Category: 1990s

Now if you had been frequenting this site over the last few months of 2016, you’d recall that with the release of “Help Yourself” and several other singles the Welsh-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sarah Howells, best known as Bryde quickly exploded into both the British and international scene as she received praise from NylonThe Line of Best Fit and Earmilk and airplay from BBC Radio 6BBC Radio WalesRadio X and Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 show for a sound that’s been compared to the likes of Jeff BuckleySharon Van EttenBen Howard and London Grammar while thematically focusing on complex, ambivalent and hopelessly entangled relationships.

Howells’ previous single and her JOVM debut,  “Wouldn’t That Make You Feel Good” was a boozy and woozy dirge in which the Welsh-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s aching vocals are paired with bluesy yet shoegazer-leaning power chords reminiscent of  PJ Harvey, in a song that built up into a cathartic and explosive bridge before gently fading out.  Howells’ latest single “Less” continues her successful collaboration with producer Bill Ryder-Jones and it’s a viscerally forceful 90s alt rock-leaning track featuring an alternating quiet, loud, quiet song structure with an anthemic and cathartic hook. And while still channeling PJ Harvey, the song also manages to nod at Liz Phair, Hole and others, complete with an unflinching honesty and vulnerability.

 

New Audio: Sub Pop Records and Soundgarden Release Second Single Off Remixed and Expanded Re-Issue of Their Debut Album

Currently comprised of founding members Chris Cornell (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Kim Thayil (lead guitar), along with Matt Cameron (drums), who joined in 1986 and Ben Shepherd (bass), who joined in 1990, the Seattle, WA-based grunge/alt-rock quartet Soundgarden can trace its origins back to the formation and eventual breakup of an early 80s Seattle-based band The Shemps, which featured Cornell on drums and vocals, along with original bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Strangely enough, over the years what seems to have been forgotten is that the members of Soundgarden had started their recording career with Sub Pop Records; in fact, the renowned alt rock/indie label released the band’s first two EPs 1987’s Screaming Life and 1988’s Fopp, two efforts, which the label re-issued a couple of years ago through both vinyl and digital formats, marking the first time in about 25 years that the EPs were pressed onto vinyl — and the first time they were released digitally. Interestingly enough, Sub Pop Records helped distributed Soundgarden’s 1988 full-length debut, Ultramega OK.

And although they had some creative differences with the album’s producer Drew Canulette and the band’s overall dissatisfaction with the final mixes, their full-length effort was a commercial success as it garnered both a 1990 Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance and attention from larger labels — including A&M Records, who quickly signed the band. At the time, the band had intended to spend some time remixing the album for subsequent pressings of the album; but those plans wound up falling by the wayside, as the band went on to write and record their sophomore effort, and major-label debut, Louder Than Love.

Last year, the members of the band acquired the original multi-track tapes from the Ultramega OK sessions and they enlisted the assistance of renowned producer, engineer, long-time friend and frequent, old-time collaborator Jack Endino, who has famously worked with Nirvana, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Skin Yard, The Black Clouds and others to create a new mix of the album that would tie up what the band felt were persistent loose ends — while fixing the album’s overall sound. Interestingly, the band found six early version of album singles that eventually wound up on Ultramega OK and reportedly those early versions, which would eventually become staples of their live sets at the time, capture the band’s sound and songwriting in a much rawer, less polished form — and much closer to the sound on the Screaming Life EP.

Almost 30 years after Ultramega OK’s original release, Sub Pop Records will be releasing the remixed and expanded re-issue of the album, as a long-awaited “correction.” Naturally, for die-hard fans and completists, the re-mixed material will capture the band’s sound as they fully intended it, while the re-discovered early material will serve as a window into the development of the band’s songwriting approach and overall sound. Now, as you may remember, I wrote about the re-issue’s first single “Beyond The Wheel” and the re-mixed version possessed a crisper, cleaner sound, which helped to display Kim Thayill’s incredible guitar work and the interplay between Matt Cameron’s Bonham-like thundering drumming and Cornell’s Robert Plant-like wailing. The re-mixed and expanded Ultramega OK’s second single “Flower” much like its preceding single displays a cleaner, crisper sound, which gives the song the muscular insistence that the band became known for while interestingly enough, the song has moments that nod at Badmotorfinger and Superunknown.

