Every Record I Own - Day 785 The Louvin Brothers Satan Is Real

    No, I'm not being ironic.

    Yes, this is an album full of fire-and-brimstone Baptist gospel tunes from a couple of Alabama brothers. Yes, the cover is absurd and frequently appears on snarky internet lists like "worst album covers of all time." But you know what? Ira and Charlie Louvin could fuckin' sing. And beyond that, they could harmonize in a way that was otherworldly. There's a good reason the alt-country / No Depression crowd adores this record... because the songs are simple, modest, and beautiful.

    Are the lyrics ridiculous? Absolutely. But if you've heard Gram Parsons cover "The Christian Life" with The Byrds on Sweetheart of the Rodeo, you know that there is something so sanctimonious about Louvin Brothers' lyrics that they easily translate into tongue-in-cheek commentaries on the very thing they're espousing. The fact that Ira was notorious drunk also casts these songs in a slightly different light.

    Anyhow, if you're a fan of old country music, buttery vocals, and angelic harmonies, Satan Is Real is certain to lure you in.

    anonymous

    Hi Brian!

    Do you have any thoughts on Dylan Carlson and Earth?

    I'm a fan of Carlson's work, particularly the 21st century version of Earth where they went for clean tones (though I did just order the Sub Pop 2xLP reissue of Earth2 a few days ago). I wrote about Earth and some of Dylan's solo records here:

    Hex

    Hibernaculum

    The Bees Made Honey...

    Angels of Darkness 1

    Angels of Darkness 2

    Primitive and Deadly

    La Strega and the Cunning Man in the Smoke

    I've also done a little bit of press work for Dylan... writing the bios for his solo album Conquistador and Earth's Full Upon Her Burning Lips. I'm aware that there are people out there that have issues with Dylan, but he's always been a very sweet and soft-spoken person in our interactions, and I enjoyed talking with him about his art and his creative process for the bios.

    Every Record I Own - Day 784: Neutral Milk Hotel On Avery Island

    In the Aeroplane Over the Sea knocked me off my axis when I first heard it in 1998. The music alone was like discovering a whole new planet, and to then discover that the Neutral Milk members were a part of a collective of bands under the Elephant 6 Recording Company was like discovering a whole new universe. It was tough tracking down the other band's records in that pre-internet era, but I grabbed what I could. While there were certainly fascinating things happening in that solar system, I kept gravitating back to Neutral Milk Hotel.

    On Avery Island didn't reprogram my brain the same way Aeroplane did, but maybe that's because I was already on the Elephant 6 wavelength when it came into my collection. While it didn't instantly floor me in the same manner, if you had asked me which NMH album was better back 1999, it's entirely possible I would've answered with On Avery Island. I remember dubbing this LP onto a cassette that I'd take with me to my summer job of cleaning up campus housing at my college back in May '99. On the flipside of the tape was the final mix of Botch's We Are the Romans, which we had just finished tracking up in Seattle. As I was going through all those students' houses, cleaning up the junk they'd jettisoned in the rush to leave for summer break, I'd switch back and forth between this strange little world concocted by a bunch of weirdo college kids on the opposite end of the country and our own little musical vision from our lonesome corner of the Northwest.

    While I've familiarized myself with Aeorplane to the point where I've drained it of a little bit of its magic, I still feel immediately transported back to that summer of 1999 whenever I listen to On Avery Island.

    I owe a hat tip to @axelrod for reminding me about the Elephant 6 documentary yesterday, which I watched last night. It was an inspiring movie that reminded me of all the beauty and excitement of being at that age where you're out on your own, free of larger adult responsibilities, and finding your tribe of like-minded artists. The Elephant 6 collective did an amazing job of creating their own little universe, both in terms of the psychedelic music they made, but also as far as cultivating their special cultural enclave. One thing that kept coming to mind while watching the movie was how that specific kind of magic will likely never happen again. It was an era of cheap rent where you could work a part time service industry job and survive. You didn't have a cellphone to distract you, so your social time involved hanging out with your friends. You weren't bombarded by entertainment, so you and your friends were constantly making art with no hopes of a larger audience other than the people you hung out with on the weekends. And even beyond that, your access to music was so limited that you were actively engaged in your local scene and listened to your friends' records over and over and over again.

