Old Music Monthly #025: September 1995
I don’t know much about Urge Overkill, but was Nash Kato always this androgynous and I didn’t notice? I remember him in giant bug sunglasses and a leisure suit that looked exactly like Travolta’s in crime against the cinema (but heavenly soundtracked) Saturday Night Fever. Also, one of the other guys is names Blackie Onassis, which is awesome.
I’m including the entire letters page because it is just wall to wall golden this month.
In My Room
Boredoms will show up on a future CD, but this is still good reading.
And here is another inspired tour line up:
Best New Music
Young Gods are not on this disc (or any CMJ disc, I don’t think), or interviewed anywhere, but this is a great album.
There’s only 43 reviews this time. While more than last time, they seem to be moving away from that and getting more ads… or more features, I’m not sure. There’s really nothing of note here, so here is a review of an Inbreds album that will have a track on an upcoming installment.
We have a Weird Record of the Month this month, and I’d actually like to hear this one. They have them on Discogs starting at 880 yen.
This was old shit then, it’s super old shit now.
I think this is the first time I ever saw or heard of Black Metal, but the first sentence was really perplexing. I’m still not into it. In the Riffs section, yes we have a Sepultura home video, but I appreciate that we have a blurb about Candiria… not that I’m a fan, but there’s contact info if you wanted to get a demo tape, and that’s pretty cool.
I’ve never heard The Dentists before, but this is both an amusing write-up, which is not only a time capsule of 1995’s internet, but an annoying forebearer of what’s to come.
Miss Polly Jean Harvey drops all the way to number 73, but out good friends Primus are number one! How many of the 75 do you own?
I don’t know if Robin Genovese was in a band, but they are writing up Ontario if you care to gander at it.
Hey, remember when the film Kids was going to be the end of our civilization? The pearl clutching never stops, does it?
We’ll talk about Fig Dish in just a minute, but this drawing is like something pulled directly from my 1995 brain. This is something I absolutely would have attempted to draw in a college notebook.
I haven’t heard Blue Mountain (yet), but they are Americana-Alt Country. I love this picture used for the album cover, I think it’s great. I also think it’s amusing that Roadrunner was trying to diversify their portfolio in the mid 90s, metal was in such poor shape, the higher ups said, “Eh… maybe a band with a woman?” Guess that Bloody Kisses money ran out quick. But don’t worry, Slipknot came along and saved the day.
Here’s what Puma is doing this month. Is it just me, or is that suspiciously close to Eddie Vedder?
Without further delay, the CD:
Fig Dish – Seeds
You have some established, or at least semi-established artists, and you lead with Fig Dish? The group came out of Chicago and were contemporaries of Smashing Pumpkins and Veruca Salt, and shared bills with Smoking Popes and Triple Fast Action. They formed in 1991 and self-released an album that same year. After a few singles, they signed with PolyGram and in 1995 released That’s What Love Songs Do.
There’s really nothing to this song. No musical epiphanies, no vocal acrobatics, no lyrics that strike you in the heart.
The group released one more album, but broke with the label (and then split) in 1998 when they got stuck with the bill for an $80,000 music video that received zero airplay. Members Blake Smith and Mike Willison joined Local H frontman Scott Lucas in project The Prairie Cartel. (-)
Urge Overkill – Somebody Else’s Body
These dudes formed in 1986 in Chicago, and were good friends with noted cranky-puss Steve Albini (who recorded their first EP). They recorded 3 albums for Touch & Go, and then signed to Geffen (which Albini had a very strong opinion about, of course) for 1993’s Saturation, which I remember the used bins being littered with.
