Again, no actual magazine this time, so let’s jump right in!
Old Music Monthly #004: October 1993
The Cure – Just Like Heaven [Live]
In broad strokes, The Cure’s origins begin in Malice in 1976 before evolving to Easy Cure and eventually The Cure in 1978. Robert Smith and company have made music that fits the molds of power-pop, gothic rock, new wave, post-punk, and psychedelic rock. I prefer the darker side of the band, but “Just Like Heaven” is undeniably great.
This comes from 1993’s Show which was recorded live in Detroit over two nights in 1992. This was released in September, but then the band also released Paris in October, which was recorded on the same tour. It’s a little perplexing, but half of the royalties from Paris went to The International Red Cross and Red Crescent charity. (+)
(The version from Show isn’t on YouTube, so enjoy this other 1993 performance instead.)
The Lemonheads – Into Your Arms
I was home sick from school one day, and it just so happened that Even Dando was on Live! With Regis and Kathy Lee performing “It’s a Shame About Ray” acoustic by himself. Then, some time after that, I saw the video for “Mrs. Robinson”, which really just kind of kicked off that whole thing of groups in the 90s doing covers to get attention (I understand the label pressured them to do it).
The Lemonheads were always on the periphery of my interests. Lots of interviews and articles… things that passed for “thinkpieces” back in day. Evan Dando is wearing dresses! I don’t remember if that was before, after, or concurrent with Cobain doing the same, but who cares because neither of them were the first. I remember a blurb talking about Dando playing the intro to “Sweet Child O Mine” as the guitar solo in every song the band played at a concert… which is actually really funny.
None of that is on display here. “Into Your Arms” reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock charts. I’d never heard it before. There isn’t anything really “rock” about this one. I know they had five albums before this one, I’m inclined to think they pulled a Goo Goo Dolls (even though Dando did it first) where they were a legit rock band until that major label money started rolling in. In 2009, they were covering Wire and GG Allin, but in 2019 they were covering The Eagles and Florida Georgia Line. So, make of that whatever you will. (-)
Possum Dixon – Nerves
This is a group I really know only through CMJ, though not this song. They turn up again for their next two albums through Interscope. This Los Angeles band started in 1989, and released a series of indie and self-released singles before signing with Interscope and releasing their self-titled debut in 1993. I actually saw them in 1998 at K-Rockathon, ten bands for ten bucks! Actually, only nine bands because Blink-182 canceled.
This is a great slab of New Wave and Post Post Post Post Punk. These are the exactly the kinds of goony weirdo dorks that should be making music… when they aren’t manning the cash register at your favorite vintage/junk shop.
After the band’s split in 1998, singer/bassist Rob Zabrecky continued a career in music, but also does so much more. Zabrecky has an acting career and has had roles in Angie Tribeca, GLOW, A Ghost Story, and more. He also has a comedy series titled The Other Side with Zabrecky where he invites guests to perform a séance to contact the deceased of their choice. In addition, he is a magician who perform regularly at Magic Castle (which I assume is the inspiration for Arrested Development’s “Gothic Castle”), and appeared on Penn & Teller: Fool Us and was voted Parlour Magician of the Year in 2014 and 2015. If that wasn’t enough, he is also a skilled auctioneer.
Sadly, guitarist and co-founder Celso Chavez died from complications of Pnuemonia in 2012. (+)
Blur – Chemical World
Even if you don’t think you know Blur, you do. You’ve head “Song 2” in a TV show, in a commercial… or maybe you heard it in some stupid corporate video your workplace made you watch. I had already heard it, but I heard it there as well. If, by some miracle, you hadn’t heard “Song 2”, maybe you know them from their long running feud with Oasis, which seemed to be propagated by the media… but it’s not like the Gallagher brothers aren’t known for their excessive shit slinging.
