Tag: 1993

Velocity Girl – Copacetic

ARTIST: Velocity Girl  220px-Copacetic_(Velocity_Girl_album_-_cover_art)

TITLE: Copacetic

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Crazy Town, Audrey’s Eyes

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: Archie Moore, Brian Nelson, Kelly Riles, Sarah Shannon, Jim Spellman

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A shoe-gazey alternative rock band from DC that found its way through the grunge madness, even while on Sub Pop, the home of grunge (sorta).

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After releasing singles and touring the East Coast, Velocity Girl was signed to Sub Pop and released their debut, a shoegaze-like record featuring hazy, distorted guitars and a vocalist (Sarah Shannon) whose bright voice was covered up in the crackly guitars.

That made Shannon’s vocals even more effective, as the listener had to focus on the songs as a whole to get the entire essence of the track. It revealed a band that wasn’t in step with the other Sub Pop bands, but found a niche in the market. The vocal melodies were enticing enough for radio, and the guitars and arrangements kept them firmly in the alternative camp.

The album has some missteps and clunks. For every great song like title track and the singles, there’s a song that goes on too long, or is an experiment that doesn’t quite work. In other words, a debut record.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Drummer Jim Spellman was a CNN reporter and is now a reporter on a DC based station.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE B+: Some tracks went awry, but this is solid, solid shoegaze stuff.

Tad – Inhaler

ARTIST: Tad 220px-Tad_Inhaler

TITLE: Inhaler

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Leafy Incline

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Grease Box

LINEUP: Tad Doyle, Kurt Danielson, Gary Thorstensen, Josh Sinder

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: This may be the ultimate heavy grunge record. Hooks and heft. It didn’t sell. Damnit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Long regarded as the heaviest band in the grunge scene (Tad Doyle’s weight notwithstanding – he as a big boy), Tad’s major label debut was a record that should have propelled them into the territory of Helmet in terms of recognition and sales.

It wasn’t meant to be.

While their previous record was an A+ due to attitude and spirit, this album rates as highly.  The material is consistent, there are actually hooks, huge riffage, more actual singing (not that I don’t mind Tad’s yowl), and plenty of material that could have been on some radio station’s playlist (it’s 1993, a lot of stuff got on there) or on Headbanger’s Ball (“Luminol” anyone?)

J. Mascis’ production reins in the sound a bit, and focuses the band into a consistent sonic palette. It’s still heavy and fun, though, and catchy. Just didn’t make it. Damn it all.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Grease Box” was used during the credits of an Edward Furlong movie.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A+: This isn’t a ‘homer’ call. It’s bonafide one of the best 90’s records, and one of the heaviest and riffiest.

The Muffs – The Muffs

ARTIST: The Muffs              220px-The-Muffs-album

TITLE:  The Muffs

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Big Mouth, Lucky Guy, Everywhere I Go

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They do an Angry Samoans song

LINEUP: Kim Shattuck, Ronnie Barnett, Melanie Vammen, Criss Crass

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Spun out of the Pandoras, the Muffs’ debut has punk and power pop tendencies, enhanced by Kim Shattuck’s snotty rasp.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Muffs emerged from the chaotic Pandoras, and got notice with their sharp poppy punk songs and Kim Shattuck’s raspy yet melodic shouts.

The debut record showcased the Muffs as a quartet as fellow Pandora Melanie Vammen was on board. The tracks are concise and taut, but have room for some changeups and textural embellishments. Most of these tracks are catchy with vocal hooks despite the rasp.

Yet there’s a sense that Shattuck and the Muffs put out too much product. Sixteen tracks (plus a bonus yowler at the end) are a bit much. They did record a lot of tracks, but there were plenty for even more B-sides, etc.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Everywhere I Go’ was used for a Fruitopia (remember that) commercial.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A version with demos and remixes

 GRADE: B+: They needed to cut down some of the extraneous stuff but all in all a good debut for punk and power pop fans.