“Sister Havana” is a great song, and the Neil Diamond cover is good, too, but this is just meh. I mean, this is the lead single? This is your best foot forward? Throw that foot into a wood chipper…
The group split in 1997, singer / guitarist Kato Nash put out a solo album in 2000, but the group reformed in 2004 with lots of changing line-ups. They were kind of half-assing their band after 2012, playing sporadically, but released a new album in 2022, Oui. (-)
Cracker – Shake Some Action
Whenever I think of Cracker, I am dumbfounded that singer / guitarist David Lowery (heir to the Lowery’s Seasoned Salt empire) was also in Camper Van Beethoven. It seems like he said, “Hey, if a goofy band can be this popular, imagine if I tried!” Which I don’t mean to say Camper Van Beethoven is bad or anything. I’m losing the plot here.
Cracker was pretty successful right off the bat, all things considered. Here they are covering a Flamin’ Groovies track, and it was on the Clueless soundtrack. This doesn’t really work for me, it’s not that it’s bad, but it’s just droll.
Cracker is still going, and Camper Van Beethoven reunited in 1999, and Lowery plays in both. (-)
Deluxx Folk Implosion – Daddy Never Understood
Kids, as a film, was pretty controversial. It seemed to give the impression this was a typical teen’s experience, or that’s what the media seemed to believe. I didn’t think much of it, but the ending had me shook. But it gave us Rosario Dawson, so it’s a net positive, I suppose.
Anyway, mutli-instrumentalist Lou Barlow was kicked out of Dinosaur Jr. in 1989, and created a bunch of groups for his creative outlets such as Sebadoh, Sentridoh, and Folk Implosion. This is a one of where Folk Implosion worked with the group Deluxx, and it’s a great lo-fi burst of erratic energy.
The two groups would work together again on “I’m Just a Bill” from 1996’s Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks compilation. They also released an EP as D.F.I. in 1996, which looks like maybe an expanded edition came out in 2016. Deluxx released 3 albums between 1996 and 2008, but then dropped off. Folk Implosion accidentally had a hit with “Natural One” (also from Kids), and suddenly they filled out a live band and toured. Barlow rejoined Dinosaur Jr. in 2005, and all this time has continued to release music as a solo artist, Folk Implosion, Sebadaoh, and maybe Sentridoh as well. (+)
Ben Folds Five – Underground
Multi-instrumentalist Ben Folds played in some bands in various capacities before moving to Nashville to work as a session musician and eat chocolate chip cookies, and then onto New York to act in theater troupes, before moving back to North Carolina where he was born.
Ben Folds Five came together in 1994, and by 1995 had released a self titled album on Caroline, which is where this comes from. I really don’t like it. I think “Love Song For the Dumped” is good, and “Brick” is good, too. This song seems like it’s going for funk, but just can’t get there.
Like many other bands, Ben Folds Five found themselves without a label when Caroline folded, but they were quick scooped up by Sony and released their biggest album, Whatever and Ever Amen, in 1997. They released another album in 1999, and then split in 2000. They reformed in 2008, splitting the same year, before reforming in 2011 and splitting in 2013. Ben Folds has been all over the place, putting out solo albums, a memoir, on some NBC show about acapella nerds, and serves as the first artistic advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (-)
Letters To Cleo – Awake
We talked about Letters To Cleo way back in #013, and we catch up with them here for their 1995 album, Wholesale Meats and Fish. One thing I love about 90s albums, is they just take titles from local business advertising signs. “’Wholesale Meats and Fish’, there it is, that’s the title, now fuck off and leave me alone.”
It’s a good song, has a really good hook. I didn’t save it back in the day, but it’s got a good bounce to it. (+)
Blue Mountain – Soul Sister
It still baffles me this group was on Roadrunner Records. Blue Mountain was formed by married duo singer / guitarist Cary Hudson and bassist / backing vocalist Laurie Stirratt, Laurie who is the twin sister of Wilco’s John Stirratt. The group had a succession of drummers (six, it looks like), and then split in 2001 when Hudson and Stirratt got divorced. Hudson went solo, but they made nice and reformed in 2007, but split again in 2013. Hudson resumed his solo career and Stirratt owns and is the chef at Tallulah’s Kitchen in Oxford, Mississippi.
