Old Music Monthly #029 [January 1996]

Old Music Monthly #029: January 1996

The Cover

Here we have our good friends Rocket From the Crypt. You already know that they’ve just released their high water mark Scream, Dracula, Scream!

The Letters

The letters are bland as hell, except for this guy looking for something to get angry about.

In My Room

Tours We’d Like To See

They’re already running out of ideas.

Random Fact

Alright, let’s hear yours. Mine is “Joe Ryers”, perfectly bland.

Weird Record of the Month

We’ll talk about this on the CD. SYNERGY!

Mix Tape!

No disrespect to the might Emmylou Harris, but there isn’t even a Side A or Side B! Most people weren’t rich enough for their own CD burner in 1996, Emmylou!>

Here’s something for the Super Freaks

Best New Music

Reviews

CMJ Record Shop: You Dial, We Deliver!
A new feature! The internet isn’t the world’s largest shopping mall… yet, so here we have some telephone catalog ordering for albums that were reviewed, albums on the CD, and albums from the Top 75. I’m not sure why I never took advantage of this. I think there was kind of a stink of potential fraud with telephone ordering. We had the chain stores, and we had one local shop and that local shop had Mary Elizabeth. Sigh. She was a young woman, a few years older than me. She could find you anything. If there were three copies of a CD with a dog barking in a basement in Sri Lanka, she could find it. She would often ask what type of music it was, and she would sometimes order one for herself if it piqued her curiousity. When the shop was closing, I was in there, and I asked what she was going to do, she sighed heavily with resignation, “I guess I’ll have to go back to college.”

Godspeed, Mary Elizabeth.

On the Verge

Another one I don’t usually post, but these three are interesting. Plus, it helps do some of the heavy lifting for the Ditch Croaker entry below.

The Genres

Something curious, they list Ozzy’s “Perry Mason” as a 5-inch. Any idea what this could be? The only thing I can find in that size format wise is 78rpm shellacs from the early 1900’s, and some flexi-discs. Discogs is no help.

Top 75

Tech

Welcome to the Tech page, where we discuss the absolutely pointless DVD.

Localzine

Without further delay, the CD:

Rocket From The Crypt – Young Livers    

We first heard from Rocket From the Crypt all the way back in #001, but this feature wasn’t fully formed yet.

The roots of RFTC begin in post-hardcore Pitchfork. When Pitchfork ended in 1990, guitarist John Reis formed RMTC and Drive Like Jehu (with Pitchfork vocalist Rick Froberg) simultaneously, with RFTC being a rock n’ roll inspired punk band. They released an indie debut in 1991, and shuffled the lineup and added a horn section. They put out their second album in 1992 (Circa: Now!), and from 92 to 93, they put out 10 singles. The group liked putting out singles because they could record, press, and release music in under a month, and get the music into the hands of their fans.

In 1992, the group signed to Interscope and the label immediately re-released Circa: Now! In 1995, the group released Scream, Dracula, Scream! Both Sir Simon Mulligan and exexalien both spoke very highly of the album way back the first time the group came up.

We’ll see Rocket From the Crypt again in 1998. (+)

Pharcyde – Runnin

We also talked about Pharcyde back in #001.

Slimkid3, Bootie Brown, and Imani were dancers that met in the late 80s, and Brown was a back up dancer for Fatlip, who was the fourth member. Although, can’t really find a reason why they made the change from dancing to rapping.

After putting out their first demo in 1991, they released their first album in 1992 followed by a string of soundtrack and compilation appearances. We catch up with them here on the their sophomore release, Labcabincalifornia.

The song is pretty good, and it has a call out to The Coasters’ “Charlie Brown” in the lyrics, and you gotta love that.

After this, tensions grew between Fatlip and the others, and he left the group. However, the two factions continued to support each other publicly, which is nice. In 2020, there was a full reunion of the group on Fatlip’s most recent album, and the single (“My Bad”) was released on Bandcamp on August 1. We’ll see Pharcyde again in 2001. (+)

Dan Zanes – Rough Spot

Dan Zanes was the singer / guitarist of Boston’s Del Fuegos from 1980-1990, and after they got dropped from Warner Bros, and then dropped from RCA, the band split. Dan Zanes released his first solo album in 1995, Cool Down Time.

I wouldn’t say this is terrible, his playing has a real John Fogerty quality to it. But even at only 3 minutes, it feels like it has already worn out its welcome.

By 2000, Zanes was a dad and making music with other dads that he was playing at the playground. Since then, he has formed Dan Zanes and His Friends, playing family friendly tunes. (-)

Dog’s Eye View – Everything Falls Apart

Singer / songwriter Peter Stuart started by playing coffeehouses and college campuses. He then formed a band that went through a few changes, but went back to being solo. As a solo artist, he opened for Tori Amos and Cracker. He was “discovered” by Counting Crow Adam Duritz… not sure how you can discover someone who opened on a national tour, but ok. In 1995, Stuart signed with Columbia Records, then he assembled Dog’s Eye View and they recorded their debut album, which was.

