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Blame Nirvana
February 22, 2013 8:18 AM   Subscribe

The 40 Weirdest Post-Nevermind Major Label Albums "As a snapshot of the era, here are the 40 weirdest, most uncompromising, riskiest, and most surprising albums that were released on a major label in the wake of Nevermind's explosion, during the mania's time-frame of 1992 until 1996."
posted by Paid In Full (128 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is there any way to see all 40 without having to click through 40 pages?
posted by dubold at 8:21 AM on February 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


The slideshow is broken. I can't even get it to move. Slideshows suck.
posted by dortmunder at 8:25 AM on February 22, 2013 [24 favorites]


None of them could have been as weird as "Surfin' Bird."
posted by COBRA! at 8:28 AM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


i'm able to click one image before the slide show breaks. i saw that sammy was there. spin's little blurbs are annoying, but if more people hear about sammy from them, i guess it's worth it.
posted by nadawi at 8:28 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Interesting, didn't get through all 40 but they just didn't seem all that much radical or surprising. They did seem to have an air of a corporate attempt at edginess.
posted by sammyo at 8:29 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't see the slides either. Ghostery Chrome extension blocked 6 tracking sites. Pay for play, I guess.
posted by punkfloyd at 8:29 AM on February 22, 2013


yup, can't see it either
posted by Riton at 8:29 AM on February 22, 2013


Haven't heard it but "sammy" has just gotta be great!
posted by sammyo at 8:29 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


I bought this Flaming Lips album and liked most of it (in another universe, "Gingerale Afternoon" was a top 40 single), but that "bonus track"...I accidentally left the CD playing in my room one night while I was cooking dinner downstairs and when that came on the housemate whose room was next to mine ran down the stairs and shouted "JESUS CHRIST, I'M TRYING TO STUDY!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:29 AM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


OK, I'm guessing that some of these are valid... I know that Ween said that they got a contact because of Nevermind...

But Mr. Bungle's first album came out a month before Nevermind, and nothing anyone can say will convince me that Disco Volante would have been any different had Nevemind never come out.
posted by Huck500 at 8:31 AM on February 22, 2013 [14 favorites]


Good sirs, this Unmake Slideshow link may help.
Or may not work.
It works for me.
posted by Mezentian at 8:32 AM on February 22, 2013 [12 favorites]


Sammy channeled the Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground HARD.
posted by punkfloyd at 8:32 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, this album? One of the worst I've ever heard. Bought it used on a whim and sold it back later that day for a net loss of $8.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:33 AM on February 22, 2013


COBRA!, there's answer record to Surfin' Bird called, if I remember right, Pussy Cat by a group who's name escapes me at the moment. It's pretty damned weird in it's own right.

The weirdest hit (or near-hit) would have to be Linda Laurie's "Ambrose," however.
posted by jonmc at 8:33 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ugh. That Royal Trux album cover still has the ability to make me dry heave all these years later.
posted by Kitteh at 8:35 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was in college when Nevermind came out, and me and another guy really liked Bleach and separately went to the cd store in town the day Nevermind came out. My friend went first and listened to the one copy the store had gotten, but he didn't have the money to buy it. While he was walking home to get money, I went and bought the thing.

They got more copies later.
posted by Huck500 at 8:35 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got through them all by URL hacking. If the page titles had the album names on them, this list would have been more meaningful, but at least it will help you view them all:

40 · 39 · 38 · 37 · 36 · 35 · 34 · 33 · 32 · 31 · 30 · 29 · 28 · 27 · 26 · 25 · 24 · 23 · 22 · 21 · 20 · 19 · 18 · 17 · 16 · 15 · 14 · 13 · 12 · 11 · 10 · 9 · 8 · 7 · 6 · 5 · 4 · 3 · 2 · 1
posted by rory at 8:38 AM on February 22, 2013


Oh, Mr. Bungle. What a strange delight you are.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:38 AM on February 22, 2013 [13 favorites]


I'm just going to come out and say it:
The Foetus album is not the worst, but it's not the best.
If you like early Nick Cave: RUN, don't walk to your local record seller and get that Galleon Drunk albums.
His Name Is Alive? It's on 4AD before the Suck Fairy swooped in.

Not sure about the rest,
But Foetus and Galleon Drunk are music from beyond the stars.
posted by Mezentian at 8:40 AM on February 22, 2013


Whew, glad it's not just me - I read the introductory text but could not find any of the actual content.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:42 AM on February 22, 2013


Yay lynx!

