Again, no magazine yet, but we’re starting to get some legendary artists with some weird, cult musicians and off-kilter foreign music.
Old Music Monthly #006: January 1994
Bob Dylan – Blood In My Eyes
I’m not a fan of Mr. Zimmerman. But Traveling Wilburys are ok, and I like Dylan’s songs when other people do them. Also, I liked when he went electric and pissed everyone off.
This is from World Gone Wrong, Dylan’s second collection of traditional folk songs performed only with a harmonica and an acoustic guitar. I like the simplicity of this recording, but it’s really not for me. I’m sort of charmed by the video, but it seems kind of egotistical that it starts with him just talking with people, then escalates to autographs, and Dylan leading the masses to a patchouli store like a hippie Pied Piper. (-)
The Afghan Whigs – Gentlemen
Formed in Cincinnati (no doubt inspired by WKRP), singer Greg Dulli, guitarist Rick McCollum, and bassist John Curley first got together in 1986 mixing garage rock and R&B. They signed with Columbia and released Gentlemen in 1993, and is considered one of the best “break up” albums ever written. This song is pretty great, with it’s start/stop guitar, and Dulli comes pretty close to being unhinged. He really means what he’s singing here.
The group ran from 1986 to 2001 and split amicably. They reunited very briefly in 2006, and then again in 2011 and are still currently active. Dulli formed The Twilight Singers as a side project, but that became his main vehicle when Whigs ended (the first time). Dulli also joined up with Mark Lannegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age) as The Gutter Twins, which ended in 2011. Guitarist Dave Rosser (also of The Gutter Twins and The Twilight Singers) died in 2017 from colon cancer. (+)
Crowded House – Locked Out
Although formed in Melbourne, Crowded House is an Australian/New Zealand co-product (with an American as well, this time around). Their origin is a little convoluted, they sort of form a conjoined twin with Split Enz. Tim Finn fronted Split Enz, and had contributions from his brother Neil Finn and drummer Paul Hester. Neil Finn and Hester formed Crowded House, and over the years, Split Enz and Crowded House shared several members. On this recording, we also have multi-instrumentalist Mark Hart (Supertramp!).
You’ve no doubt heard “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “Something So Strong”. This… is not that, but it is a good song. It’s pretty upbeat, and has some layer guitars going on. Together Alone was produced by Youth, which is usually (sometimes) a good sign. The song is also on the soundtrack to Reality Bites, and the less said about that the better. The band split in 1996, reformed in 2006 and split in 2011, and then reformed and split in 2016. In 2019, Neil Finn resurrected the band with his 2 sons in the roster. Hester was involved in a number of music and television projects, before his death in 2005. (+)
October Project – Bury My Lovely
Originally forming in Montclair, New Jersey in 1991, the band migrated and solidified in New York City. The group was signed by Epic in 1993, and they released their self-titled debut, which is where “Bury My Lovely” comes from. I wish I liked this, but piano driven music doesn’t really do it for me. The singer’s voice is interesting, but it’s hardly enough to carry the whole thing.
The group released their second album in 1995, Falling Farther In, also on Epic. Then guess what? They were dropped by Epic in 1996, and they disbanded. Some members reformed in a new group called… wait for it… November Project. In 2001, October Project reformed, and have released a number of self-financed albums and EPs. (-)
Slowdive – Alison
Hey, guess what this is? Dream Pop / Shoegaze from the UK!! But here’s something you didn’t see coming, the band’s second album (Souvlaki) took its name from a Jerky Boys’ skit. Well, it’s about as entertaining as a Jerky Boys’ skit. It’s an impenetrable brick wall of sound with some lyrics moaned over it. A lot of people want to complain about grunge artists never smiling, but look at these people!
They band stated this album was influenced by Joy Division and Bowie’s Berlin period, and approached Brian Eno about producing. While Eno did not produce, he did come by the studio for a few days to kind of hang out and record. Slowdive ran from 1989 to 1995 (why do all of these bands quit in ‘95?), after which assorted members worked as Mojave 3, Televise, Lowgold, Monster Movies, Black Hearted Brother, and Zurich. They reformed in 2014 and although they haven’t released an album since 2017, they are still technically active. (-)
Ramones – Substitute
Do I have to tell you about the Ramones? You already have their t-shirt… YOU ALL HAVE THEIR T-SHIRT! My 11 year-old has one, for crying out loud. This is from 1993’s cover album Acid Eaters, which has mostly negative reviews, with a few good reviews to balance it out a little more. The line up on this one is singer Joey Ramone (deceased), guitarist Johnny Ramone (deceased), drummer and pasta sauce magnate Marky Ramone (alive), and bassist and sometime singer C.J. Ramone (alive, but everyone hates him).
