Recalling the history of meeting Sweetheart, Justin Nardy, the founder of Expert Work Records, gets back down memory lane to Ohio of the early 2000s. When Nardy had been active with his band, Bald Eagle. The connection between the two acts was deep:
“We found a band that could keep up with our guitar riffs, could hold their own in a basketball game, Bryan (the guitar player) could “out beard me” (we both had massive beards). They truly were one of the nicest bands we met while touring, always willing to put us up, help with a show etc. they quickly became friends with One Inch Punch (the drummer from Bald Eagle’s other band), Subscribe (another Columbia band), and Warhammer 48K. And introduced us to many Ohio bands as well; Taco Ninja and Used Kids Records in Columbus.”
For Justin Nardy, who’d started Expert Work to release some of the best records of the era, it was a nice challenge. Justin recalls:
“They only had a chance to release a self-released 7’ and later, an EP called Art Is Dead Is Dead. Both of those are fine releases, but aren’t the band’s strongest efforts. When I found out they had recorded two other records and that they had never released them, I knew I had to be a part of it and help them get these records out into the world.”
Coming out as a part of the series of releases from Expert Work Records, the EP The Process Of Making Us Well became the longest piece of music ever recorded by Sweetheart.
Discussing the nature of their one-song-long EP, the members of Sweetheart said:
“Our Columbus friends Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea wrote long, sprawling songs that started slow and took their time getting anywhere; kind of opposite to us. We loved them, and played more than a few shows with them. Their influence kind of grew on us over the years; especially the dynamic range, tension, and anticipation in their songs. We had hoped to do a split 10” with them, and so we set about to writing a long sprawling song of our own.”
The idea that never saw the light eventually led Sweetheart to get outside of their comfort zone. Over the course of twelve minutes, the band manages to perfectly unite their qualities of compositional complexity and suspense they borrowed from Unwound and later Neurosis. Self-recorded by the band in a Warehouse in Columbus, Ohio, in the spring of 2005.
Breaking up after recording some songs, and leaving the material never released seems like a common thing for a lot of bands of the late 90s/early 2000s.
Guitarist/vocalist Michael Howard explains, reflecting about the end of Sweetheart”
“The band broke up before we were happy with mixes. At the time it seemed financially irresponsible to press it when we had to cancel tours and knew the label wouldn’t break even on a release.”
Approaching the listening, editing and writing process with teaching perspective, Sweetheart managed to find their personal Zen.
Stresses Bryan Parker:
“Listening as a discipline. We valued experimentation and honesty for what’s working and not working. Listening came from repetition. Playing riffs over and over and over again. Internalizing and getting inside and out of our ideas. We took our time.”
The Unbearable Tightness Of Being is an example of precisely complex well-composed record. Building the compositional structure of the album, Sweetheart manages to pull away different elements associated with punk-rock, hardcore and post-hardcore music using them in a non-dogmatic way.
Recorded in 2005, the only LP of Sweetheart is finally coming out on February 2, 2024.
Says the band:
“There’s a lyrics on the LP that says, ‘In five years, none of this will mean anything to anyone but me” and I think we sort-a figured that was true so we just dropped it. Until Justin at Expert Work came along and asked to release it! It’s hard to describe how grateful and excited we are to see this huge part of our early 20s finally come into the world. We all worked so hard on it, and had long ago made some peace with that work, so for Expert Work to revive it 20 years later is beyond thrilling. Just being in touch with each other again, and now having a Sweetheart group text, has been a really lovely experience.”
Coming out February 2, 2024, The Process Of Making Us Well and The Unbearable Tightness Of Being would become the first releases of Sweetheart in 20 years. Pre-order both LP and EP now via Expert Work Records here. Remastered by Carl Saff.
Founded in Kent (Ohio), Sweetheart become one of the most notable bands on Ohio scene of the 2000s, playing hundreds of shows from 2002 until their breakup in 2006. Four friends raised on house shows and inside jokes were fortunate enough to play hundreds of shows through a lot of basements, bars and DIY spaces all over Ohio and across the U.S. Those shows were aggressive physicality and abrasive guitar-driven tonalities got united together in the prefect symbiosis with the lyrics that are “mostly about being a punk band from Columbus, OH,” according to the band.
In 2005 Sweetheart loaded the Dodge van, traveled out west and recorded an album that never saw the light. Until now.
The Unbearable Tightness Of Being Track Listing:
1. Out West(Intro)
2. Talking Tall
3. Fuck Purgatory
5. To Thine Own Selves Be Dudes
6. This Tour Shall Pass
7. Viva Eternity
8. Fuck Hindsight(Whaling)
9. Puppies Don’t Have Wheels