Jennyanykind – Revelater (Elektra 1996)

July 29, 2008


Revelater (Elektra 1996)

The major label frenzy to sign anyone within sniffing distance of your Nirvanas and Sonic Youths resulted in greater exposure for some and ruin for others. Were advertisements in shitty rags, MTV airplay and product placement in the rural malls really going to make Jennyanykind, Scrawl, Jesus Lizard and Jawbox more palatable to most folks? Hell, most of these bands weren’t even palatable to me by this point.

I have no clue why a major label like Elektra decided to sign a band that was enamored by Jesus Christ, Jerry Garcia, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Howling Wolf, Flaming Lips and Pink Floyd and market it as an indie-rock album. Sure, their work had a raw, punky edge at times and their earliest work was released by the No. 6 label(Beme Seed, Crystallized Movements, Luna, Nada Surf, etc), but this was surely a big ass square block in a teensy-weensy round hole. It’s a shame since Revelater cuts the fat from their meandering jams and rants which results in bizarre southern rock songs about the apocalypse, humility in the face of god’s power, the dangers of a sinful life and repentance.

This isn’t a shtick–No sight of high pitched whines and tree costumes ala Danielson. Michael Holland’s lyrics are earnest explorations of his own struggles with faith and the misdeeds of his past. He comes off as troubled and angry on half of the tracks while the other half play loose and fancy free with light-hearted hippie psych that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early 70s Dead record. I’m more interested in the angry, conflicted side of Holland that searches for meaning in the universe in a three-minute pop song on his major label debut. What were they thinking? It was commercial suicide and sit kind of sunk the band for good. Yes, they released many more albums, but they sort of blew their cosmic, soul searching load on this one.

Revelater got no respect from anyone. Its been dismissed by hipsters, hippies and christian rockers alike. However, I believe it may be one of the most underrated albums to result from the major label feeding frenzy of the 90s. Revelater is a fried, almost paranoid ode to the power of a vengeful god masquerading as an indie-rock album. Love it to death and like most of this band’s work. i’ll be posting more this week.

10 Responses to “Jennyanykind – Revelater (Elektra 1996)”

  1. Tmoney Says:

    Interesting analysis. That record was actually a big one fingered salute to the industry that was already digging its own grave. They were trying to put one over on us, so we struck first. Even back then you could see the oversaturation of generic indie bands coming a mile away. Musically and lyrically we wanted to make a statement about our place as we saw it using good vs. evil metaphors that, as Southerners, we grew up with. Thanks for the download. My copy of Revelater disappeared years ago…

    Jennyanykind Bass Player

  2. John B. Says:

    I worked at Elektra when this album came out, and wrote the band’s bio for the release. In the bio, I pulled out the lyric “Kinda creepy/yet so endearin’,” from “Revelation in Practice Room #13,” as an apt description for the whole album.

    To this day, I think Revelater is a terribly overlooked and underrated masterpiece, and 12 years later, I listen to it surprisingly often. There’s a lot to think about in those lyrics. Glad to see there’s at least one other person who agrees.

    And, though you probably don’t remember me, hi Tom.

  3. logan Says:

    you guys are right – this record is unbelievable. totally blew my mind then and still does to this day.
    as a member of a chapel hill band (roman candle), im really in awe of what these guys accomplished with their recordings.

  4. paulipavilion Says:

    So glad I found you guys.

    I got a ton of discs in the mid-1990s while working as a music critic at a Midwestern paper. I’m talking a blizzard, too many to review, and I knew the vast majority would be crap anyway.

    A year or so after I moved on from that job, I dug through my stack of freebies and gave Revelator a spin. Fourteen years later, I count it as among the finest albums of that decade.

    It’s an astounding blend of country gospel preached from the soul, rather than the pulpit; euphoric ballads; and smashing rock anthems, all played to perfection. It’s music that subtly accelerates and then slams on the brakes. It’s dense but loose. Most of all, in an era when a lot of suburban bands were doing earnest but unimpressive impressions of roots music, Jennyanykind made it all sound genuine and straight from the heart.