* Blame Nirvana: The 40 Weirdest Post-'Nevermind' Major-Label Albums
* Cell - Slo*Blo (DGC, 1993)
* Rollerskate Skinny - Horsedrawn Wishes (Warner Bros., 1996)
* Gorky's Zygotic Mynci - Introducing… (Polygram, 1996)
* His Name Is Alive - Mouth by Mouth (4AD/Warner Bros., 1993)
* Babes in Toyland – Fontanelle (Reprise, 1992)
* Sammy - Tales of Great Neck Glory (DGC, 1996)
* Mercury Rev - Boces (Columbia, 1993)
* Medicine - Shot Forth Self Living (Def American, 1992)
* V-3 - Photograph Burns (Onion/American Recordings, 1996)
* Cancer - Black Faith (East/West, 1995)
* Trenchmouth - Vs. the Light of the Sun (Skene!/East/West, 1994)
* Napalm Death - Fear Emptiness Despair (Earache/Columbia, 1994)
* Steel Pole Bath Tub – Scars From Falling Down (London/Slash Records, 1994)
* Drive Like Jehu – Yank Crime (Cargo/Interscope/Atlantic, 1994)
* Flaming Lips - Hit to Death in the Future Head (Warner Bros., 1992)
* Entombed - Wolverine Blues (Earache/Columbia)
* Gallon Drunk - From the Heart of Town (Sire, 1993)
* Bakamono - Cry of the Turkish Pig Fiddler (Priority, 1995)
* Butt Trumpet - Primitive Enema (Chrysalis, 1994)
* Fudge Tunnel - Creep Diets (Earache/Columbia, 1993)
* Ethyl Meatplow - Happy Days, Sweetheart (Chameleon/Elektra, 1993)
* Claw Hammer – Thank the Holder Uppers (Interscope, 1995)
* Foetus - Gash (Columbia, 1995)
* Royal Trux - Sweet Sixteen (Virgin, 1995)
* Unsane - Total Destruction (Matador/Atlantic, 1993)
* Cop Shoot Cop – Ask Questions Later (Interscope/Atlantic, 1993)
* Mr. Bungle - Disco Volante (Warner Bros., 1995)
* Pell Mell - Interstate (DGC, 1995)
* Flipper - American Grafishy (Def American, 1993)
* Melvins - Stag (Atlantic, 1996)
* God - Possession (Virgin, 1992)
* Tad - Infared Riding Hood (East/West, 1995)
* Morbid Angel - Domination (Giant, 1995)
* Ween - Pure Guava (Elektra, 1992)
* The Too Pure/American Recordings Alliance
* Jesus Lizard - Show (Collision Arts/Warner Bros, 1994)
* Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments - Bait & Switch (American, 1995)
* Butthole Surfers - Piouhgd (Capitol, 1992)
* Daniel Johnston - Fun (Atlantic, 1994)
* Boredoms – Pop Tatari (Reprise, 1993)
posted by DarkForest at 8:44 AM on February 22, 2013 [18 favorites]


I blame Nirvana for making "nevermind" appear alright. Gofigure.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:47 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, I have to say that the weirdest recording I heard during 1992-96 was an EP called something like "Abandoned and Bewitched" by a group called the Occult Morphinas. The best track sounded sort of like the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" with horse tranquilizers poured all over it; the chorus was just a guy yelling "my love is YOURS you WHOOOOOOOOORE!" over and over.

I got a big kick out of playing that on my college radio station and making the local Subway and Pamida glad that they were sponsoring us...
posted by COBRA! at 8:49 AM on February 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


That Drive Like Jehu album is fucking fantastic.
posted by saladin at 8:49 AM on February 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also, this album? One of the worst I've ever heard. Bought it used on a whim and sold it back later that day for a net loss of $8.

It's not like they didn't warn you right there in the title!

Some of these are really questionable, I mean they were established bands before Nevermind and their fans could have been more of a reason Nevermind happened (for examples the Butthole Surfers and the Melvis). Some others were niche music opening on major tours, such as Napalm Death and Tad, and the labels were probably hoping to get some purchases out of that.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:50 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


1994 was the beginning of Britpop here, so the question of what was released on a major label is murky - many huge labels had 'boutique' imprints such as EMI's Food, Virgin's Hut, and millions more I can't remember. So I was wondering if the first Suede album - full of council-estate gay sex, a top 10 single named with a pun on amyl nitrate, and with cover artwork of kissing lesbians - was technically on a major or not, because the more I think about it, the more that was a fucking weird album for a major to release in 1993. (The other thing of note is that Britpop was - at least marketed as - a British response to what was seen as the 'humourlessness' of grunge. I can't actually read the slideshow to see if they included the likes of Pulp or the Manics (who were a vaguely anarchist band with sleeves peppered with Plath and Van Gogh quotes, signed to IIRC Sony with a depressed, cutting guitarist who later went mysteriously missing) were included but they would reject the hell out of that. )

The idea of Gorky's being a direct consequence of 'Nevermind' is spurious at best. In the mid-90s Welsh bands were becoming popular in the wake of the Manic Street Preachers, and many bands such as Catatonia, Super Furry Animals (who were not on a major but had a debut with songs about being turned into a unicorn, hangong out with Howard Marx and hamsters) and Gorky's began recording albums in their native tongue as a kind of answer to English oppression (the seminal EP from this era is called 'S4C [Welsh language public TV] Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack'). Gorky's in particular were heavily influenced by the psychedelic bands of the 60s and are about as far as you can get from Nevermind without invoking Celine Dion.
posted by mippy at 8:51 AM on February 22, 2013 [11 favorites]


Curse you DarkForest! I just wasted second of my time doing the same thing.
But then I realised how little these bands meant after Nirvana.
Before Kurt? They were wrote large across the starts (those that I knew).
Post? Eh.

Missing (from an American POV):
Nine Inch Nails.
Smashing Pumpkins.
posted by Mezentian at 8:51 AM on February 22, 2013


The Foetus album is not the worst, but it's not the best.

I'm just in love with the idea of a major label giving Jim Thirlwell money.

Missing (from an American POV):
Nine Inch Nails.
Smashing Pumpkins.


The idea is that these are things that didn't work out for the labels. Smashing Pumpkins and NIN made the labels very happy indeed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:56 AM on February 22, 2013


Is it even possible to make a weird album cover? They've always been doing messed up stuff, and weird is normal.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:57 AM on February 22, 2013


Stag is an awesome, stunningly heavy album. The world would be a better place if there were more distorted trombone solos in rock.

Strangely, other than that and Pure Guava I didn't recognize any of these despite spending many hours pawing through the discount used CD bins of the era.
posted by usonian at 8:58 AM on February 22, 2013


1994 was the beginning of Britpop here
By here, I expect you mean America?
Because by '94 Brit Pop was not beginning in the Anglosphere).

a top 10 single named with a pun on amyl nitrate,

Was it a Amyl Nitrate?

