Bunkbed was Keith Krate. Was. Past tense. Keith passed away in 2002, leaving behind a modest repertoire of bedroom pop recordings. Two LPs, one 7-inch, and one split single with XIU XIU. Today we talk about the band’s 7-inch single Substance Abuse on Let’s Go Records.
To my recollection, I stumbled upon this 7-inch at Easy Street Records in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle sometime between my undergrad and graduate school days, which puts the year at 2004. It was in the dollar single section.
On title track “Substance Abuse”, you can hear Krate’s mellow, melancholy vocals sung at just above a whisper atop a lightly strummed guitar and softly percussed drums. The melody has a romantic air to it, pleasant yet drenched in sadness, and Krate’s vocals follow suit.
This isn’t a single to blast loudly. This isn’t a song for the outdoors. It’s one to play on an overcast fall day, much like today. In a place like here, a small town in NW Washington where the wind blows heavy and rain streams down icy and cold. It’s solitary, isolated. Alone.
“Grasping for Reasons” introduces a cello to the mix (replacing the percussion), but the rest remains relatively similar: soft bedroom pop synonymous with Bunkbed’s other recorded works. But, contrary to the A side, in “Grasping for Reasons”, there’s a air of hope and of anticipation, barely audible over the hints of anxiety within.
While Substance Abuse was originally released the same year as Bunkbed’s 1999 debut LP Nothing Ever Lasts, the title track found its way onto Krate’s 2002 follow up, Swimming Back to Shore Without Me. “Grasping for Reasons” is exclusive to this release.