Truly

Fast Stories…From Kid Coma(Capitol/Sub Pop 1995)

http://www.mediafire.com/?2ymzybx2eik

Fast Stories…From Kid Coma is an unheralded gem that was discarded and quickly forgotten amidst the rush to sign the next big thing in the wake of Nirvana’s success, Truly had the pedigree to get the attention of a major label since its members included Hiro Yamamoto of Soundgarden and Mark Pickerel of Screaming Trees, but their predilection for drugged, proggy riffs and dissonant ballads that drag on for twelve minutes disqualified them from the winner’s circle. I never dug the aforementioned bands that much, so it’s kind of surprising that I always keep coming back to this album years later since Truly kind of reminds me of a laid-back stoner version of Soundgarden minus the embarrassing emoting, Robert Plant-esque wails and eagerness to pen a hit. The wildcard in this equation is singer and guitarist Robert Roth whose lazy, deadpan drawl fits the nihilistic, doomed vibe of this concept album about god knows what. In addition, his guitar playing alternates between gorgeous metallic smears of feedback and majestic psychedelic riffing that is simultaneously elegant and damaged all at once.

Another thing that set Truly apart from its peers was its unrelentingly bleak instrumentation and lyrics. There isn’t an upbeat note or verse to be found here. It’s an album designed for those looking to wallow in misery. At times, it even flirts with an oppressive arena rock take on goth ala the Cure’s Disintegration on the slower numbers, albeit with more testosterone and a passion for 70s metal and hard rock. What makes Kid Coma appealing is the fact that it is such a stylistic mess as “Blue Flame Ford” somehow tosses My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, Nirvana and some hoary classic rock riffs against the wall and it somehow achieves excellence. I’m not saying that the song is brilliant, but the juxtaposition of strange bedfellows works in mysterious ways here. However, the highlights of the album are the long, drawn out melancholy numbers where the band stretches out their legs and lets Roth slowly build an anthem from narcoleptic beginnings to ecstatic peaks and back again to mellower valleys. The duo of “Angelhead” and “Chlorine” last a grand total of twenty minutes, but squash all that I love about 90s alt-rock into twin ballads that whisk me back to stoned nights in my dorm room with an ill-suited hairdo and even worse fashion sense. I understand if Kid Coma disappoints you tremendously since it’s got its share of underwhelming moments to match its impeccable pinnacles, but the gentle, insistent tug of nostalgia gives it a glow that keeps me coming back more than I care to mention.

The Breeders

Pod Demos

http://www.mediafire.com/?xkeytnkyt0i

At the time, The Pixies were my favorite band in the universe. The Smiths and Cocteau Twins were runners-up. My teenage mind latched onto Frank Black’s primal screams on Surfer Rosa and loved the eclectic smorgasbord of Doolittle. This teenage mind liked Bossanova and told Trompe Le Monde to talk to the hand. I saw them with the Ciure and Love and Rockets and my heart swooned at the possibilities of music. Now I am much older and calloused and I look back and wonder why I thought their first two albums were a door to all that was new. I still view Loveless, Queen is Dead, Heaven or Las Vegas and Viva Hate as impeccable gems, but the Pixies just haven’t aged well with me.

The Breeders’ debut, Pod, is a horse of a different color. It still gets played regularly and it grows more loved with each listen. I like First Splash a lot and find something to love on the other two, but the overall legacy is weak except for Pod. I used the term “supergroup” already today, but here we go on our hackneyed path again. In my mind, the Breeders were much more than Kim Deal. The band included Tanya Donnely of Throwing Muses, Josephine Wiggins of The Perfect Disaster and Britt Walford of Slint, who recorded under the alias of Shannon Doughton to preserve the all-girl flair. When you listen to the demos for Pod, it becomes apparent that they had a lot more to do with its success than you may think.

Pod was produced and engineered by Steve Albini. Known for his work with  Big Black, Rapeman and Shellac as well as production credits on albums by Nirvana, Superchunk Page and Plant and Pj Harvey. It was always obvious that he beefed up the sound of Pod, but one listen to the demos and it points to how Albini and Britt Walford made this album a great one instead of a good one. The demos include all of the Kim Deal tracks and excludes the Beatles cover as well as a few others. The demos are a great insight into the creation of the album and stand on their own as an album, but it lacks the forboding, metallic guitars and creepy atmosphere of the finished product. Yes, this is the case with most demos, but the contrast is schocking.

In the finished product, Walford’s drumming is pushed to the forefront and is recorded higher in the mix than than Deal’s vocals at times. In addition, Deal and Donnely’s guitars sounds more abrasive and harsh while Wiggs’ bass is prominent and drives each track with an air of aggression. The finished product is genius while the demos sounds almost twee. There is no Pod as wel know it without the pounding drums of Walford and Albini’s raw reconstruction of these songs. You may say this is unfair since these are demos. However, the band’s direction after Pod shows that they were always a catchy pop band with rough edges instead of the infinitely more interesting band which recorded Pod.