This is where it all began for me; this was the issue that I bought that started me into getting into this mess. I bought this in June, despite the cover date being September. I have written this article at least three times.
Old Music Monthly #013: September 1994
The Rolling Stones – I Go Wild
I wish I could think of a single reason the Rolling Stones are on this. Voodoo Lounge was their follow up to their comeback record Steel Wheels from 1989. By the time this comes out, the band has existed for 32 years. The only artists in existence with further reach and influence were the Beatles and Elvis Presley. An argument can be made for Johnny Cash, but I bought this in June 1994, American Recordings came out in April, so it’s close but I don’t think his reinvention had really made an impact yet.
Anyway, Voodoo Lounge comes out, and it has that video where they are giants or whatever. This will be the final single but it won’t be released until April 1995. I just think it’s lame. It’s the Stones playing what they think the Stones sound like, and the lyrics are all, “Sexy ladies hurt me so good!” or something equally out dated by 1994. (-)
Velocity Girl – Sorry Again
Maryland’s Velocity Girl were on the cover of this issue, singer Sarah Shannon is peak 90s in her baby doll dress with combat boots, and there are three guys with glasses in this band! I like the interplay of the male/female vocals on this. I didn’t think much of it back then, but I like it now. Also, they are supremely dorky in the video.
They split in 1996 after releasing three albums on Sub Pop, but get this… they didn’t reunite! Drummer Jim Spellman became a journalist and was with CNN until 2013. Shannon now sings for a kid’s rock band called The Not-Its! (their exclamation point, not mine). (+)
Toadies – Mister Love
Fort Worth’s Toadies released a few cassettes and an EP before signing with Interscope Records. Kim Deal heard an early cassette and actually thought it was Pixies… she was not amused. Pixies definitely heavily influenced Toadies, but I think that they are still their own thing. I was onto Toadies early, so when the video broke big for “Possum Kingdom” I was ahead of the curve. Rubberneck is a great album, the sound of a young and hungry and ferocious band just giving it their all, and in the era of CD bloat, it’s refreshing for it to clock in at around 36 minutes.
Would you care to guess what happened with Interscope Records? The band recorded their follow-up in 1997, Feeler, which the label flatly rejected. Some songs were reworked into 2000’s Hell Below, Stars Above, but by the time it had come out, the world had moved on from this heavier alternative rock sound. Bass player Lisa Umbarger resigned from the band in 2001, and singer / guitarist Todd Lewis didn’t want to continue without her, so they had a temporary replacement and did a farewell tour. Lewis started The Burden Brothers with Taz Bentley (Reverend Horton Heat) and Casey Orr (GWAR), but they disbanded and Toadies reunited (without Umbarger) in 2008. The same year they launched their own annual festival Die De Los Toadies, which is supposedly still active, but they haven’t had one since 2017. (+)
Lyle Lovett – Penguins
Is Lyle Lovett still best known for his brief marriage to Julia Roberts? Perhaps. Lovett has been active since 1980, and he kind of plays in that big sandbox that blurs the lines between country, americana, bluegrass, and folk. Sometimes a little jazz and rockabilly as garnish. This song is a plate full of garnish, as he is in full on jazz mode here. I can’t say that I like “Penguins”, but I don’t like it either, and it kind of wins out on just being so damn weird, with Lovett repeating “Penguins are so sensitive”. Turns out the song is making fun of a college friend who was obsessed with penguins, and now he’s stuck playing the song forever. So, let that be a lesson to you.
Lovett is still going, of course. He also has a bit of an acting career. He seems to have taken the Chris Isaak path to acting where he just shows up randomly, without warning, and you’re never sure if he’s playing a character or playing himself. (+)
Dave Edmunds – Chutes And Ladders
This dude started playing in bands when he was 10. WTF is that? I was trying to decide if I was still interested in G.I. Joes or if they were boring. I blame it on my parents who did not nurture my musical talents after reading my “Pretty Woman” parody lyrics. Anyway, mostly known for pub rock and new wave, Welsh singer / guitarist Dave Edmunds is playing all the instruments here, which I always think is a pretty cool thing. His musicianship is impressive, but the song doesn’t really do anything for me.
