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Monday, February 14, 2011
Formed in the early '80s, the hardcore punk band 7 Seconds has been among the longest lived of any group from the first wave of Cali punk (forming in Reno, NV, and eventually relocating to Sacramento), though frontman Kevin Seconds has proved to be the only consistent member; changes during the mid-'80s moved guitarist Bobby Adams, drummer Troy Mowat, and bassist Steve Youth (Seconds' brother) into the lineup. The group released several 7" singles just after forming, and Seconds signed the band to the Better Youth Organization label by 1982. The three LPs released on BYO culminated in 7 Seconds' most authoritative album, Walk Together, Rock Together. Signed to Restless in the late '80s, 7 Seconds delivered Soulforce Revolution and Ourselves before moving again, to Headhunter. The band released three albums for Headhunter, but signed with their first major label, Epic, in 1995. The Music, the Message was 7 Seconds' first Epic LP, released in 1995. By 1999's Good to Go, however, the band was back on the indie front, now releasing material through the Side 1 label. In mid-2000, they released Scream Real Loud, followed five years later by their 13th LP, Take It Back, Take It On, Take It Over! Throughout the group's career, Seconds has maintained several side projects, including Drop Acid, Five Feet Ten Inches, and Mustard. He also released several solo efforts starting in the '90s, including a 2002 split acoustic album on Asian Man alongside Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba.
7 Seconds - Live One Plus One - Cassette tape on Giant Records
Green River was an influential Seattle band in the 1980s, lasting only four years and named after a (then at large) serial killer in Washington. They were one of the first grunge bands.
Green River arguably had little impact outside Seattle, though they did form a friendly alliance with emerging American indie rock bands, most notably Sonic Youth who would later quote the Green River song "Come On Down" in their 2000 song "Nevermind (What Was it Anyway?)". However, the impact Green River had on the music made in Seattle would eventually be felt around the world. Their influence could be felt on both their contemporaries (Soundgarden, The Melvins) (though influence on the part of the Melvins was a two way street) and later Seattle bands (Nirvana, Alice in Chains). Before Nirvana, or indeed Mudhoney, Green River was the flagship band at legendary Seattle label Sub Pop, and through the bands who would form when the band split up (Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney) the members went on to influence millions of people world wide.
Green River were the among the first bands in Seattle to mix metal and punk, heavily influenced by Iggy Pop's original proto-punk group The Stooges, leading to the sound known later as "grunge". Mark Arm, the group's vocalist, is widely credited as being the first person to use the term, though not in relation to the sound it has come to signify.
The members were Mark Arm (vocals), and original guitarist Steve Turner, both of whom went on to play in the Thrown-ups and later form Mudhoney (even further down the timeline they played together in the side project The Monkeywrench as well); Jeff Ament (bass) and Stone Gossard (guitar), who went on to Mother Love Bone and Pearl Jam, Bruce Fairweather (guitar), who also went on to Mother Love Bone, and Alex Vincent (drums).
Green River - Come On Down - Cassette tape featuring Pearl Jam and Mudhoney one Homestead Records
This indie rock supergroup consists of Jenny Toomey from Tsunami, Mark Robinson from Unrest and Air Miami, and Rob Christiansen from the Eggs. Formed in 1991, Grenadine has a slew of 7"s to its credit, as well as two albums, Goya and Nopalitos, that show off the band's moody take on pop music. Toomey's compositions tend to be sullenly melodic, quiet epics that show off her rich, throaty voice, while Robinson's songs range from upbeat power pop to odd, 1920s-style ditties reminiscent of Rudy Vallee and other crooners. An unusual band even by indie standards, Grenadine allows its members to explore musical facets untouched by their other bands, making the group more than just a side project.
Grenadine - Goya - CD with members of Unrest Tsunami Eggs on Shimmy Disc Records
Saturday, February 5, 2011
With the Killer Klowns EP restoring the band to more of an active duty, the Dickies fully got their act back together with Second Coming, amusing angel/sainthood cover and all. The core Stan Lee/Leonard Graves Phillips partnership remains the same, while the core band, including bassist Lorenzo Buhne, guitarist Enoch Hain, and drummer Clifford Martinez, backs up everything with the expected élan. Things aren't quite at the same all-out just-insane-enough level of the original band in terms of performance -- volumes are sometimes lower, arrangement a touch less hyperactive -- but in terms of good spirit and good fun, Second Coming is an entertaining romp. Two covers continue the tradition of out-of-nowhere "you're covering that?" reactions -- while "Hair" and "Town Without Pity" aren't given the sheer high-speed/slam-dance treatment of times past, it's nice to see the group still tweaking the nose of what's hip and acceptable. The latter in particular is an amusing effort -- straightforward enough, but hearing Phillips instead of Gene Pitney's wailing makes for an interesting change! As for the originals, mostly from the pen of Phillips, things are off-kilter enough, as always, to make for a good time. "Magoomba" reappears from Killer Klowns, guest vocals from Phillips' mom and all, while "Monster Island" celebrates the legendary locale from the Godzilla series with surfy vibes. "Cross-Eyed Tammy" slots into the vein of sweet and silly power pop à la "Pretty Please Me" and "Out of Sight"; "Caligula" reads like the world's weirdest Iron Maiden parody ever (and why not?); and "Booby Trap" makes for a new way to look at goth girls. Even "Goin' Homo," which on the face of it would seem insulting, is good-natured silliness at quick speed -- "Why did god make men with nipples?" indeed.
The Dickies - Second Coming - Cassette tape on Enigma Records
Bastro was the more prominent of guitarist David Grubbs' two immediate post-Squirrel Bait projects (the concurrently running Bitch Magnet being the other). Grubbs originally joined the Louisville, KY-based Squirrel Bait while still in high school, and was actually one of the oldest members of the group; when he and bassist Clark Johnson left for college, it effectively spelled the end of the band after two important releases. Grubbs went to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and formed an early version of Bastro in 1987 with bassist Dan Treado, who soon left. Even though Clark Johnson had gone to Chicago, he and Grubbs reteamed as the new core of Bastro, and pursued a more twisted and abrasive style of post-hardcore punk than their former band. Backed by a drum machine, they issued a six-song EP, Rode Hard & Put Up Wet, on the Homestead label in 1988. They subsequently played some tour dates with My Dad Is Dead, whose drummer at the time was Oberlin College percussion major John McEntire. McEntire wound up joining Bastro full-time for their LP debut, 1989's Bastro Diablo Guapo, which drew comparisons to the blistering extremity of Steve Albini and the precision and shifting dynamics of another Squirrel Bait offshoot, Slint.
Bastro - Diablo Guapo - Cassette tape on Homestead Records
Meshing dreamy, feedback-drenched guitars with airy, catchy melodies, Lush were one of the most prominent shoegazing bands of the early '90s. Led by guitarists Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson, the British band earned a cult following within the British and American undergrounds with its first EPs, yet the group never quite attained the critical respect given to its peers My Bloody Valentine and Ride. Even so, Lush lasted longer than any other of their contemporaries (with the exception of the Boo Radleys), developing sharp pop skills as their career progressed. By the time of their final album, 1996's Lovelife, they had converted themselves into a power pop band with dream pop overtones, which resulted in the greatest chart success of their career. Their success was dealt a blow when drummer Chris Acland committed suicide in the fall of 1996, effectively bringing the band to an end.
Lush - Single Girl - UK import CD on 4AD Records