Superchunk – On the Mouth

ARTIST: Superchunk                                          Superchunk_onthemouth

TITLE: On the Mouth

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Mower, The Question Is How Fast, Precision Auto

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Don’t think so

LINEUP: Mac McCaughan, Laura Ballance, Jim Wilbur, Jon Wurster

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Superchunk’s third album solidifies and diversifies their sound and becomes college radio favorites.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Cracking out of the gate with “Precision Auto”, an MTV 120 Minutes staple, Superchunk’s third album has a lot of attitude and spirit that made them beloved around the country. But it wasn’t all loud and fast.

They changed up at times, with brooding cuts like “Swallow That” and “Mower”, and the varied, pop-in-its-way “The Question Is How Fast” and “I Guess I Remembered It Wrong”. That’s a positive step, since they were running low of variations in the loud and fast category. Some of the faster tracks seem like they’re repeating previous ideas

New drummer Jon Wurster gave them a more versatile drummer that helped them when they changed from pure punk adrenaline. It’s a shame that not every song is as consistently good as in their previous record but the highlights are among their best.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The ‘title track’ was a B-side on the “Mower” single.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No\

GRADE: A-: The best songs, I love. I do think it runs out of gas when it comes to the punkier songs.

Tool – Undertow

ARTIST: Tool                                      undertow

TITLE: Undertow

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: #50 US, #22 UK

SINGLES: Sober (#13 Mainstream), Prison Sex (#32 Mainstream, #81 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Intolerance

LINEUP: Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Paul D’Amour, Danny Carey. Henry Rollins guests on a track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Full length debut from the progressive metal band established their credentials as a serious, conscious band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: In the midst of the decline and fall of hair metal, and the rise of grunge, came Tool – a progressive band with a socially conscious, outspoken lyrical bent and music that emphasizes musicianship in a metal context.

Maynard James Keenan’s lyrics and vocals are what intice the casual listener into Tool, but then the guitar work of Adam Jones and Danny Carey’s drumming keep you there. At the time, it was refreshing to hear a fresher take on progressive music and metal.

The album does drag, especially at the end. Tool wanted a long statement and they deliver, though the last cut is probably one that can be removed.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They released an EP in 1992. Since none of their music is streaming, it’s only available as a CD though it’s still in print.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: At the end, it grows long, and the last cut could be left off, but it definitely makes waves in all the right areas.

 

Phish – Rift

ARTIST: Phish                                        220px-Phish_Rift

TITLE: Rift

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: #51

SINGLES: Fast Enough for You, The Wedge

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I’m sure Phish fans know this album by heart

LINEUP: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Mike Gordon, John Fishman

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A concept album that’s not weighed down by the story, instead it gives focus to the band’s song structure.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Phish’s second major label record is a concept album, loosely, about someone dreaming of a fight with their partner. That’s enough of a limitation so Phish can’t just meander and wander, at least in the studio.

What results is a mostly playful album despite the subject matter and tone – constructing dreams and visions at times allows more playful tunes to hide darker subjects. It also spotlights Phish’s vocal ability, which at times is overwhelmed by their jamming.

This record may convince non-fans to give them a chance. The musicianship is incredible, as usual, and the only downfall is their normal one – even with constrained storylines, they tend to meander.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “All Things Reconsidered” is a variation of the theme from the NPR news program.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A-: As concise as they could be, it’s a good listen beginning to end.

Lisa Germano – Happiness

ARTIST: Lisa Germano                                   Happinessgermano

TITLE:  Happiness

YEAR RELEASED: 1993, 1994

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: You Make Me Want to Wear Dresses

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Lisa Germano, Kenny Aronoff, Malcolm Burn, Bill Dillon, Daryl Johnson, Ronald Jones, Jay Joyce, John Keane, Toby Myers, Giles Reaves

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: John Mellencamp’s violinist’s second solo album is a spooky, eerie, creepy delight.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Her first independent release turned some influential heads, and Lisa Germano found herself with a recording contract by Capitol Records. Still part of John Mellencamp’s band, she delivered this album to Capitol, and the single “You Make Me Want to Wear Dresses” got some attention, then a shakeup left her album without any support.happiness2

Germano got the rights back, and gave the record to 4AD, who tinkered with the running order and added and subtracted cuts, and re-released it. The result is a fascinating work that has a lot of tones, textures, and musical motifs that create a unique work of art – not poppy but not avant garde.