I can't actually read the slideshow to see if they included the likes of Pulp or the Manics

As you have probably seen by now: they didn't. And by the time Nirvana popped up the Manics were over as a punk band. Not that was they became was awful.

The idea of Gorky's being a direct consequence of 'Nevermind' is spurious at best.

I have never heard of Gorkys before tonight IIRC, and I would have to unearth by NMEs to check, but these are more "bands signed after Smells...." than anything.
posted by Mezentian at 8:59 AM on February 22, 2013


Boy does this site hate mobile.

Er, are these really all that weird? Or were pre-Nevermind major labels going through a very conservative phase?
posted by Artw at 8:59 AM on February 22, 2013


The post-Nevermind wave was a weird, weird thing. Even the indies went nuts, often in a kind of clueless way that did more harm than good.

For instance, a bidding war erupted over Memphis lo-fi weirdos The Grifters and when it was over Sub Pop had paid $150,000 to sign them. This was not a band without promise, mind you. After all, AMG once famously said, "If Guided by Voices are the Beatles of '90s lo-fi rock, the Grifters' big bluesy racket could certainly qualify as the Rolling Stones." But when the Grifters turned in a record that sounded like, uh, the Grifters, just as Sub Pop was hemorrhaging cash, the label threw up their hands and left the thing to rot. I guess they figured they'd paid for a new Sonic Youth or Pavement and if they weren't recouping that investment, why bother?

And so, you basically got a depressing echo of the Big Star story: best Memphis band of a generation on the wrong label at the wrong time, their records never got pushed enough for anyone to hear them, and they ended up breaking up. It's a pity, too, because the Grifters are awesome.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:01 AM on February 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


The idea is that these are things that didn't work out for the labels.

That makes sense. I have to admit, I ignored the words due to the crappy interface.

Or were pre-Nevermind major labels going through a very conservative phase?

Yes. yes, they were.
And they still are.
posted by Mezentian at 9:02 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


If Nevermind made it okay for Cop Shoot Cop to have greater access to the world, well, then I just might have something nice to say about Nirvana now.
posted by Seamus at 9:02 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seaweed should've made the list - especially after Hollywood Records picked them up from Sub Pop and ruined them. Tad was really popular back in the day as well prior to major labeling... then ruined too.
posted by vonstadler at 9:03 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey I like Drive Like Jehu.
posted by Mister_A at 9:03 AM on February 22, 2013


1994 was the beginning of Britpop here
By here, I expect you mean America?
Because by '94 Brit Pop was not beginning in the Anglosphere).


If Parklife and Definatly Maybe don't say "Britpop had begun" then what the fuck, man?
posted by Artw at 9:04 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I managed an indie record store in Arizona during the mid-90s. These albums were my bastard children, every one of 'em. I'm amazed at how familiar each cover looks.
posted by padraigin at 9:04 AM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Being a 'zine writer in the early '90s was sometimes horrible because I'd get packets and packets full of truly shitty "alternative" music from the majors. Most of them were just plain forgettable, but Butt Trumpet will always be the ne plus ultra of this phenomenon to me. Along with these guys.

On the topic of music I love, I'd say His Name Is Alive doesn't count, because they were grandfathered in under 4AD's broader five-year licensing deal with Warner.
posted by mykescipark at 9:05 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


If Nevermind made it okay for Cop Shoot Cop to have greater access to the world, well, then I just might have something nice to say about Nirvana now.


Agreed. I also ♥ the everloving shit out of Tod A's subsequent band, Firewater.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:06 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've never actually listened to Drive Like Jehu until today*, but it's been my favorite band name for nearly two decades now.

*Meh, it's sorta noisy.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2013


Interesting, didn't get through all 40 but they just didn't seem all that much radical or surprising.

This is just middle age talking.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:09 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


If Parklife and Definatly Maybe don't say "Britpop had begun" then what the fuck, man?

For me, that's the downward (ins)spiral.
Birtpop's booster rockers were your Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Teenage Fanclubs and such.
It peaked in 90-93.
posted by Mezentian at 9:10 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


To me, this reads as Spin's primer for the kids who posted "Happy Birthday Kurt" all over Facebook a few days ago.
Nice to see Babes in Toyland mentioned in some other context than Courtney Love or Beavis and Butthead.
Also nthing Cop Shoot Cop.
posted by pernoctalian at 9:13 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah that stuff was fun but I cant bear to listen to Inspiral Carpets now. still kinda like Ride tho.
posted by Mister_A at 9:13 AM on February 22, 2013


I loved Trenchmouth, not that album though. Gonna listen to more Jesus Lizard and Melvins this afternoon.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:14 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was wondering why Primus wasn't on the list, and then I found out Sailing The Seas of Cheese came out four months before Nevermind. So I learned something today.
posted by dortmunder at 9:15 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


What this list does is prove that I'm old.
posted by eriko at 9:16 AM on February 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


People of Metafilter, I bust out the awesome:
Gallon Drunk (recommended for Nick Cave/ Birthday Party types):

Foetus: Wash It All Off. (recommended for any NIN fans).

Awesome. awesome songs.
posted by Mezentian at 9:16 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a pity, too, because the Grifters are awesome.

Amen to that. And The Grifter's MC Dave Shouse is a really cool guy, too.

I kind of expected to see Shudder to Think's Pony Express Record listed or Jawbox's For Your Own Special sweetheart... But I guess those came out too much later to qualify. Still seems to me like those signings were the tail-end of that major label wave to cash in on the new commercial appeal that indie/punk music got from Nevermind.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:18 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am sorry Meta.'
I forgot the Suede song was called "animal nitrate" not Amyl Nitrate.

It's been a long time.
posted by Mezentian at 9:21 AM on February 22, 2013


True story: I played bass for Butt Trumpet for one song at a show in 1995.

