Tag: Flower

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.

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I’ve been under the weather the past few days and haven’t been able to do as much as I would have preferred; however, with the massive snowstorm we received here in the NYC area, there wasn’t much that could have been done anyway, and I honestly needed the rest. Now, earlier this monthI wrote about Atlanta, GA-based indie rock band Flower. And as the story went, the band’s frontman and primary Jack Fowler had written the material off the band’s soon-to-be released album Waste of Life, while his life had felt as though it were in a holding pattern. Although he had a busy year as the frontman of exwhy, who had signed to Other People Records and toured with renowned indie acts Pujol and Knox Hamilton, Fowler desperately wanted to focus on revealing his vulnerable side — and in turn, felt a need to write material that was informed and inspired by other aspects of his own life; in fact, Waste of Life is heavily informed by Fowler’s experience as a 9-5 officer done. As Fowler has explained in press notes “I was working a pretty decent office job and doing absolutely nothing beyond working and getting depressed. I was just spinning my wheels and growing bored and really depressed. I was struggling with talking to people, being social at all. That’s the core of this album—anxiety and not being sure how to define yourself. ” Certainly, if you’re creative or just didn’t quite know what you wanted to actually do with yourself, those feelings of depression, anxiety and utter worthlessness is familiar. Odds are that you’ve lived that every single moment of your waking life — and you’ve dreamt of quitting to write a book, record an album or to just regain your dignity.

Dreams,” which I wrote about three weeks ago possessed a pent up frustration over ambitions, hopes and a life that seem indefinitely stalled from some larger, unmoving (and unrelenting), outside force and not having an idea as to what would be the best thing to do next; so the song’s narrator winds up sitting inert and inactive on the sidelines out of fear of fucking everything up — and yet, hating himself for his inability to do anything at all. And despite the song’s desperation and hopelessness, there’s a subtle sense of hope; that things will get better and that somehow life will push you in the direction you need to be going even if you were unaware of it. Sonically, the song was reminiscent of  The Smiths and 80s post-punk as it paired bitter and confused sentiments with anthemic hooks, layers of shimmering guitar and driving rhythms.

Wasted Life’s latests single “Deadly Ill” may arguably be one of the more deceitfully straightforward post-punk songs on the album, as the anthemic hooks the band seems to specialize in are paired with thundering and propulsive drumming, angular guitar chords and an urgent desperation of someone who seems to be at the end of their rope with everyone and everything. But the irony at the core of the song is that the song’s narrator is trapped between a terrible certainty and an unknowable, unpredictable uncertainty. If you’ve been there the song feels as though it’s talking about your own personal experience in some way.

 

 

 

 

As the story goes, Flower‘s frontman and primary songwriter Jack Fowler wrote the band’s forthcoming album Waste of Life while in the middle of a holding pattern. Although he had a rather busy year as the frontman of exwhy, with the band signing to Other People Records and touring with Pujol and Knox Hamilton, Fowler desperately wanted to focus on revealing his vulnerable side; in fact, the album is inspired largely by Fowler’s own experience of being an office drone. As Fowler explains in press notes “I was working a pretty decent office job and doing absolutely nothing beyond working and getting depressed. I was just spinning my wheels and growing bored and really depressed. I was struggling with talking to people, being social at all. That’s the core of this album—anxiety and not being sure how to define yourself. ”

Waste of Life‘s latest single “Dreams” possesses a pent up frustration over ambitions, hopes and a life that seem indefinitely stalled from some larger, unmoving (and unrelenting), outside force and not having an idea as to what would be the best thing to do next; so the song’s narrator winds up sitting inert and inactive on the sidelines out of fear of fucking everything up — and yet, hating himself for his inability to do anything at all. And despite the song’s desperation and hopelessness, there’s a subtle sense of hope; that things will get better and that somehow life will push you in the direction you need to be going.

Sonically, the band pairs bitter and confused sentiment and anthemic hooks with layers of shimmering guitar and  driving rhythms in a song that sounds as though it draws influence from The Smiths and 80s post-punk. Much like the previous post, Flower’s sound is something that should sound warmly familiar to anyone who grew up in the 80s — but it manages to place that sound and feeling in high contemporary context, proving that the more things change, the more things wind up the same.