Monday, April 28, 2008

Top 10 unheard songs of the '90s - Super Deluxe, "She Came On"

I'm working on a longer post about Super Deluxe for later this week, but that reminded me of the other feature I wanted to start: my top 10 unheard songs of the '90s (in no particular order).

First up, 1995's "She Came On" off Super Deluxe's debut album Famous. I freaking LOVE this song.

Plus, it's a Speed Racer homage!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cruisin' with Sponge and Marcy Playground

The hot thing in recent years for '90s bands is to do a cruise... you get a captive audience of your fans that you can play four or five sets to, and you get to go on a free cruise. Better than Ezra did a cruise, Guster have done a cruise, Barenaked Ladies have done a cruise... Sister Hazel and Dexter Freebish have done cruises.

But a cruise with Sponge and Marcy Playground? That's an odd bill. Who out there is a diehard fan of both of these bands? Sponge were basically off the radar by the time Marcy Playground ever had a hit.
Anyway, Sponge have a new album, Galore Galore, out on indie Bellum Records, and are playing sporadic dates in May and June (all east of the Mississippi) prior to the cruise in October. Marcy Playground don't appear to have done much since MP3 in 2004, which had the single "Punk Rock Superstar." That was a pretty good track.

*As an aside, how great is that Marcy Playground album cover? Supposedly it was originally supposed to be a Butthole Surfers album cover, but after it was rejected, Marcy took it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring album preview: Weezer, Jakob Dylan, more

According to Weezer's website, the band is done mixing their sixth album and it should be released in June (probably June 10). First single "Pork and Beans" goes to radio and iTunes this Tuesday (April 24). Here's the tracklist. This comes on the heels of Rivers Cuomo's home recordings CD, which I did not purchase (heard some of it was pretty good, though).
Go here for a recent photo of the band, where Rivers looks like Jake Gyllenhaal's character in Brokeback Mountain and Brian Bell looks like Desmond from Lost.

Other upcoming albums this spring:

1. Apparently the Wallflowers are no more, as Jakob Dylan is releasing a solo album May 13. (Rolling Stone claims it's not coming out until June 10). Rick Rubin produced, and a three-song teaser is up on iTunes now. He's also playing most of the summer festivals as Jakob Dylan and the Gold Mountain Rebels.
Seems like as good an excuse as any to post this. Watch as Bruce Springsteen absolutely destroys the Wallflowers at the MTV Awards (in '97?).

2. Also working on a solo album is Mark Kano, lead singer of Athenaeum. Remember Athenaeum? 1998's "What I Didn't Know?"*

Anyway, check out his MySpace blog for more info.

3. Butch Walker is recording with a trio for the first time since Marvelous 3. The group is called 1969, and Alternative Addiction has the scoop here. Bonus: they claim to have met at a party at Corey Haim's house in LA. Nice.

4. According to the new Rolling Stone (the one with Jack White and Mick Jagger on the cover), we can also expect new albums from Portishead (Third, out April 29), Barenaked Ladies (Snacktime, out May 6), Old 97s (Blame it on Gravity, out May 13), The Cure (as yet untitled, scheduled for June 3), Alanis Morrissette (Flavors of Entanglement, out June 10), a "15th anniversary edition" of Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville (out June 24), and Ben Folds (as yet untitled, out in August).

5. And don't forget the new Filter May 13 and the Gavin Rossdale solo album June 3.

*Apologies for the Veronica Mars video, but it was that or a Draco and Hermione fan fiction video. Did the band not make a legit video for this song?

Friday, April 18, 2008

From the cutout bin: The Connells - Weird Food and Devastation

Welcome to From the Cutout Bin, where we dig up old CDs that have been forgotten for whatever reason and can now be found in the dollar (or quarter) bin at your local used CD store (if your community still has a used CD store). This installment features 1996's Weird Food and Devastation, the sixth album from North Carolina's the Connells.

The Connells were one of the first crop of post-REM bands to come out of the Southeast (ahead of groups like Better than Ezra and Hootie and the Blowfish). They got their start in Raleigh, N.C. and achieved unexpected success all over Europe with 1994's "74-75." They spent most of 1995 touring in Europe, and those experiences affected this album.

According to the reviews I found online of this album, fans consider it to be the Connells' "weird" one. And it is both dark and jaded; Weird Food sounds, if anything, like a band trying to figure out its next step and how to hold on to its newfound audience. But many of the songs are not that strong: if the chorus is catchy, the verses are boring. If the intro is intriguing, the rest of the song slacks off and dies. "Hang On" starts out strong, but then loses it with a sing-song chorus and an atonal lead guitar line. "Smoke" overstays its welcome. The album as a whole is too long, clocking in at a bloated 14 tracks (REM's New Adventures in Hi-Fi, also released in 1996, has been accused of this as well).

