Category: 1990s

Live Footage: Check Out Brass Against the Machine’s Swaggering Cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of”

Currently comprised of founding member Brad Hammonds (guitar, arrangement), Andrew Gutauskas (baritone sax, arrangement), Darius Christian (vocals, trombone), Sophia Urista (vocals), Mariel Bildsten (trombone), Wayne Tucker (trumpet), Oskar Stenmark (trumpet), Steven Duffy (sousaphone), the New York-based collective Brass Against the Machine specializes in covering protest music but with a unique sound and approach, as their sound meshes rock, alternative rock, hip-hop and New Orleans brass — and for repertoire that features covers of Rage Against the Machine, Living Colour, Gil Scott-Heron, Jane’s Addiction, A Tribe Called Quest, Led Zeppelin and a list of others; in fact, they recently released an attention grabbing mashup of Beyonce’s “Freedom” with Rage’s “Freedom,” which you can check out below.

However, what I wanted to call your attention is to Brass Against the Machine’s  cover of one of my favorite Rage track’s “Killing in the Name Of,” which retains the original’s forceful and righteous fury while adding a swaggering and bombastic horn line; and interestingly enough, having a woman fill Zack de al Rocha role should remind the listener — or in turn, the viewer — that women always have long been the heart, soul and moral backbone of any resistance against power. And just as important, let this cover also serve as a reminder that music is arguably one of the most powerful weapons we have. 

The band is current prepping for their live debut at Brooklyn Bowl on December 18. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month or so, you’d recall that New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Maura Lynch was a founding member of locally renowned indie rock band Darlings, an act that released three albums and played at the Whitney Museum, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Death by Audio and Shea Stadium — and had a brief stint in blogosphere attention-grabbing act Beverly; but with her latest project, Blush, Lynch was inspired by the her missing the simple act of making and sharing music with friends through a sporadic series of bedroom recorded demos (which she had filed as Blush on her computer). And as Lynch explained in press notes, the material she began writing was inspired by a love of straightforward and simple guitar pop with layered vocals, while lyrically the material reportedly was written as a sort of diary of its creator’s late 20s, with songs that focused on loving people who didn’t deserve it, loving people who did deserve it, of making sense of the monotony of the workday world and perhaps much more important, finding her own unique place in the world.

Last year, Lynch felt ready to finally make those demos into real songs  and she got together with her friends — Pop. 1280‘s Andy Chugg and Pill‘s Nick and Jon Campelo to flesh out the material, which was recorded over a series of nights and weekends at Chugg’s Gilded Audio Studio, and from the album’s first single “Daisy Chain,” Lynch and company specialize in a shimmering guitar pop that seemed influenced by Phil Spector‘s Wall of Sound and Too True-era Dum Dum Girls — but with breakneck conciseness. Building on the attention that the band has received from their first single, their self-titled album’s second and latest single is a jangling, guitar pop cover of Mariah Carey‘s smash hit “Fantasy” that manages to retain the song’s swooning nature while being a unique and coquettish take on a familiar song.

Last month, I wrote about the Seattle, WA-based grunge rock band Gruntruck. Initially formed in 1989, the band’s original lineup featured featured founding members Skin Yard’s Ben McMillan (vocals) and Norman Scott (drums), The Accused’s Tommy Niemeyer (guitar) and Final Warning’s Tim Paul (bass), and can trace their origins to when the band’s founding duo wrote a song while on tour with Skin Yard that they felt was worthy of forming a new project around. At around the same time Scott was briefly in Soundgarden and collaborated with Chris Cornell on a lesser-known project, the low frequency power trio Bass Truck. And interestingly enough, with the new material that McMillan and Scott started to write for their new project, they decided to blend the sound that Norman developed in Bass Truck with their then-primary project’s sound to create a harder, more metal-leaning grunge rock sound.

1990’s Jack Endino and Gary King-produced debut Inside Yours was released through Seattle-based label Empty Records with a simultaneous release through German label Musical Tragedies, and it featured album single “Not a Lot to Save,” which received airplay on MTV. Interestingly enough, the members of Gruntruck had opened for Pearl Jam throughout 1991 — and famously, they opened for Pearl Jam the night they filmed the video for “Even Flow.”

With the growing buzz on all things Seattle, the members of Gruntruck signed a multi-album deal with Roadrunner Records, who re-released Inside Yours later that year. Their follow up effort, 1992’s  Endino and King-produced effort Push featured album track “Tribe,” which received regular rotation on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. And building upon a rapidly growing profile, Gruntruck opened for Alice in Chains during their 1992 US and Canadian tour and Pantera‘s Winter 1993 European tour. Immediately upon their return to Seattle, the band went through a number of lineup changes but they managed to release a video for  “Crazy Love,” which received airplay on MTV — including an episode of Beavis and Butt-head, in which a stunned Butthead mused “I must be hallucinating now. I can’t believe they’re playing something cool. These guys rock!”

