I promise, eventually there will be magazines…
Old Music Monthly #010: May 1994
Sonic Youth – Bull In The Heather
Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon formed Sonic Youth in 1981 initially as part of the No Wave scene. By 1994, they are absolute legends no doubt with thanks to everyone’s favorite tastemaker Kurt Cobain. I’ve never really like Sonic Youth very much*, but I do like this track. It comes from 1994’s Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star, their third for DGC (David Geffen Company).
Unlike the other Aesop’s Fables of these groups, Sonic Youth was felled by the dissolving of Moore and Gordon’s marriage in 2011, and not the major label machine. They’ve all done lots of other things since. Gordon has embarked on a number of projects, chief among them Body/Head, she also recently released a Sub Pop single with J. Mascis that’s actually pretty good. Moore had Chelsea Light Moving, which already split and he has gone solo. Guitarist Lee Ranaldo went solo and has a number of side projects. Drummer Steve Shelley worked with both Moore’s and Ranaldo’s solo outings, but he also drummed on Ministry alum Chris Connelly’s The High Confession (Turning Lead Into Gold With The High Confessions, highly recommended!).
*I really like Ciccone Youth’s cover of Madonna’s “Into the Groove”. (+)
Rollins Band – Liar
Henry Rollins got his start as a manager of Baskin Robbins. After that triumph, he was singer in DC hardcore band State of Alert, before moving into his most famous role as the front man for Black Flag. Before he left Black Flag, he had already been touring doing spoken word and releasing albums of those performances (for which he eventually would win a Grammy). By 1987, he had assembled Rollins Band and was back to making music.
Am I going to sit here and tell you this song sucks? Absolutely not. Although, I think generally slower paced songs don’t play to Hank’s strengths.
Rollins band ended in 1997, then ran from 1999-2003, then reformed in 2006, but went on indefinite hiatus in 2007. Drummer Sim Cain went on to work with Ween and J. Geils Band, guitarist Chris Haskett played with Pigface, Foetus, and David Bowie, while bassist Melvin Gibbs played with SociaLybrium with Bernie Worrell (Parliament / Funkadelic) and Blackbyrd McKnight (Parliament / Funkadelic, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Herbie Hancocks’s Headhunters). Good ol’ Hank, you already know that he is a journalist, activist, radio host, actor, etc. (+)
Dag – Righteous
Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina, this four piece plays “funk”. Apparently. “Righteous” comes from their self-titled debut on Columbia, and was produced by John Custer who produced every Corrosion of Conformity album from 1991 to 2005, plus their self-titled in 2012. I wonder if he has regrets.
To its credit, I listened to this so many times. I was trying to decide if I like it or not, and ultimately I decided that I do not like it. I can’t even pinpoint why. But then, I watched the video, and I know I fucking hate it.
Dag ran until 1999, it looks like most everyone went on to do something, but it looks like most of it is regional. I saw they had a single called “Our Love Would Be Much Better (If I Gave a Damn About You)”, which I thought was funny, so I listened to it. That one sucks, too. (-)
Sam Phillips – Same Changes
Sam Phillips began her career as Leslie Phillips, singing back up vocals for Christian artists in the early 80’s. Soon she became “The Christian Cyndi Lauper”, which Phillips disagreed with. She rechristened herself “Sam” and made the move to secular alt rock in 1988. Here, on 1994’s Martinis & Bikinis, she’s produced by future husband (and future ex-husband) T. Bone Burnett, who co-wrote this track.
I listened to this one a lot, as well. It’s not spectacular, but, I really like the harmony vocals on the chorus. It’s not “super alternative rock” or anything, but plays out like a TV show theme you begrudgingly start to like.