    That last point was one that really stuck with me while watching the documentary. My listening habits have expanded dramatically in the last twenty years, and that craving of new music has increased even more in the era of streaming. But I worry about losing some sense of forming a deeper connection to new music and creating that mental bond where an album can transport me to some other time and place, keeping me tethered to some aspect of my past. Will I ever listen to a new record as much as I listened to the two Neutral Milk Hotel albums? Do I have that kind of bandwidth considering the volume of new music coming out in any given week?

    I must have listened to On Avery Island hundreds of times, and it's fully woven into my synapses in such a way that whenever I hear it, I'm twenty-one again, just finished with an academic year with the whole summer ahead of me, with a new album by my band all wrapped up, feeling nothing but optimism for the future. And it's ultimately that kind of connection that I want out of all music.

    Every Record I Own - Day 783: Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

    I'm not sure when In the Aeroplane Over the Sea became so divisive. It's a love it or hate it record. Even its early advocates have taken to a certain reevaluation of Neutral Milk Hotel, with the asinine "they're not even the best Elephant 6 band" hot take becoming fairly standard music snob commentary. If Olivia Tremor Control or Apples in Stereo had blown up instead, I'm sure they'd face the same criticism. Honestly, I'm not even sure when this album became popular enough for it to have an intense cult following and adamant detractors, but for me, this album was a complete game-changer when it came out in 1998.

    I had a college radio show when the station manager added Aeroplane to the "indie" rotation. DJs were required to play a certain number of songs from the three-dozen-or-so albums in the rotation of their assigned genre, and being that I was officially an "indie" DJ, I had to break up my playlists of hardcore records with the occasional "college rock" tune from the station manager's weekly picks.

    I abhorred the majority of stuff in the indie rotation, but I didn't have much of a choice in the matter. I remember begrudgingly picking out the Neutral Milk Hotel CD simply because it was on Merge Records, which meant it might at least sound like Superchunk, and playing it on air without previously hearing a note of their music. I don't even remember which song I played, but I was so blown away that I smuggled the CD out of the DJ booth and took it home.

    Stealing from the radio station was bad business, though I knew more than a few fellow DJs who supplemented their personal music libraries with stolen promo albums. I mean, who was going to miss a Big Boys LP from the station's neglected vinyl closet? But to steal a CD that was currently in rotation? That was risky.

    I couldn't help it. I was so fascinated by what I'd heard that I was willing to risk getting busted. I took the CD home and immediately put it on the stereo, sat on the couch, and listened to the whole album with my undivided attention.

    It was 1998 and I was a twenty-year-old hardcore kid. I had begun to feel a little bored and underwhelmed by the lack of sonic diversity in the punk world and had begun listening to a lot of folk and country music when I got tired of listening to music where I was getting yelled at. So when the opening chords of acoustic guitar kicked off "King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1," my ears perked up. Jeff Mangum's voice---double tracked and compressed to a rich, almost-in-the-red saturation---comes in with his cryptic lyrics describing a tumultuous childhood and adolescent sexual awakening. An accordion and bass creep into the mix as the song builds to the climax, only for the band to switch gears into "King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 2 and 3," where Mangum repeatedly professes his love for Jesus Christ against a backdrop of fuzz bass, dissonant singing saw, and tape manipulations. The song eventually explodes into a blown-out punk-tinged pop tune where everything---acoustic guitar included---is cranked to the point of distortion.

    Every song seemed to offer something new: the horns and woeful singing saw of the title track, the austere performance and stream-of-consciousness lyrics on "Two Headed Boy," the mournful Eastern European-influenced instrumentation of "The Fool"... it all flowed together like some strange collage of yesteryear sounds, but pushed to the limits of a DIY recording studio's compressors. And in the center of it all was Jeff Mangum---an untrained singer with crystal-clear diction weaving Burroughs-esque vignettes that were purportedly inspired by Anne Frank. There were references to the loss of childhood innocence, war, death, sex, communism, and religion, but all described in a detached and surrealist manner. The music exuded joy, but the lyrics seemed more like excerpts from The Naked Lunch.