Musically, this isn’t terrible, but Hudson is trying so hard to have a “country” inflection in his voice that is sounds like a bad SNL sketch. (-)
Ké – Strange World
Kevin Grivois grew up on a Cherokee reservation after the divorce of his parents. Originally a model, Grivois entertained himself with a multi-track recorder by recording layered vocals into songs and doing all the parts himself. Grivois signed with RCA, and his name was focus grouped into Ke, because it was “less threatening”. Then, he was considered “too gay” for pop music, and RCA wanted to mold him into dance music. RCA let his debut, I Am [ ], die on the vine, but he found some measure of cult success in Europe, particularly Spain and Italy.
Ke recorded a second album that RCA only released in Europe. After that, he was dropped from RCA, and signed to small imprint of Sony and released 2001’s Better Way of Living. He’s still out there, recording stuff for his soundcloud account.
While the story is interesting, the song isn’t. He sounds like a less interesting version of that guy from Our Lady Peace. He’s intentionally trying to sound androgynous (he admits as much), and it works on that level, but I just don’t find it pleasing to listen to. (-)
But his story is interesting, so check out this article if you feel so inclined: https://www.popmatters.com/now-hear-this-kevin-grivois-2496187988.html
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme, Pt. 2: Resolution
This jazz legend started with alto horn and clarinet, before getting his alto saxophone, that he played in high school. He played in a cocktail trio, before enlisting in the Navy. While in the Navy, he recorded with the Melody Masters before being discharged. After that, he dove head first into the bebop scene.
I’m not much of a saxophone fan, but of course, this is awesome.
Prior to his “spiritual awakening” in 1957, he had serious addictions to alcohol and heroin, which many felt contributed to the development of the liver cancer that killed him at 40, which is way too young. Hasn’t slowed him down, though. Taking a page from the Hendrix playbook, his estate released two albums in 2021, and many, many, many more between then and his death. (+)
Manà – Dejame Entrar
This group from Guadalajara is a pop-rock group that has been going since 1981. They started as Sombrero Verde, which I think is a pretty cool name. They pull influences from reggae, rock, funk, ska, and more.
I often get accused by my wife of loving any song with hand-clapping, but I finally have the counter argument. At first, I kind of thought the funk influence was ok, but as it goes on, it reveals it’s weakness. If P-Funk is the best meal you’ve ever eaten, this is stale bread and room temperature tap water. I realize this is rude, but it’s just not for me.
They are still going today, and have massive success in Latin and South America. They actually have had the same lineup since 1994, which is pretty impressive. (-)
Malfunkshun – Jezebel Woman
I might get deep in the woods here, so be warned. Malfunkshun is known as a corner stone of what would become The Seattle Sound, or “grunge”. Sources state the band formed in 1980, but that would make singer Andrew Wood 14 years old, and brother Kevin Wood (guitarist) 18, and other brother Brian Wood (???) 17. Legend says that the group “formed” Easter Sunday, but it’s not clear exactly what this means, but the brothers recorded a tape in their garage instead of going to a family dinner.
Soon after, Brian was out, but bassist David Hunt and drummer Dave Rees were in. This lineup only played one show before Andrew doubled on singing and bass, and Regan Hagar on drums. As a trio, the group was known for being outlandish, Andrew walked across the bar with his wireless bass to make an entrance, eat sugary kid’s cereal on stage and then throw it into the audience. The audience would throw things at the band, and he would pretend they were doing an arena concert and just banter like he was the biggest rock star in the world. The biggest rock star in the world who would stop the show to walk his mom to the car so she could catch the ferry.
The band was put on hold when Andrew went into rehab in 1985. The timeline isn’t clear here, but I’ll get into that in a minute. You start to have a scene sprouting up here, you have bands Green River (1984), Skin Yard (1984), Soundgarden (1984), and Melvins (1983). I’ve mentioned the Deep Six compilation in my Spotlights on Melvins and Skin Yard, Chris Hanzsek was looking to memorialize the scene, and offered to record the bands, in addition to U-Men (1980) who were added to get people to buy the collection. Imagine living in a time when you have Soundgarden and Melvins on a compilation, and you have to bring in the U-Men because you’re concerned about sales. Anyway, Malfunkshun contributed “Stars N You” and “With Yo Heart Not Yo Hands” (covered later by Melvins), neither of which made it to the album.