Sadly, at the height of their popularity in 1996, the members of the band were struggling to make ends meet while fulfilling their contractual obligations to Roadrunner Records. As the story goes, Polygram Records offered to buy out Gruntruck’s contract for $1 million, but Roadrunner Records refused. Based on the advice of their lawyer, the band filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to break free of their contract. Unsurprisingly, that was promptly followed by Roadrunner Records suing to block the band’s bankruptcy with the result being a precedent-setting case that’s been cited in subsequent cases, written about in legal journals — and eventually inspired congressional legislation. And although the court eventually ruled in Gruntruck’s favor, their various legal issues exacted a deep financial and emotional toil on the band, as well as stalled the band’s momentum.

By 1997, the band’s original lineup reunited, and began working on new material; some of which wound up comprising their self-titled third album, an effort that the members of the band envisioned as their breakthrough effort. Recorded and finished over a two year period in five different studios in and around the Seattle area with Jack Endino and Martin Feveyear taking up production duties, the band decided to build up buzz for the album with a busy live schedule, playing shows in and around Seattle; however, just as they were about to build up some buzz, the band went on a hiatus in 2003 to allow Ben McMillan to recover from a number of health issues.

Sadly McMillan died from complications related to diabetes in 2008, and the third album languished in the vaults until last year, when Jack Endino mentioned its existence to Found Recordings head, Scott Blum, who pushed to get the album released, over a decade since the initial recording sessions. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first official single “Bar Fly,” featured an ambitious, arena rock-based sound consisting of enormous power chords, and a shout from the mosh pit worthy course — and while nodding at metal, the song manage stop remind me of Dirt-era Alice in Chains and Purple-era Stone Temple Pilots. “Noise Field,” their self-titled album’s latest single continues in a similar vein — a quiet, loud, quiet song structure that allows room for enormous power chords and thundering drumming. However, the one noticeable difference to me is that the song manages to sound as though it were influenced by Core-era Stone Temple Pilots.

“Noise Field” much like its predecessor will remind many listeners of grunge’s high point of 1991-1994 or so and simultaneously its low point of 1996-1999 or so; but underneath, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been for the band. After all, for the first, second and even third wave bands that find some level of success, there are many more bands, who get a brief taste of recognition but never quite make it further than that.

Interestingly, the song will strike many as a remanent of a decidedly particular period — 1996-1998 or so — but underneath that, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been; after all, for the rare Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgardens, etc., there’s countless bands, who get close to making it and many more that never make it.

 

 

New Video: Found Recordings Set to Release Previously Unreleased Third Album from Seattle-based Grunge Rockers Gruntruck

Initially formed in 1989, the Seattle, WA-based grunge rock band Gruntruck featured Skin Yard’s Ben McMillan (vocals) and Norman Scott (drums), The Accused’s Tommy Niemeyer (guitar) and Final Warning’s Tim Paul (bass) can trace their origins to when founding members Ben McMillan and Norman Scott wrote a song while on tour with Skin Yard that they had was worthy of forming a new band around. Interestingly enough, around the same time Scott had a brief stint with Soundgarden and collaborated with Chris Cornell on a lesser-known project, the low frequency power trio Bass Truck. And with the new song and other material that McMillan and Scott started to write together, they decided to blend the sound that Norman developed in Bass Truck — in other words, a harder, more metal-leaning grunge rock sound.

1990’s Jack Endino and Gary King-produced debut Inside You was released through Seattle-based label Empty Records with a simultaneous release through German label Musical Tragedies. Along with the release of their debut, the band released a Henry Shepherd-produced video for album single “Not a Lot to Save,” which received airplay on MTV. (I should note that Henry Shepherd is the brother of Soundgarden’s Ben Shepherd.) Interestingly, the members of Gruntruck had opened for Pearl Jam throughout 1991 — and in particular, they opened for Pearl Jam on the night that renowned grunge rockers filmed the video for “Even Flow.” With the growing buzz on all things Seattle, the members of Gruntruck signed a multi-album deal with Roadrunner Records, who re-released Inside Yours later that year. 1992’s sophomore Endino and King-produced effort Push featured album track “Tribe,” which received regular rotation on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. Building upon a growing profile, Gruntruck opened for Alice in Chains during their 1992 US and Canadian tour, as well as in Europe during the winter of 1993 with Pantera. After the band returned to Seattle, they went through several lineup changes but they released a video for “Crazy Love,” which received airplay on MTV, including a reference on Beavis and Butthead, in which a stunned Butthead mused “I must be hallucinating now. I can’t believe they’re playing something cool. These guys rock!”