    I can't understate how much this recalibrated my brain back in 1998. The year prior, all my friends had fallen head over heels in love with OK Computer. While I have since grown to appreciate Radiohead, I did not share my peers' initial enthusiasm. As far as I was concerned, any major label band with a big recording budget and a hot producer was capable of making a lush record with all kinds of cool sounds and wild guitar effects. But Aeroplane? This sounded like a bunch of down-and-out weirdo college kids with their grandparents' instruments making magic in some basement recording studio.

    I loved the music, but I was particularly drawn to Mangum's lyrics. I gravitated towards punk as a teenager because the music actually seemed to mean something. Minor Threat sang about being an outsider. Dead Kennedys sang about the cultural climate of the late '70s / early '80s. Minutemen sang about history and how the present reflected the past. Even my love for country and folk music centered on protest songs, outlaws, and earnest heartbreak. But I was reaching the point where it felt like all the bands I loved were singing about the same thing. Rebellion felt codified. You had to sing about certain things or the zines wouldn't like you. And along came Neutral Milk Hotel where the lyrics were somehow borderline non-sensical while simultaneously seeming far more earnest and honest than anything else I was listening to at the time.

    Aeroplane didn't leave my 5-CD disc player for the remainder of the '90s. And I am still upset that I was just a few months shy of turning 21 when they opened for Fuck at a bar in Seattle that summer. Within a year Botch would write and record "C. Thomas Howell as the Soul Man," a song that's essentially about feeling that the earnestness and honesty of hardcore was being replaced by lyrical formulas. In hindsight, I can't help but think that Neutral Milk Hotel had showed me that you didn't have to sing about animal rights or hating cops to be profound or passionate. And I also can't help but wonder if the fuzz bass breakdown in that song was a subconscious homage to the bass tone on Aeroplane.

    Twenty-five years later, I can't say that I listen to Aeroplane all that much anymore. At some point I learned every lyric and chord progression on the album. I'd heard bands like Bright Eyes and The Decemberists borrow heavily from Neutral Milk Hotel without actually capturing any of their wonder, mystery, or charm. Long story short, I got too familiar with the record and bummed on the imitators they spawned. So maybe in some sense I do understand why people are so critical of the album. But listening to it this morning, I still think it's a fantastic record and I can't deny how it completely altered my listening habits. Aeroplane is one of those records that impacted me in a way only a handful of other albums have in my lifetime. And for that reason, I'll always be a fan.

    anonymous

    Are there any plans for more Botch shows in 2024? I’m planning to visit the US for the first time ever next year and it’ll be great if it can coincide with a show or two somewhere preferably in the east coast.

    There is talk of doing a final Seattle date... a farewell to the reunion run... at some point in 2024, but no set date as of now. Every other US date that we will be doing has already been announced.

    leviathan-supersystem

    I get how the whole "listening to music as a dick-measuring contest for who can listen to the most obscure band" thing can get grating sometimes but I don't think people realize just how vital that phenomenon is for new up and coming bands to get a foot in the door. it's understandable to be annoyed by hipsterism but unless you want all music to be industry plants and former child stars you're just going to have to accept it as part of the social ecosystem.

    leviathan-supersystem

    most of your friends probably won't go around hyping up your amateurish self-released bandcamp project, but you know who will? the most insufferable hipster jackass you'll ever meet.

    leviathan-supersystem

    [your best friend playing your music in front of someone else]: yeah haha this is my friend's band... i know it's kinda weird and rough around the edges but i'm kinda into it... if you're not tho i'll turn it off.

    [pretentious music guy you've never met before playing your music in front of someone else]: yeah so i found this on bandcamp and it completely blew me away, no one is making music like this today, it's so raw and experimental and interesting, i can't believe they only have 3 listeners on spotify, they're brilliant, frankly if you don't like this music you should kill yourself,

    Every Record I Own - Day 782: Judas Priest Sin After Sin

    I've struggled with Judas Priest.