Anyway, I never thought Damon Albarn was a great singer, and I like Gorillaz better, but this is… just kind of bleh. It’s competent, but it doesn’t really move me. (-)
Chapterhouse – We Are The Beautiful
So, Chapterhouse. The band ran from 1987-1994 (with a reunion from 2008-2010), and apparently were some sort of shoegaze darlings. For the reunion shows, “grown men were crying”. Ok. But there’s really none of that here. I am not crying. Well, crying of boredom. It’s got some decent guitars, but then it’s all “aahhh -ahhhh” type background vocals, and I’m just not here for it. (-)
Alison Moyet – Falling
I had no idea who Alison Moyet was before this. I had no idea she was part of Yazoo/Yaz, and I rocked “Situation” and “Don’t Go” quite a bit, but my connection was casual at best. After Yazoo/Yaz imploded, she immediately went solo. She’s also done theatre in London. Not everyone knows this, but she was such a fan of the TV show Alf, that she named her 1984 solo debut after the fuzzy, cat-eating Melmac-ian.
This is some run of the mill pop with some bongs and Zamfir pan-flute mixed in for “flavor”. It doesn’t work for me. But, it clearly works for the Queen. Moyet was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire as part of the 2021 Birthday Honours. (-)
Curve – Super Blaster
When a mommy and daddy love each other very much, they come together, and a baby is born. That’s what happened when Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart gave birth to Curve. Multi-instrumentalist Dean Garcia was playing bass as part of Eurythmics’ live band from ‘83-’84, and singer Toni Halliday was signed to Stewart’s label. Stewart introduced them and State of Play was born in the mid-80s… before failing completely. Garcia returned to work as a backing musician, while Halliday went onto a solo career, which also failed… again.
The duo reunited in 1990 as Curve, and this time it stuck. This song come from their second proper album, Cuckoo (not including collections Radio Sessions and Pubic Fruit, which is a great title). This is a good track of boilerplate shoegaze. 500 layers of guitars, stacked to the heavens. If you watch the actual video, the performance is filled out with live members Debbie Smith (Echobelly) and Steve Monti (Ian Dury and the Blockheads).
They ran from 1990-1994, then 1996-2005 and gave up for good. Halliday went solo (again) and provides guest vocals for UK electronic acts such as Leftfield, Orbital, et al., on occasion. Garcia is in about 40 bands and maintains the Curve website, which offers updates on both members projects. But don’t worry, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Curve. (+)
The Wonder Stuff – On The Ropes
Formed in 1986 in Stourbridge, England, The Wonder Stuff is often lumped in with fellow Stourbridge bands Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and Pop Will Eat Itself. In 1991, the band did go to number one in the UK… with a cover of Tommy Roe’s “Dizzy”, which is just kind of weird.
I try not to post the actual videos as much because I want to focus on the music, but this one is just too perfect. Strobe lights, abandoned industrial site, broken water pipe, long shorts with boots, forced boredom… this is a giant pile of early 90’s. Also, fiddlers/violinists were having a moment, weren’t they? Anyway, it’s not a bad song, pretty standard.
The band called it quits in 1994, but came back in 2000, but have had lots of turnover in that time. In 2017, they were joined by guitarist Mark Thwaite, who has a resume that if you unfurled it in a hole, it would reach the planet corrrrrrrrrre. He was also in Primitive Race with Faith No More’s Chuck Moseley and Melvins’ Dale Crover. (+)
Redd Kross – Jimmy’s Fantasy
Californian brothers Jeff McDonald and Steve McDonald started Redd Kross (aka The Tourists aka Red Cross) when they were still in middle school. Through the years, the rotating members of the band have moved on to Black Flag, Bad Religion, (Jerry Only’s) Misfits, Circle Jerks, Circus of Power, Depeche Mode, Queens of the Stone Age, Meatloaf, Willie Nelson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, The Bangles, and Melvins. If that’s not enough, Jeff McDonald is married to Charlotte Caffey of The Go-Go’s.
All of these, and I have never heard them, never even heard of them until Steve joined Melvins.