    I have this bizarre fantasy of turning film director Wes Anderson on to this album so he can use a track or two in one of his masterworks, thereby rescuing this band of geniuses from unjust obscurity.

    • Pauli, We are having a comeback! A new split 7 ” is in production and we are playing some shows, including the Hopscotch Festival in Raleigh. Look for an interview in American Songwriter this year (the “Drinks with…” series) as well.

      Best regards,


  5. Logan, You the man. See you in Nashville.

    The album was meant for the listener who understood the battle of good and evil in everyone. It didn’t fair well, and we knew it wouldn’t in that major label shitstem. We knew it wouldn’t last as nothing lasts in this world. We left that label knowing we had stuck to our guns, and left them with a big pile of something they could do nothing with. Thanks for the advance Elektra, and fuck you all over again.

  6. […] I remember this one I found in a phone both where the topic was rock and roll and the main character’s name was Tom.  This was particularly spooky as I was on tour and had just signed on to a major label and was recording an album based on Southern Fundamental Christianity… […]

  7. Didn't You Notice? Says:

    “When you get to heaven, there’ll be no religion, only soul.”

    I could turn that line over and over in my head until the day I die and never be able to explain it adequately. But it’s true.

    Definitely one of the best albums of the decade, and certainly the only one that I would place proudly as part of the classic rock tradition (if by ‘classic rock’ you mean the best and most soulful Dylan/Band/Stones/Creedence/Velvets records anyway.) I’m not aware of any other band in the 90s that played with this much soul in a remotely traditional sense. Certainly not one with songs anywhere near this good or this deep. Glad to see this album stuck with a few other people too, but not exactly surprised.

    I really do love the grappling with the concept of “soul” too, not just the fact that they actually play with so fucking much soul and so much commitment. Very unique especially for the time, though there is that Silver Jews song that asks “will soul music change / now that souls have turned strange?” It’s a great line, but David Berman is really only capable of asking the question, while Jennyanykind are committed enough to answer it. The answer is of course yes. And no. But enough music critic bullshit.

    I found “Revelater” ten years ago in the dollar used bin of a chain store somewhere between L.A. and San Diego (along with Lambchop’s “Thriller”, Nothing Painted Blue’s “Placeholders” and several other very unlikely great albums that must have been salvaged from a tragic tour van wreck.) When I worked at a bar in Chicago I played it a lot until the guy who did the carpentry asked me “is this Jennyanykind?” to my shock and delight. He brought in what I think was his brother’s copy of “I Need You” and we traded for quite a while (I really dug that one too so I was in no rush to trade back.) When I asked about trading back months later, he said he’d given “Revelater” to his brother…I eventually tracked down his brother and gave him back “I Need You” but when I asked about getting “Revelater” back he insisted it had belonged to the first brother! Or maybe I’ve got it all backward.

    In any case I laughed and figured I’d find it in a dollar bin again someday so no big deal, but I was pretty bummed! Ten years and a few hundred fruitless dollar bin searches later I couldn’t stand it anymore…I ordered a still sealed copy for five bucks off ebay this summer and I’ve been listening to it for the last two months. It’s as great as I remembered, and “Soul” still stops me in my tracks every time.

    Listening to Big Johns as I write this, found it the other day in a Salvation Army store in Vancouver. And freaked the fuck out! “You Are Tied To Me” is my favorite so far. Speaking of commitment, those guys know how to write about it. Gotta get “I Need You” now. Hopefully the band gets a couple bucks if I order it from Yep Roc…

    Thanks guys if you’re reading this! I owe you.

    • Mark Holland Says:

      Thank you for listening! We still play live. We just taped a show for NBC here in the Raleigh area so check it out at!

      Best regards,

      Mark H.

  8. the band reunited in Nov 2011 at a local NBC affiliate in Raleigh, NC and played a few old numbers.

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