Old Music Monthly #021 [May 1995]

Old Music Monthly #021: May 1995

Maids of Gravity – Only Dreaming

When Los Angeles group Medicine split in 1995, Eddie Ruscha and Jim Putnam formed Maids of Gravity. This is a good track, it’s kind of a psychedelic alt-rock. This is one I liked back then, but when I (foolishly) gave away my CDs and had corrupted data, I completely forgot about them. There’s not a lot about these guys out there. The put out a second album in 1995, and maybe an EP in 2000… but it’s not on Discogs so I’m not sure. Rusha is now a visual artist and electronic musician going by E Rusha V. (+)

Matthew Sweet – Sick Of Myself

Our good friend Matthew Sweet makes his third appearance, we talked about him back #001 and #009. This song comes from 100% Fun, which Wikipedia claims is names after the title of Kurt Cobain’s suicide note. Even though, if it’s true, I’m sure there’s some supreme artsy fartsy reason for that, but I don’t really want to tug on this thread here. But it does make me think that other than the a few stragglers in the earliest installments, these samplers are really detailing post-grunge and beyond… makes for an interesting time capsule.

Anyway, I like this album cover. It’s a perfect example of the shit we were doing in 1995. If you had any drab 70’s shit, bring it on, and if it’s a personal thing for you, even better! I didn’t think much of this when it came out, but today I like it quite a bit. (+)

Bad Brains – God of Love

I’ve mentioned before that punk just didn’t exist in my orbit, but some of the new stuff was trickling in through these discs. Bad Brains have a wild history, but I’m not going to get into that too much, they’ll be back in #033 with a reissue, so that will be more appropriate for their history. That being said, 1995’s God of Love was the first album from the original lineup in 9 years. There was a reasonable amount hype, and I remember the magazine said RIYL: Faith No More, so I was obviously hooked.

I never ended up getting the album until 2010-ish, but it’s solid. The thing about Bad Brains, especially here, they don’t really sound like anyone else. They have the heavy hardcore guitars, and lot of the song is just drums and vocals, lyrics followed by squealing mini guitar solos. Dr. Know really plays like no one else.

Bad Brains broke up (again) soon after this. In 1998, the band reformed as Soul Brains, because vocalist H.R. thought “Bad” was … bad. Bad Brains released an instrumental album in 2002 of dub versions of their own material. In 2015, the band reformed in full releasing two albums, and then in 2015 recorded and EP called The Woodstock Sessions with singer Jesse Royal. H.R. reconvened with the band, but Dr. Know had a heart attack in late 2015, and was on life support for 3 months, but did make a full recovery. The band is hoping to record a new album titled Mind Power, but the various health issues of all members have made progress difficult. (+)

KMFDM – Juke Joint Jezebel

Sascha Koneitzko began KMFDM as a series of vacuum cleaners ran through distortion pedals. Germany is wild, man. Nihil is their eighth and best-selling album. KMFDM is largely all the same formula, but it’s a good formula. Big beat percussion, intermittent guitars, bleeps and bloops, lady vocals on the chorus. This song was on every soundtrack and preview throughout 1995, you’ve definitely heard it.

KMFDM ran until 1999, and at different times featured contributions from Bill Rieflin (Ministry), Chris Connelly, Abby Travis (Elastica), Ogre (Skinny Puppy), Raymond Watts (PIG), and Tim Skold (Shotgun Messiah, Marilyn Manson, Skold). When En Esch (vocals, guitar) and Gunter Shultz (guitar) left, KMFDM was rebranded as MDFMK with a core of Koneitzko, Skold, and Lucia Cifarelli (Drill). KMFDM was back by 2001, but without Esch and Schultz who declined to rejoin. Esch and Schulz formed Slick Idiot, and released 3 albums (the first one is really good). KMFDM is still going today. (+)

Senser – Age of Panic

This London rap rock / industrial hip hop group released a few self-recorded cassettes before getting signed to A&M. They soon toured the UK with Skunk Anansie opening, and then headed to the US to open for Moby. This song is pretty early, this would be perfect for 1997-98. But it is a fun listen.