“Substitute” was originally by The Who, and was written by Pete Thownsend (alive) who sings back up vocals on the song. It’s good, even if it’s not as good as an original by them. Ramones will be back in 1995. (+)
Greta – Is It What You Wanted
Mercury Records pushed the ever loving hell out of Greta. Every magazine had an ad, flyers handed out at shows, stenciled on the side of the Hindenburg. To think, they had time travel technology but didn’t use it to go back to 1973 and un-sign Burt Reynolds. Anyway, this is the first time I’ve ever heard Greta… but two things: 1.) I can’t type “Greta”, every single time I type “Great” and have to go back and fix it, and 2.) What an awful band name, but it was the 90s, mistakes were made. As for the song, waiting 29 years didn’t help matters. The vocals are not very pleasing, and even the rock guitars sound flaccid.
When do you think this band broke up? You guessed it, 1995. Original drummer Brad Wilk, who quit before the band recorded anything, went onto Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and played on Black Sabbath’s 13. Singer / guitarist Paul Plagens died in 2015. (-)
Jam Nation – Harmonix
Calling your group “Jam Nation” is the quickest way to get me to hate it. That being said, I expected smelly hippies with wanking guitars. This is not that. It’s aiming for drum -n-bass and world music, and it’s ok. The video has a terrible animation of a stick figure, but obviously that wouldn’t have been on the disc. I’m going to rate it positively, there are parts of it I like, and parts of it I find annoying, but I’m trying to have a good attitude over here.
John Gosling continued working with Psychic TV and Zos Kia, as well as recording as Mekon and collaborating with Marc Almond, Schoolly D, Alan Vega, and Afrika Bambaataa. Mark Rutherford continued working in music, producing, songwriting, and remixing artists like Peter Gabriel, Mike Oldfield, and William Orbit, as well as scoring movies and television. (+)
Coaltar of the Deepers – My Speedy Salah
Japan’s Coalter of the Deepers has one of the best band names. They are categorized as shoegaze, post-rock, thrash metal, electronica, neo-acoustic, and… bossa nova? The band has released 8 albums, and 18 singles and EPs.
This has some structure to it, although in the beginning the drums sound like a pots and pans merchant being thrown down 20 flights of stairs. This is pretty cool, chaotic in a good way. It doesn’t have all of those genres in it though, which would make it better. (+)
East River Pipe – Make A Deal With The City
East River Pipe is the musical alter-ego if Norfolk, VA’s F.M Cornog. After moving to Hoboken, NJ as a child, Cornog succumbed to alcoholism and drug abuse after graduating high school. Record label Hell Gate helped Cornog release a series of tapes and 7 inch singles under the name East River Pipe, which he named after seeing a sewage pip spewing unfiltered waste into the East River.
This track comes from 1993’s Goodbye California, and it has a quality that’s hard to put into words. It’s melancholy in a way that seems hopeful, and it is prepared to sever the ties and move on without looking back.
Cornog still makes music, yet never performs live, and does do music videos. But he does work at Home Depot (as of 2011). (+)
Railroad Jerk – Message to Maisie
This group formed in 1989 in New York City, and had several releases for Matador Records. The band split in 1996. Singer / guitarist Marcellus Hall continued with White Hassle and a solo career, but he is perhaps more well known as an illustrator having been published in The New Yorker (among many others) and his own graphic novel Kaleidoscope City.
I like this. It’s primitive, and it sounds like it could almost have been in O Brother, Where Art Thou?. My only complaint is it feels a touch too long. I listened to a couple other tracks, and they are more refined and professional sounding, but I think the lo-fi quality really helps this one.
“Message to Maisie” comes from the 7” 02.20.93, which appears to have never had a CD or digital release. (+)
Eggs – Erin Go Bragh
Eggs is a great name for a band. It’s simple and it could be anything at all. They chose … this. The drumming is really good, but the rest of it just leaves me cold. If you’re reading this, sorry, Andy.