My verdict: good, but not great. It was the first Connells album since 1987 not to chart in the Billboard Top 200 and modern rock radio ignored both the singles, "Maybe" and "Fifth Fret."

By 1996, the Connells had seen college-rock bands who followed in their footsteps become multiplatinum superstars (especially Hootie and the Blowfish). REM, the band they came up behind*, were the biggest band in the world. Did they feel pressure to deliver with this one? I don't know; maybe. Did they deliver? Not really. This could be the fault of their longtime label, TVT, as the singles were pretty decent; TVT screwed over plenty of bands (check out Trent Reznor's thoughts on Nine Inch Nails' short time with the label).

After Weird Food and Devastation, the Connells released one more album for TVT, 1998's Still Life, which also failed to chart, and then self-released a final album, 2001's Old-School Dropouts. They are in semi-hibernation now, and occasionally play shows in and around Raleigh, where they remain popular. Ongoing disputes with TVT have kept any sort of greatest-hits compilation from being released (and TVT's recent bankruptcy can't help matters on that front, as the Connells' back catalog is now owned by Prudential Securities).

Here's "Fifth Fret," the second single (and the catchiest song) off the album:

You know, as I watch the video, it strikes me that matters weren't helped by the fact that this band looks like the English department at your local college decided to start jamming in somebody's attic.

*early REM producers Don Dixon and Mitch Easter also did production work on the early Connells' albums

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gavin Rossdale goes solo

Thanks to Tied to the '90s tipster Chris for the nuggets of info

According to Billboard, Gavin Rossdale (of Bush fame) has a solo album entitled Wanderlust coming out June 3. You can listen to a 90-second clip of the first single, "Love Remains the Same," over at Alternative Addiction. It's ballady, and the lyrics actually make sense; quite the departure for Rossdale. You can also get the full single on iTunes, if you're so inclined.

You can watch a "trailer" for the album here; sadly, I can't embed it.
This isn't the first solo release from Rossdale: he did "Adrenaline" for the XXX soundtrack in 2002, shortly after Bush broke up, but then formed a new band, Institute, with late-period Bush guitarist Chris Traynor; that band is presumably dead and gone, as Billboard reports their 2005 album Distort Yourself only sold 54,000 copies in the US.

Here's vintage-1996 Rossdale, with Bush's "Swallowed":

(as an editorial note, it pisses me off that modern-rock radio still plays tracks off Bush's first album 45 times a day, but decent tracks off the later albums like "Swallowed" and "Chemicals Between Us" have completely fallen by the wayside).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Guess the song, Round 2

What's that bloopy keyboard riff in the new Dodge Journey commercial?

Any idea?
That's right, it's Grandaddy's "AM 180" from 1997's Under the Western Freeway:

Grandaddy broke up in 2006.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Matthew Ryan

Popdose has a great interview and guide to Matthew Ryan's career (with lots of mp3's!). I had lost track of Mr. Ryan after his second album, 2000's East Autumn Grin (which featured Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner on trumpet!), but I remember his debut, 1997's May Day, quite well. We got an advance copy when I worked at a college paper. "Guilty" is one of the great unheard songs of the 1990s: I really think it's a bridge between Paul Westerberg and some of the stuff Ryan Adams would do a short time later.
Listen for yourself:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Win the new Everclear CD

Go here if you want to try and win a copy of the new Everclear CD, The Vegas Years. Or don't... just increases my odds of winning. (then again, if some enterprising Capitol employee wants to send me a copy for review, the e-mail's on the right).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bill Rieflin's industrial past

You know what's amazing to me? R.E.M.'s current drummer, Bill Rieflin, used to drum for Ministry, the Revolting Cocks, Nine Inch Nails, and KMFDM. One of the great industrial drummers of all time is going to spend this summer laying down the skins for the "Losing My Religion" guys. Beautiful. You think he gets bored during "Drive" or "At My Most Beautiful" and wishes he could really start wailing again, like he did on "Jesus Built My Hot Rod"?

Seriously, though, he's really good. Check out the flourishes he adds to "Supernatural Superserious" live (scroll ahead to about the 5:45 mark):

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Filter May 13

Filter's album, Anthems for the Damned, comes out May 13. The first single will be available on iTunes in April. (stream the first single here)

Filter is playing some radio station concerts in April, May, and June, and then go to Europe. Last month they were in Kuwait to play the Operation Myspace concert with Jessica Simpson. (huh?) Anyway, apparently the band's old bass player enlisted in the Army after they broke up the last time, and joined the group onstage. Read Spin's report on it here.

The new album is expected to sound like typical Filter, with Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit apparently contributing guitar.