By 1996, Senser split over that age old chestnut of musical differences. Vocalist Heitham Al-Sayed and drummer John Morgan started Lodestar with Jules Hodgson (future KMFDM guitarist), while the rest of Senser became De:Senser. By 1997, Senser was back together, but split again in 1999. In 2003 the reunited and stayed reunited, although they haven’t released anything since 2013. (+)

Dream Warriors – California Dreamin’

This hip hop duo began in 1988 in Toronto… Canada or Missouri? Stay tuned to find out! By their second album, 1994’s Subliminal Simulation, they expanded to a quartet. This isn’t bad, exactly, it’s that jazz inflected hip hop we have seen A LOT of, but there’s nothing to really set it apart from the pack.

They released two more albums between 1996 and 2002, but they were released only in Missouri. Their third album was nominated for Best Rap Recording at the 1997 Missouri Juno Awards. The group split in 2002. (-)

Sananda Maitreya [Terence Trent D’Arby] – Vibrator

This artist is now known as Sananda Maitreya, changing his name to escape the PTSD he changed his name. This is baffling when all but one of his prior albums has been called Terence Trent D’Arby’s ______, or some variation of… his 2001 album where he debuted his new name was credited to both Maitreya and D’Arby, and is called Terence Trent D’Arby’s Wildcard. Maitreya rarely gives interviews, and there’s a reason, because even in the best light he comes off as completely batty and nonsensical. To wit: Not only does he refer to D’Arby as a completely different person, but then goes on to say that he was sacrificed to honor “Master Michael Jackson”, because everyone loved him when he was new, but the recording industry at large conspired to destroy his career, which is the sole reason his second album failed. Oh yeah, also he had a premonition of John Lennon’s murder, at which point Lennon’s ghost meshed into him.

Whooooakaaaay. Anyway, this is a pretty good track (if a little long), Maitreya always had an interesting voice, but I can’t say I’m shocked when you call your album [Name]’s Vibrator. Today, sure, but not in 1995. Maitreya is still going, a man in charge of his own fate, releasing his own albums, two-part albums, double albums, triple albums. (+)

Jimi Hendrix – Message Of Love

You probably best know Jimi Hendrix as the guitarist for Little Richard who never went on to do anything of note ever, after he was fired.

In 1994, the last album released before Hendrix’s death was reissued, and that’s where this is from. I mean, how am I going to score this? I’m not the world’s biggest Hendrix fan, but I always enjoy him when he’s on. (+)

Peter Scherer – Nerve Type No

Based in Switzerland, Peter Sherer is a multi-instrumentalist and film composer. I guess he’s still alive and doing stuff, he hasn’t released anything since 2012, and everything on the internet points to a Hungarian actor with the same name. I’ll be succinct, I couldn’t find anything to make fun of him about (competence is my kryptonite) and the music isn’t really my bag. (-)

Suddenly, Tammy! – Hard Lesson

As children Beth Sorrentino and Jay Sorrentino used to make music in their home… as siblings, not spouses. They added bassist Ken Heitmueller. They recorded 2 EPs in their parents’ basement and then a self-titled album that earned them some tours opening for Melissa Etheridge! They were signed to Warner Bros. and released We Get There When We Do in 1995, which is where this comes from. I’ll be honest, I expected to really hate this. It’s not so bad, though. I definitely didn’t give it the time of day back then. I’m not really going to seek out an album of this, though.

The group began recorded a third album, what do you think happened next? Yep, the album was shelved, they were dropped in 1996, and the band split in 1997. They did reunite for a one off in 2019. After the split, singer/pianist Beth Sorrentino eventually embarked on a solo career as well teaching. (+)

Joan Osborne – St. Teresa

Kentucky’s Joan Osborne is a one-hit wonder, but she’s one of those one-hit wonders who is still steadily working, doing her own thing, and never really seems to give a shit one way or the other. I can’t see any evidence of grasping at the straws of the great recognition she once had. I love that. She’s managed to work with The Funk Brothers, got herself in the good graces of the 100s of The Grateful Dead splinter cells, performed with Mavis Staples. She knows what she’s doing.

