Alternative To What?

When you talk to the average bear about their favorite music of the decade, you may find yourself in murky water. The Vanilla Ices, Sugar Rays and Lits of the decade have potentially rendered many music fans’ 90s taste buds useless. Just as every decade’s pop charts have ruled the airwaves, there is of course a plethora of musicians who have had their good name sullied by similar “artists.”

By no means am I an expert in this field, but it is a passion of mine to discover the overlooked. The goal of this ongoing series is to expose the vein and turn you on to the real, honest artists from the 90s who actually deserve your attention.

It’s A Shame About The 90s

Evan Dando of The Lemonheads

The Lemonheads, fronted by the elusive and brutally honest Evan Dando, are my first choice. My bromance with Mr. Dando aside, this man warrants your consideration. The ability he has to take pop/rock stylings and inject them with heroin-infused truths may not necessarily strike a chord on first listen. It takes a few spins to sink your teeth into the meanings and find the sincerity. Just like any good drug, after you’ve tasted it, all you want is more.

Starting as a “punk” band in the mid-80s, Evan has remained the Lemonheads’ only constant member through the years. In 1992, their fan base grew enough for the almighty major label to bring them under their wing. That same year, they released “It’s a Shame About Ray,” their only critically acclaimed release. The record’s title track was the first and most successful single, reaching #5 on the Modern Rock charts in America. When the record was re-issued, a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” was tacked on as the album’s closer. The cover was a pretty big hit, even finding its way onto the Wayne’s World 2 soundtrack.

Over the next 15 years, Evan and his Lemonheads went on to release a lot of wonderful music that was greatly overlooked. He collaborated with members of Dinosaur Jr., Descendents, even the crazy Brits from Oasis. I could tell you that every single record they made through the years is fantastic, but I’m biased. As a songwriter, Evan mixes metaphor and reality in a way that is truly poetic while at the same time can be taken in jest.

I was fortunate enough to share the stage with Mr. Dando on the 20-year celebration tour of “It’s a Shame About Ray.” Through all of his quirkiness, he could not have been more friendly and cordial. I can’t imagine playing the same songs over and over for 20 years and still being able to wear a genuine smile. We talked about MC5, how our Methodist Church van is a good cover for smoking pot, and how strange it is that our little town of Gainesville gets no love from bigger touring artists.

I can’t say enough nice things about this man and the music he has crafted. I hope he never stops.

MUST HAVE ALBUMS:

“It’s a Shame About Ray” (Atlantic Records 1992)

“The Lemonheads” (Vagrant Records 2006)


Bands You Need To Know: Young Ladies

When you start listing the bands that Ryan Seagrist and Pat Schramm have been involved with, it kind of makes sense that they have produced a demo that leaves you desperate for more. Between them, they have played with bands such as Discount, Latterman, Bridge & Tunnel, Fellow Project, and Monikers.

But with Young Ladies, these two friends based in NYC have produced something that is a departure from their trademark sound and lets them showcase a different side of their song writing, leaning more towards indie rock or 90s alternative than straight forward punk rock.

I spoke to Ryan and asked him how the project came about.

“I work in a recording studio sometimes in the city, had a couple of free days, and Pat and I went in and just finished those three tunes. We posted the songs and have already gone through a few hundred downloads. So we’re really stoked,” Ryan explained.

With this demo, Young Ladies have taken the themes of friendship, loss, loneliness, and big city life that have run through so many of their previous bands lyrics and delivered them in way that lets them step out from the shadows of their other projects and I, for one, can’t wait to hear more.


Not Forgotten: forgetters Announces Full-Length

forgetters

After the break-up of Jets to Brazil in 2003, fans of Blake Schwarzenbach held their collective breath waiting to see what would come next from the legendary frontman/guitarist. It took five years before Thorns of Life surfaced in 2008, and vanished far too quickly, breaking up less than a year later following the departure of drumming legend Aaron Cometbus.

Later in 2009, fans got the news they were again waiting for; Blake had formed another band, a 3-piece called forgetters (check out this December 2009 live set recorded by National Underground at a packed show in Gainesville). About a year later, their first release, a 4-song, self-titled EP, came out. It was an outstanding taste of what the band had to offer, though fans wanted more. But, after touring in 2011, their bassist (Caroline Paquita) left the band and, despite some rumors and hints that the band may continue, it remained unclear if it was the last we would hear from them.

