Old Music Monthly #027: November 1995
Alt rock super heroes Sonic Youth are here! Kim Gordon is trying to fake it, but I don’t think she’s into this carrot patch, or wherever the hell they are.
Here are some tips on if you want to work for CMJ.
In My Room
More blurbs than rooms in this month’s issue.
Tours We’d Like To See
Weird Record of the Month
Here’s our Weird Record installment. If your curiosity is piqued, you can get it on Discogs starting at $3.00.
A new “feature”, but it’s a blurb. Be sure to fax in your mix tape!
Best New Music
I’m sure several of you will enjoy this.
I would just like to point out that this is recommended if you like “recent U2”, which would technically be Zooropa. But I feel like Outside is closer to Pop for its experimentation. Did CMJ predict Pop 2 years early?
On the Verge
I don’t usually post On the Verge, any of the bands of interest end up on a CD. Here we have Upper Crust, who are still going and have had the same lineup since 1996. I’ve only ever heard them once, I forgot about them until now, but they are the perfect blend of Spinal Tap and AC/DC.
Here, check out what they have to say about Raekwon.
I’m super into this idea of Thrift Score, I definitely have questions and would love to read it. But I’m sure any “tips” are outdated. Writer Al Hoff released the final issue in 1998, saying “reproducing this has become a major headache. I’m out of questions and mysteries,” and “I hardly even thrift anymore.” She released Thrift Score: The Stuff, The Method, The Madness! in 1997, and in 2003 she was one of the founders of Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade craft fair.
Bjork drops down to Number 8. I only owned 3 of these. One of which was Young Gods’ Only Heaven, which I liberated from the college radio station. How many did you own?
This one is fun, it’s a grand debate about new formats. I’m loving the highlighted quote: “I just can’t imagine buying a portable music player that is worth more than the blue book value of my car.” AAAHAHAHAHAHAHA wait until Apple releases any number of iProducts.
I don’t usually post the classifieds, up until now they have been a bunch of nothing… still mostly nothing, but a few good ones. Although, CMJ, three ads for your own shit is a bad look.
Paw’s Mark Hennessey takes us on a tour of Lawrence, Kansas.
There are plenty of ads, but they are only full-page ads of albums that are coming out. Yawn. But Puma is still hanging around
Without further delay, the CD:
Sonic Youth – The Diamond Sea
We spoke about Sonic Youth back in #010, here we have a song from Washing Machine. On the album, the track goes almost 20 minutes, and I can’t imagine listening to this for 20 minutes. Obviously, the disc has a shorter version. There’s some interesting guitar at 2:40, but otherwise this is a snooze. We’ll talk about Sonic Youth again in the year 2000. (-)
Ash – Jack Names The Planets
Two members of Northern Ireland’s Ash started in an Iron Maiden cover band in 1989, and somehow formed Ash in 1992. How they got to here is anyone’s guess. They did the usual thing of putting out demos and a few singles before signing with Infections Records.
“Jack Names the Planets” was their debut single, and then on their debut EP, Trailer. The US and Japanese versions have 4 bonus tracks, so maybe it’s an LP, or a mini-album (but I hate this term). The song was also on the soundtrack for the film Angus, but I think it’s here because of Trailer, because there is an ad in the magazine for the release. Anyway, this is a song I didn’t think much of when I heard it back then, but today it’s pretty alright.
After touring with Weezer, they decided that there were limitations as a three-piece, and added guitarist Charlotte Hatherley in 1997. We’ll put a pin in this now, as we’ll see them again in 1999. (+)
Schtum – Skydiver
Here’s a Northern Ireland four piece that named themselves after something you cough up in the morning. No, that’s not really the origin of their name. There’s nothing much out there except they were from Derry, and billed as “Irish Fugazi”. Singer / songwriter Christian McNeill moved to the states and formed Sea Monsters. There’s now an Austrian Schtum that is some sort of electronic artist.
I’m not sure I’d call this Fugazi, but it’s not terrible. The group put out one album on Sony subsidiary WORK, and then called it quits. (+)
Meat Puppets – Scum
We chatted about Meat Puppets back in #007, and here we catch up with them for 1995’s No Joke, produced by Butthole Surfer Paul Leary. Although I’ve never heard a complete Meat Puppets album that has ever resonated with me, I think this is a great song. This album has one of the ugliest covers I have ever seen, but it was drawn by singer / guitarist Curt Kirkwood’s daughter, so I feel mean calling it ugly.
We’ll see Meat Puppets again in 2000. (+)
Fledgling – Solomon’s Crown
Not a whole lot on this London/Boston group. They put out one album on TVT Records, then TVT refused to release their second album and the group split. Seems everyone who tangled with TVT except for Nine Inch Nails becomes a casualty. Singer Eileen Rose went solo.