Oh, and I have a pretty tight connection to (post major label) Daniel Johnston. His Atlantic album sold like a couple of thousand copies, and the company decided to recoup their losses by not picking up the bill for the professionally-produced music video they'd set him up with. I can't remember which song it was for and I'm having a hell of a time finding it right now, but the thing was both slick-looking and expensive - not exactly fitting for Dan's music. Needless to say, its one airing on 120 Minutes didn't exactly cause copies of Fun to fly off the shelves. I think his dad told me it cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000 to make, and they'd just assumed Atlantic was gonna pay for it. Nope. Tack on some additional expenses the execs said he'd incurred and he got out of that deal owing maybe a hundred grand - that's a lot of comic books and trips to the corner store for soda pop, candy bars, and cigarettes. Three cheers for the death of the major label.

Was this all covered in the documentary? I've never seen it, for several reasons. Maybe someday.
posted by item at 9:23 AM on February 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is just middle age talking

Middle age is talking at me.
I can't hear a word it's saying,
Only tinnitus of my soul.
People's favorite bands are blaring,
I can't feel their music,
Only qualia of their clothes.

I'm going where my youth keeps playing
In an endless loop,
Going where the music suits my taste;
Guarding every blade of grass,
On my plastic lawn,
As time lays my body to waste.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:24 AM on February 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Foetus album is not the worst, but it's not the best.

this is the essential (Scraping) Foetus (Off the Wheel) album
posted by ennui.bz at 9:25 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


His Atlantic album sold like a couple of thousand copies

Really? Hell, is that all? I've sold like a couple of thousand copies of my stuff. I figured you'd end up with at least a little something left at the end of the day on a major if you were careful enough. I mean, I've read Albini's famous essay about the industry and have seen enough of how it seems to work to know there are lots of traps to fall into, but I figured there'd be at least some benefits in terms of raw sales numbers to being on a major...
posted by saulgoodman at 9:29 AM on February 22, 2013


YES EARLY '90s BOREDOMS #1 ALWAYS IN ALL THINGS

This list is really about many of the highest points of my teenage life. I am glad to see that so many of my youthful joys were huge money sinks for the major labels.
posted by idiopath at 9:29 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sir/Madam,
You do a disservice to (You've Got) Foetus (On Your Breath).
Or any band with :Foetus: in the name.
There are no bad albums under that name, just jazzy albums.
posted by Mezentian at 9:32 AM on February 22, 2013


It says much about the 21st Century that I am listening to the YouTube ennui.bz posted rather than reaching two metres and getting out my vinyl.
posted by Mezentian at 9:33 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


post-punk art-punk life-punk acid-casualty punk garage-punk noise-punk pop-punk chipmunk punk
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:34 AM on February 22, 2013


The most frustrating thing about Cop Shoot Cop is that it's impossible to get things like "Consumer Revolt" without paying a lot.
posted by drezdn at 9:36 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're willing to include a nearly two-month stay in Billboard's Hot 100, the weirdest hit (or near-hit) has to be 'Dear Mr. Jesus' by PowerSource. According to their wiki, it peaked at #61 on the Hot 100 in January 1988, spending seven insane weeks on the chart. They certainly played the hell out of it on every pop/rock radio station where I grew up. 'Dear Mr. Jesus' haunted my childhood.
posted by item at 9:36 AM on February 22, 2013


For me, that's the downward (ins)spiral.
Kieron Gillen, is that you?
posted by byanyothername at 9:36 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Birtpop's booster rockers were your Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Teenage Fanclubs and such.
It peaked in 90-93.


No no no. You're confusing baggy/Madchester with Britpop. One was ecstacy, the other was heroin (allegedly).

The commonly defined starting point for Britpop was the 'Yanks Go Home' edition of Select in '93, where the description first appeared in print. It hit the mainstream - in terms of people who didn't read the inkies/already listened to indie music - in '94 with Blur then Oasis then Pulp, then withered by '97 when everybody started getting dropped by labels.
posted by mippy at 9:38 AM on February 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


Cop Shoot Cop is genius - it's a lot more accessible than is made out by the list; harder than typical goth fare, poppier than most industrial. Dark and dangerous fun.

Foetus is a little more intense, but in the same vein.

Ween and the BHS are insanely good.

Mr. Bungle has Faith No More to thank for sliding past the gatekeepers, not Nirvana, tho. Also, no Bloodhound Gang? Surprised.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:39 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


If Parklife and Definatly Maybe don't say "Britpop had begun" then what the fuck, man?

I'm not going to thread-jack, but it was more like 1991/1992 that the British indie rock scene started producing outstanding stuff that would later be branded "Britpop". That is definitely a discussion for a whole 'nother thread..

.. but you did get weird, odd signings in the UK around 1994-1997 when the major labels were trying to find the next big thing. Menswear? Hurricane No. 1? Kula Shaker? Northern Uproar? Anyone drinking in Camden and possessing all their own teeth were signed in those days.

Back to the post-Nirvana landscape.

In my native Denmark, the record companies were trying to cash in as well. My high school days were spent trying to avoid Kinky Boot Beast, Strawberry Slaughterhouse and countless other bands dressed in flannel shirts, plunking haplessly at guitar strings and mumbling lyrics in crap English.
posted by kariebookish at 9:43 AM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seaweed should've made the list - especially after Hollywood Records picked them up from Sub Pop and ruined them.

The guitarist for Seaweed slept on my dorm couch for a few weeks at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, where I was a student for one year. True story. We fed him burritos. I liked Seaweed quite a bit, but was gobsmacked when I saw they'd "made it" a few years later, seeing their CDs in a record store in Madison WI, and then out on tour. They were a lot of fun, but sheesh.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:45 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


mercury rev were a trip in their time - or any time
posted by pyramid termite at 9:45 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh. That Royal Trux album cover still has the ability to make me dry heave all these years later.