    But I'm also stubborn. Or maybe I'm just all too aware that I can go from not liking an artist to loving them if I can just find an in-road. Sometimes you can pick up on some little attribute in an artist's sound that says "you might not be feeling this now, but try coming back to it a little later." Whatever the reason, I keep trying to have my moment with Judas Priest despite it falling into an era and style of heavy metal that I'm generally ambivalent towards.

    As I've mentioned before, I don't particularly care for NWOBHM stuff. I came into metal at a time when thrash and hair metal reigned. The thrash bands were far more ferocious than their predecessors while the hair metal stuff leaned even further into ear-worms and pop melodies. Bands like Judas Priest sounded tame and or tuneless in comparison. It didn't help that every punk band that decided to crossover in the '80s sounded like they were trying to mimic Judas Priest.

    Why do I keep trying? Because on some level, there's an itch I'm trying to scratch and it seems like Judas Priest is the band to hit it. I wanna hear a kick-ass rock band with some solid riffs that still has the old analog vibe of the '70s while having a little more teeth than the average classic rock band of the era. Bonus points: cool band name (and a Bob Dylan reference), killer album art, and Rob Halford being a fellow homo.

    Well, folks... I'm here to report that I have officially fallen for Sin After Sin. Album opener "Sinner" is the track that initially got me hooked. Solid songwriting, meaty riffs, epic ascending climax at the end of the song, old school guitar tones... it's exactly what I was looking for, even if it took several attempts with the album before I fell for its charms. And the rest of the album rules too. The cover of Joan Baez's "Diamonds & Rust" takes the melodic strength of the original and adds a galloping pulse. "Starbreaker" was stuck in my head for a solid week while on tour in August. "Let Us Prey / Call for the Priest" is a triumphant jam. "Raw Deal" is a solid rocker with some nice gay subtext. All in all, it still sounds like a scrappy young band from a working class town, but it also sounds like a band that knows exactly what they're aiming for and aren't afraid to be ambitious.

    Apologies to my husband, bandmates, crew mates, friends, and neighbors who have put up with me blasting this record all summer. And I apologize in advance when I start deep-diving Sad Wings of Destiny and Stained Class (as soon as I find nice vinyl copies).

    Every Record I Own - Day 781: G.I.S.M. Detestation

    Back in the '90s, you were more likely to hear rumors and stories about Tokyo's G.I.S.M. than their actual music. It was difficult enough to find Japanese hardcore records in the States, and it was even more difficult when the band was barely active, never left Japan, and had developed a reputation for violent behavior towards bootleggers. It seemed like you either had to have been in Tokyo in the '80s to snag a copy of G.I.S.M.'s debut album or you had to have some solid connections in the pre-internet record collecting world.

    But G.I.S.M. did manage to get a song on the 1984 International P.E.A.C.E. Benefit Compilation double album, along with artists like Dead Kennedys, Crass, Conflict, DRI, MDC, and Subhumans, and as a result became one of (if not the first) Japanese hardcore bands to get exposure outside of their home country. The myth began to snowball, and as more Japanese hardcore bands began to find an international following, the G.I.S.M. legend grew.

    Most of the stories about G.I.S.M. involved their singer Sakevi Yokoyama. He supposedly fired a homemade flamethrower into an unsuspecting crowd at one of their shows. The flamethrower was also supposedly used on a morning commuter who was staring at Sakevi on a train. There was also the story of Sakevi trashing a clothing store that stocked bootleg G.I.S.M. shirts. Considering Japan's reputation in the West for law and order, tradition, and etiquette, this sort of behavior seemed even more shocking and rebellious. G.I.S.M.'s album art further reinforced the band's nihilistic and destructive behavior. Though obviously culling musical ideas and design aesthetics from the British anarcho / peace punk scene, there was also a heavy dose of heavy metal's gratuitous shock value. So in addition to the anti-war messaging and anarchist symbols on the cover, you also had song titles like "(Tere Their) Syphilitic Vaginas to Pieces" and a swastika in the collage art on the original album cover.