If you ever see Deep Six in the wild, buy it. The original is out of print, and A&M reissued it in the mid-90s and that’s also out of print.
The timeline is screwed because Andrew went to rehab sometime in 1985, they went into the studio August and September 1985, and Malfunkshun played the release part in March of 1986. That being said, it seems that the group is limping across the finish line. Deep Six was (likely) the group’s first professional studio recording. So, it’s possible that the self-titled album released in 1995 was recorded between 1986-88. Green River broke up in 1988, and Andrew was meeting with guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament. Andrew had a goal to create something different, but Kevin thought that Gossard and Ament were joining Malfunkshun. You don’t have to look too hard to find an interview with Kevin to see just how angry he is about the way this all shook out. Meanwhile, Brian was living on the streets.
Of course, Gossard, Ament, and Andrew formed Mother Love Bone and signed with PolyGram. Andrew died of a heroin overdose 2 weeks before the release of their debut record. Gossard and Ament immediately retired from music and started a bakery. But really, Gossard had his own imprint through Epic Records, who released the Malfunkshun album. As an album, it’s good, it doesn’t entirely work, but it’s a fun listen.
Kevin and Brian teamed up with former Nirvana drummer Chad Channing for The Fire Ants, though they only lasted from 1991-92. They teamed up again in Devilhead in 1993, but Brian split and the band completely split by 1998. Brian was on the first Hater record with Soundgarden’s Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron, and Monster Magnet’s John McBain (who was also on the first Devilhead record). Kevin eventually resurrected Malfunkshun, recording an album with Brad/Satchel vocalist Shawn Smith singing. Malfunkshun still exists in some sort of zombified version releasing tracks on Bandcamp. (+)
Klover – Beginning To End
For a very brief moment, Boston punk band Klover existed. In 1995, they recorded an album and an EP for Mercury Records, toured behind the album, then said goodbye. That’s it, no more. The band was fronted by singer / guitarist Mike Stone, and included former Gang Green members Chris Doherty (guitar) and Brian Betzger (drums), and Darren Hill (bass, Red Rockers). This is a fun little slab of punk, it’s likeable, doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Doherty resurrected Gang Green (twice), and while they technically didn’t break up, Doherty suffered a stroke in 2018 which left him partially paralyzed and all has been quiet since. Stone went on to be a guitarist for Queensryche. (+)
Hagfish – Stamp (Eat It While I Work)
This Texas group was formed vocalist George Stroud Reagan III and brothers Zach Blair and Doni Blair (guitar and bass, respectively) and series of drummers before finding a permanent member in Tony Barsotti. They recorded a debut, Buick Men, which a good portion of was re-recorded for their London Records debut, … Rocks Your Lame Ass.
Look, I gave Klover a passing grade and I’m failing this. You may be wondering why. Everything here is designed to put me off. The album title, the cover art, the voice… good lord. This nasal whine has been done better.
The group broke up in 2001. They reformed in 2003, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Someone should tell these guys that just because you leave the room to go to the bathroom, it doesn’t mean you’ve broken up. Zach Blair went on to play with Gwar, Only Crime, and Rise Against. Doni Blair wound up in The Toadies. (-)
Ape Hangers – I Don’t Want To Live Today
Here’s another group that was just a blip… sort of. They formed in L.A. in 1995, signed by A&M, and released their debut Ultrasounds. Before they even scheduled a tour, A&M dropped them. They changed their name to 3XL in 1996, moved to Boston, changed their name back to Ape Hangers and released a self-titled album in 1998… an album so underheard that Discogs doesn’t even acknowledge its existence.
