I don’t know how Chris Sheldon finds the time to see his family; the guy consistently crops up in mixing and production credits for loads of the stuff that passes across the Dreaded Press desk, from household names to unknown newbies such as Ocean Bottom Nightmare. But that’s today’s economy for you, I guess – if there’s work on offer, take it, do it well, look for more. His name already secured, Sheldon can afford to work with rank amateurs; if they’re really not all that and a bag of chips, their music is unlikely to damage his kudos, because no one is likely to hear it. Equally, he can champion and assist a band he thinks might go the distance; think of it as a kind of speculative investment, what I believe the economists call a “futures option”.
I’m tempted to say that Ocean Bottom Nightmare‘s debut single “What Would Judas Do?” might fit in that latter bracket, if only because they seem not to be just another polished pop-punk/chart-alternative clone cluster. Jazz hi-hats and walking bass start things off, soon joined by weird lyrics delivered alternately in Dadaist monologues with falsetto harmonies and roaring hardcore rage; there’s a simplistic and driving chorus, catchy as hell, and then a by-the-numbers beatdown bit in the middle that seems more spoof than homage. Ocean Bottom Nightmare then proceed to break it all down, deconstructing the erratic and schizoid fury-pop of the first half of the song over the whole length of the second. There’s something kind of Future Of The Left about it, though not at the level of sounds: it’s rather something about the attitude at work here, something to do with critiquing a style by inhabiting it and subverting it from within, a suggestion of playfulness and serious intent balanced equally behind the scenes.
Ocean Bottom Nightmare deploy no virtuoso rocket science, perhaps (at least not in this track), but they possess an admirable energy and tightness, and a sound whose simplicity and lack of gloss serves their material pretty well. One single song isn’t much to go on, of course, but “What Would Judas Do?” lingers long enough in memory to suggest that there might well be more good stuff to come. Guess we’ll see.