That is, until September 9, 2012 when it was announced via the band’s blog that a new full-length album was going to be released November 14. Additionally, the post says forgetters will be touring, news that is equally as exciting.

I’m beyond stoked about this news. As a huge fan of Blake, it will be a sad day when he hangs it up for good; so, anytime I learn that we’ll be privileged to more music, it puts off the end a bit longer. I love what I’ve heard from forgetters, and I’ve been lucky to have seen them twice, impressed both times. But I’m also curious to see if they’ll just be a 2-piece going forward and what impact that will have on their sound and live shows.

Regardless, November 14 couldn’t come sooner.


Bands You Need To Know: No Weather Talks

No Weather Talks

It has been quite a year for No Weather Talks. Next month they will play their first US show at FEST 11, coming only weeks after sharing stages with bands such as Latterman, Banner Pilot, and Crusades in their native Germany. Despite only forming late last year, Hamburg’s No Weather Talks has been making a lot of Festers’ “must see” lists after releasing an incredible demo earlier this year.

The 4-song demo opens with “Separation Perfected,” where Painted Thin-esque melodies wrestle with driving guitars and a sing-a-long chorus. “Forever Tomorrow” brings the demo to a close with female/male dual vocals working in perfect harmony, never fighting for attention, but rather complementing each other over Dischord-influenced angular guitar riffs.

Sadly, any new female-fronted band seems to receive the same old, lazy comparisons to those that have gone before, but these five friends are not the new Discount or Germany’s Fifth Hour Hero; they are No Weather Talks and they could be your new favourite band.

You can catch No Weather Talks at FEST 11 on Saturday, October 26 at Boca Fiesta at 7:10pm.


The Inside Scoop on FEST 11 from Rocket Fuel Podcast

Jeff, at the always brilliant Rocket Fuel Podcast, just released his annual FEST preview special. Jeff sits down for an in depth interview with FEST main man Tony Weinbender. Tony discusses how FEST 11 came together, his picks of the weekend, and details of other projects he has been working on, like a Gainesville outdoor concert series and even a Tampa leg of FEST.

In addition to the interview, check out music from Latterman, Masked Intruder, Braid, and many more bands who will be descending on Gainesville late next month.


Gunning For More

Pilot To Gunner

After an eight-year silence, Pilot To Gunner is back, releasing a new song from their forthcoming album. And I couldn’t be more excited.

When their debut album, Games At High Speeds, came out in 2001, I was blown away. Between the song structure and the vocals, it sounded really fresh to me and I was sold. But after only one other full length, 2004’s Get Saved (also an excellent release), PTG appeared to vanish.

Well, they’re back. Guilty Guilty is expected to drop in October on Arctic Rodeo Recordings and, like Get Saved, was produced by the legendary J. Robbins. Rumor has it that it’s 12 tracks of awesome. I’ll let you know if that’s true once I get my hands on a copy (expect a future post)!

The new song, “We Die Today,” is streaming at Punknews.org. It’s just over three minutes of angular, rhythmic, rock and roll with Scott Padden’s distinct vocals dancing powerfully over the tempo changes. The hooks are huge, too, causing uncontrollable head-nodding and body twitching.

If this track is any sign of the rest of the album, fans of PTG will be stoked to find the band back on the scene. And those unfamiliar with the band should quickly familiarize themselves with the back catalogue.


Bands You Need To Know: Leagues Apart

Leagues Apart

If you were fortunate enough to see Leagues Apart at Fest last year, you are probably already a fan. The Manchester, UK based band has been making friends around the world with their frenetic and fun live shows for years now. If you are in the crowd for their show at what is sure to be a packed Loosey’s at FEST 11, expect jokes, human pyramids, and plenty of beer. But, most importantly, expect to see one of the best bands England has to offer.

Leagues Apart proudly wears their influences on their sleeve – early Menzingers or Hot Water Music are a good reference point – but the band’s clever lyrics and amazing shared vocals add something uniquely English to the mix, making a sound that is all their own. With their most recent EP, Buffalo Club, the band does something very few manage; they capture all the passion, energy, and urgency you find at their shows and, in the process, make an EP that is virtually impossible to listen to without hitting the play button the second it ends.

Make sure you catch them at FEST 11 on Sunday October, 28 at Loosey’s at 5:10pm.


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