It’s no great loss, this is clearly a major label looking for pop-punk in the vein of Green Day to score their own Dookie sized hit. This song was in Empire Records but nobody cares, this was never going to sell 20 million copies. I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but it’s a copy of a copy of a copy, the video is typical mid nineties nonsense. The drab 70’s brought back by grunge has been supplanted by the borderline neon colors of the modern 60’s. Hope you like it, we’ll be seeing a lot more of it. (-)
Southern Culture On The Skids – Soul City
Here’s another Chapel Hill, North Carolina group (I should be tracking Chapel Hill instead of Canada). Am I wrong if I call them “Hillbilly Cramps”? It might be a bit reductive. They formed in 1983, and pull their influences from punk, garage, southern rock, and a lot more. Truthfully, they’re just likeable. I guess other people think so, they’ve been on a variety of late shows and had songs pop up on lots and lots of movie and video game soundtracks. I liked this then, and I like it now. I kind of want to just listen to it at a county fair… but not a state fair, that’s just too high falutin. (+)
Big Audio Dynamite – I Turned Out A Punk
We talked about this back in #016. Let me put it this way, Mick Jones + Joe Strummer = Yes! Mick Jones – Joe Strummer = No! (-)
Onyx – Live (1:37) / Kali Ranks – Kill Dem All (1:12)
So, there’s no way to make this work. These were snippets from Russell Simmons’ <i>The Show</i>, the original Onyx track is over three and a half minutes and the Kali Ranks track is nearly five, but the disc had these very small pieces, and I don’t really know what to do with them. (0)
The Rake’s Progress – When I Kiss Her
There are at least three bands with this name, but this one is a quartet from NYC. This is some manic pixie shit, it’s not Train level bad, but it’s not good. The guitar solo at 1:29 was neat, but not enough to save it. In fact, the longer this song goes, the more enraged I become. If you make it to 3:17, you’ll see what I mean. Mercifully, they broke up in 1997. (-)
Innocence Mission – Bright As Yellow
The members of this group met at Lancaster Catholic High School while working on a production of Godspell… for fuck’s sake. After being a cover band, they started writing their own stuff and by 1986 had released their first EP which had the song “Shadows” which was covered by… sigh… Amy Grant.
This comes from their third album, Glow, which came out on A&M. “Bright as Yellow” was also on the Empire Records soundtrack. I fully expected to hate this, but it’s not terrible… but it’s not for me.
Guess what happened next? They recorded their follow up for A&M, which the label rejected, and then they split ways. The group is still going today. (-)
Ed’s Redeeming Qualities – I Will Wait
Forming in Boston in 1988, this group was popular for being an amateurish anti-folk group. Breeders covered their “Drivin’ On 9” on Last Splash, and the two groups shared violinist Carrie Bradley for a time.
This one is a real struggle. The lyrics are clever, maybe even too clever by half, but the music is annoying as hell, and at over three and a half minutes, it feels like a lot. I can certainly see where it’s “amateur”, but it really has an outsider art quality to it.
The group called it quits in 1997, but had a one-off reunion in 2011. (+)
Now It’s Time For Breakdown:
Worthy Tracks: (7/19); 36.84%, dire! 63.21% across the series.
Maple Leaf Invasion: Zero this time! We’re at 2.64% across the series.
YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: This month, Letters To Cleo and Big Audio Dynamite join the Two-Timers Club along with Satchel, Hum, Bracket, Guided By Voices, Chris Whitley, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Quicksand, Digable Planets, Adam Ant, Catherine, Ass Ponys, Magnapop, Cranes, Sarah McLachlan, Eve’s Plum, Therapy?, Jeff Buckley, Beastie Boys, Engines of Aggression, Luscious Jackson, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Green Apple Quick Step. Catherine Wheel, 700 Miles, and Matthew Sweet are the Three-peaters. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are the only group to appear four times. Over the 25 installments, there have 433 unique artists.