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Presumed Lost
February 24, 2007 10:30 AM   Subscribe

The major label machine sucks in and churns out young bands all the time, leaving plenty of good music unheard by the public. Boston's trip-hoppy Splashdown were one of the acts brought low by this process, disbanding two years after Capitol decided not to release their major label debut LP. The late 90's were a commercially bad time for female-fronted electro-pop, of course, but the band found an outlet for their material by releasing it for free online -- their whole catalog, including three LP's, two EP's and some double-secret-unreleased tracks, is available with the band's blessing. Members have since joined other bands -- Freezepop, Universal Hall Pass -- which hopefully will avoid the trouble Splashdown had.
posted by aaronetc (37 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always wondered what happened to the people from Splashdown. I have Redshift, Blueshift, and Halfworld but I've never heard of Stars and Garters and Possibilities. Several friends are going to flip when I point them to this post.

Nice!
posted by djeo at 10:38 AM on February 24, 2007


I forgot to work this into the FPP, but there's another site run by Kasson Crooker with lots of the same music for download along with decent quality album cover images, for those of us who are anal about ID3 tag completeness.
posted by aaronetc at 10:41 AM on February 24, 2007


I miss trip hop.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:41 AM on February 24, 2007


I read a great story about major label entanglement recently. Another Boston area dude, too, Jonah Jenkins formerly of Milligram, Only Living Witness, etc.
posted by The Straightener at 10:56 AM on February 24, 2007


Though it makes me feel like I'm avidly watching Lawrence Welk now, this music works very well for me. So many good connotations, or something. Nice post.
posted by everichon at 11:05 AM on February 24, 2007


It's hard to imagine it now but Allston used to have a pretty amazing music scene. I'm thinking in particular of the punk revival of the mid to late 90's (Showcase Showdown, Pinkerton Thugs, etc.) Now it's all mostly terrible.
posted by inoculatedcities at 12:00 PM on February 24, 2007


There are probably thousands of stories very similar to this one, minus the "oh hell, let's just release everything for free" coda. Metric almost fell prey to the same phenomenon with their first, still-unreleased album; Curve had their second post-comeback album locked in a vault at Universal for years; Wilco had its well-documented problems with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, as did Fiona Apple with Extraordinary Machine; Nelly McKay had repeated run-ins with Columbia over the format of her second album; and so on and so forth. Of course, you only ever hear about the stories from bands that manage to achieve some success, but it ends up crushing a lot of bands that never manage to get the larger fanbases in the first place.
posted by chrominance at 12:01 PM on February 24, 2007


Mmmmm, Freezepop. We've got a QY-70 upstairs right now! (check out the videos on their website, especially "Stakeout.")
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:23 PM on February 24, 2007


I've been growing my trip hop collection for several years now, but the bigger it gets the more difficult it is to find things that I don't have.

There were several tracks here that I have never heard before. It made my day when I saw them. Thanks for posting it.
posted by neilgorman at 12:48 PM on February 24, 2007


Cool stuff. Also a reminder of the importance of negotiating reversion and commercial availability clauses into deals whenever possible.
posted by anathema at 12:57 PM on February 24, 2007


This girl's voice is like some weird cross between Elizabeth Fraser and Regina Spektor, and I approve of that.
posted by Mikey-San at 1:18 PM on February 24, 2007


I'm so out of it, I've never even heard of trip-hop. You know you're really uncool when the 'sound du jour' of TEN YEARS AGO is new to you. :)

I grabbed "A Charming Spell"... this is cool! Very neat stuff. Gonna get some more.

I wonder if they're allowed to do this? A lot of labels assert total ownership of music like this forever.
posted by Malor at 1:39 PM on February 24, 2007


I wonder if they're allowed to do this? A lot of labels assert total ownership of music like this forever.

They're probably not allowed. The label owns the copyright on the sound in the recording.
posted by Mikey-San at 1:42 PM on February 24, 2007


On a completely unrelated note, that site also has mp3s of the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Maybe this is old news to all of you, but I had no idea those were available anywhere.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:58 PM on February 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, I've lived in the Boston area for ten years and I never heard of these guys. Thanks very much for this, it's some terrific stuff, easily up there with Portishead in enjoyability.
posted by waitingtoderail at 2:20 PM on February 24, 2007


Ahh, synchronicity: a friend was just reccing Splashdown to me based on a listing of some other bands I really love, and now here's more about them on the blue! Thanks for the links, yum.
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 2:47 PM on February 24, 2007


Never heard of it before AND I LOVE IT. Seems like a band Joss Whedon would use in his shows.
posted by PreteFunkEra at 2:48 PM on February 24, 2007


their whole catalog, including three LP's, two EP's and some double-secret-unreleased tracks, is available with the band's blessing

And that blessing being where, exactly?

The hosting of the HHGTTG mp3s can obviously be checked by asking Douglas Adams.

I do like it, but this guy's bandwidth bill is gonna be something else.
posted by dhartung at 3:59 PM on February 24, 2007


He says he was getting 50,000 hits a month before he even put together the home page, but mentions on his music page a 30 GB/month traffic quota. I'd guess he won't be able to keep this up there for too long unless he starts accepting advertising to pay the bill.

Oh my god! John Cleese reading The Screwtape Letters!?! Thank you, aaronetc.

Should I feel guilty if I'm using DownThemAll?
posted by JaredSeth at 4:43 PM on February 24, 2007


Thanks for posting this, I used to catch Splashdown at the Middle East and some other small venues in Boston when I was just old enough to get in to shows. I hadn't heard any of their music in a long time.
posted by rollbiz at 5:10 PM on February 24, 2007


And that blessing being where, exactly?