Comprised of Dan Matthews (vocals, guitar), Neil Hayes (guitar, vocals), Gary Moses (bass, vocals) and Cory King (drums, vocals), the Asbury Park, NJ-based indie rock quartet The Black Clouds have developed a reputation for a DIY approach to an increasingly busy touring schedule, for self-recording and self-producing their first two albums, and attention-grabbing collaborations with Jack Endino, who has produced, mixed and recorded some of Seattle‘s most beloved and renowned bands and Mudhoney‘s Mark Arm. And over the past 18 months or so, the New Jersey-based quartet have added themselves to this site’s growing list of mainstay artists — thanks to when I caught them open for Mudhoney at the Bell House some time ago and the release of “Photograph” and “Vice” the first two singles off the band’s third album, After All. 

Just in time for the album’s official release today, the members of The Black Clouds released After All‘s third and latest single “Self Control,” will further cement the band’s reputation for crating  120 Minutes-era MTV/90s-inspired indie rock, complete with enormous, arena-rock friendly hooks and a radio-friendly vibe; but thanks to an uncanny sense of melody within the song, After All‘s latest single may arguably be the most Foo Fighters-leaning song on the album.

 

 

 

Throwback: George Michael

I suspect that it’s a sign of getting older is when people you admired, listened to or just remembered from your childhood start to die, whether suddenly or after some protracted illness. Certainly, as a child of the 80s, George Michael and his music both with Wham! and as a solo artist informed significant portions of my music listening life; so as you can imagine hearing about the man’s death the other day was both a surprise and a reminder than I’m getting older. Interestingly, a few months ago I had stumbled onto George Michael’s Faith on Spotify and I had forgotten that it was very good pop album with a ridiculous number of chart topping singles. And if you’re unfamiliar with it, give it a spin; it’ll be worth it.

In terms of this post, George Michael had a collection of songs that I remember very fondly and still occasionally play but by far some of my favorites were “I Want Your Sex,” “Careless Whisper,” “Everything She Wants” “Freedom 90” his duet with Elton John “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” and his duet with Aretha Franklin “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me).” As I mentioned on Facebook, “Holy shit, that was a white boy, who could sing his ass off.”

If you had stumbled upon this site last week, you may have come across a post on the Asbury Park, NJ-based indie rock quartet The Black Clouds. Comprised of Dan Matthews (vocals, guitar), Neil Hayes (guitar, vocals), Gary Moses (bass, vocals) and Cory King (drums, vocals), the New Jersey-based quartet have developed a reputation for a DIY approach to recording and producing their albums, for a busy touring schedule and a  continuing collaboration with renowned producer, engineer and musician  Jack Endino, who has worked with an incredibly impressive list of artists and who has mixed and mastered The Black Clouds’ first two albums. And building upon a growing national profile, the band has not only played at everal of the country’s largest festivals including Bamboozle and SXSW, they’ve also toured with  the likes of Mudhoney among others.

The Ashbury Park, NJ-based quartet’s third full-length effort After All is slated for a January 6 release and the album, which was recorded at Studio 606 will further continue the band’s collaboration with Jack Endino, who only only recorded, mixed and mastered the album but also produced the album and contributed some guitar on aa few songs. The album’s first single “Photograph” was a  90s grunge rock, barn-burner of song with growled vocals, aggressive power chords an anthemic hook reminiscent of Foo FightersNirvana and of 120 Minutes-era MTV.

Interestingly, After All‘s second and latest single “Vice” continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with Mudhoney’s imitable frontman Mark Arm while furthering the band’s burgeoning reputation for crafting 90s grunge inspired rock —  all power chords, howled vocals, enormous hooks and thundering drumming but in this case paired with Mark Arm howling lyrics about debaucherous behavior and in a similar fashion to Jim Carroll Band‘s “People Who Died,” “Vice” manages to offer a sobering warning — some of that behavior will fuck you up and then kill you.

