Time can turn slippery when you’re a hungry 20-something in an aspiring rock-and-roll band. Ambition makes the line between progress and paralysis feel mysteriously thin, so if you’re not blasting ahead at warp speed, you’re toast. Just ask Jon Weiss, singer and guitarist of the Sea Life — he’s haunted by this weird urgency pretty much around the clock. “Lack of momentum,” Weiss says, “is the killer of bands.”
Ergo, the Sea Life sounds like a band that refuses to die. Since forming in the halls of Rockville’s Wootton High School nearly a decade ago, the group has cycled through its share of sounds, styles and band members, while ratcheting up its intensity every step of the trip. Now, on the band’s new self-titled album — released on Babe City Records, the local DIY label founded by Weiss — everything suddenly feels harried and hurting, with fast songs that are high strung and ballads that are laid low.
It’s whiplashing music, and it stings hardest during “Red Eyes,” when Weiss groans about his generation’s workaday destiny: “You’re fading, and it’s a shame that you’re trading your passion for a paycheck.” Then the guitars erupt like a berserk Built to Spill outtake, and Weiss begins screaming into the margins of his voice, following his band mates out onto a new edge. Perhaps they’ve found a home there.
Show: With Nag Champa and Go Cozy on Friday at Smith Public Trust, 3514 12th St NE. Show starts at 9 p.m. 202-733-5834. smithpublictrustdc.com. $10.