Rose has a nice voice, but there’s really nothing here to make this group sound special, it’s kind of just re-tread of Hammerbox, but I can see why people want to listen to her voice. (-)
(The) Lemons – Low
The Lemons have that magical place attached to their band, “Seattle”. The only thing really out there is an outdated Wikipedia page. This song isn’t on youtube, but I listened to a few others. It’s punkish rock filtered through the northwest. They signed to Mercury, and then broke up in 1996. They had a one off reunion in 2012 opening for Duff McKagan’s Loaded, which seems apt. (O)
Electrafixion – Never
Fellow Bunnymen Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant started working together in 1994 after both had left the group, and they formed Electrafixion. It took me a couple tries to like this, but I still don’t like the “na-na-na-na-now” part.
When the zombie Bunnymen broke up in 1996, additional original Bunnyman Les Pattinson joined up with them, and they took back the name and Electrafixion was no more. (+)
Echobelly – King Of The Kerb
We covered Echobelly back in #021. The band is kind of mediocre, but singer Sonya Madan’s voice is so pleasant, she saves it single handedly. (+)
Black Grape – In The Name Of The Father
With the demise of England’s Happy Mondays, vocalist Shaun Ryder and dancer (?) Bez merged with Ruthless Rap Assassins member Paul “Kermit” Leveridge to form Black Grape as a “dance pop” group. I’m surprised Bez didn’t have any other prospects.
I didn’t get this back then. Honestly, I’m not sure I get it now. I feel like I need to be on some illicit substances to connect with this. I swear this is on the soundtrack to some teen comedy movie from the late 90s.
We’ll see Black Grape again in 1998. (+)
µ-Ziq – Phiesope
This is the electronic project of Mike Paradinas from London. England is all over this thing, aren’t they? Paradinas also records/performs as Tusken Raiders, Rude Ass Tinker, Jake Slazenger, Kid Spatula, Gary Moscheles, and Frost Jockey. This isn’t for me, maybe it’s for you? Despite my opinion, we’ll hear from Paradinas again in 1998. (-)
Kensuke Shiina – Insomniac
Japan’s Kensuke Shiina started as a member of Audio Science Laboratorie. He’s also a member of something called Blair Witch And Bush Of Ghost Project, which, if there was ever a name that made me want to listen to something, this is it. Anyway, this is a single that he’s really known for. He put out an album in 1997, and then nothing (except Blair Witch put out an album in 2003). I’m not wild about this, the flute kind of drives me nuts. (-)
Ben Harper – Ground On Down
We investigated Mr. Harper #009. Nothing has really changed with him since then. This still isn’t very interesting. It’s the kind of thing white people buy to have a black artist in their collection so they can say they aren’t racist.
We’ll visit with Mr. Harper again in 1997. (-)
Badlees – Fear of Falling
I’m not sure there is a musical phrase that bums me out more than “roots rock”. Anyway, the core of Pennsylvania’s Badlees went to school together at Mansfield University in the early 80s. They went their separate ways and reconvened to form the band and released their debut EP in 1990. On the strength of this EP, they got a gig opening for international superstars… Firehouse… in Harrisburg, PA. This kind of reads like Mad Libs.
The [PLURAL NOUN] attending [PLACE] together, and formed a [ADJECTIVE] band. They recorded [NUMBER] EP(s), and opened for [MUSICAL GROUP] at [PLACE].
This track comes from their third album, and only album for Polydor, <i>River Songs</i>. I wasn’t into this to begin with, then the fuckin’ harmonica busts out.
The band returned to indie labels, and they’re still going to day, with their most recent album coming out in 2013. (-)
Beautiful South – Old Red Eyes Is Back
This pop group from Hull started in 1988, and by this time, they are on their third singer, Jacqui Abbott.
This comes from the singles collection Carry On Up The Charts, that had already been out for almost a year at this point. It’s funny how slow this stuff traveled back then. This track features their second singer, Brianna Corrigan, and was originally released in 1992. It seems counterproductive to release this song with an old singer when you’re still going with a new one. On top of that, on this song, she’s a back-up singer. Anyway, I’m not into it, but, watching this video, is it supposed to be serious?
We’ll see them again in 1997. (-)
The Rugburns – War
The Rugburns began in 1992 as a cowpunk band in San Diego, sometimes a trio, sometimes a four-piece. They released an album on Priority Records in 1994, an EP in 1995, and then their second album, Taking the World By Donkey, which is a pretty great title. This song kind of sucks, it’s just a shopping list of all of our international military skirmishes (to date, then), and being bored by them and wanting a “real fucking war”. I get that this is to be read as sarcastic, but it feels different in 2022. This is a theme song to some troglodyte wearing a Punisher skull. Should I mark it bad because the world has changed a lot in 27 years? Well, I’m going to.