The lyrics are clever and compelling. The first line of the revised record is “You wish it was sunny / but it’s not / hahaha!” Those kinds of lines keep you guessing and involved. This is a great solo record that sounds fresh now.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The Capitol single was renamed “The Dresses Song”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, an EP was released later that year and appended to this record for a while..

GRADE: A:  The more I listen, the more I like.

 

Paul Westerberg – 14 Songs

ARTIST: Paul Westerberg                          14_songs_paul_westerberg_album_-_cover_art

TITLE:  14 Songs

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: #44

SINGLES: World Class Fad (#4 Alternative), Knockin’ on Mine, Runaway Wind

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Alt radio played a few more cuts, I think.

LINEUP: Paul Westerberg, Matt Wallace, Josh Freese, Ian McLagan, and other session cats.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Replacements front-man and songwriter makes a highly anticipated solo record and its…boring and safe. Bleah.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Replacements had calmed down a bit since the mid-80’s, but their last two albums did have some edge and upredictability. Paul Westerberg always had a soft side, but he was never boring.

Until this record.

A few tracks, “Knockin’ on Mine”, “World Class Fad”, “Down Love” have some energy and edge to them. But some of the up-tempo songs seem perfunctory, and the mid-tempo ballads don’t have any spark or fire. I don’t know if it’s the songs or the performances. It sounds professional – almost too professional for someone like Westerberg, whose best work straddles the edge of anarchy.

It’s decent enough, but this record seemed calculated to hit the Alternative radio charts in 1993, something that wouldn’t have been the case earlier. Westerberg may have mellowed out, and took his songwriting or performing edge with him, at least in his 1993 persona.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He had formed a jamming group with former Georgia Satellite bassist Rick Price and drummer Josh Kelly, but aside from one track he decided against forming a group with them.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B-: A few songs trip my trigger and nothing is that horrible. Just polished and meh.

Guided by Voices – Vampire on Titus

ARTIST: Guided By Voices                 220px-vampire_on_titus

TITLE:  Vampire on Titus

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: GBV fans for sure. This got some bigger run nationally.

LINEUP: Robert Pollard, Jim Pollard, Tobin Sprout

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Still wondering whether to crank GBV out full time, Robert Pollard and company record this low-fi wonder that cements their underground reputation.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It sounds like it was recorded on a rusty tape deck with oxidized tapes, and sometimes the noise and distortion from the lo-fi recording inhibits a songs ability to shine, but there’s enough great stuff here to marvel at.

Robert Pollard was still teaching at this point (how would like to have been in his fourth grade classroom?) and recorded this album with a skeleton crew with overdubs. Some songs are fragments, some songs don’t make sense (“Superior Sector Janitor X” illustrates both counts). There’s enough here for someone to be very irritated by it all.

But then we go to “#2 in the Model Home Series”, “Jar of Cardinals”, “Marchers in Orange”, “Sot”, and “Gleemer (The Deeds of Fertile Jim”) are well worth it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This album convinced Pollard to go full time into music.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B+: The best songs are definite “A” quality. As with any GBV record, there’s good and meh.

American Music Club – Mercury

ARTIST: American Music Club               american_music_club_-_mercury

TITLE:  Mercury

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Keep Me Around, Johnny Mathis’ Feet

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I’ve Been a Mess

LINEUP: Mark Eitzel, Vudi, Danny Pearson, Bruce Kaphan, Tim Mooney

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Dense, sadly beautiful, eclectic record from the masters of down and out mood music.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: In the early 90’s, thanks to the breakthrough of Nirvana, etc., alternative bands were signed by major labels and released albums that even seemed more daring than their independent label works. This was the case here.

The album is a bit more varied than previous AMC releases, if only that the sadness at the core is balanced at times with almost upbeat sounding tunes (“Keep Me Around” – the melody and hooks mask some dark stuff) and some arrangements that move toward the avant-garde a bit (“Challenger”). But songs like “If I Had a Hammer” and “I’ve Been a Mess” are the core of the record and there’s nothing happy about songs like this, really.

It’s another record for drinking whiskey by yourself in a dark room after a bad day. That’s a complement.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They signed with Reprise and Virgin after five independent albums.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A: Beauty and sadness.