    This was all enough to make G.I.S.M. a polarizing band, but we haven't even discussed the music yet. If you were expecting Japan's response to Discharge, you were going to be confused, if not outright disappointed. Sure, there's some of that d-beat speed and power, but the music owes as much to British heavy metal like Judas Priest as it does to British punk. Throw in some truly grimy production and some flirtations with experimental music and early industrial music and it's no wonder a lot of folks responded to the recent official reissues of G.I.S.M.'s first two albums with "wait... THIS is what everyone has been hyping all these years?"

    That polarization is even more pronounced in the wake of Sakevi's death at the end of August. There are people praising G.I.S.M.'s pioneering sound and wild art aesthetic, but there are also people criticizing Sakevi's antisocial behavior, misogynist imagery, and references to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on a later G.I.S.M. album.

    My two cents: you don't have to look too hard to find a lot of problematic things with punk and hardcore bands from forty years ago. The ideas espoused in Bad Brains' "Don't Blow Bubbles," Black Flag's "Slip It In," and Minor Threat's "Guilty of Being White" haven't exactly aged well. If anything, G.I.S.M.'s mish-mash of disparate sounds and symbols seems less like a coherent agenda and more like a schizophrenic response to a modern world teetering on the edge of self-destruction. It's ugly and confusing, and the line between what Sakevi is advocating versus admonishing is often blurry, but I don't think anyone has ever looked at Detestation as a road map to a better world. In the final decades of the 20th century, Japan had a reputation in the States as a kind of utopia. It was a clean and efficient culture with very little crime and plenty of prosperity. And then you had G.I.S.M., which countered that reputation by taking all the confusion, fear, angst, and paranoia of industrialized society and reflecting it back in this warped and feral eight-song album.

    Every Record I Own - Day 780: Loose Fur s/t

    Every so often one of those albums comes along that completely alters your musical tastes. For me, Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was one of those records. I already liked a lot of Americana and singer-songwriter stuff, but Yankee Hotel Foxtrot took the homespun sound that I liked and ran it through a modern lens. This sonic update wasn't necessarily a wholesale embrace of the 21st century---their songs battled environmental noise, industrial static, stylistic option paralysis, soul-less technology, and the bombardment of stimuli in the Information Age. It was a record of beautiful songs that were built up and dismantled in the studio, with vestiges of dissonant clutter and ornate embellishments deftly woven in and out of the mix by Jim O'Rourke.

    I'd watched the documentary on the making of the album, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, before hearing the actual record. Watching the band navigate the songwriting process, the label pressure, the inner band struggles, Jeff Tweedy's migraines and panic attacks, and the underlying quest to move forward artistically in a marketplace that doesn't value vision all lent an additional layer of mystique to both the album and the band.

    There were snippets of other Wilco songs scattered throughout the documentary, and I was obsessed with tracking them down. I bought all the other Wilco albums. I bought bootleg CDs of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot outtakes. But the song I was hunting for, "Not For The Season," was nowhere to be found.

    Then in 2003, it showed up on the debut album by Loose Fur under the title "Laminate Cat." Loose Fur was a side project featuring Jeff Tweedy, new Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, and Jim O'Rourke. I came for "Laminated Cat," but I stayed for the strange protracted jams, unusual drum textures, synth forays, blissed out fingerpicked guitar, and off-kilter O'Rourke melodies. This wasn't a Tweedy-centric project---it sounded like three adventurous musicians having fun in the studio.

    But it also sounded like the more adventurous parts of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, except instead of treating it as another layer that could be faded in and out of the mix, these exploratory moments were the focus of the songs. A big part of the magic of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot involves what Kotche and O'Rourke brought to the mix, and on Loose Fur we hear what happens when those musicians' skills and ideas are given equal weight to Tweedy's songwriting.

    Every Record I Own - Day 779: Various artists Plot

    The first record I ever played on was the first Botch 7", released in part by a straight edge guy named Wally Young who had just gotten out of the military. Wally had been stationed in Germany, and when he returned to the states he came back with a small distro of German hardcore records. The more traditional-sounding German hardcore stuff wasn't my thing (Nations On Fire seemed to be one of the bigger German hardcore bands of the time, and I couldn't manage to get into 'em). But Wally also had the Acme 7", and that record blew my mind. It was so savage---a bulldozer of Slayer-inspired leads and crushing riffs.

