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.

Jennyanykind

Revelater (Elektra 1996)

http://www.mediafire.com/?mt0ddyvcbnu

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.

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.

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.