This song was a minor hit, but I’ve never liked it. Some stuff I change my mind on, but not this. It’s just that type of music that is made for people that don’t care about music. It’s pop music in alt-rock drag.

The band put out a second album, and Stuart ended the band and went solo for a bit. He resurrected the group in 2006, but that was short lived. Stuart left music and now he has a master’s degree in clinical psychology. (-)

Emmet Swimming – Jump In The Water

This band from Fairfax, VA started in 1990, but didn’t start getting serious until a few years later when they self-released their first album in 1993. In 1994, they self-released their second album, Wake.  Shortly thereafter, they signed with Epic who re-released the album.

I like this song, but I don’t like it as much as I did when I first heard it. I like the way it’s structured with the early start / stops, and I like the singer’s voice. We hear from them again later this year, and then in 1998, but I have no recollection of them, so they may not be as interesting as this.

Somehow, they lasted on Epic longer than most, 3 albums. They’re still around, although their last album was out in 2013. (+)

For Squirrels – Mighty K.C.

Seems like we just talked about For Squirrels… oh, what’s that? We did? Eve’s Plum is the only other group to appear back to back, and they cheated because it was the same song. I doubt this is the first Kurt Cobain tribute song that came out in the wake of his death, but it’s the first I remember hearing. When compounded with the losses this band suffered, it just hits harder. (+)

Thirty Ought Six – Adamantine

This Portland, OR trio made their name by playing a harder edged emo sound, drawing from Sunny Day Real Estate (they opened for them a bunch) and Fugazi. They released a handful of singles, and two albums, the second of which (Hag Seed) is where this comes from. It’s good, but at 5:00, it’s tiresome.

After touring on Lollapalooza in 1996, the band split. Singer / bassist Sean Roberts didn’t like the national touring scene, and decided he would just rather play locally in Portland. Roberts died in 2012, no reason was given for his death. (+)

Gene – Don’t Let Me Down

We talked about Gene alllll they way back in #022… seems like forever ago, doesn’t it? This was a rare b-side on a promo only single, and it’s a Beatles cover. I mean, it’s probably better than anything Gene ever wrote themselves, but that doesn’t make it a keeper. (-)

Madredeus – O Pastor

This group formed in the far away year of 1985, in Portugal. The group plays a style a music that is described as a mix between folk and fado. Fado is a style of music going back to at least 1820, but prior to then it was all relayed orally, so it is believed to go back even farther.

Were people this bored by it 202 years ago? I’m sorry, that’s rude, it was just too good to resist. This music has to take a lot of skill, and it does sound very beautiful. If I were sitting in an outside café drinking wine, I’d be really into it. But I’m not. (-)

Hungry Ghost – Malign

Hungry Ghost was (is?) an ambient group from San Francisco.  Not to be confused with San Francisco/Berlin band Hungry, Hungry Ghost, or 2017 Taiwan rock band Hungry Ghost. There’s really nothing much available out there, but here is the song from the disc with less than 30 views. There’s very little to this, and I like the percussion, but I’m never going to listen to this again. (-)

Bush Tetras – Too Many Creeps

This group formed in 1979 in NYC, and took their name from the animals bush babies and neon tetras. It’s too precious. They were very active in the new wave / no wave scene, releasing a number of singles and an album before the lineup disintegrated, and they split in 1983. The group actually did reunite in 1995, but this is a recording from 1980 and was on a compilation titled Boom In The Night (Original Studio Recordings 1980-1983).

This is really good if you’re into that early style, and it does exactly what it says on the tin… no wave / new wave.

We’ll talk about Bush Tetras again in 1997, but they split again 1998. However, they saw some opportunity with the new slate of post-punk bands and reformed in 2005 and have been going since. (+)

The Cat Mary – Sweet Knees & Backbone

This alt country group is the brainchild of singer / guitarist Andrew Markham, not to be confused with a dude from 2 Skinnee Js or an Oxford Professor of the same name, although this one did teach English at John Hopkins Univeristy in Baltimore. Anyway, the group self-released an album in 1994, and then re-recorded most of it for 1995’s Her High, Lonesome Days, on Orchard (a Sony subsidiary).

There’s nothing wrong with this, but there’s no build. It just kind of lazily moves along. It’s what you would hear in the background at your second favorite chain fast casual dining restaurant.