At the height of their popularity in 1996, the members of the band were struggling to make ends meet while fulfilling contractual obligations to Roadrunner Records. Polygram Records offered to buy out Gruntruck’s contract for $1 million, but the folks at Roadrunner Records refused. Based on the advice of their lawyer, the band filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to break free of their contract, which was promptly followed by their label suing to block their bankruptcy petition. The result was a precedent-setting case that’s been cited in subsequent cases, written up in legal journals and eventually inspired congressional legislation. Although the court eventually ruled in Gruntruck’s favor, their various legal issues exacted a financial and emotional toil on the band — despite the fact that they were attempting to recapture some of the momentum they had captured before.

By 1997, the band’s original lineup reunited and they had been working on new material together and some of the songs written wound up comprising the material on their self-titled third album, an effort that the band envisioned as a breakthrough effort. The album was recorded over a two year period in five different studios in and around Seattle with Jack Endino and Martin Feveyear, who has worked with Queens of the Stone Age, Mudhoney and Screaming Trees taking up production duties, and once it was finished the band went through a busy live schedule in Seattle, to build up buzz for the album; however by 2003, the band went on hiatus, as McMillan needed time to recover from health issues.

Sadly McMillan died from complications related to diabetes in 2008, and the third album languished in the vaults until last year, when Jack Endino mentioned its existence to Found Recordings head, Scott Blum, who pushed to get the album released. And over a decade since its initial recording, Gruntruck’s self-titled album is slated for an October 13, 2017 release, and the album’s first official single “Bar Fly,” features an ambitious arena rock sound consisting of enormous power chords, a shout worthy chorus and while clearly nodding at metal, the band’s sound manages to be reminiscent of Dirt-era Alice in Chains and Purple-era Stone Temple Pilots. Interestingly, the song will strike many as a remanent of a decidedly particular period — 1996-1998 or so — but underneath that, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been; after all, for the rare Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgardens, etc., there’s countless bands, who get close to making it and many more that never make it.

Filmed by Thomas Engisn and edited by Gary Lundgren, the recently released music video features grainy VHS footage from the band’s original lineup performing sweaty, ass-kicking shows — and it’ll remind you of watching similar videos on 120 Minutes and other video shows.

Earlier this summer, you may have come across a post featuring the Western Massachusetts-based indie rock band The Sighs, and as you may recall, the band can trace its origins back to 1982 when its founding members Robert LaRoche (lead vocals, guitar) and Tommy Pluta (bass, vocals), bonded over their mutual love of The Beach BoysCrosby, Stills and Nash and other acts that employed the use of multi-part harmonies; of course, it also helped that while jamming together, LaRoche and Pluta quickly learned that they own voices blended together beautifully. Tom Borawaski (drums) and Matt Cullen (lead vocals, guitar) were recruited to flesh out the band’s sound and to complete their initial lineup, and as a quartet the band quickly made a name for themselves as a must-see live act across the region. As Tommy Pluta explains in press notes “One luxury of living in Western Mass is that we played all the colleges and clubs for years and years. By the time things started happening for us, we were primed for it — we sounded really tight and everything was just spot on.”

As luck would have it, the members of The Sighs crossed pants with John DeNicola, an Oscar Award-winning songwriter, who co-wrote “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and producer, and his production partner Tommy Allen at the China Club, and they then signed with Charisma/Virgin Records, who eventually released  What Goes On to critical acclaim. And adding to a rapidly growing profile, the band went on tour with nationally touring acts like Gin BlossomsDada and others. But after a number of lineup changes the band eventually dissolved with members of the band pursuing individual creative projects or focusing on family life, and so on — and the result was that The Sighs became less of a focus for its members.

Interestingly enough, the band’s third full-length effort Wait On Another Day can trace its origins to recently unearthed batch of demos recorded on analog tapes back in the 90s that the band’s Matt Cullen recently stumbled upon.  Once Cullen had shared the demos with his bandmates and their longtime producer John DeNicola, the members of the band decided to reconvene at DeNicola’s Upstate New York-based studio and revise a handful of songs; however, as the band’s drummer Tom Borawaski explains “.  .  . it all came together so well, and we were having such a great time, we ended up making a whole album. It really just took on a life of its own.”

“All the years of playing together left a permanent mark on us. It wasn’t too difficult to tap into our musical and personal bond again,” LaRoche says of the album, which occurred over a spontaneous five-day recording session. As Borawski adds, “Everything had more of a spark to it than when we made What Goes On, where we put all the songs under a microscope and tried to get it all completely perfect.” And as a result, the material possesses an urgency and vitality that most bands wish they could capture on record. And while the material of Wait On Another Day thematically focuses on many of the things the band’s members wrote about in their youth — the prototypical rock related subjects of girls, getting kicked around, hopes and dreams and falling in love; but perhaps because the members of the band are now middle-aged men, the material unexpectedly possesses a wistful ache of someone who has been forced to accept the passage of time, and the strange realization that the moe things change, the more things manage to remain the same.  Heartache is heartache, no matter how old you are or what you’ve done and seen, and hell, at some point life is ultimately about having the courage to go on towards what’s next after life has broken your heart.

