Tag: 1993

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.

DM3 – One Times Two Times Three Red Light

ARTIST: DM3                                                                      dm3-one-time

TITLE:  One Time Two Times Three Red Light

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Foolish, Far from Here, 1X, 2X Devistated

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh no no no.

LINEUP: Dom Mariani, Toni Italiano, Pascal Bartolone, Ian Campbell.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Australian power-pop band with hooks, great guitars, and harmonies galore. Didn’t make a dent here, except if you paid attention. Some did for sure.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dom Mariani had cut his teeth in some Australian bands of note (the Stems, especially) when he formed this band with some other refugees from Australian bands, and released this heavenly power-pop mix that hits all the right notes.

It didn’t do much here; it was only available on import. It did well enough in Australia and Europe for them to tour regularly, and they were treated to rockin’ guitars with enough polish to take a rough edge off, great melodies, and harmonies, and a fun sound in general.

Who was listening? Well, the Fountains of Wayne definitely were, since their sound is quite similar to this bands (“1X 2X Devistated” definitely is where the FoW took notes). There are 12 great tracks here that power pop lovers need to find. dm3-one-time-alt

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Mariani was in the Stems through their history, and then formed the Someloves.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A: I can’t help myself to love power-pop records like this.

Candlebox – Candlebox

ARTIST: Candlebox                                 220px-candleboxdebut

TITLE:  Candlebox

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: #7

SINGLES: Change (#18 Mainstream), You (#78, #18 Alternative, #6 Mainstream), Far Behind (#18 US, #7 Alternative, #4 Mainstream), Cover Me (#23 Alternative, #8 Mainstream)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Don’t You

LINEUP: Kevin Martin, Peter Klett, Bardi Martin, Scott Mercado

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Non alternative-rockers became successful thanks to their location and successful marketing.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Instead of focusing what Candlebox wasn’t (alternative, or grunge, or groundbreaking), I’m going to focus on what this album is.

What we have here is generic hard rock – not as edgy or metallicly punkish as Soundgarden – not as dark and disturbed as Alice in Chains – but rather generic hard rock that would have been on the radio in the 70’s and 80’s (but with 90’s drum and guitar sounds). Some songs go on WAY too long (thanks to the CD era, editing is out the window), and some are lifeless exercises.

The resentment for Candlebox (and yes, there’s resentment, and somewhat legitimate) is due to their marketing and branding as ‘grunge’ or a ‘Seattle’ band. Yeah, they’re from Seattle. They play rock. But location doesn’t an alternative band make. That resentment can color your acceptance of them. What I hear is passable hard rock that probably would have been a hit of some sort through time. It just so happened it was during the grunge era.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This thing took a year to hit the Top 10 in albums, thanks to the slow realization that “Far Behind” was the single of choice.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C+:  They don’t deserve ALL of the slings and arrows thrown at them, just some of them.

Curve – Cuckoo

ARTIST: Curve                               cuckoo_curve_albumcover

TITLE:  Cuckoo

YEAR RELEASED: 1993

CHART ACTION: #23 UK

SINGLES: Missing Link (#39 UK), Superblaster

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not in the US, no.

LINEUP: Dean Garcia, Toni Halliday

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Another combination dance / trance/ shoegaze album finds the band a little more snarly and distorted, but still the ethereal quality of the vocals softens the edges.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Curve was building to this sound, where Dean Garcia’s guitars and effects would create a distorted haze over all of the proceedings, and Toni Halliday’s voice would sometimes be washed through the fog.

This wasn’t as poppy as their earlier work (thus the relative chart failure) and a little more intense. Since they didn’t seem intent on making hints, artistically it’s a bit stronger and probably truer to their vision.

After this record, they put the band on hiatus for a while to get their heads together, and emerged as more of a dance music band than shoegaze. This, though, is their pinnacle of their early work.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This isn’t streaming, like all of early Curve, but it’s on YouTube as one constant video.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-:  Curve’s consistent, consistently good.