Not sure if these folks are still around, their most recent album came out in 2006. (-)

Lime Shy – So

Here’s another band that has next to nothing out there about it. Lime Shy formed in 1993 in Lexington, Kentucky and the singer is a ”staunch vegetarian”. That’s it, and it’s direct from the magazine. Google reveals some mentions buried in the back of a few Billboard magazines, but only to say they were playing a benefit or something. Anyway, the group put out an album in 1994, and then this single and 1995, and then they turned to dust, apparently. I didn’t give this the time of day back then, but it’s a fun, basic alt-rock song. I guess they all went back to waiting tables? (+)

29 Died – Pull Me Under

Here is the project of David Siemny (vocals, programming) and David Stowater (guitar, programming), which filled out to a four piece band. There is nothing about these guys.  Discogs only shows their first album, but Spotify shows a second one released in 1999. Even back when this was new, it was impossible to find, and in the infancy of the internet, these guys simply did not exist (and nothing seems to have changed).

Anyway, this song is pretty good, seemingly the rare industrial song that isn’t splintered from NIN, Ministry, any of the other dozen people who have been doing this since the 80s.

The album itself only has 9 songs, and then is padded out with 4 remixes. I recently picked up a copy for cheap, but I haven’t even listened to it yet. I waited 28 years, I can wait a little longer. While there are no writing credits on the sleeve, the ninth track is “Tainted Love”, which has to be a cover because there are no lyrics printed inside. I’m afraid to listen to it. I’m afraid if I do, I’ll get swallowed by the black hole that seems to have absorbed everyone else involved with this group. (+)

Suede – Shipbuilding

We talked about Suede way back in #016. They weren’t for me last time, and nothing has changed.

We’ll see them again in 1997. (-)

Ken Nordine – Olive

Chicago’s Ken Nordine was a radio host and voice over artist appearing in many commercials, but he was also known for his “word jazz” albums, where he talked over jazz. This actually comes from 1966’s Colors, which was reissued in 1995. The album came to life when Fuller Paint Company commissioned a series of 90 second radio ads, which were so popular that an album was released. I wouldn’t listen to an album of this, but this would be interesting to spruce up a mixtape. Just make sure to fax your mixtape track list to the magazine.

Ken Nordine died in 2019, at the age of 98. (+)

Shiva Speedway – Twister

This Boston trio of ladies (and sometimes three ladies and a dude?) have a total of 6 songs recorded… maybe. They have 3 split singles, and a single all to themselves. There’s apparently a CD compiling some of these, but Discogs doesn’t even list it. They broke up in 1999, but there’s nothing to review anyway, because it’s not on YouTube. (O)

Holiday – Fifteen Dollars

Here’s another big question mark. A band that released three albums, with a name impossible to Google. This band formed at Yale. That’s it. That’s the post.

This is Great Value Weezer with worse vocals. (-)

Ditch Croaker – Meat Grinder

Here’s another extreme rarity. This trio formed in 1992 in the far away land of Hoboken, NJ by Tim Barnes (drums), Tim Floyd (bass), and Tim Newman (guitar / vocals)… why didn’t they just call it “TIM”. Anyway, poking around the internet you will see them described as “noise rock”, but don’t expect Jesus Lizard or Melvins or their ilk. They have a much more pop sensibility for that genre. They released 3 singles from 93-94, an album in 95, and Secrets of the Mule which was picked up and released by Reprise Records (that would be the end of their major label association).

In fact, this version is different than the one on Mule, I think it’s a different mix (this happens from time to time). Here’s the whole album, with less than 110 views at the time of this writing. Skip ahead to 26:58 to hear it, the uploader put in helpful hyperlinks. I really like this track, but not so much the rest of their stuff. Maybe I just need more time with it.

Ditch Croaker soldiered on with another album in 1996, and a final one in 1999. Barnes calls the split an “uncomfortable breakup”, but he has gone on to play with Sonic Youth, and then Kim Gordon solo, as well as Silver Jews and Wilco. He also run the Quakebasket label which specializes in archival releases. (+)

Comet Gain – Last Night

This London group formed in 1992, drawing some inspiration from post-punk and northern soul. They released a bunch of EPs through 1993-95, and in 1995 released their first album Casino Classics. I’m not really into it, the singer is overly saccharine, and flat. Like expired Pepsi.

In 1997, the entire band quite and formed Velocette, and left guitarist David Feck to form a new lineup. The band is still going today, with many changes in lineups. (-)

Now It’s Time For Breakdown:

Worthy Tracks: 52.63%, could be worse, right? 63.01% across the series.

Maple Leaf Invasion: Zero! A great start to 1996. 2.6% across the series.

YEEEEAAAHHH, Here Comes the Roster: For January, Rocket From the Crypt, Pharcyde, and Gene join the two-timers club. They are in company with Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, Echobelly, Ben Harper, 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, Paul Weller, Radiohead, Ramones Stabbing Westward, Sister Machine Gun, and Superchunk. 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 29 installments, there have 501 unique artists.