    It was that new era of German hardcore that I found exciting. And perhaps the best document of that particular scene was this compilation LP released as a benefit for a German hardcore zine called Plot. I have no idea if the Plot zine ever really took off, and I'm not sure if their lone venture into releasing music was particularly successful (though Thou did make a t-shirt featuring the same woodblock print from this album cover), but as far as I'm concerned, this is one of the best hardcore compilations of the '90s.

    It's got a few artists I've mentioned here in the past, like Acme, Dawnbreed, Luzifers Mob and Golgatha. It's also got Acme-affiliated grind band Systral, the violin-backed Cwill, arty hardcore staples Ambush (who would briefly feature Tom Rusnak of Rorschach / Kiss It Goodbye on bass), the Great American Steak Religion-affiliated metal-core outfit Mine, and a host of other interesting forward-thinking hardcore bands. The big curveball is the final track by Bohren. The name and song didn't mean much to me until the early 2000s, when they began releasing music under the name Bohren & Der Club of Gore. Though the Bohren track on this comp was a pretty mellow affair compared to the other songs, it still bore more of a resemblance to underground rock music than the dark, glacial-paced minimalist jazz they would become famous for. So if nothing else, this is a pretty interesting artifact of their modest beginnings.

    Ultimately, the whole comp is a scorcher. Aside from Acme and Bohren, these bands may not have gone on to garner the kind of cult following many of their stateside peers attained, but that just means these bands are even more underground and mysterious, right?

    Every Record I Own - Day 778: Golgatha / Luzifers Mob split LP

    Germany had a criminally underrated hardcore scene in the mid-'90s. While there were certainly North American bands that knew they could spend three weeks touring Germany playing sold out shows despite having almost zero presence in their home country's touring circuit (see Strain, Morning Again, Yuppicide, etc.), there was little in the way of a cultural exchange with German bands making any sort of mark in America. Aside from a few bands from the Bremen scene catching on stateside (most notably Acme and their off-shoot band Mörser), German hardcore bands rarely got any notice from American audiences.

    Weirdly enough, this split LP by Golgatha and Luzifers Mob was a fairly common record in the various distro boxes you'd see at hardcore shows in the mid-'90s. Maybe the label had a connection with Ebullition or one of the other major DIY distributors of the era. But despite all the copies that made it onto American soil, I didn't hear a lot of people talking about this record, which is a bit of a shame. Luzifers Mob played bottom-heavy powerviolence that wouldn't have been out of place on Slap-A-Ham or Theologian Records. Golgatha played a chunkier mid-tempo brand of dark metallic hardcore. Folks who liked American bands like Groundwork, Gehenna, and Rorschach should've devoured their half of the LP.

    There was a lot of great metallic hardcore in Germany at the time. Even beyond Acme, there were bands like Carol, Cwill, Age, Wounded Knee, Ambush, and pretty much every artist on the Plot compilation (more on that later this week) that were making ferocious and forward-thinking hardcore that never caught on with American audiences.

    That said, I have to admit that this morning is probably the first time I've listened to this LP in two decades. But I'm blaming that on the slender packaging and the fact that the spine for the album completely disappears when you slide it into your record shelf. The unassuming (and virtually non-existent) cover art probably didn't help this one get a lot of traction either. And that's all a shame, because this a solid split and a prime document of a specific era of German hardcore.

    Well, this was quite a flattering overview of our discography and a pretty damn close approximation of the order I would have picked (Geneva would’ve been in the top 3, though).

    Thanks, Hard Times!

    anonymous

    What's your take on ska/reggae?

    I grew up in Hawaii, where reggae was kind of ubiquitous. Being a snobby punk teenager, I kinda hated it simply because it was so popular. But I liked 2 Tone ska and some of the early third wave and ska-punk stuff (mainly Operation Ivy and the first Bosstones album). Then I moved to Washington and I actually kinda missed hearing reggae all the time, so I bought the requisite Bob Marley album and kept my ear out for other stuff along those lines.