When I ripped it, I changed the cover art to a relatively tame shot of Neil and Jennifer. Such an utterly gross cover that overshadowed a not at all bad album to the point where it's tends to be all anyone remembers about their brief major label tenure (that and the associated "they were paid to go away" story).
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:46 AM on February 22, 2013


Deslided for your reading pleasure
posted by Renoroc at 9:50 AM on February 22, 2013


Birtpop's booster rockers were your Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Teenage Fanclubs and such.
It peaked in 90-93.


Oh, come on, WTF, no Pulp?

The Story of "Common People" (part 1/6)
posted by KokuRyu at 9:53 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the Demise of English Rock is a pretty good book about that mess. I remember also reading a great magazine article in the early 2000s about the fiasco that was Be Here Now by Oasis that did a fantastic job of summing up the boom and bust of that era.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:54 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ah, remember when you had to buy music to even hear it?!

Strangely, other than that and Pure Guava I didn't recognize any of these despite spending many hours pawing through the discount used CD bins of the era.

I have like 30-35 of these, mostly bought in used CD bins 92-96. I'm squarely in the target audience here, but, yeah, a lot of memories. I had some let's say "black-market income" in that period that went mostly towards recorded music.

Also, this album? One of the worst I've ever heard. Bought it used on a whim and sold it back later that day for a net loss of $8.

I would question whether or not you can decide whether you "like" an album in 1 day. I bought that one on LP and still listen to it. One of the best on the list, I think.

This list is really about many of the highest points of my teenage life. I am glad to see that so many of my youthful joys were huge money sinks for the major labels.

Yeah, lot of memories here. I spent a lot of time in used record stores 1986-Napster, and this 92-96 period was pretty much the end of that.

Man, that Royal Trux cover still haunts me a little. Not a great album.

And yeah, it's not totally my thing, but check out Gallon Drunk if you haven't already. Top of the class here, I think.

Actually, for me, best of the list is Medicine. I always liked them better than MBV.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:55 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


fucking BOREDOMS people. BOREDOMS.

seriously. BOREDOMS.

(I love me some JapaNoise.)
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:57 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


"But Mr. Bungle's first album came out a month before Nevermind, and nothing anyone can say will convince me that Disco Volante would have been any different had Nevemind never come out."

Uh, it wouldn't have been on a major label.

Of these, I own (bolded albums are particularly good):

* His Name Is Alive - Mouth by Mouth (4AD/Warner Bros., 1993)
* Babes in Toyland – Fontanelle (Reprise, 1992)
* Trenchmouth - Vs. the Light of the Sun (Skene!/East/West, 1994)
* Napalm Death - Fear Emptiness Despair (Earache/Columbia, 1994)
* Steel Pole Bath Tub – Scars From Falling Down (London/Slash Records, 1994)
* Drive Like Jehu – Yank Crime (Cargo/Interscope/Atlantic, 1994)
* Flaming Lips - Hit to Death in the Future Head (Warner Bros., 1992)

* Entombed - Wolverine Blues (Earache/Columbia)
* Gallon Drunk - From the Heart of Town (Sire, 1993)
* Foetus - Gash (Columbia, 1995)
* Royal Trux - Sweet Sixteen (Virgin, 1995)
* Unsane - Total Destruction (Matador/Atlantic, 1993)
* Cop Shoot Cop – Ask Questions Later (Interscope/Atlantic, 1993)
* Mr. Bungle - Disco Volante (Warner Bros., 1995)
* Melvins - Stag (Atlantic, 1996)

* Tad - Infared Riding Hood (East/West, 1995)
* Ween - Pure Guava (Elektra, 1992)
* Jesus Lizard - Show (Collision Arts/Warner Bros, 1994)
* Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments - Bait & Switch (American, 1995)
* Butthole Surfers - Piouhgd (Capitol, 1992)
* Daniel Johnston - Fun (Atlantic, 1994)
* Boredoms – Pop Tatari (Reprise, 1993)

Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments is one that I bought and sold back almost immediately, then a couple years ago I got a MeFi mix that had a TJSA track on it, and it was a lot better than I remembered. Maybe I was ready for it. But now I really dig tracks like, "You Can't Kill Stupid."

The only other band that I think is criminally underrated (because most of the rest of these guys are names enough for people who listen to music) is Gallon Drunk. They had a cover of Silver Apples' "Ruby" on one of those Volume comps (that I actually bought because they had EMF remixed by Jim Thirwell on it), and it blew me away. I spent a couple years tracking down their stuff, and it's fantastic in a Gun Club/Birthday Party freakout way.

(Also, as far as I know, Cop Shoot Cop is a Spacemen 3 reference, not a police murder reference.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:59 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


The article is written in the voice of a record store owner angry that certain items in his stock are failing to move.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:59 AM on February 22, 2013 [10 favorites]


They never made it to a major label (although I do recall Touch and Go records with great fondness), but my fave band with a slightly "grungy" sound from that era would have to be Seam. I still remember the look of shock and anger on a friend's face when I picked up the only Seam CD in town at the time (I didn't do it on purpose!). Now it's all on YouTube.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:03 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]



Er, are these really all that weird? Or were pre-Nevermind major labels going through a very conservative phase?


Yes, actually.

That's why all these "weird" albums are so male and/or straight, why a lot of them hinge on the "scandal" of talking about assholes or shit, why they are simultaneously so self-serious and so non-intellectual. That doesn't mean they're all awful or anything, just that they're - with minor exception - much of a muchness.