Phillips went on to have a role in Die Hard with a Vengeance as a mute terrorist, based in part on her photos in this album (?!). She’s still releasing albums, and she also creates scores for TV shows, such as Gilmore Girls, Bunheads, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. (+)
The Charlatans (UK) – Can’t Get Out Of Bed
Depending on which way your compass points (or if you even care), The Charlatans formed in West Midlands, or Northwich, Cheshire. Wikipedia lists both places as their origin, which seems like a cop out. Their 1994 album, Up To Our Hips was well received, but it’s just not for me. I listened to this song, and two others, and it just falls flat for me. They’re still going today, despite my complaints. (-)
Seefeel – Plainsong
Guitarist and programmer Mark Clifford starting messing around with demos while he was a student at Goldsmiths College. By putting an ad in the student paper, he linked up with singer Sarah Peacock, and bassist Daren Seymour. The first releases were literally demos made in Clifford’s bedroom.
I like the beat, I like the vocals, but Jesus Christ this song is annoying. I kept thinking my smoke alarm was going off.
Seefeel broke up in 1996, but reformed in 2008 after a reissue of 1993’s Quique was released. The lineup includes DJ Scotch Egg and former Boredoms drummer Iida Kazuhisa, which makes me curious… not curious enough to seek it out, however. (-)
Sausage – Riddles Are Abound Tonight
Sausage is the resurrection of a version of Primus from 1988. Guitarist Todd Huth left Primus to spend more time with his family, and drummer Jay Lane left when his prior band escaped Major Label Hell. But before they split, they recorded a demo tilted Sausage. Bassist Les Claypool called them back to record an album as Sausage, just for shits and giggles, I guess.
I mean, it’s Primus, innit? That’s exactly what it sounds like. You put Les Claypool in a band, and it sounds like Primus… unless it sounds like some of the other jam band diversions he amuses himself with.
Sausage embarked on a tour opening for Rollins Band and Helmet (I was given one of these fliers at Lollapalooza 94), and the band only existed for 1994… kind of. They reformed as Sausage on New Year’s Eve 2019. Lane did join up with Claypool to play on some tracks from 1996’s Highball With the Devil. Lane also rejoined Primus proper from 2010-2013, and played on The Les Claypool Frog Brigade album Purple Onion. Both Lane and Huth joined the Frog Brigade for the 2000’s live albums. (+)
Reg. E. Gaines – Please Don’t Take My Air Jordans
Reg. E. Gaines (sometimes Reggie E. Gaines) is a poet and a Tony Award winning playwright and a Grammy nominated lyricist. Gaines had two albums with Mercury, and this comes of like proto-Def Jam Poetry that was on HBO. In fact, Gaines was on it in 2004 and 2005. This is a powerful piece, but one I can’t really relate to personally. However, this is the kind of curveball that made CMJ special. They were in New York, this is a normal thing for the people working there. For me, in the sticks, it was an alien world I heard about occasionally on the news. I didn’t have this disc then, but it would’ve given me some perspectives that would’ve challenged me. Even then, I would listen to the entire disc front to back at least once, so this would’ve given me something to think about. (+)
Maggie Estep – Hey Baby
Maggie Estep was also a New York poet, she came to prominence during the slam poetry era and released two spoken word albums, and a number of books. She also appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry in 2004. This is more like a song, she kind does a talk singing thing, very 90’s. She died in 2014 after suffering a heart attack. (+)
Us3 – Tukka Yoot’s Riddim
I swear to God I’ve heard this in a movie, and I can’t place it for the life of me. Anyway, Us3 was a Jazz Hip Hop group that exclusively used Blue Note Records for their samples on their first album, Hand On the Torch. You’ve probably heard this one, and if you haven’t, you’ve definitely heard “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)”. This is ok, I like “Cantaloop” better than this one though. Us3 is still going, but it has had ludicrous amounts of turnover since 1992, so I’m not going to get into that mess. (+)
Grant Green – Sookie Sookie
See, now CMJ is just fucking with us, because this is the song that “Tukka Yoot’s Riddim” samples. It sort of creates this seamless thing, and it’s a little much to take in at once. The CD version is about 6 minutes, which I think is a special mix. All the ones I found were less than 3 minutes, or hitting 11 minutes.
