We've jumped into the Wayback Machine for another time capsule installment of TSC. This time we've got a trio of bands that never really got their due, and whom, for a variety of reasons, seem relegated to footnote status in the great book of 90s indie rock. These probably aren't the easiest singles to come by, but with a little perseverance and some patience, we're sure you can track them down should you see fit. Anyway, let's begin this stroll down amnesia lane.
Our first blast from the past this week comes from Chicago's all-but-unheralded Mystery Girls and their It's Not Worth Fighting EP on Jangle Town Records. Lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Kevin Junior would go on to find some acclaim in the late 90s with The Chamber Strings, but he honed his chops in this outfit, refining his particular brand of maudlin pop that recalled, amongst others, Nikki Sudden and Todd Rundgren. On the eponymous A-Side, the quartet pull back the reigns a bit, fashioning a lazy, hazy 70s AM radio ballad replete with mournful cello, a waltzing, funereal cadence and some delicately deadpan crooning from Junior. On the flipside, “Kingery Highway” is a bracing blast of gritty Midwestern power-pop, full of dueling leads and a glamtastic chorus written specifically with arenas packed to the rafters with screaming fans in mind. Not sure how many of these were pressed, or if you'll ever even see one outside of Chicago, but if obscure power-pop is your bag, it's well worth the bin scouring.
Next we have a single from, what is, in our humble opinion, one of the most underrated bands in the history of alternative rock, Oklahoma City's Chainsaw Kittens and their “Mother (of the Ancient Birth)” b/w “Death-Sex Rattletrap” on 90s uber-indie Mammoth Records. While they flirted with mainstream success – tours with The Smashing Pumpkins and Jane's Addiction, production from Butch Vig, some radio airplay – the quartet never really got their due. It's possible that you could put this down to the fact that their overt glam influences weren't all that fashionable circa 1990, or that curmudgeonly grunge acolytes couldn't get on board with Tyson Meade's high-register cry, or the label wasn't much help, or MTV was gun-shy about them, and on and on. The two tracks here don't quite conjure the majesty of (Pop Heiress standouts) “Silver Millionaire” or “Sore on the Floor,” but they crackle with a sinewy, livewire energy only they possessed – guitars detonating over gloriously camp sing-a-long choruses as they generate enough nuclear fission to power an a-bomb. There's usually a few of these online at any given time, so keep your eyes peeled and you'll most likely find one. Oh, and should any of the band end up reading this, please get at us, as we'd really love to give Pop Heiress a proper vinyl issue.
Our final selection this week come from Austin, TX's Cherubs and their “Dreamin'” b/w “Mr. Goy (live)” single on Unclean Records. The cover sports a rip-off Taco Bell logo, so right from the offing you know you are in for something greasy, grimy and bad for your digestive tract. True to form, on the A-Side the trio pushes out out bile-infused scuzz-bomb “Dreamin,” which, is anything but; almost accidentally psychedelic, the song ebbs and flows through a river of shit 'n' slime, with grinding guitars sending white-hot chunks of shrapnel in every direction as machine gun drumming and murky bass nail down the bottom end squall. The flipside features a particularly rousing rendition of “Mr. Goy” (from Heroin Man, recorded live at Lounge Ax in Chicago, a gig we honestly can't remember if we were at or not, but more than likely were crashed out on the back couch for). For whatever reason, this particular single seems to be the scarcest of all the Cherubs singles (at least more so than the Trance Syndicate singles), but we're certain resourceful diggers will unearth one in time.
Ah, how that brings us back to the drug-soaked halcyon days of yore… Or at least to sneaking beers in our rooms while our parents were hanging out with the neighbors. Time never forget and (usually) neither do we here at TSC.