That's why, like, all the interesting new stuff was small label - riot grrrl, homocore, all that subpoppy stuff. And also why, honestly, all the interesting new stuff wasn't even super-duper interesting - you listen to, like, the first Scritti Politti album or mid-eighties Mekons or Sandinista! or the Raincoats and they just fucking mop the floor with much of what was coming out at the time. (I was going to a lot of shows and hearing a lot of bands back then; this isn't just making things up.)

I mean, now that I Am An Old and listen to a much wider range of stuff, I'm struck by how much more interesting and accomplished music there is than when I was a mere kid, even though back then I spent a lot of time reading fanzines, ordering records and down at the record shop.

The nineties were in many ways awesome because they were a break with the eighties rather than for any internal qualities they themselves had. Also, I was young then.
posted by Frowner at 10:03 AM on February 22, 2013 [9 favorites]


And K Records! I had a lot of K records releases. And Kill Rock Stars. A lot of it is nauseatingly twee now.
posted by Frowner at 10:06 AM on February 22, 2013


namewithoutwords: "fucking BOREDOMS people. BOREDOMS.

seriously. BOREDOMS.

(I love me some JapaNoise.)
"

I share your love for the Boredoms, but if you call them noise, what exactly would you call Merzbow, Hijokaidan, Pain Jerk, Masonna et. alia? To me the Boredoms are great pop music, but not noise per se.
posted by idiopath at 10:10 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, people mentioned boredom and that summoned REAL PUNK MUSIC.
posted by Mezentian at 10:13 AM on February 22, 2013


Rollerskate Skinny's Speed To My Side is tremendous.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:20 AM on February 22, 2013


(Also, as far as I know, Cop Shoot Cop is a Spacemen 3 reference, not a police murder reference.)

I recall seeing in interviews that it was more of a junkie thing -- cop, shoot, cop.

Unsane were more my bag anyhow.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:23 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


If they think that lot is weird they really need to get out more. Gallon Drunk? Come on. Fine band, but nothing weird about them. Same goes for many of the others.
posted by Decani at 10:25 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, I thought Three Mile Pilot definitely qualified for inclusion in this list. Those guys were great. Example.
posted by saladin at 10:27 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah. I have never thought of "Pell Mell" and "weird" as being in the same universe. Although it might just be that the subsequent rise of instrumental post rock made them seem retrospectively less weird. I don't know.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:30 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


idiopath: "To me the Boredoms are great pop music, but not noise per se."

by the time of Super Æ, I totally agree - much less about wall-of-sound noise and more pop.

But Osorezan no Stooges Kyo? Pop Tatari? definitely noise, even if there are pop elements that occasionally jump out of the noise and hint at their later direction.

(as we all know, there's no classifying Merzbow. He stands alone, the ne plus ultra of noise.)

if you've read this far into this thread and have not yet listened to Vision Creation Newsun, don't walk, run.
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:35 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I experienced something akin to the "missing time" of being abducted by aliens, from September 6, 1994 (I had seen Stereolab live the day before) when I boarded an airplane to Japan, until October 1, 1999, when we finally got dial-up Internet in Japan.

For roughly five years I was out of touch from indie music, and my only tenuous connection to my former college radio volunteer, fanboy life was reading NME on infrequent trips to the big city - I lived in rural Japan far removed from any kind of access to pop culture.

It was actually depressing and weird, listening to Oasis on a cassette deck as I drove all over the place. So, for me, the 2000's were a Renaissance of music.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:36 AM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


What a dismal era in music: grunge clones
posted by thelonius at 10:37 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dammit, Daniel Johnston handed me a cassette tape in about 1986 because he wanted my band to consider covering some of the songs on it (he was a vocal proponent of us for a little while, there & helped us get some gigs) and I have no clue what became of that tape.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:40 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah. I have never thought of "Pell Mell" and "weird" as being in the same universe.

Agreed. This was one of my moody mixtape standards for many years. I recently unearthed the "Interstate" vinyl in a used record bin and got a bit of a thrill.
posted by thivaia at 10:52 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is obviously all lies because I’ve read on the internet that there was nothing but mainstream music before the internet, especially on major labels, and everyone listened to Top 40.

I think many people are missing the point of the article; all these bands were out there, they just wouldn’t have been given money and major label releases until someone started selling lots of records. There were lots of "alternative" music on major labels but they didn’t give them quite so much leeway.

Nevermind was on a major label but the success was a surprise, they hadn’t pressed nearly enough copies of to meet sales and stores were out of it for a bit. There was a Christian band named Nirvana at the same time that did just about as well before Nevermind. At the record distributors, when people talked about Nirvana or were first told that they were signed to Geffen they would ask "which one?"
posted by bongo_x at 10:53 AM on February 22, 2013


I listened to a lot of these records, as did my friends (a number of whom were indie rockers themselves) in this era. Many of these are the kind of albums that groups of friends could not agree one. Everyone liked Nevermind, but only one or two of the group like Ween, etc.

The one that I liked that I could never convince the others was legit was Gallon Drunk.
posted by cell divide at 10:58 AM on February 22, 2013


'Dear Mr. Jesus' haunted my childhood.

oh, ick
posted by pyramid termite at 11:06 AM on February 22, 2013


I loved Trenchmouth, not that album though.

It was the last of their albums to grow on me. Inside the Future is the masterpiece.
posted by mykescipark at 11:16 AM on February 22, 2013


Actually, for me, best of the list is Medicine . I always liked them better than MBV.

