Released: 2014, Self Released
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
After some delay, but with just as much anticipation, the San Fran sludge machine known as Bottom are finally back with full length number 4, HUG MYSELF…ALL THE TIME. Reactivated in 2012 after a self-imposed hiatus, Bottom has survived lineup shuffles and scene trends, intent on delivering heavy riffs and doom laden exaltations. Consisting of 13 genre-bending tracks, HUG MYSELF…ALL THE TIME is a collection of the band’s past and present, but should be considered the definitive expression of what Bottom is all about.
Stylistically, Bottom is a hard band to define. Owing as much to Sabbath and Saint Vitus as they do to L7 and the Melvins, Bottom delivers mean riffs and snarled vocals amidst a haze of fuzz, hallucinogens and middle fingers proudly raised high. Their body of work dates back to the late ‘90s, and while the tone of the band has always been consistent, each album has a unique presence.
A fair chunk of the songs on HUG MYSELF made an appearance on the live-in-the-studio EP, MMXII, but their presentation here comes across as “what we really meant to say last time was…” Songs like “Pale Horseman” and “In an Instant” may be already familiar to fans, but their delivery here is unparalleled. As a point of fact, the entire album comes across as a more mature, professional version of Bottom; the artwork, the packaging, the performances, the Billy Anderson production job, etc. These individual nuances make for a big collective difference in the listening experience. But where the band has grown the most is in the songwriting department. Newer tracks like “iz-my-ill”, “dayroom (sun.day)” and the exceptional “smudge” introduce more experimental elements to the arrangements, but without sacrificing the core heaviness of the tunes. Vocalist/guitarist/founder Sina also sounds more confident with her vocal delivery; the shouts and growls are just as fierce as ever, but the sultry, softer moments will stick in your membrane.
HUG MYSELF…ALL THE TIME is available through Bottom’s Bandcamp page as a name your price download, or you can pony up a few shekels for a physical copy (which looks really sharp, for what it's worth). Check out Bottom, check out this album, it’s good stuff.