Eggs ran from 1990 to 1995, and released 2 albums and a number of EPs and singles. Singer/guitarist Andrew Beaujon went on to be a journalist, he wrote for Spin, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and Salon. He has also published two books (Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock and A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Football Team That Fought the Great War), and is the Senior Editor of The Washingtonian. Drummer John Rickman apparently still plays and has been floating from band to band ever since. (-)
Tara Key – Seraphim
Antietam is an indie rock band from Kentucky, that relocated to NYC in the late 80s. Tara Key is the singer / guitarist of that band, which she co-founded with her husband, singer / bassist Tim Harris. The band ran from 1984-1996, and then reformed in 2004 and they’re still going today.
I put this up front because I find it astounding that I’ve never heard of them before (Tara solo or her band), and they’ve had surprising longevity. I listened to a little Antietam and it was alright, and this song is pretty good, too, but it has only 103 views on Youtube, and she has a whopping 92 monthly listeners on Spotify. Now, this isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse, but her playing is good, the recording sounds really professional… it sounds like the type of thing that really should be bigger than it is. (+)
Lorelei – Mostly I Sleep
If the band’s Bandcamp page can be believed, Washington DC’s Lorelei “created a blueprint for post-rock.” Serious side eye over here. This song comes from the 7” Asleep. This is ok, the band is trying for some vocal melody in the back ground. It kind of sounds like sad bastard music, but they switch it up at the 2:40 mark, which was pretty good. The recording is a little primitive, but the drums still sound better than whatever is happening on St. Anger.
There are a few bands with this name, but this one broke up in 1999, then reformed… sometime. They put out an album in 2012, but then after that, it’s anyone’s guess. (+)
Labradford – Soft Return
Richmond’s own Labradford specializes is post-rock and ambient and drone. I’m going to be honest: I listed to this 6 times and I hate it. I hate to so much. It’s like listening to someone talk about tax law after drinking a whole bottle of NyQuil (Never, ever do this). At least doom bands have the good sense to throw in a drum beat every 180 seconds or so.
Bassist Robert Donne now plays in a “slow-core” group called Spokane , and singer / guitarist Mark Nelson releases music under the name Pan American. The band insists they have not broken up, yet haven’t been active since 2001. (-)
Mary Lou Lord – Some Jingle Jangle Morning (When I’m Straight)
Former subway busker Mary Lou Lord has had brushes with greatness, yet the fame and adoration greatness provides has eluded her personally. She dated Kurt Cobain about 20 minutes before Nevermind was released, she was very close friends with Elliot Smith, and became close with Shawn Colvin after playing her songs in the subway long before Colvin won 3 Grammys. “Mary Lou can sniff out soon-to-be superstars better than anyone I know,” Colvin back in the long ago times of 2019.
But can that closeness to stardom translate to success for her? Guess that depends on how you define “success”. Her trajectory of signing with a major (Sony subsidiary WORK) was later than her peers, she released Got No Shadow in 1998… I don’t know if she was necessarily immediately dropped, but she never released anything through them again. This song was re-recorded for that album, but this version was on a single through Kill Rock Stars. It’s really good! It’s almost like early-Breeders, but with sweeter sounding vocals, if that’s possible.
In 2005 she was diagnosed with a rare vocal disorder, where spasms cause a person’s voice to go in and out. I guess treatment worked as she resumed recording and self released an album in 2015, and started a podcast in 2019. (+)
The Spinanes – Noel, Jonah And Me
Portland’s The Spinanes were ahead of the curve. They were doing the indie rock duo thing early, as well as being one of the “THE” bands… two things that happened a lot in the early aughts. Anyway, apparently this was a big deal on 120 Minutes… but I’d never know it. It’s a good indie rock tune, and it also has that sort of Kim Deal-esque vocal that was really in vogue after “Cannonball”, but I wouldn’t call it a knock off or a cheap imitation.
The Spinanes released Manos on Sub Pop, which is where this track comes from. Drummer Scott Plouf joined Built to Spill, and singer / guitarist Rebecca Gates restructured the band as a three piece, but they split on 2000 and Gates went solo. (+)
Now It’s Time For Breakdown:
Worthy Tracks: 10 out of 17, works out to be 58.8% for this edition; 68.7% for the series so far.
Maple Leaf Invasion: Zero! However, Japan is now tied for the current running total of 2.02% of all music in the series.
YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: There have been 99 different artists to this date. Eve’s Plum and Catherine Wheel are the only repeat artists at 2 appearances each.
Discogs Stats: 24 people have this disc, and 24 want it (I’m one of those). It last sold on February 19, 2018. Its lowest price was $5.00, and its highest was $9.99. Oddly, no one is asking $500 for this month. They must have a prejudice against Bob Dylan, like I do.