Seconding this. "Shot forth self living" and "The buried life" are fantastic psychedelic noise epiphanies. Also, Brad Laner (inventor/player of the shit guitar) has a Bandcamp page with lots of free unreleased noise albums from before and after Medicine, as well as a Medicine live album.
posted by metaplectic at 11:42 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


True story: I ctrl-f'd Item as soon as I got to this thread, but had forgotten he was on stage at that Butt Trumpet show, despite my remembering the bass said "Eat My Fuck" on the back of it.
posted by activitystory at 11:49 AM on February 22, 2013


This list is mostly an object lesson in the awfulness of indie album covers in the '90s. These bands clearly didn't spend any of their major label money on graphic designers.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:51 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


What a dismal era in music: grunge clones

Did you look at the slideshow? This isn't about the grunge clones (Creed, Godsmack, Bush, oh my god I don't want to think about this any more). It's about pretty out-there bands who typically wouldn't have had a shot at signing with a major but who got signed because the majors were desperate and clueless after Nirvana broke. Bands like His Name Is Alive, The Jesus Lizard, Ethyl Meatplow, and Boredoms. Those are all really good bands. Some of them are great bands. None of them have anything to do with "grunge".
posted by mr_roboto at 11:51 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I recall seeing in interviews that it was more of a junkie thing -- cop, shoot, cop."

Yeah, that's the Spacemen 3 song, about scoring, injecting and scoring again.
posted by klangklangston at 12:08 PM on February 22, 2013


There are some great albums on this list that I have listened to many many times. Pure Guava (well, parts of it), Yank Crime (Suit up!), and Disco Valonte still get some spins at my house.

I also saw Unsane touring behind this album with about 12 other people. It was a great show. I had no idea it was on a major.

Many of these are just plain heavy, which I guess at the time made them weird to be on a major, but metal bands sold millions of copies.

Fun list, thanks.
posted by sauril at 12:09 PM on February 22, 2013


Butt Trumpet!
posted by spilon at 12:15 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh - and thanks Paid in Full for the link, since it played the new Mogwai soundtrack in their music player on top!
posted by sauril at 12:20 PM on February 22, 2013


"But Mr. Bungle's first album came out a month before Nevermind, and nothing anyone can say will convince me that Disco Volante would have been any different had Nevemind never come out."

Uh, it wouldn't have been on a major label.


Mr. Bungle's first record was on a major label, Warner Bros., so yes, it would have.
posted by Huck500 at 12:23 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some of the albums on that list are still among my favourites. Disappointed not to see The God Machine on there, though – Scenes From The Second Storey and One last Laugh In A Place Of Dying are two of the best, but completely unknown bar me and about three other people, albums to ever have a major label release, and they're both every bit as intense as plenty on the list.

I may have to now make a post about The God Machine, since they've only been mentioned once (!) on MeFi
posted by Len at 12:28 PM on February 22, 2013


I'm a little let down that I'm the only Fudge Tunnel fan so far in the thread.
posted by Shepherd at 12:34 PM on February 22, 2013


The Jesus Lizard was the best band of that entire generation.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:37 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I still wonder how music would have been different if "Joyride" by Tribe had been the first shot fired across the bow of alternative rock, and not "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
posted by pxe2000 at 1:17 PM on February 22, 2013


I feel like this is my musical homeland, but at the time that these bands were in vogue I didn't have any money to spend on music, so though they mostly sound very familiar (there's a special place in my ear-heart for things that kind of sound like Nirvana, Sonic Youth, or Guided By Voices), I haven't heard a lot of them before. I vividly remember being amused at their names. The later numbers on the list ended up being most of what I listened to near the end of college, c. 2003, when everyone had money to waste on CDs.

Thanks to Spotify, I now have a playlist to grind through for the next few days.
posted by wormwood23 at 1:22 PM on February 22, 2013


Yeah. I have never thought of "Pell Mell" and "weird" as being in the same universe.

I thought Interstate was just some mellow guitar instrumentals that are pretty relaxing. Plus, I first heard them on NPR, so how weird could it really have been?
posted by Gotanda at 2:14 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a little let down that I'm the only Fudge Tunnel fan so far in the thread.

Now there's two of us! I fell for every album that bit Godflesh's blurry photo / bold Helvetica vibe and a couple of times it actually worked out in my favor. Pitch Shifter Submit was halfway-okay and Fudge Tunnel's Hate Songs still holds up. Meathook Seed, not so much!

This whole list is pretty cool. I only owned the things on the heavier and weirder end of the spectrum (Cop Shoot Cop, Bungle, Boredoms, Napalm, etc...) but I definitely remember being pretty curious about a lot of these CDs back then, and they were all such used-bin background noise that I'd never have thought to look them up all these years later.

I always knew there was some Foetus / Cop Shoot Cop overlap which made me want to check them out but then CSC put out Release which had guitars and trumpet on it and I thought it was really boring and corny. I somehow got the idea that it was Thrilwell's fault and assumed Foetus was some kind of industrial cabaret big band. I DON'T KNOW, MAN... SHIT WAS PRE-GOOGLE.
posted by SharkParty at 2:46 PM on February 22, 2013


I also really wanted to check out Pram back when I was a more rabid Stereolab fan (I guess I still am actually) but it used to be an 18 dollar risk. THANKS, 2013!!
posted by SharkParty at 2:49 PM on February 22, 2013


ALSO that God Possession album is pretty cool, but my favorite John Zorn related metal project was the one really heavy album by Praxis. Anyone who feels me on that one, let's be friends 4ever.
posted by SharkParty at 2:58 PM on February 22, 2013


As great as the early-mid 90s era was for popular music, it was also an incredibly dark and shitty time. This list is a painful reminder of how much money I wasted on absolutely terrible $20+ CDs. All these years later I still get angry thinking about. So much shit.

But Drive Like Jehu was indeed a great band. Yank Crime still enjoys active rotation in my playlists.

These days Rock And Roll is dead, but it's also so much better.
posted by i_have_a_computer at 3:48 PM on February 22, 2013


Thanks to Spotify, I now have a playlist to grind through for the next few days.