    While I still love Op Ivy and that first Bosstones record, there isn't much (if any) ska-punk stuff that I like, and maybe only one or two other third wave ska albums I might fuck with (The Toasters' Thrill Me Up comes to mind, but I also haven't listened to it in at least two decades). And while I can hang with The Specials and The Selecter, I don't actively listen to any 2 Tone at this point in my life.

    That said, I do love early ska like The Maytals, Desmond Dekker, Delroy Wilson, and Ken Boothe. It's great music to throw on the turntable on a Saturday morning while you drink coffee and tidy up the house. While I'm a pretty big fan of that stuff, I'm by no means an expert on it and will admit that I don't really know the distinction between early ska and early reggae. But if it sounds like old Motown music with a Jamaican patois and up-stroked guitars, I'm into it. I'm also a big fan of the 100% Dynamite comps on Soul Jazz and have gotten A LOT of mileage out of those over the last 20 years or so.

    I've had a harder time getting into the more Rastafarian-style reggae stuff, but given the homophobia surrounding that culture, I'm okay with remaining uninitiated to that scene. That said, I do own and enjoy of few of those early drugged-out dub albums by folks like Lee Scratch Perry and Niney the Observer, and I had a pretty awesome time in Manchester years ago where some of my bandmates and I went to a dub night in an old factory and had our guts rearranged by the intense sub bass of modern dub records. Oh, and I was really obsessed with the Snoop Lion album. Still think it's a criminally underrated pop album.

    So long story short: yes, I like a bit of that stuff but it doesn't make up a huge part of my musical diet.

    Had the honor and privilege of writing the liner notes for the reissue of Lync's lone studio LP, These Are Not Fall Colors. The reissue is out in late October on Suicide Squeeze. Also wrote the following press release for it...

    When the grunge explosion of the early ‘90s elevated Seattle’s flannel-clad misfits out of the divey clubs of downtown and into the mainstream, a new generation of restless artists filled the void left in the Pacific Northwest’s underground music scene. The under-21 crowd making music in the wake of Nevermind seemed even less enamored with the slick production values, classic rock nods, and testosterone-fueled moshing culture that came with the Zeitgeist, favoring their own kind of Revolution Summer-style pivot away from the popular sounds of the era towards a more emotionally nuanced, melodic, and inclusive style of punk. The Puget Sound trio Lync perfectly captured the spirit of that era, blending the passionate chaos of the DC and San Diego scenes with the rough-hewn DIY pop sensibilities of Olympia’s thriving indie community into one unified sound. Though they were only a band for two years, they helped define the next era of the Northwest underground, inspiring countless other artists and instigating the creation of beloved records from the region. After being out of print for over a decade, the bands sole LP These Are Not Fall Colors has been remastered and expanded into a 2xLP with the inclusion of “Can’t Tie Yet”—a compilation track from the album’s recording session—into a deluxe edition available courtesy of Suicide Squeeze Records.

    Originally released on K Records in the summer of ’94 just a few months before the band called it quits, These Are Not Fall Colors is a boisterous collection of scrappy basement-show anthems played on duct-taped-together gear. Led by the off-kilter melodies of late singer/guitarist Sam Jayne and hammered into place by the driving bass of James Bertram and drum battery of David Schneider, the album’s eleven songs channel that undefinable sound of the early ‘90s before descriptors like “post-hardcore” and “emo” became pejorative terms. Sure, you get a sense of the more sophisticated mid-tempo punk approach on songs like “B” and “Silverspoon Glasses,” and maybe catch wind of wistful songwriting on “Pennies to Save” and “Cue Cards,” but Lync seemed to cull their ideas from whatever bits of inspiration they could find in the gray gloom and geographic isolation of western Washington, absorbing it all and churning it together into a style uniquely their own.  

