True story #1: I once stood in front of Senji (aka: Guitar Wolf) as he slammed a pint of beer on the floor of the stage. Glass shattered and ricochetted off my face and chest — the heavy bottom of the glass striking my shoulder. I was unscathed and still have the bottom of the glass in a box some place. A friend standing next to me suffered a cut under his eye.
True story #2: Guitar Wolf randomly called up a good friend to stand in for him on guitar during a song. My friend grabbed his guitar and rocked the f*** out of it while the band took his lead (My friend knew the song and was a bad ass guitar player). Seiji got on his knees and bowed to my friend.
True story #3: Seiji threw beer on me and a couple of friends after playing an hour+ in full leather outfits
True story #4: Guitar Wolf is one of a very few bands I’ve actually requested autographs from.
True story #5: Guitar Wolf is one of the best and craziest live shows.
I heard both Jehu albums around the same time, must have been 1994 or 1995. And to my mind they had perfected rock music. Post-Jehu, whenever I heard a new band that was trying to play fast and/or loud, it felt limp. I just turned it off and put on Jehu. For about a decade—literally!—I never once felt the need to purchase albums by rock bands (particularly new ones). Perhaps it’s not coincidental that the most typical brand of indie rock during those ten years was the nascent genre of emo, which was ridiculously in debt to Jehu, among other bands (too, all those spazzcore bands, largely hailing from San Diego, who also owed much to Jehu). Lots of people credit Rites of Spring as being the original emo band, and I won’t argue against their influence; but Jehu had a significant impact as well, in the form of the octave chord.
Much like Slint inspiring a myriad sub-par post-rock acts to abandon upstrokes, Drive Like Jehu neutered the power chord. The crunch of the power chord felt almost amateur compared to the sharp-edged attack of the octave. The worst (and most prevalent) emo bands took as their template the inward-looking lyrics of Rites of Spring, the song structures of Orange County pop punk, and the octave chord of Drive Like Jehu. You might see, then, why I felt this music paled in comparison to Yank Crime. These bands missed everything else.
And it’s the everything else that made this album so important to me. Yank Crime’s brilliance did not dawn on me immediately. I had owned the album for more than a year already. I knew that I loved it—its pure adrenaline was undeniable—but one day I was on a long drive, alone, listening to “Luau” for the umpteenth time when I noticed that, hang on a second, this song has a guitar solo! It kicks in at the 7:35 mark and it is 90% feedback. In the 1960s I guess Hendrix was giving people the same epiphany, and in the 80s (and 90s) I’d guess Thurston Moore was doing the same, but it was John Reis’s solo in “Luau” that blew my mind, and I can pinpoint that revelation as the exact moment I figured out what kind of guitar player I wanted to be. The epiphany was two-fold: 1) that noise can be manipulated into melody, and vice versa; and 2) that making music is a lot more primitive than I’d ever truly grasped. Technique, in the traditional sense of the word, doesn’t mean much. Scales, speed, dexterity—it’s irrelevant. That’s not to say that a Ramones-like approach to punk is some kind of ideal. What Jehu taught me is less naive, more intuitive. The great guitar players in my book concern themselves with the sound that comes from their instrument, and the emotion evoked by that sound. To try and parse that concept any further is to undermine what the instrument is capable of. If you’re Drive Like Jehu, you can do a guitar solo that is nearly all feedback and sounds like gamma rays from a 1950s sci-fi flick. If you’re U.S. Maple, you can detune your guitar and play whatever fucked chords you want. If you’re Mick Turner of the Dirty Three you can leave the flash to your violinist and set the tone of each song through your fragile, muddy chords. (For further proof of Turner’s brilliance, listen to Cat Power’s Moon Pix and ask yourself why that album is still her best: it’s those fragile chords, and it’s Turner, not Marshall, playing them.) These are some of my all-time favorite guitarists, and to my ears what they all have in common is an approach to the guitar that respects the sounds it is capable of creating, rather than any kind of presumptions about their technical skills as guitarists.