Edmunds continued on, but he retired from music in 2017. (-)
Shudder To Think – Hit Liquor
Formed in Washington DC in 1986, they were part of the Dischord family. I’m really struggling with this one, if I’m being honest. Over the years, I’ve hated it, then liked it, then hated it, then liked it again. The music of the song is cool and interesting, but this guy’s vocal gymnastics drive me up the wall. I’m going to give it a passing grade, err on the side of caution and all that. They’re shuffled into categories of alternative rock and post-hardcore. So, which one does this tune fit into?
This came out on their first record for Epic, but I’m going to table them for now because they come back again in 1997, and 1999, so, we’ll have something to talk about then… assuming this column goes that far. (+)
(There’s a Dischord single version, and this one from the Epic album. The Dischord version is much better, in my opinion… but, the Epic one was on the CD so here that is.)
Wool – Kill The Crow
Out of the ashes of DC punk band Scream, comes Wool. Of course, you probably already know, Scream was Dave Grohl’s band before he joined Nirvana, with brothers Peter Stahl and Franz Stahl, and bass player Skeeter Thompson (whom the track “Skeeter” from Melvins’ King Buzzo EP is about). So, The Stahl brothers recruited drummer Peter Moffett (future Burning Airlines) and bassist Al Block (ex-Concrete Blonde) and Wool was born. After a few singles and EPs, Moffett was out and replaced by Chris Bratton (Drive Like Jehu), and the group signed with London Records and released the cheekily titled Box Set in 1994.
This song is straight up punk rock, and if you like punk rock, you’ll like this. Also, from this album is “Superman Is Dead” which is also great.
Of course, the album undersold, London dropped the group and they split in 1996. Franz joined Foo Fighters for the tour for The Colour and the Shape, but was let go before recording 1998’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose. Peter went on to play in Goatsnake and with Josh Homme’s Dessert Sessions. The Stahl Brothers resurrected Scream with Thompson in 2009. (+)
Milo Z. – Dog
Still going today, Milo Z. is a “funk artist” from New York City. Milo Z. is the name of the guy and also the band, like, early Alice Cooper and that other guy I’m not going to mention. He calls this music “Razzamofunk”. It’s just…. it’s not good. It’s like a knock-off you hear in a movie; this is the band at the party who has too much screen time. But I will say, I read an interview with him, and he knows his music, he is very knowledgeable about funk and soul. I know a lot about the Seattle scene and Wax Trax!, but any music I made would suck.
Basic Need to Howl came out on Mercury, and then guess what happened? He/They got dropped. He’s still out there, but hasn’t put anything out since 2010. (-)
Waterlillies – Tempted
Another NYC artist, this duo was signed to Elektra and the title track to Tempted hit number four on the dance charts in the US. I’m tempted to call B.S. on this because the actual video itself has barely over 500 views, and a version of just the album cover has five and a half thousand over 9 years. But I know that’s not the metric to everything.
The duo split in 1996. Ray Carroll became Headcleanr, and mostly just remixes Madonna and Depeche Mode tracks. Singer Sandra Jill Alikas is the co-founder of cannabis infused drink company The Mad Hatter Coffee & Tea Co., proving that literally every single thing named from Alice In Wonderland except for the actual book is drug related. She is considered “a Green Queen of cannabis” and her company is active in over a half dozen legal states. So, she’s doing alright. (-)
Stereolab – Ping Pong
If you’re reading this on the regular, and taking part in the discussion, you know I got some flak for failing Stereolab last time. I wrote about them in #003 if you want to catch up. Honestly, I’m not into it, I’d like it better without the synth. But Wikipedia did have this strange bit: “’Ping Pong’ is an upbeat satirical synthesizer and brass-led pop song which discusses the business cycle. The subject matter, considered to be unusual in popular music, has been cited by critics in support of a description of the group as ‘Marxist pop’, a label that the group rejected.” (-)
John Cale – Paris 1919
John Cale is most famous for a piece of music that literally does nothing for almost five minutes. That’s kind of an amazing feat. He’s secondly famous for his involvement with The Velvet Underground. I’m going to be totally honest with you, he is so far beyond me. I am an absolute peasant because I can not understand his appeal or what he does (I may not care much for Lou Reed, but I at least understand the appeal). That being said, I respect his stature and I appreciate that he just does whatever the hell he wants. He did produce The Stooges, so he’s not a total loss.