I probably didn’t even listen to this back in 1995, I’m sure I saw the name and just moved on. Truthfully, her voice is really good here, and this song is 1000x better than the one hit she is known for. I don’t think I am every going to listen to it again, but I think it is good enough to pass. Also, she wore this cleaning lady outfit when she was Letterman, which is a choice. (+)

Bracket – Trailer Park

We talked about Bracket back in #009, here they are still playing that skate punk style. This track has got some good vocal melodies to prop it up and separate it from lesser bands in the genre.

Bracket is still going today, and has been on a number of labels, sometimes self-releasing. They only had one lineup change in 1998, when they swapped out guitarist Larry Tinney for Angelo Celli. One change in membership over 30 years may not be a “perfect attendance” award, but it’s still pretty good. (+)

All – Million Bucks

These discs are a good kind of crash course in what was going on in punk at the time. I think I mentioned some installments back that punk was a totally foreign concept to me. The nice thing is that it gave me some exposure to never acts and legacy acts, and this one is kind of both. When Descendents singer Milo Aukerman chose to go back to college to get his degree, the remaining 3 members became the core of All, named after the (then) final Descendents album, All.

In 1987, All had enlisted Dag Nasty vocalist Dave Smalley. Smalley was then replaced by Scott Reynolds in 1989, and Reynolds was replaced by Chad Price in 1993, who recorded Pummel which is where this track comes from. Pummel was the brief marriage between All and Interscope Records. Interscope released “Million Bucks” as a single… and then did nothing else.

All ended in 2002, when Descendents came back from 2002-04, and then All came back in 2008. All shows could have any one of their three singers at any time, and when Descendents came back in 2010, the bands are not running concurrently and often playing on the same bill. (+)

Flotsam And Jetsam – Destructive Signs

These poor guys. You can see Def Leppard’s guitarist dies, their drummer loses an arm, their style of music goes out of date and they are unstoppable. Compare to Arizona’s Flotsam and Jetsam, who every little bump, every little hiccup, seems to derail them… yet they will not stop.

They started forming in 1981 with one Jason Newsted on bass and vocals. Newsted had moved to Phoenix with his band, that promptly broke up when they got there. They were Paradox, Dredlox, and Dogz, before finalizing a lineup in 1984, and adding vocalist Erik Knutson to give Newsted a break from singing. The band did it the old fashioned way by bombarding everyone with demo tapes and playing for any and everyone they could. This brought them to a deal with Metal Blade records, which released their first album Doomsday For the Deceiver, which was written primarily by Newsted.

I’m not trying to do an entire Artist Spotlight here, but these guys have been around for 40 years now, but here are some highlights. You already know that Newsted joined Metallica, but you may not know that Metallica explicitly told Newsted that Flotsam and Jetsam were not getting a free ride on their dime, they would not be touring with Metallica nor would they be getting any other perks. Seems like a real dick move to go out of your way to make that statement, but given what we know about the gruesome twosome in that band, it’s not surprising. F&J find themselves signed by Elektra (Metallica’s then label), but they don’t have their star songwriter. So, they learn to do it themselves and release No Place For Disgrace, but they lose their bass player again just before the album, and they get Troy Gregory (later of Killing Joke, Swans, Prong). They get dropped by Elektra, and sign up with MCA. Their first for the label (When the Storm Comes Down) is still speed metal, but they start with some prog elements. It’s generally well regarded, but I think the production is flat.

Hang on, we’re almost to 1995.

Their second MCA Records album, Cuatro, was released in October 1992. Now, Nirvana had been crushing hair metal since January 1992, but you know who else was huge? Metallica with their self-titled. Metal was at least still partially viable in 1992 (Metallica’s singles go into 1993, and then Live Shit: Binge & Purge help give them longevity while they piss off to God knows where to collect art and get haircuts). The group moves away from thrash and speed, and goes more groove metal with bits of progressive metal in there, as well (and a song co-written by Chris Cornell). The album is a minor hit with its video for “Wading Through the Darkness”, which was unique in that you could see two videos if you manually adjusted the contrast… remember when TVs had knobs you could manually adjust?

