

Wednesday Week- "Missionary" Video (1987)


  1. I am not familiar with this band. How many times will I have to write that line? ;)

  2. Forgot about these guys (gals)... one of the underappreciated gems of the era. Thanks for sharing!

  3. So happy to see this series back! Thanks!

  4. scurfie, since it means a new discovery, I hope you write it many more times ;)

  5. Old Man Rocking, my pleasure. I completely agree; this one gets overlooked far too often

  6. leakingwater, the Paisley series will continue on for quite some time. I've just inundated with work lately and haven't been able to post as frequently. The Three O'Clock is coming soon!

  7. Never heard about these guys. Must check'em. Thanks voixautre!

  8. Dude, it's not Victor, but Vitus Mataré. Check it out on allmusic.

  9. Please could you reup?
    Great site!
    Regards from Argentina!

  10. The three songs you listed from What We Had---Forever, Why, and Missionary---were written and sung by bassist Heidi Rodewald, not either of the Callans.


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