The group still performs occasionally as a trio, and singer/guitarist Steve Poltz went solo on Mercury. He was dropped, but still releases music. Poltz was also romantically linked with CMJ alum Jewel, and was co-writer of “You Were Meant For Me”. (-)
The Rentals – Friends of P.
After the great success of Weezer’s debut album, the band took a break and bassist Matt Sharp formed The Rentals. Initially, he created a ridiculous backstory of a band that grew up in Prague listening only to Gary Numan until Madonna rescued them by signing them to her Maverick Records imprint, but decided it was too much work to keep up the joke. Sharp enlisted Weezer drummer Patrick Wilson, Hayden sisters Petra and Rachel, and future Iowa Republican Cherielynn Westrich to record the album before shopping it around, and then landed at Maverick.
I did kind of like this when it came out, but I thought I was too cool for it. I think it holds up.
The band has had a lot of turnover over the years, but currently includes Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and Ronnie Vannucci Jr (The Killers). We’ll see The Rentals actually return in 1999. (+)
XC-NN – Lifted
Originally called CNN, this English group was formed by former Sisters of Mercy guitarist Tom Bricheno and Jellyfish Kiss singer David Tomlinson. The group released their debut in 1994, and signed to Epic imprint 550 Music for their second and final album, Lifter.
The guitars on this are nice, but overall, there’s nothing here. It’s either too late or too early depending on what they’re going for. But, Trouser Press really hated them stating: “XC-NN is less convincing than Sigue Sigue Sputnik and twice as tuneless” and “an uninspired scrapheap assembled from various Generation Pearl Jam influences.”
The band split after this, but Bricheno and Tomlinson continued working together in Tin Star, which, mercifully never appeared on a CMJ. (-)
Tanner – Hey Jigsaw
When San Diego’s Fishwife broke up bassist Matt Ohlin, drummer Chris Prescott, and guitarist Gar Woods formed Tanner. The put out some singles, and then this self-titled debut. There isn’t really a whole lot out there about these guys.
I didn’t save it back in the day, but I’m into it now. I listened to the first two thirds of it on Youtube (It’s not on Spotify or Amazon), and it’s more of the same, so if you’re into it check it out. I don’t know how rare the CD is, there are only 5 on eBay and maybe 7 on Discogs.
The band split sometime after 1997’s (Germo)Phobe. Ohlin owns (owned?) RT. 44 Skate Shop and played bass and sang in Hiatus, Prescott went on to play in No Knife and Pinback, and Woods went on to play bass and guitar in Hot Snakes. (+)
D.O.A. – Marijuana Motherfucker
Canada! Vancouver, to be exact. D.O.A. started in 1978, broke up in 1990, and reformed in 1992. It’s punk, no deviation. I’m torn between thinking it’s brilliant, and it’s shit. There’s not a lot to it, but sometimes things are beautiful in their simplicity.
They broke up in 2013, and then reformed in 2014, so why bother? Like nearly every punk band, they have had loads of lineup changes, but they’ve shared members with Subhumans, Avengers, Pointed Sticks, NoMeansNo, SNFU, Annihilator, Black Flag, Danzig, Circle Jerks, and Social Distortion. Sole constant member Joe “Shithead” Keithley was elected to the city council of Burnaby, British Columbia in 2018. A guy called “Shithead” was elected to office… which, frankly, shouldn’t be surprising. (+)
Kill Culture – The Hate
This is not to be confused with the Los Angeles metal band Killing Culture from 1997. This isn’t to be confused with anything, since they don’t exist anywhere, but this is from a 7-inch they released and then maybe disappeared? Maybe an album? Who knows… (O)
Cibo Matto – Know Your Chicken
Cibo Matto formed in New York City after Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda had worked together in a noise rock band, but decided to go out on their own. They self-released an EP, and Warner Bros. thought there was something there, so they signed the duo. Someone at Warners thought people wanted to hear an album with two Japanese ladies singing and rapping about food. Well, they were right because people couldn’t get enough of Viva! La Woman… at least in a cult capacity. It’s the sort of hyper-specificity that really makes it work. Who are they? Japanese ladies. What do they do? Lo-fi hip hop. What’s it about? Chicken. Huh, ok.
They will soon be joined by Sean Lennon and Timo Ellis, but we’ll see more of them in 1999 (+)
Now It’s Time For Breakdown:
Worthy Tracks: 57.8%, it’s ok. 62.5% over the series.
Maple Leaf Invasion: 4.7%; it’s 2.61% over the series now.
YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: This month, Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, Echobelly, and Ben Harper 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, Green Apple Quick Step, Letters To Cleo, Big Audio Dynamite, Eve’s Plum, Greta, and Paul Weller. 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 27 installments, there have 468 unique artists.