This split comes to us via Allied Recordings. An interesting label that was started and run by graphic artist John Yates. Allied put out 100 releases over the 10 years it existed. Yates went on to work at Alternative Tentacles, and now/still his killer graphic design (through his own Stealworks) can be seen on stuff from AK Press, G7 Welcoming Committee, and tons of bands artists big and small that you and I have heard and love.
I’ve always loved the idea that records by bands otherwise not related to one another could be connected via their label. Are the songs similar? Maybe not. Shared band members? No. From the same scene geographically? Nope. The only thing that ties them together is that someone or some group of someones thought both bands were good enough to record and put out a physical thing with their stamp of approval on it. Somehow, these records and these songs are now cousins in a way that makes putting them together on a shelf a viable option that makes sense despite no alphabetical or gen-rifical adjacency.
Stink we’ve heard from before on 1000 Yesterdays, but Peaceful Meadows is a new addition. I don’t know the context of why these two bands are on a split together, whether they’re friends or tour mates or whatever, and maybe I never will. But that’s ok. Also interesting is the choice to put out a split that includes two bands spread across two records, with each band taking up an entire record. Why not just two 7″s, one by Stink and one by Peaceful Meadows? Why not put Peaceful Meadows on sides A and C, and Stink on B and D? Why tie them together in a medium that’s a financial gamble AT BEST, to turn it into an even less likely to break even project?
Wait, I almost forgot we’re talking about DIY punk records. Questions about financial viability don’t even fit here. Nevermind. Still, I’m curious how these two bands are related and wound up on this split together.
It’s tough to talk about anything released on Allied and not mention the artwork. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I want to note that I included an extra scan of the cover of this one. It’s a double 7″ housed in a gatefold sleeve with a spine, with the lyrics and publishing info printed on the inside of the gatefold. The front and back covers are part of the same photograph, and including only one scan of each didn’t quite do the art justice. There’s even a printed spine on here. It’s like a little mini-double album.
And in keeping with the theme of a boxing match, the records are divided into a “red” corner and a “blue” corner, via their labels. The only thing that you could argue is missing is a bell.
Oh wait. The music? The Music.
Peaceful Meadows on this record plays a kind of kinetic pop punk (there are “whoa oh” back up vocals) with angry/political enough lyrics that I wouldn’t argue if someone wanted to call it hardcore. I wouldn’t say they have the Epifat sound (with all it’s baggage, negative connotations, AND catchy hooks,) but it’s close enough that I could totally see this band opening for an Epifat band and absolutely stealing the show.
Stink is a little darker than I remembered, which is mostly based on their song on the first Shreds Comp. It evokes a kind of Man Afraid feeling but with another vocalist who is less gruff.
Of course I had a whole “they’re from Seattle but they’re totally not grunge” schpiel in my head, but I scrapped it here’s why. Try to stay with me.
I decided to go back and revisit MP-04, Mutant Pop Records release #4: Stink’s “I Don’t Want Anything You’ve Got” single, which came out in 1995, (two years after the Shreds CD with Never Will Forget, the only song of theirs I’m familiar with) and two years before the Rumble in the Vinyl split we’re discussing today. I figured it would sort of bridge the gap between the two sounds, falling somewhere in the middle.
In case you’re not familiar with the label, Mutant Pop records all* had a very similar aesthetic. Band photo on the front, similar font, label branding all consistent from record to record, and on the back, a 2-300 word write-up from Timbo, Mutant Pop headmaster. On the back of MP-04, Timbo does a fine job contrasting these guys with grunge, so I won’t.
*Except one. A compilation entitled “No Band Photo”. Instead of a band photo, the cover art on that one is a 4 panel comic strip talking about how there’s no band photo on the cover of the record. Clever.
For the sake of not mis-remembering, I also revisited the song on the Shreds CD, and it turns out I’ve been thinking about this all wrong the whole time. I thought the band dynamic was one of “soft, smooth, poppy singer doing main vocals” and “gruff screamy singer” doing backups. I think the reality is much more balanced a trading off of the smooth/gruff than one or the other being the lead.
So without further ado, let’s get rea–I can’t do it. I just can’t. Sorry.