Anyway, I’m not loving the vocals here. Guitars are nice and thick, though, and the solo at the end is pretty cool. I’m mostly indifferent to it as a song, but I’m going to give it a passing grade. (+)
700 Miles – The Way It Should Be [Butcher Brothers Remix]
Ok, so this recording doesn’t seem to exist outside of this disc. The Butcher Brothers are either a film-making duo (who also directed the video for Static X’s “Destroyer”) or a the name of a butcher shop in Woonsocket, Rhode island; or a butcher shop in Nashua, New Hampshire… the possibilities are endless. Anyway, these meat slinging film auteurs apparently dabbled in music production. Since I can’t hear it, I’m going to assume that this remix was to make the track more palatable to a mass audience.
The band itself started in NYC, then moved to Detroit, and named themselves after the distance between the two cities. Hey! Wake Up! I know it’s not interesting, but it’s rude to doze off. This track is from the band’s RCA debut, appropriately titled, 700 Miles.
Anyway, the track is … God, I’m sorry. It’s just that exact type of nothing that major labels were tripping over themselves to sign to get to the next big thing. The vocals are recorded through a soup can. I will say, that at 1:39, they almost get funky for a second, but it doesn’t last. The band had a second chance with 1994’s Dirtbomb, but the audience wasn’t there for it. Singer/guitarist John Carlin moved back to NYC, and according to his website, he is: A former RCA Records recording artist, John is an experienced stage and film actor who relishes working on projects that tackle challenging, vital topics, and move the conversation forward.
So, you know, good for him. (-)
Barkmarket – Dumbjaw
This one is full of deep dives. Barkmarket is another band I saw haunting the used CD bins back in the day but had zero reference for. Labels liked to throw everything under “alternative rock” umbrella back then, as it’s more marketable than the more fitting “noise rock” category this fits more comfortably under. This comes from the New York trio’s second to last album, Gimmick, out on American Recordings who supply a lot of music to the magazine throughout the years. “Dumbjaw” plays out like a less abrasive Fudge Tunnel and a more accessible Jesus Lizard. That being said, the bass sound on this is really great and I like the way occasionally everything drops out leaving only drums and vocals.
Singer guitarist Dave Sardy went on to be a Grammy award winning producer (OK Go, Wolfmother, and … ugh… Marilyn Manson), and contributed to many movie scores such as Zombieland, 21 Jump Street, and … Monster Trucks. Drummer Rock Savage went on to play on a bunch of those bluegrass tribute albums that were all over the place in the aughts. Bassist John Nowlin did some technical work for American Recordings, and presumably this was not a great enough effort to an elementary school named after him in Blue Springs, Missouri. (+)
Tad – Grease Box
You probably heard this in the Edward Furlong blockbuster, Brainscan.
I swear I’m going to do an Artist Spotlight on Tad one day. I had heard Tad on Sub Pop 200 and thought it was really cool. But when this comes out, being 17 with no job, I didn’t have spare cash to explore them. I was too busy throwing my meager cash flow to Seattle multi-billionaires Pearl Jam and Nirvana.
Tad signed with Sub Pop and had a history of stirring up problems with their album art for Jack Pepsi and 8-Way Santa. Their major label debut on Warner Bros., Inhaler, also courted controversy, causing the people with all the money to get pissed off and stop promoting the band.