That blessing being elsewhere on the linked site, plus at the site I linked in my above comment.
posted by aaronetc at 5:21 PM on February 24, 2007


He says he was getting 50,000 hits a month before he even put together the home page, but mentions on his music page a 30 GB/month traffic quota. I'd guess he won't be able to keep this up there for too long unless he starts accepting advertising to pay the bill.

Ummm.....bittorrent anyone?
posted by PreteFunkEra at 5:53 PM on February 24, 2007


Upon visiting that mp3 page, I saw that I already had every single track offered. I was so into Splashdown.. Really a shame that they had to split up. UHP is great though, and worth checking out by any Splashdown fan.
posted by quibx at 7:16 PM on February 24, 2007


Know and like Freezepop. Splashdown is new to me, but I like it. And interesting, good call PreteFunkEra -- Whedonesque.
posted by dreamsign at 1:22 AM on February 25, 2007


PreteFunkEra and dreamsign,
There is a connection between Whedon and Splashdown, the track Karma Slave was used on 2000’s Titan A.E., a film Whedon is credited as 3rd scriptwriter on. Whether he had any say on the soundtrack is unknown to me, but a good song and a decent movie regardless.
posted by Faux Real at 2:10 AM on February 25, 2007


Right, because those big mean record companies owe it to consumers and would be rockstars to keep putting out records not many people want to buy.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:20 AM on February 25, 2007


fourcheesemac:"Right, because those big mean record companies owe it to consumers and would be rockstars to keep putting out records not many people want to buy."

That's what independent labels are for. It's just unfortunate that Capitol-EMI or bound them into that contract and essentially embargoed all of their work after that first cd came out. Unfortunate also that there wasn't anyone working the film licensing desk at Capitol-EMI b/c I'm sure that their music could have made it into plenty of other movies besides Titan A.E..

No, the company that signed them had an obligation to get out there and market their music. Otherwise, they shouldn't have signed them in the first place. (But we all know how the Capitol-EMI story ends, don't we?)
posted by vhsiv at 7:22 AM on February 25, 2007


Hm. Re HHGTG - I have it on six CDs. Got it back in the 90s. I have listened to it a lot. :)
posted by smallerdemon at 9:48 AM on February 25, 2007


Warms my heart to see you folks enjoying Splashdown. (: I've been foisting them on everyone I can since I first picked up "Redshift" because I dug the cover art (Google Images results link).

Yay!

I didn't know about Freezepop, though; I shall have to check them out for sure. Thanks for that info!
posted by sarajflemming at 11:40 AM on February 26, 2007


I'll vouch for that, sarajflemming is one of my good friends IRL and she foisted Redshift on me immediately upon finding it - in the dollar bin!! - saying "you need to listen to this, you will like it."

She was 100% correct. :) I wound up buying a copy of everything they had left to sell (none of which is still available I'm afraid...). I now listen to pretty much anything she foists upon me, because she knows how to foist.

Splashdown, UHP, Freezepop and all the other various ancillaries and combos of these musicians are some of my favorite music ever. Plus, backtracking from their influences I've discovered all sorts of other stuff that I like too, like Aphex Twin.

UHP is based here in Los Angeles so hopefully Melissa will get out and do some live playin'...

Allston Rock City!
posted by zoogleplex at 11:46 AM on February 26, 2007


That makes two of us. .sara sent me redshift back in the day aand i've been bopping my head ever since. Melissa's voice reminds me a lot of some of the vocals from songs on Massive Attack's Mezzanine album. Just great stuff.

Typical industry that has no clue what to do with a non-formulaic band issue.
posted by eljuanbobo at 11:49 AM on February 26, 2007


Bobo!!! Whazzzaaaaa!!!

It's Old Home Week here on MeFi...
posted by zoogleplex at 11:51 AM on February 26, 2007


Y'know, since Capitol paired the band with producer Glenn Ballard, I always suspected they were trying to cut Melissa out of the band to try to "mold" her - as record label scum always seem to try to do - into the next Alanis Morrisette or something like that, and that maybe the band resisted that cohesively, and the label retaliated by shelving them. Obviously I don't know the real story so that's a wild-ass-guess.

Ballard was quoted somewhere as saying he didn't have to "produce" Splashdown at all, he just sat back and let them do their music with the run of a top-flight studio.

Melissa is doing a lot of film score vocal work for people like Graeme Revell, so she's doing quite well for herself, and I'm very pleased she's getting by on her talent. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 11:56 AM on February 26, 2007


"I read a great story about major label entanglement recently. Another Boston area dude, too, Jonah Jenkins formerly of Milligram, Only Living Witness, etc."

The Straightener... yep, same old story. It's really the same thing, every single time. Stuff like this happened to me, but I didn't get past the "development" stage before my project got canned. I got lucky, although my contract was the usual sucky mess I was able to get them to agree to revert my song copyrights back to me after 10 years if my contract was cancelled. Not that they're worth much, but at least I don't have to ask permission to do anything with my own songs.

The whole business is designed to exploit pathologically fame-hungry artists. Period. If you read that story you see that Jonah refers to himself and colleagues as "starry-eyed newbies" etc.; this is the entire key to the major labels's success. They've institutionalized a system of screwing everyone over, that's all.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:49 PM on February 26, 2007


I added all MP3's to TPB as a torrent

http://thepiratebay.org/tor/3627595/Splashdown_Discography.

I used aaronetc's writeup (I hope you don't mind). Hopefully this will keep the music alive, and help this dude's bandwidth.
posted by PreteFunkEra at 4:59 PM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks PreteFunkEra - That link didn't work for me, though. I did a search and got the following back:
http://thepiratebay.org/tor/3626332/Splashdown_Discography
posted by smallerdemon at 9:36 AM on February 27, 2007


direct link to the torret here

(for those of you weary of the fun ads at pirate bay)
posted by smallerdemon at 10:33 AM on February 27, 2007


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