“Paris 1919” came out in 1973, and it’s included here because 1994 saw a record label releasing a 2CD retrospective. Was this in a commercial? It sounds familiar. It would also be really hilarious if you replaced Cale’s vocals with the singer from The Darkness. (-)
Bracket – Why Should Eye
Forestville, California’s Bracket will turn 30 years old this year… I’m suddenly in touch with my mortality. Bracket should’ve been bigger I think, they are part of this early 90’s wave of pop-punk, but more emphasis on punk than pop (like all the best ones). After a handful of singles on various labels (including Fat Wreck Chords), the group signed to Caroline Records for their 1994 debut, 924 Forestville St., which is where this comes from. This song does what it says on the tin.
I’ll put a pin in this for now, we’re going to hear from them again in May 1995. (+)
Fretblanket – Twisted
This English band is slotted in the power pop category, but they are definitely borrowing a harder edge from the grunge of the day (almost yesterday). The oldest member of the band when their album Junkfuel came out was only 20. That’s wild to me, I was still managing a McDonald’s at 20 after dropping out of college (temporarily). Anyway, this is an ok song. It’s kind of about a “quirky” girl, and what he has to do to try and get her attention, and is he good enough for that anyway? It’s the sort of thing a 20-year-old can really relate to, but seems foolish when you get old and jaded.
They released a second album in 1997, Home Truths From Abroad, but broke up without a trace by 1999. (+)
Killing Joke – Millennium (Aotearoa Edit)
I’ve already written a seven-part Artist Spotlight on Killing Joke, so if you need a refresher, click here. After Nine Inch Nails and Ministry were gaining some measure of mainstream success, there were lots of articles on “industrial” music, and the one constant refrain: The influence of Killing Joke. This is the first time I heard Killing Joke, and it isn’t immediately to connect the dots from this to say, The Downward Spiral or Psalm 69. This mix, at the time, was exclusive to this this disc. I’m not sure if it came out an any of the hundreds of KJ collections have come out since, they fell prey to all of the 90’s remix madness with endless versions of the same songs with minor tweaks here and there. (+)
Sponge – Rotting Piñata
Does anyone remember Sponge? I swear to God, I saw them open for every band I saw in 1995 and 1996, including those placenta enthusiasts, Live. I didn’t have this album, a few of my friends did, but the joke’s on them, I had already heard this song by then! This has gotten me nowhere in life. I do like this song. It’s not something revelatory or earth shattering, but it’s nice enough, gets you moving. If you don’t know this one, surely you know “Plowed” or “Molly (16 Candled Down the Drain)”.
We’ve seen a lot of bands get dropped from majors, but I think Sponge is the first one in this column who came out and just killed it… and then got dropped. The debut came out August 1994, but didn’t make an impact until early 1995. Rotting Piñata has been certified Gold and has sold more than 500,000 copies. So, when Wax Ecstatic came out in 1996 and peaked at number 60, Columbia Records was decidedly not ecstatic, and dropped the band, effectively punishing them for doing too well on their first time out.
Singer Vinnie Dombrowski has been a member of twelve bands, including the unfortunately names Spyz4Darwin with Queensryche’s Chris DeGarmo and Sean Kinney and Mike Inez from Alice In Chains. Most recently, he sings for The Lucid with former (and kind of disgraced) Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson. Founding guitarist Joey Mazzola played with The Detroit Cobras for a time, and current Sponge drummer Jason Hartless has played with Ted Nugent … and Insane Clown Posse. I bet you didn’t see that coming. (+)
This Picture – Heart Of Another Man
Here’s an English alt rock band from Cheltenham. They formed in 1989, and drew comparisons to U2 with their first EP on Rough Trade. They released their debut in 1991 (A Violent Impression) on Arista subsidiary Dedicated. They band released 1994’s City of Sin in 1994, which has this song.
Honestly, it’s just bleh. I can’t even articulate why. I don’t think it sounds like good U2 or bad U2. The vocals have this affectation that just sounds so overwrought. I think the cover art is cool, though.
They split sometime around 1995, and other than singer Simon Bye having a blip of a personal website in 2003 (that since no longer exists), the band just fucked right off never to be seen or heard from again (-)
Moist – Push
Someone had Moist on their Canadian Bingo card, but I forget who it was, but now is your moment! The band, clearly named after your auntie’s least favorite word, hails from Vancouver… so I like to imagine that they are neighbors with… there’s actually a lot of bands from Vancouver so let’s just say Skinny Puppy.
I hadn’t heard them before, or since, but I see that their 1994 debut, Silver, is quadruple platinum in Canada! Can I count them four times as Canadian artist? No? Fine… This is a good hard rock song; I like it well enough. Dude’s vocals are a little breathier than I’d like, but it’s really my problem, not his. These write ups are certainly not quadruple platinum.