This track is a great slab of hard grunge, heavy rock. Highly recommended. Tad were remarkably consistent. The band ended in 1999, Tad Doyle went on to release one album with his follow up band Hog Molly (Kung Fu Cocktail Grip, also highly recommended), which split up in 2001. Doyle then went onto for Doom outfit Brothers of the Sonic Cloth with his wife on bass. (+)
Course Of Empire – Infested [Darwin-Doodman Mix]
I did a Spotlight on Course of Empire earlier this year, so no need to rehash here. This is an easy keeper. Weird choice for a sampler, though. (+)
Luscious Jackson – Daughters Of The Chaos
New York’s… I mean, I guess I don’t have to tell you they are from New York, right? Isn’t it painfully obvious? Their sound could only come from early 90 NYC. Anyway, Luscious Jackson ran from 1991 to 2000. Depending on the source, Kate Schellenbach was either the original Beastie Boys drummer, or the band that would become the Beastie Boys. It’s splitting hairs, really. After the split, some members went to form Kostars, while keyboardist Vivian Trimble formed Dusty Trails with Josephine Wiggs (Breeders), whom she was in a romantic relationship with at the time. The group reformed in 2011, sans Trimble.
This comes from their debut EP, In Search of Manny, through Beastie Boys’ label Grand Royal. I don’t really like it, but, I’m giving it a passing grade. Why would I do that? Has life lost all meaning? Yes, but that’s not why. The beat is good (the drums are doing the heavy lifting here), the way they layer the vocals is interesting, and four white women playing what is ostensibly hip-hop was novel at the time. I did see them at Lollapalooza ’94, and they were much more danceable, and that’s the version of the group I like more. (+)
Drop Nineteens – Limp
Even if you never heard of Boston’s Drop Ninteens, you know the story. Band gets famous outside its hometown, hometown scenesters hate the band because they “cheated” by not playing local shows, band gets signed to major, puts out album, loses three fifths of its lineup, puts out second album, gets no support from major label, major label drops band, band nearly gets new deal but disintegrates instead.
Apparently, they started as shoegaze, but you’d never know it. This isn’t bad, but it’s pretty run of the mill. (-)
The Jesus Lizard – Glamorous
Speaking of The Jesus Lizard, here’s The Jesus Lizard! Formed in 1987 and originally from Austin, the band moved to Chicago in 1989 where they hooked up with Touch & Go Records and engineer (and notable gadfly) Steve Albini. I don’t need to tell you that they are pretty notorious. They broke up in 1999, reformed in 2008, broke up in 2010, and reformed again in 2017, planning a break up 2024. Will you be there? No, because the world will have already ended. Anyway, vocalist David Yow finally put out a solo album in 2013, and guitarist Duane Denison has been all over the place, most notably forming Tomahawk with Mike Patton, and USSA with Ministry’s Paul Barker… but you already knew that.
“Glamorous” is one of two studio tracks (the other being “Deaf as a Bat”) on the mostly live EP, Lash. So, this is obviously a keeper. I mean, unless they put out a Western Swing album about Kwanzaa, they’re going to sound like themselves. I think Denison is typically underrated as a guitar player. (+)
Karl Hendricks Trio – I Don’t Need Your Shit
This song title really speaks to me. Hailing from a suburb of Pittsburgh, Karl Hendricks began recording his own four track demos in his bedroom at 18. By 1991, he formed the trio and released their debut in 1992. This song comes from the trio’s third album, Misery and Women. It starts promising with 57 seconds of noisy guitars, before switching to melancholy. What I find most interesting about it is that in defiance of standard indie rock of the time that goes loud-quiet-loud (yes, I stole that from the Pixies), it never goes back to loud. The remaining 3 minutes and 18 seconds are just sad bastard music. This isn’t one I would keep in my collection.
The trio went on until 2016, when Hendricks was diagnosed with oral cancer. In addition to music, he also owned a record store and was an English instructor at the University of Pittsburgh. He succumbed to the disease on January 21, 2017. (-)
Now It’s Time For Breakdown:
Worthy Tracks: 58.8%
Maple Leaf Invasion: 0% … if this quietly went away, would anyone notice? 35% English, though.
YEEEAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: There have been 66 different artists to this date, but only Eve’s Plum has been included twice.
Discogs Stats: 29 people have this disc, and 22 want it (I’m one of those). It last sold on August 26, 2021. Its lowest price was $1.50, and its highest was $30.00. Look, I’m a collector, but 30 bucks?!