 

 

Cooler is a Buffalo, NY-based indie rock quintet, comprised of Alley Yates (guitar, vocals), Nathan McDorman (guitar, vocals), Nick Sessanna (drums, vocals) and Adam Cwynar (bass) whose sound and aesthetic draws from 90s grunge and early 00s emo and as a result their sound has been compared favorably to the likes of Weezer, Saves the Day and Pity Sex — although as you’ll hear on “Metal Moths,” the latest single off their recently released Phantom Phuzz EP, their sound reminds me quite a bit of Bleeding Rainbow and Silversun Pickups as the members of the Buffalo-based quintet specialize in pairing layers of fuzzy power chords with anthemic hooks, a special attention on harmonized vocals singing incredibly earnest lyrics. Listening to the track brought back memories of making mixtapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just last week, I wrote about the New Jersey-based indie rock quartet MELT and “Out of Line” their 90s alt rock channeling, updated take on early aughts emo rock-based first single off the quartet’s soon-to-be released full-length debut Riffer slated for a  November 25, 2016 release through Danger Collective Records and Topshelf Records. The second and latest single “Rewind” off the quartet’s upcoming full-length debut will further cement a burgeoning reputation for crafting anthemic guitar rock — and while being decidedly mid tempo, the song finds the quartet pairing dense layers of power chords, and thundering drumming with a swooning, wistful and urgent Romanticism that’s reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkins and Silversun Pickups.

 

Arguably best known for a stint in Bob Pollard’s Guided by Voices in the 90s,  and for  writing and cowriting some of the band’s most beloved songs off some of their most revered albums, Tobin Sprout has also spent time as a solo artist, who has five previously full-length albums under his belt. Now, as you know the classic 90s Guided By Voices lineup had reunited over the past decade and then split up again with the various members focusing on a variety of creative pursuits — and for Sprout, it meant a renewed focus on his solo career.

The Universe and Me, Sprout’s sixth full-length, solo effort is slated for a February 3, 2017 release through renowned indie label Burger Records and the album reportedly focuses on the search for one’s place in the cosmos — and how the acceptance of aging makes such a search desperate and urgent. Additionally, material on the album focuses on maintaining a childlike curiosity and wonder. In fact, much of the material is the result of a seven-year “gestation” period that included Sprout unearthing lost recordings and demos and digging through his boyhood memories from his Michigan home studio where he had recorded the material, live with his new backing band, capturing a first thought, best thought kind of recording sessions. In fact, through the sessions Sprout and company focused on feeling — instead of production.

Interestingly, The Universe and Me‘s first single “Future Boy Today/Man of Tomorrow” was an unearthed recording that was initially written and intended for Guided By Voices — and in many ways while sounding as though it should have (and could have) been a great B side, the song captures a childhood obsession with comics and superheroes and the uncertain transition to adulthood, complete with the bitter acceptance of uneasy compromises while you try to find a purpose for your life — but with a sly winking sense of humor that belies the grungy and super serious, 90s alt rock sound.

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of high school friends Dylan White, Joseph Bland, Erik Gonzalez and Chris Topah, who bounded over a mutual interest in updating the emo sound of the early aughts without the “stuff that didn’t age well,” the New Jersey-based indie rock quartet MELT went into the studio earlier this year to self-record their full-length debut Riffer, which is reportedly comprised of anthemic guitar rock based around envy, desire and loss as you’ll hear on the album’s first single “Out of Line,” a single that coincidentally manages to channel late 90s alt rock — in particular Foo Fighters and several other contemporary bands such as Dead Stars and others.

G. Know is an up-and-coming San Diego, CA-based producer, who began producing when he had turned 17. Influenced by artists like Flume, Medasin and Rustie, G. Know delved into sampling vinyl and drumbreaks on an MPC; but over the last few years, the San Diego-based producer has received attention for a sound that he feels aligns with his love of emotional bass music, which has resulted in the release of his debut EP Left Brain and a series of follow-up singles, including a reworking of French house music act, Stardust’s classic “Music Sounds Better With You,” that he has titled “YOU.” as G. Know explains in press notes “‘You’ is my little interpretation of the classic tune ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ by Stardust. This tune gave me heavy feels from a young age and I always wanted to flip it into something a little more relevant. For nostalgia’s sake I kept the vocal the same while adding some fun wobbly synths and a thick sub to convey a deeper emotion than the original and wrapped it up with a funky jersey club style breakdown. ”

The result is a stomping club banger with stuttering drum programming, wobbling synths and tweeter and woofer rocking low-end that swoons with an urgent Romanticism.