Wait On Another Day‘s first single “It’s Real” was jangling guitar pop with gorgeous harmonies, impressive guitar work and the sort of anthemic hooks reminiscent of f The SmithereensStarfish, Gold Afternoon Fix and Forget Yourself-era The Church with a swooning, urgent romanticism. That shouldn’t be surprising as the song focuses on being desperate, youthful love with that pretty young thing you can’t get off your mind and the anxious excitement that comes about as you wonder aloud to yourself  “Can this be real. Is this what I’ve been seeking and desiring for so long?” But it’s unde-pinned for the hope of finally achieving something you’ve dreamt of for as long as you could remember.  And while album title track and latest single “Wait On Another Day” continues in a similar vein as its preceding singles — in other words, deeply heartfelt, jangling and anthemic guitar pop, the band manages to capture something timeless within the material. After all, rock is ultimately about the connection between a group of friends and musicians with big dreams and something to say about their lives and experiences but interestingly enough the material manages to sound as though it could have been released sometime between 1988-1993 — or well, yesterday. And what this song managed to remind me of today was the fact that when the world seems on the verge of complete collapse there’s always the comfort and hope of love and of music.

 

 

 

Formed in Western Massachusetts back in 1982, The Sighs initially began with its founding members Robert LaRoche (lead vocals, guitar) and Tommy Pluta (bass, vocals), two lifelong musicians, who had bonded over their mutual love of The Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills and Nash and other acts that employed the use of multi-part harmonies — and the duo of LaRoche and Pluta quickly learned that they own voices blended together beautifully.  Tom Borawaski (drums) and Matt Cullen (lead vocals, guitar) were recruited to flesh out the band’s sound and to complete their lineup, and as a quartet the band quickly made a name for themselves as a must-see live act across the region. As Tommy Pluta explains in press notes “One luxury of living in Western Mass is that we played all the colleges and clubs for years and years. By the time things started happening for us, we were primed for it — we sounded really tight and everything was just spot on.”

As the story goes, the members of The Sighs crossed pants with John DeNicola, an Oscar Award-winning songwriter, who co-wrote “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and producer, and his production partner Tommy Allen at the China Club, the band signed with Charisma/Virgin Records and released What Goes On to critical acclaim; in fact, the band built upon a growing profile with tours with Gin Blossoms, Dada and others.

The Sighs third full-length effort Wait On Another Day is the first release from the Western Massachusetts-based indie rock quartet in over 20 years, and the material on the album can trace its origins to a recently unearthed batch of demos recorded on analog tapes back in the 90s that the band’s Matt Cullen stumbled upon. Once Cullen had shared the demos with his bandmates and their longtime producer John DeNicola, the members of the band decided to reconvene at DeNicola’s Upstate New York-based studio and revise a handful of songs; however, as the band’s drummer Tom Borawaski explains “.  .  . it all came together so well, and we were having such a great time, we ended up making a whole album. It really just took on a life of its own.”

“All the years of playing together left a permanent mark on us. It wasn’t too difficult to tap into our musical and personal bond again,” LaRoche says of the album, which occurred over a spontaneous five-day recording session. As Borawski adds, “Everything had more of a spark to it than when we made What Goes On, where we put all the songs under a microscope and tried to get it all completely perfect.” And as a result, the material possesses an uncommon urgency and vitality — of the sort the most bands wish they could capture on wax; but interestingly enough, as Pluta notes, the material on the album focuses on many of the things they had written about in the past: girls, getting kickedd around, hopes and dreams and falling in love. And perhaps because of the band’s age and experience, the material possesses the wistful tone of one, who has accepted both the passing of time, and the strange sense that the more things change, the more they manage to remain completely the same. So what if you’ve traveled the world, read the great novels, seen and done all that’s needed to be seen? Heartache is heartache and everyone knows it at some point, and life is about knowing what to do once your heart is broken again and again and again and again . . .

The album’s latest single “It’s Real” is jangling guitar pop paired with gorgeous harmonies, impressive guitar work, and the sort of anthemic hooks reminiscent of The SmithereensStarfish, Gold Afternoon Fix and Forget Yourself-era The Church but with a swooning and urgent romanticism; after all, the song is about some of the classic rock ‘n’ roll tropes: wildly passionate love with that pretty young thing and the desperate excitement of it being real, for perhaps the first time and of finally achieving something that you’ve dreamt of for such a long time.