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
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.
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.
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.
The Jealous Sound will be releasing their sophomore LP, A Gentle Reminder, on January 31st. The record is their first full-length since 2003’s Kill Them With Kindness. The band has released 2 songs from the record, ‘Your Eyes Were Shining’ and ‘Change You’ as well as February tour dates which can be seen below.
Burnt Toast Vinyl has announced pre-orders for the limited test presses (no longer available) and the regular pre-order which consists of pink vinyl and includes a download code. Go here to pre-order A Gentle Reminder.
No Sleep Records has announced The Casket Lottery as the latest addition to their roster. The Kansas City natives, formed in 1997, recently reunited in 2011 to perform with old friends, Small Brown Bike. The band recorded with Ed Rose in Fall/Winter for a full length set to be released this summer. No Sleep will also be releasing a 7″ EP from the band and a solo 7″ from frontman Nathan Ellis, both of which can be expected sometime this Spring.
A statement on the No Sleep Records website hints at the albums content, ‘The band’s latest will be a darker album than anything they’ve recorded in the past. Said direction was hinted at with “Survival is for Cowards” and “The Smoke and Mirrors EP” yet the “weight of the day” theme has been revisited to set the tone of goth punk songs that are as angry and triumphant as ever.’
Post-hardcore outfit La Dispute, in conjunction with No Sleep Records, is encouraging listeners to raise donations for 826 Michigan, a Michigan-based non-profit writing and tutoring center, by purchasing from the band’s digital discography on Bandcamp.
La Dispute will donate the proceeds raised from all of today’s Bandcamp purchases to 826 Michigan. The band requires no minimum donation, and donations will be raised for twenty-four hours Christmas day.
Through the work of tutors and volunteers, 826 Michigan is an organization dedicated to developing students’ creative and expository writing skills.
National Underground loves The Fest more than just about anything, and we want to enjoy it this year with all of our loyal readers. So this year we’re buying you a round. Free beers at Fest, does it get any better? Probably not. Our news editor, Dan Case, will again be liveblogging his Fest experience and will be responsible for providing the beverages to the masses.
So, all you need to do is follow Dan via our twitter feed (@NatlUnderground) or our Facebook page, and he’ll keep you posted on where to find him in Gainesville. Find him, prove that you are of legal drinking age, and let him know you’d like to obtain an ice cold beverage. It’s that easy. He might have some other goodies too…
Queens, NY-based Daytrader has announced that they have signed to Rise Records. In addition to the signing, the band has undergone a lineup change, and will now feature Scotty Giffin (ex-Crime In Stereo) on drums and Matt Mascarenas (Reviver) on bass. Daytrader plans to enter the winter with acclaimed producer Mike Sapone (Brand New, Taking Back Sunday) to record their follow-up to 2011’s Last Days Of Rome. The forthcoming album is scheduled for a spring 2012 release.
Boston-based screamo band The Saddest Landscape have signed to Topshelf Records. The band will enter New Alliance Studios with producer John Taft November 5th to record their next full-length album, which is to be released early next year. Taft collaborated with The Saddest Landscape on 2010’s You Will Not Survive.