The group broke up in 2001, and reconvened in 2013. Singer David Usher had a solo career in the meantime, and he also is the founder of Reimagine AI which “integrates interactive and AI technology to build virtual beings.” Ok, sure. (+)
Letters To Cleo – I See
Ben Wyatt is so pumped right now! Well, I assume. He was wearing the t-shirt with this album cover on it, and it’s the same album with “Here & Now” that they played in the episode they were in. Anyway, the band put out a couple of self-released cassettes, and then Aurora Gory Alice in 1993… except that it was picked up from the indie label and re-released in 1994 through Warner Bros. Kay Hanley has a great voice, and by this time next year, there will be tons of bands aiming for this same thing that just aren’t quite as fun to listen to.
After this, the band lost drummer Stacy Jones who went to play in Veruca Salt before forming American Hi-Fi. Another drummer, Jason Sutter, went on to play with Chris Cornell, Marilyn Manson, and Foreigner. Singer Kay Hanley had a solo career, and was the singing voice for Rachel Leigh Cook in Josie and the Pussycats. The band split in 2000, reformed for a tour from 2008-09, reformed again in 2014, and yet again in 2016, this reunion has stuck… for now. (+)
Hum – Iron Clad Lou
Hum sort of occupies this weird space where they have an outsized reputation in the underground, but no one in the real world seems to know who they are. In looking over this list, I had no recollection of this song… but I did remember the one that will show up in about 9 months (CMJ time, not real time).
Electra2000 is the last album they put out before signing with those charlatans at MCA Records. How do you think that will go? Anyway, once this one started, I did recognize it when it got going. I liked it back then, and I still like it now. It’s described as a cross between punk and metal, which is the same descriptors used for grunge, but it’s not really like that. It’s almost doom-like in its pace, and it’s heavy, but definitely not metal.
We’ll talk more about Hum the next time around. (+)
Beck – It’s All In Your Mind
Youse guys all know who Beck is, right? I don’t have to go through all this about him. But here’s where this is weird. Beck released two albums in 1994, the one everyone bought and listened to, and then One Foot In the Grave. Recorded before Mellow Gold, Grave was released after to capitalize on the success of “Loser”. So, this magazine is dated August, but I had it in June. Grave came out at the end of June (I remember the magazine had a big full-page ad for it), but this song isn’t on it. It was released as a seven-inch single of outtakes from Grave, but the single didn’t come out until 1995. “It’s All In Your Mind” has been included on at least 2 re-releases of the album, though. So, why this is here now, I have no idea.
But really, who gives a shit. I can remember hearing this, and I immediately hated it because it’s just a lo-fi folk song, and nothing like the cut and paste pop nonsense he’s known for, and was known for even back then. Honestly, it’s not great. It’s not bad, but it’s barely a step above that guy at college who carried around an acoustic guitar and only played one third of a song before he ran out of chords. (-)
Alastair Galbraith – Vinyl Curtain
Googling this just shows my shower curtains in New Zealand. So, this is not on Youtube. It came out on the 1994 EP Intro Version, which was vinyl only. Then a version came out on 1998’s Mirrorwork, but I have no idea if it’s the same recording. The entire Mirrorwork album is on YouTube, but it has 24 songs on it, and they don’t separate the tracks or have a track listing to find it, and I’m just not doing it.
He’s still out there, in the shadows, he released an album in 2020. He’s from New Zealand if you are keeping stats on that. (0)
Now It’s Time For Breakdown:
Worthy Tracks: 60% for this disc, 66.5% across the series.
Maple Leaf Invasion: Moist joins the invasion, making this disc 4.76% Canadian, and the entire series is 2.64% so far.
YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: 220 artists have made their mark in this series. Stereolab is the newest inductee for the Two-Timers Club. They join the ranks of Matthew Sweet, Sarah McLachlan, Eve’s Plum, Catherine Wheel, Therapy?, Jeff Buckley, 700 Miles, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones. And of course, the Beastie Boys who snuck in through the service entrance and are getting high in the coat room.
Discogs Stats: 64 users have this (including me), 20 want it. The cheapest it ever sold for was $1.00, while the highest was $7.95, the median price was $4.00. The last one was bought on September 27, 2021. I did buy mine on Discogs, but their site helpfully tells me I bought my (second) copy 4 years ago.