One of the reasons I haven't signed up with Spotify is that they didn't have any Cop Shoot Cop or Mindless Self Indulgence. I have... tastes... and sometimes they're all Billboard Top 100, sometimes they're all Kimiko Kasai covering "As" with Herbie Hancock on a not-for-import LP. Skrillex took how fucking long to make it onto top 40 stations after he broke into the top ten? DJ Shadow got the roust mid-set from a major nightclub. There used to be black Country stars.

If I am going to shell out cash money for a music service, it better damn well have the Utah Saints "Mortal Kombat" and the Three Stooges' "Swinging the Alphabet."
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:41 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Slap*Happy - have you tried slacker? my husband also has...tastes...and he finally agreed to slacker when he found an album that he knows was released from a basement to 500 cassettes. he figured if they had that, there were other, similar but unknown to him, things to find.
posted by nadawi at 7:45 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, sometime in the early 90s my older, cooler cousin made a mixtape for my brother and I and it had a Butt Trumpet song on it (I'm Ugly and I Don't Know Why), I loved that song. That tape also included some NIN and Pixies, totally blew my top 40 listening mind and turned me into an eventual indie rock lover.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 7:59 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had Slacker, and enjoyed the heck out of their Acid Jazz station... but they swapped around their service recently, and nuked the Acid Jazz station. A search for Cop Shoot Cop yielded nothing, but a search for Room 429 just now produced not Room 429, but another track from CSC, so the search function may simply be insane, and I can deal with that and HOLY FUCK they have the Beetles Ruined Everything by the Nisei Period!

You don't understand how good this track is. The band flamed out by playing Beetles covers at a megahuge goth/industrial festival when they decided they didn't want to be a goth/industrial band. It's like the lost track from the Crow soundtrack, in the best possible way that can be interpreted.

On the other hand, I just checked, and Last.FM had it, too. Sooo... I dunno.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:06 PM on February 22, 2013


saw ethyl meatplow and steel pole bathtub live in madison way back in the day. life-altering experience.
posted by joeblough at 8:07 PM on February 22, 2013


On the strength of comments in this thread, I have just listened to some Gallon Drunk. It is as described. Thanks, guys!
posted by moss at 9:01 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a little let down that I'm the only Fudge Tunnel fan so far in the thread.

Although I vaguely know some of those records and know most of them by name Fudge Tunnel’s "Hate Songs in E Minor" is one of the only ones I actually listened to.
posted by bongo_x at 10:41 PM on February 22, 2013


I always knew there was some Foetus / Cop Shoot Cop overlap which made me want to check them out but then CSC put out Release which had guitars and trumpet on it and I thought it was really boring and corny. I somehow got the idea that it was Thrilwell's fault and assumed Foetus was some kind of industrial cabaret big band.

Actually, SharkParty, that's a pretty solid description of a lot of Foetus.

Bedrock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5i9YXHVEmI

Slung: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6214wpju2Q
posted by rednikki at 11:37 PM on February 22, 2013


I'm liking Yank Crime (Drive Like Jehu). It sounds like somewhere between Chavez and Japandroids to me.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:52 PM on February 22, 2013


SharkParty: I also really wanted to check out Pram back when I was a more rabid Stereolab fan (I guess I still am actually) but it used to be an 18 dollar risk. THANKS, 2013!!
Amen to that. Although 2013 still hasn't done anything about the availability of Gash and amazing tracks like this one.
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:12 AM on February 23, 2013


Actually, SharkParty, that's a pretty solid description of a lot of Foetus.

Or, as wikipedia attempts to define Thirwell's genres: Industrial, Post-industrial, experimental, noise music, electronic, electro-industrial, Avant-garde, no wave, post-punk, noise rock, EAM, instrumental, jazz, big band, soundtrack, exotica, dark ambient, alternative rock, garage rock, Spy music, electronica, post-rock, Lounge, new wave, Gothic music, Spoken word, Cabaret, dark cabaret, art rock.

In my brain, Thirlwell can do no wrong. And he does the music for Venture Brothers, which would be awesome enough.

And here's my favourite quote about one of his bands: The performances were hindered by Thirlwell breaking the piano on the first night, and on the second, Cave halted his performance, bored with events, telling the audience "then it goes on like that for another five minutes"..

Which is entirely perfect.
posted by Mezentian at 4:34 AM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


There was a Christian band named Nirvana at the same time that did just about as well before Nevermind.

Oh my god, I had totally forgotten about that... there was a New Year's party at a big park near my house in like 1990, I guess, and they listed bands that were going to play, including Joe Walsh and Nirvana. For about 10 seconds I was flipping out, and then I realized that there was absolutely no way that Fountain Valley, CA was going to have some obscure Seattle band play at their big New Year's thing. I checked anyway and yeah... it must have been those guys.

One mild regret of my life is not going to see Dinosaur Jr. with Nirvana opening in '91. I had some irrational hatred of J. Mascis, I don't even remember why, so I passed. I did get to see Soundgarden open for Voivod around that time, though. Faith No More was also opening on that tour, but not at the show I saw.

My older brother went with me and during Soundgarden's set he went outside and sat in the car. He was into Rod Stewart and Elton John.
posted by Huck500 at 8:17 AM on February 23, 2013


I guessed Boredoms would be number 1. I love, love, love that album, but it was always surreal that they were on a major label, and back in the day, you couldn't just check the Internet to find out the reason behind a decision like that.

And Bungle's major labeling had nothing to do with Nirvana, it had to do with Patton making it a condition for his FNM work.
posted by Bugbread at 11:18 PM on February 23, 2013


So happy Boredoms were #1. That album changed my life.
I scrounged together the money in grade 10 to buy it ($39 "import") and oh it was so worth it. Never looked back.
posted by Theta States at 10:39 AM on February 27, 2013


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