Now, we’re in 1995. Major labels are looking for the next big scene, grunge is on the wane, and Kurt Cobain is gone. You know who else is gone? Metallica is nowhere to be found. Disappearing with it, is metal. Headbanger’s Ball is canceled in January 1995, replaced by Superock which was hosted by Jackie Farry, whose only qualification was that she was the nanny for Francis Bean Cobain.

MCA now had a metal band with no hope of hitting it big, in a year where metal may as well not exist. F&J try, God bless ‘em. They are incorporating acoustic guitars, focusing on groove, and what they were is almost completely gone. But, it’s too late. “Destructive Signs” isn’t a great representative of what they were, but it’s a decent song for an album no one bought. It’s worth checking out.

F&J never reach the height of Cuatro again, sales wise, at least. They continue on, from label to label, secretly releasing great classic sounding metal albums no one hears. Be warned if you go on this journey, that each album has one song that is embarrassingly stupid and bad, but it will be surrounded with some legit good stuff, if that’s your scene. Also, the album covers are reliably bad. (+)

Underground Lovers – Dream It Down

In 1988, Glenn Bennie and Vincent GIarrusso came together as a duo in Melbourne, called GBVG. This duo, eventually became a full group called Underground Lovers. Their third album, Dream It Down, came out in 1994. They claim to be influenced Joy Division, The Cure, and New Order, but this just doesn’t reach those heights. It has “dream” in the title, because it put me to sleep!

The group split in 2002, but reformed in 2009 and have been active since. (-)

Echobelly – Insomniac

London’s Echobelly began in 1992 with some former members of PJ Harvey’s band and Curve. It’s some indie rock / alt rock / brit pop, exactly what you would expect from 1995. It’s ok. You heard it if you ever saw Dumb and Dumber. Not long after the release of 1995’s On (this one comes from their prior album), the band was plagued with health and legal problems, and the band splintered while working on the final album. Infusing with some new members, the group limped on to 2004, before breaking up. They reformed in 2009, and the renewed interest caused their albums to get a reissue campaign. (+)

Bodeco – Crazy Sexy Baby

This is a band from Kentucky who made their name as portmanteau of Bo Diddley and Zydeco. But they aren’t on YouTube, Soo… (O)

Garden Variety – Binder

I think this band pairs nicely with the next one (this is what happens when I write these up backward). NYC’s Garden Variety formed around 1992 when bassist Anthony Roman and guitarist Anthony Rizzo placed and ad seeking a drummer. “It read something like, ‘Drummer wanted, must be into Soul Asylum, Squirrel Bait, etc.’ I was sort of shocked”, drummer Joe Gorlick recalled. “Usually, ads in the time of 1990/1991 would have said things like Spin Doctors or other horrible bands of that era. I called them pretty frantically.”

The group released their noisy post-hardcore self-titled in 1993 (or 1992, depending on who you ask). I really love this track; I don’t know why I never followed up on this back in the day.

The band released one more full length, and 5 singles during their tenure. By 1996, the three members all wanted different directions, and they split. (+)

Guided By Voices – Squirmish Frontal Room        

We first saw the Dayton noise merchants all the way back in #002. This song is pretty great, and it doesn’t wear out its welcome. This one I kept from back in the day. This isn’t the last we’ve seen of GBV, in fact, we’ll see more from them even after I let my subscription lapse, in the far away distance year of 2001. (+)

Now It’s Time For Breakdown:

Worthy Tracks: (15/18); 83.3%… I am definitely being to lenient here. 65.5% for the series

Maple Leaf Invasion: We add one more to the Invasion, 5.2% Canadian for this disc, 2.4% across the series.

YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: Bracket and Guided By Voices get to join the Two-Timer’s Club and is in the company of Chris Whitley, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Quicksand, Digable Planets, Adam Ant, Catherine, Ass Ponys, Magnapop, Cranes, Sarah McLachlan, Eve’s Plum, Catherine Wheel, Therapy?, Jeff Buckley, Beastie Boys, Engines of Aggression, Luscious Jackson, and G. Love & Special Sauce. Matthew Sweet ascends to the Threepeaters, with 700 Miles and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. There have been 361 unique artists to date.