Grenadine – Goya

June 30, 2008

Grenadine

Goya (Teenbeat/Shimmy Disc 1992)

http://www.mediafire.com/?oma0m1n3kdm

I know I keep saying that each album is one of my favorites, but each album posted occupies a special place in my heart. Grenadine is no exception. The cover and artwork of the album is pure schtick. Its imagery predates the lounge revival which brought Martin Denny, Les Baxter and Esquivel back into circulation and the liner notes falsely claim the songs are Sinatra and Cole Porter tunes. Thankfully, the band only gives passing nods to the easy listening of the 50s and 60s and reminds me more of Robinson’s angelic harmonies of the title track of his Imperial fffr album.

Consisting of Jenny Toomey of Tsunami, Mark Robinson of Unrest and Rob Christiansen of Eggs, Grenadine was a supergroup in a shaggy dog sort of way. At least, my lonesome sould thought so. Outside of moments on Unrest’s last albums, Goya contains the best performances any of these talented, but inconsistent artists ever recorded. Tsunami had a few great songs, but relied too heavily of Toomey’s husky, moody voice to carry lackluster tunes. Mark Robinson always had too many ideas and genres to explore. Eggs fell victim to the same miscues as well. Goya’s strength lies in the fact that the source material is already classic and their quirky sensibilities elevate instead of dilute the finished product.

It doesn’t hurt that Toomey and Robinson possessed two of the most more interesting voices in 90s indie rock. Their voices never sounded so good as when covering “I Only Have Eyes For You” as Toomey belts it out in such a manner that it makes you take a second look at the song and realize the beauty of its lyrics.

My love must be a kind of blind love
I cant see anyone but you
And dear, I wonder if you find love
An optical illusion, too?

Are the stars out tonight?
I dont know if its cloudy or bright
cause I only have eyes for you, dear
The moon may be high
But I cant see a thing in the sky
cause I only have eyes for you.

I dont know if were in a garden
Or on a crowded avenue
You are here, so am i
Maybe millions of people go by
But they all disappear from view
And I only have eyes for you

She transforms it into a moody meditation instead of blind-eyed devotion. I forgot how wonderful their cover was until reevaluating it for this review. It jangles like indie-pop, it sounds like indie-pop, but it transcends its littler corner and becomes something much more lasting.

Mark Robinson follows up with a one-two punch as he sings “In a World Without Heroes” A good friend who was interested in astrology found this song to be romantic as the lyrics relate his ability to discern the meaning of her star signs and horoscope to find a common bond between them. He seems worries that he doesn’t truly know her, but shows confidence that love can be derived from this celestial moment. It is sweet and tender in the nerdiest way possible. It still arouses a bit of mist in the ol’ eyeballs.

Various Artists

Working Holiday (Simple Machines 1994)

http://www.divshare.com/download/4815543-061

If the Dischord label was the role model for indie labels in the 90s, Simple Machines was the smaller, but equally idealistic sister to its more established role model. Established by Tsunami members Jenny Toomey and Kristin Thompson in 1990, Simple Machines were a welcome addition to the DIY ethos that propelled indie-rock until the Nirvana induced hangover and resultant major label feeding frenzy that neutered it. However, they helped the careers of such bands as Grenadine, Scrawl, Monorchid, Franklin Bruno, Ida and others along the way. They walked the walk and talked the talk as they even puiblished a handbook for aspiring label owners to guide them along the way.

The Working Holiday comp is the result of a series of split 7-inches that were released each month in 1993. The roster of contributors provides a snapshot of the musical scenes as it compiled tracks from Scrawl, Versus, Lungfish, Codeine, The Coctails, Eggs, My Dad is Dead, veronica Lake, Nothing painted Blue, Lois, Small Factory, Jawbox, Crackerbash, Grifters, Crain, Pitchblende, Superchunk and a few others. It was the crowning achievement for the label which slowly shrunk due to sales and the eventual dissolution of Tsunami.

Even if all of these band names sound like gobbledygook to you, you should check this out for the opening track by Scrawl entitled “11:59 It’s january” which sums up all that is depressing about New Year’s Eve, regret and misguided love in a single song. This may be indulgent, but I love the lyrics to this that I’m posting them here.

january came too soon/some alcoholic holdays without you/if you are you/you are anyone I wish I knew/and tonighti wish i knew everyone of you/tonight first champagne means old acquaintances are far apart/Tonight auld lang syne means leave before the kissing starts/Last year went down the drain/they all do really so why complain/drink a cup of kindness yet/drink a cup to our regrets/Ooh, it’s Januaryx3

11:59/87654321 midnight/was it a good year/do i really know because it is behind me forever/it was a good year because year because it was a bad year/this year could only be better/repeat chorus of It’s January/Who are you or anyone I wish I knew/Tonight i wish I knew every single one of you/Tonight I wish I knew/ chorus of It’s January, then tasteful guitar solo.

Sorry for my jumbled effort at transcribing the lyrics from the cd, but it is one of the most heartbreaking songs I had heard at the time. It delves deeply into one of those moments where a perfect storm of location, time and hard luck coalesce into a second where you reevaluate your life and hope for the best. Your moment may not have been on New Year’s Eve, but we’ve all had them. This is why Scrawl hold a dear place in my heart.

I’m off on a tangent again, but 70% of this holds up 15 years later and it embodies an ethos that is as worthwhile today as it was then.