    Despite Lync’s short existence, modest aspirations, and DIY approach, their work had a ripple effect. Jayne would go on to make music under the moniker of Love As Laughter. Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch was so enamored by the album that he enlisted Bertram and Schneider to serve as his rhythm section on the There’s Nothing Wrong with Love tour. These Are Not Fall Colors engineer Phil Ek would go on to help record and produce records by Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses, and The Shins. Early bassist Isaac Brock and These Are Not Fall Colors album art contributor Jeremiah Green would go on to form Modest Mouse. Bertram and Green would also go on to form the revered indie rock group Red Stars Theory. At times it feels like you could pick any major Northwest indie rock group from the ‘90s and ‘00s and trace their DNA back to Lync. The deluxe edition of These Are Not Fall Colors comes pressed on 180g vinyl and packaged in a gatefold cover with printed inner sleeves and expanded artwork by Jesse LeDoux. The 2xLP also features an 18x24 poster with extensive liner notes by Brian Cook. Altogether, this new version of These Are Not Fall Colors not only brings this celebrated classic back into analog libraries of old fans, it also provides new context and appreciation for Lync’s ongoing impact on both a local and international level.

    anonymous

    Big fan of pretty much all your bands, super excited about the new Sumac and to see Botch in Tokyo in September (thanks for coming all the way out here).

    I also really enjoy your writing, going through your posts I found this:

    "The hardcore music I loved in the ‘90s had morphed into the gross commercialization of “screamo"."

    While I completely understand which bands you are referring to and getting granural about music genre names gets old quickly I was wondering if you are a fan of what a lot of kids back in those days would consider actual screamo, bands like Pageninetynine, Orchid, Majority Rule, City of Caterpillar, Circle Takes the Square etc.. as someone who at the time was heavily into that scene and into the Hydra Head catalogue I cant help feeling that while the sounds were radically different both offered diy, incredibly abrasive yet deeply artistic and thoughtful music.

    Majority Rule`s Interviews with David Frost came out a few months before Jane Doe and to me is as much of a defining record of that era. Curious if you like those records as well.

    The stuff I liked in that realm preceded the term “screamo.” I liked stuff like Antioch Arrow, Mohinder, Swing Kids, Angel Hair, Heroin, Nation of Ulysses, Honeywell, Frail, Reversal of Man, Ottawa, One Eyed God Prophecy, Union of Uranus, Behead the Prophet NLSL, and a bunch of other stuff that, at the time, was generally just referred to as hardcore or emo-violence or some weird obsolete term like “sweater punk.” Screamo felt like a term that started getting thrown around after I’d already kinda checked out of that scene.

    So bands like Pageninetynine and City of Caterpillar weren’t on my radar. They began putting out records around ‘99 or ‘00, which was a point where zine culture was waning and the internet was becoming the main source of information about new bands. I didn’t own a computer. My peer group was gravitating towards indie rock. And I was starting to latch onto other stuff outside the hardcore world.

    I remember buying a few Orchid records and I just couldn’t really get into ‘em for whatever reason. There was also some weird backlash from that world against a lot of the bands in my peer group, like Jerome’s Dream having some strange one-sided internet beef with Hydra Head. I recall seeing Majority Rule in the small room at Emo’s in Austin where there were a few snide remarks from stage about the “rock” show happening outside—which happened to be Blood Brothers and These Arms Are Snakes. That said, I thought Majority Rule played a great set, but the banter deterred me from digging any deeper.

    To be honest, I thought all that late ‘90s / early ‘00s stuff was perfectly fine… I just wasn’t as drawn to it as the stuff that came out earlier in the ‘90s, and I was a broke college student so I spent what little money I had on other records instead. The screamo stuff that I really disliked was the slick Warped Tour stuff that didn’t seem to have any connection to the aforementioned bands and didn’t seem to have any sense of familiarity with the scene from the previous decade.

    Thanks for the question! It was fun trying to remember what I was listening to at the turn of the century.

    anonymous

    Hi Brian, I wondered if you had any insight into the current situation with US bands playing in the UK in a post brexit world. I have been living in the US for the past 4+ years and have been soaking up as much live music as possible, but I am ultimately headed back to the UK and am concerned that the situation is pretty dire out there for US bands.

    It’s hard to say what the situation is like at the moment as I haven’t been to the UK since 2019, but I’ll be there in about a week. The main difference this time around is that we need work visas for our European crew and we will likely need carnets for all our equipment, which can be pricey. Fingers crossed it’s a smooth process.