Grant Green started his music career playing guitar with gospel music ensembles at 13. By 1959, he was recording as a sideman, and by 1961 he was also recording as a band leader. He sat out most of 1967-1969 due to a heroin addiction, but returned in late 1969 with a funk influenced band that earned him the title of “Father of Acid Jazz” (for some people). Green succumbed to a heart attack in 1979. “Sookie Sookie” was released originally in 1970, but was re-released (the first of many times) on 1993’s compilation Street Funk & Jazz Grooves. (+)
Angelfish – Heartbreak To Hate
Scotland’s Angelfish began as a side project to circumvent record label shenanigans, when Shirley Manson was thrust from backing vocals and keyboards in Goodbye Mr. McKenzie to front woman of Angelfish. “Heartbreak To Hate” is an alternative pop song with a kind of goth slant, and it’s a great vehicle for Manson’s vocals.
Angelfish ran from 1991-1994, and this was a good springboard for Manson, we’ll talk more about her later. The other members went back to Goodbye Mr. McKenzie (terrible name), but they ended in 1995. (+)
Gigolo Aunts – Cope
Potsdam, New York is practically in Canada, right? RIGHT?! Anyway, Gigolo Aunts formed in 1981 when its members were still in middle school. Yeah, I formed like 40 bands between 7th and 10th grades, so I’m not sure that really counts. Anyway, they put out their first album in 1988, and eventually signed to major RCA for 1993’s Flippin’ Out (don’t worry, they survive… more or less).
This is a decent track. It leans more on the power part of the equation and less on the pop part. There are still hooks, though.
The band is still going, but drummer Paul Brouwer and guitarist Phil Hurley both left in 1995. Hurley went on to play with Tracy Bonham, Lisa Loeb, and Fountains of Wayne. (+)
Watershed – How Do You Feel?
This Columbus, Ohio band was formed while they were still teenagers. They were signed to Epic and released an EP and an album before being dropped in favor of another bunch of teenagers, Silverchair.
This isn’t exactly terrible, but there isn’t anything here that really raises the bar. It does have some nice backing vocals at about the 3 minute mark, but it’s not particularly interesting.
They’re still going today… I think this CD has the most amount of artist’s that are still active. They also have had a few side projects, including Why Isn’t Cheap Trick In The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame? … which broke up when Cheap Trick was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (-)
Rodan – Tooth Fairy Retribution Manifesto
Louisville, Kentucky is pretty far from Canada, I can’t even pretend. Rodan was a post-rock / post-hardcore / indie rock / math rock band that ran from 1992-1995.
I can definitely see how this fits into all four of those catergories. There were tons of these bands that sound like you drank too much cough syrup, but they break out some post-hardcore riffing at the end.
After the split, the members formed June of 44, Rachel’s, Shipping News, and The Sonora Pine. Guitarist Jason Noble died in 2012 from cancer. Original drummer Jon Cook died in 2013 of undisclosed causes. (+)
Nothing Painted Blue – Lab Rat Blues
Well, this is not on YouTube. Nothing Painted Blue were a California Indie Rock band. Multi-instrumentalist Peter Hughes went on to play with The Mountain Goats, and they covered this song on their … honestly, I don’t know what, their discography is mess. (0)
Now It’s Time For Breakdown:
Worthy Tracks: 11/15; 73.3% is not too shabby. 67.6% across the series is still pretty good as well.
Maple Leaf Invasion: Zero! Gah! I give up! 18.7% English and 6.2% Scottish, though.
YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: There have been 168 different artists to this date. No changes to the Two-Timer’s Club which includes Matthew Sweet, Sarah McLachlan, Eve’s Plum, Catherine Wheel, and honorary members Beastie Boys… who just want to come in out of the cold, dammit.
Discogs Stats: 38 users have this (including me), 20 want it. The lowest this disc sold for was $1.38, while the highest was $7.71., the median price was $3.65. Isn’t that much more reasonable than hundreds of dollars?