When I was kid my parents gave me a little Casio keyboard with the very same siren-like sample that kicks off this track. I never really knew what to do with it except annoy them and my sister. So when I first heard this track I instantly connected with it, but I remember other 3MP fans not thinking too much of it. In fact, a friend who was the biggest 3MP fan I knew (wore a 3MP t-shirt all the time and put out one of their records on his Penny Farthing label) claimed it was his least favorite thing they had released. He may have been kidding, but I still remember his face when I asked him about it. Haha …
I’m so glad people take the time to rip their vinyl and post. You can find this song on CD these days, but this one was taken from the 7” single and includes the nice pops and scratchiness only vinyl can give you.
If I had the ability to look back in time and determine which day of the week I likely listen to Preston School of Industry I bet the answer would be Saturday. I find the spacious sounds Scott Kannberg (ex-Pavement) creates relaxing and just right.
Up until a few months ago I hadn’t listened to this song for 10 years? Having all your vinyl in boxes tends to make listening difficult … Plus, I need a new record needle.
Anyway, when I saw a link to download this Rye/Karp split on some blog I jumped on it. I went straight to this song, then “Obstacle Corpse" by Karp. Both powerfully rocking jams. I had a hard time deciding which of the two I’d post here, but ultimately went with the one that matched the sounds I was more into at the time. "Swing your daddy!"
Low - Born by the Wires
This song takes me back to those Friday nights closing up the record store with Doyoucompute. The way the song ends with the strumming of the same chord over and over is by far my favorite part. It demands your patience and pushes you to sit down and listen. In those moments when the chord rings out into emptiness, I can almost imagine Sparhawk throwing soft boulders down a very deep hole at timed intervals.
This song really stands out because it was the last one I saw them perform live. The year was 1997 and I was in NYC with some friends. During that trip a friendship nosedived leaving me withdrawn and angry, so by the time I arrived at the show on my final night in NYC I was ready for an escape. I had a couple of drinks, forced my way to the front of the crowd, and vanished into the wall of sound and lights that were The VSS.
One of my music related regrets is missing an Antioch Arrow show. If I had known it would be my only chance to see them I would have found that ride. From what I’ve dug up on YouTube and heard from people who saw them, their shows were complete disorder and often just a bunch of noise. Still. I’m certain I would have found that worthwhile. Besides, they used Saul Bass’ artwork for the cover of their first album.
Alt songs considered: Heroin - In General Angel Hair - Second Cousin Second Story Window - Big Eyed Blue
I was lucky enough to see Lowercase perform twice. The first time with the original line up of Imaad and Brian. The second after they added the bass player for “Kill the Lights” (which this song is on). While I’m more fond of their earlier thinner and more discordant work, I can’t help but enjoy the driving groove and added texture the bass gives this song. It just begs to be turned up.
I thought this would be a good start to some 90’s posts. When I queued up aMiniature’s albums I thought I’d be posting something off of DepthFiveRateSix (my fav release), but when I hit this song (off of the “Murk Time Cruiser” LP) I hit replay 3 times so the choice was obvious.
This track makes me wish I took photos all those years ago. I believe I saw these guys perform with Three Mile Pilot … Or was it Chune? Eh, I can’t remember now. See! A photo would have helped here.
Doyoucompute has made me want to go back and start posting some of the great music I listened to during the 90’s. While this song isn’t from that decade, the lyrics are spot on for the moment.
1995 is missing buses It’s walking 15 miles to see your love It’s knowing you’re alive through all the fuzz It’s never coming down from going up
1995 is cutting classes It’s sitting over coffees talking indie treats It’s the mere sensation of being the first one that you see When morning opens up the skies You see me when daylight opens up your eyes
And though I’m happier now I always long somehow Back to 1995
All my friends have different plans to make their lives worth while Some for the better Some for worse Some have gone to different cities searching every mile For missing pieces that will make a whole
1995 seems like a long way to go If you ever were to find your way back home But the only thing I really miss is being the first one that you see When morning opens up the skies You see me when daylight opens up your eyes
Dutch band De Kift makes me think of three things when I listen to them: The Ex, Mike Watt, and this scene from Future Primitive where Per Welinder emerges from a manhole yelling some stuff I can’t understand.