One of the things I find most interesting about revisiting records on smaller labels from 20 years ago is that some of the bands from back then went on to become household names, while others broke up or never made a name for themselves outside of their zip code.It’s also interesting–and often depressing–to look back at track listings and see a band like NOFX right next to For Sale, who put out one amazing 7″ and then faded into obscurity. In retrospect, it’s easy to see that one of those bands went somewhere and the other didn’t. Here, as is often the case, it’s not necessarily easy to see WHY. Sure, Liza and Louise is a great song with clever lyrics and catchy hooks. But I defy you to listen and tell me that Hanging By A Thread is anything less than a fucking stellar pop punk song.
I know for me, a 17 year old kid discovering all kinds of new sounds via mail order and MRR ads and classifieds, compilations like these were a simple and affordable way to check out a slew of new bands. Buy a compilation, find songs/bands I liked, and ignore the rest. (And then rediscover them years later when I put the CD back on for old time’s sake and realize one of the songs I’d skipped before was by a band I now loved.) Sure, there was the thrill of buying records based on their cover from the record store, but getting a dud in that lot could be expensive, and time consuming. If I could find a compilation with one or two bands that I already knew and liked, chances were good that I’d be into something else on the comp.
Today’s album, Shreds Volume 1; The Best Of American Underground 1993, was and is one of a handful of compilations that still hold up 20 years later and has songs that I absolutely adore. All of the songs were pulled from existing singles and albums released in 1993 that would likely fly under the radar of most people. The point of the collection was to highlight this stuff so it wouldn’t languish in obscurity. Mel even included contact info for each band and how to order the original independent records that these songs came from. Considering the music on this CD is now over 20 years old, I’m guessing more or all of these are WAY out of print.
1. For Sale – Hanging By A Thread: Tell me this song doesn’t rule. I’ll post the single that this song is from and a couple by Buford, the band that came after For Sale, eventually.
2. Corduroy – “I’ll Be On My Way”:
3. Swirlies – “Wrong Tube(edit)”:
4. The Parasites – “Something To Hold Onto”: One of the first Parasites songs I ever heard. For a long time I expected them to be more of an indie rock band for some reason. Sorry, Dave.
5. Moist – “Be Young”: Female fronted Bay Area pop punk. The greatness lies in the mediocrity.
6. The Odd Numbers – “Autumn Leaves”: They went on to Lookout Records. Sort of indie-mod, sort of later-Lookout. A jangly Ted Leo wouldn’t necessarily be too far off.
7. Mary Lou Lord – “Some Jingle Jangle Morning”: Hey, more jangles. I used to think of this song with an indie singer/songwriter vibe. This was the song I skipped repeatedly when I first got this CD. Now I think it’s more akin to Throwing Muses or Belly or something more fuzz-laden. I believe it’s grown on me a little bit with every listen, to this day.
8. Karl Hendricks Trio – “Baseball Cards”: I guess they put out a slew of other records after this. I never checked them out based on this one track. This style of emo/rock never did much for me. Needs more something but I’m not sure what.
9. NOFX – “Liza And Loise”: Don’t call them white. Don’t call them white.
10. Fig Dish – “Rollover, Please ” – The only band that I know of to ever do a split with Everready.
11. Prisonshake – “2 Sisters”: A little too much Dinosaur Jr. or Sebadoh or something for me. Maybe you’ll be into it.
12. Tugboat Annie – “Stay Inside”: Thoughts that go through my head every time this song comes on when I play this album, in order: 1. OH SWEET, DIRT BIKE ANNIE. 2. Wait, this isn’t Dirt Bike Annie. This is that band that always tricks me. 3. This is that indie pop band I don’t like with the name that’s like Dirt Bike Annie. 4. Wait, this song gets kind of rocking. 5. Here’s that twinkly guitar sound again. 6. Oh crap, these yelled vocals are kind of cool. 7. And he’s singing about not being able to find them on the radio or TV? That’s kind of cool. 8. I should be more patient next time this song comes on.
13. Stink – “Never Will Forget”: pop punk from Seattle. They had a single on Mutant Pop and a split with an Everready alter ego band that I’ll put up one of these days.
14. The Leonards – “Thinking About It”:
15. Jolt – “Let It Go” – Totally underrated/underknown band that jives with another band whose name starts with “J” that you’ve most likely heard of and probably even obsessed over. On the pop punk end of the emo spectrum but they ride the fence pretty well.
16. The Deviators – “Falling Away” – Like being covered by The Grumpies wasn’t enough. Like a less despondent The Crumbs.
17. J Church – “Made Life Simple”: I don’t think you can name a more prolific band in punk rock, much less pop punk. Most of the bands you listen to were probably influenced by Lance and crew.
18. Fracture – “Babbling On”: It’s SO CLOSE to being a Faster Pussycat cover I can taste it. Features a pre-Atom and His Package Adam Goren. Upbeat Philly 90’s pop punk that’s not to be missed.
19. Bracket – “Imaginary Friend”: Poppiest of the 90’s Fat Wreck bands? Maybe.
20. Mr. T Experience – “Swallow Everything”: This stands a good chance of being the very first MTX song I ever heard. Still holds up. I think it’s about drugs. Or maybe oral sex? Don’t care. It’s in the running for my second favorite song by this band.