Tuesday, June 07, 2005

M, V

Roger Miller- Oh Boy Classics Presents

The country/folk singer, not the guy from Mission of Burma. I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about Roger Miller other than the fact that he’s written some really cool, funny songs. Gertsen used to play a bunch of Roger Miller vinyl on his poker nights back in the day. The versions of ‘King Of The Road’ and ‘Dang Me’ that were on his records were a lot less subdued than the ones contained on this CD- I guess the man did a bunch of recording sessions.

I confess to skipping over most of the country-ish stuff whenever I throw this one on- mostly on Sunday mornings- and going right to the funnier tunes. The man had this bizarre sense of humor, bordering on dada, when he sang ‘My Uncle Used To Love Me But She Died’ and ‘You Can’t Rollerskate In A Buffalo Herd’. Cool, entertaining songs that are great for mix CD’s (I really wanted to say ‘mix tapes’, but let’s get crucial-no one makes those any more).

Milligram- s/t

The first batch of releases from Hydra Head were both musically and visually stunning- great packaging, instant collectable status helped, of course, by the amount of ass that was kicked by the bands on the label. This is before the ‘Head went soooo matalcore on everyone- there was a lot of diversity. Converge, of course, carried the banner the highest, but there was also the adolescent suburban scr/e(a)mo of Piebald, the erudite pop stylings of Six Going on Seven, and, of course, the heavy rock n’roll of Miltown. Man, did I ever love that band. Straight ahead, bludgeoning songs that were carried by frontman Jonah Jenkins, who had this less-is-more sort of ambience with both his lyrics and melodies- a lot of the time, it was what wasn’t being said that hit you the hardest, the follow-up melodies left unsung that would leave huge impressions. The band had an LP they recorded for a major label before inter-office tensions (if you believe the rumors of shouting matches and fisticuffs) broke ‘em up. Dubbed copies of the LP floated around for a while- awesome stuff.

Anyway. Milligram is Jonah’s Miltown follow-up. Everything is covered with a thin coat of scuzz as the lyrical darkness continues to flow. The soundtrack to some souped-up funnycar race from hell, as Truckasaurus eats your Honda, then goes to your apartment and devours all of your pre-Rollins Black Flag and Motorhead records.

Mineral- EndSerenading

Sunny Day Real Estate’s impact was felt most profoundly when they were gone. They dropped the amazing, if jagged, ‘LP2’, then Enigk found Jesus and the band broke up amidst a tangle of rumors and half-truths.

Nature abhors a vacuum- bands started forming that used the same tricks that Sunny Day did. Mineral soared right to the top of the imitator heap with ‘The Power Of Failure’. All of the signifiers were in full effect- the dynamic soft/loud song structure, big guitars, heart-on-sleeve lyrics. It should be said that Mineral’s lyrics lacked the poetry of Sunny Day’s- way more obvious, sometimes enough to make you cringe- and that the vocals themselves were, well, whinier. This isn’t an indictment of the band, though- they were awesome. I saw them play a show downstairs at the Middle East with a pre-big time Jimmy Eat World and Sense Field and was blown away. That shit was on!

They came back around close to a year later. The buzz was palpable. When they got up on the stage at The Space and started playing, the sound was different: gone was the reliance on traditional song structure, the quiet verse/loud chorus schtick that Sunny Day (and Nirvana and the Pixies) had used so well. Mineral started writing songs that were more their own. Long, tidal songs that ebbed and flowed as vocal notes stretched longer and new, moody guitar lines were introduced at times when, before, an effects pedal would have been stepped on and that would have been all. I remember feeling gypped at the show- where were the hits?- but, in recent years, I have pulled ‘EndSerenading’ out of the CD rack way more than ‘The Power Of Failure.’ They stopped being so goddamn emo and started gazing at their shoes more, fuck the kids.

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