… And Seven Weeks Later We’re Back!!!

Whoa! So how does “see you in a few weeks” manage to turn into seven weeks? Very easily! Things happened, things did’t happen and some things, like this blog just didn’t get done. Anyway I’m back.

Three people recently wrote asking me to repost material I originally posted back in 2006.

Erik wrote looking for Trains and Boats and Planes Minimal Star, while zzeitg wanted Scrawl, and Ed was looking for the Wedding Presents’ It’s A Gas from my very first post on July 17, 2006.

I’ve combined Erik’s and zzeitg’s request into one new up-dated post. someday I just might get around to up-dating my original three part Wedding Present series, but at the present time anyone who would like to hear It’s A Gas can find it here or here .

Thanks to zzeitg for graciously providing Scrawl’s Velvet Hammer.


Scrawl

Scrawl"/


Long before riot-grrrls ever made their appearance on the indie rock scene there was Columbus, Ohio’s Scrawl

“a trio of tough chicks with no specific agenda and far more enthusiasm than skill”

Originally known as Skull, the trio, singer/guitarist Marcy Mays, bassist Sue Harshe, and drummer Carolyn O’Leary debuted in
the summer of 1985, opening for the Meat Puppets with a twenty minute set. With the encouragement and financial backing of friends they recorded Plus, Also, Too , which was released on the small No Other label in 1987.

Plus, Also, To is

“sloppy, occasionally strident indie-pop”

and often there is more disharmony than harmony between Marcy Mays’ “uncertain singing and bassist Sue Harsh”, but the album generated enough positive reviews that Scrawl toured in support of it, and in the process attracted the attention of Rough Trade Records.

Signing with Rough Trade in 1988, the trio’s sophomore effort, He’s Drunk, was recorded at Prince’s Paisley Park studios. More assured than their debut release, their instrumental work was generally solid, but the album was marred by the fact that

“while Mays and Harshe both show improvement, their voices still don’t blend together very well at all.”

Produced by Gary Smith (Blake Babies, Throwing Muses) 1990’s Smallmouth , is a more intimate affair with

“sketchy lyrics (that) touch on real-life encounters and personal problems”

Smallmouth found the group alternating between brash punk inspired songs like “Rot” and “Absolute Torture”, with songs like “Tell You What” and “Time to Come Clean,”and the tender “Charles,” a rewrite of the Kiss’s “Beth,” a song which clearly exposes the band’s ’70s rock and roll roots.

Label problems forced the group to leave Rough Trade in the fall of 1990. When the label declared bankruptcy several months later the group’s back catalog goes immediately out of print.

Label problems and relationship problems clearly inform 1991’s bitter and biting Bloodsucker . Engineered by Steve Albini

“Mays and Harshe sing and play with renewed fervor, which works to their advantage in dispirited songs like “Love’s Insecticide,” the depressed “Please Have Everything” and the powerfully edgy “Clock Song,”

but with poor distribution and lack of air play the album quickly joins the group’s other albums in limbo.

Carolyn O’Leary left the group in 1992. Performing as an acoustic duo Mays and Harsh soldier on by mounting the “Foxcore, My Ass” tour.

Simple Machine Records Jenny Toomey and Kristin Thomson were fans of the band and in 1993 signed Scrawl, once again a trio, with the addition of new drummer, Dana Marshall. The band’s brief relationship with Simple Machines saw the release of Velvet Hammer and the re-release of Bloodsucker .

With its songs of fractured relationships 1993’s Velvet Hammer may just be

one of the saddest, most heartbreaking records you will ever hear. It’s soaked in tears and alcohol, punctuated with bruises and frostbitten fingers.”

Like American Music Club’s Everclear or Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures Velvet Hammer

“bleeds with despair and grim reality.”

Major label Elektra released Scrawl’s last two albums, 1996’s Travel On, Rider and 1998’s Nature Film. Though Simple Machine were fans and would have continued to support the group they, unlike Elektra, couldn’t

“put Scrawl’s records in more shops and provide a decent recording budget”

but, unlike Simple Machines, Elektra didn’t have a clue what do with

“a band whose minor chords and emotionally naked songs could never translate into unit shifting.”

Travel On, Rider , recorded and engineered by Steve Albini and Jeff Powell’s was their most professional sounding record to date. The songs are still bitter, still pessimistic, and still sad, but the bands playing is tighter,

“Dana Marshall’s underrated drums are at their most dynamic, Sue Harshe’s Rickenbacker bass is graceful and thick, and Marcy Mays’ Wire-meets-Cheap Trick guitar lofts countless catchy riffs.”

1998’s Nature Film, Scrawl’s last album, is a blend of old and new songs. Songs like “Rot,” “For Your Sister,” “Standing Around,” “Charles,” “11:59 It’s January,” and “Clock Song,” all released prior to Bloodsucker ; and for most purposes unavailable to the band’s fans, but had remained as part of the group’s live repertoire

“get powerful updates, finally capturing the band’s live edge on tape.”

True to form the albums new songs are about bad relationships.

“You Made It a Crime” is scornful, “100 Car Pile-Up” is shameless rage, and “Guess I’ll Wait” is empty resignation.

 


 

DISCOGRAPHY

Releases:

He’s Drunk (Cass , LP) (Rough Trade (US) 1988
He’s Drunk (LP) (Rough Trade (UK) 1989
He’s Drunk / Plus, Also, Too (CD, MP3 Album) Rough Trade (US) 1989
Plus, Also, Too (LP) (Rough Trade (US) 1989
Smallmouth (Cass, CD , LP) (Rough Trade (US) 1990
Bloodsucker (CD-EP, 12″, MP3 Album) (Simple Machines Records) 1991
Bloodsucker (CD-EP) (Feel Good All Over) 1991
Misery (Someone Is Winning) / Just Plain Bad (7″) (Singles Only Label) 1992
Velvet Hammer (CD, LP, MP3 Album) (Simple Machines Records) 1993
Working Holiday (January) (7″) (Simple Machines Records) 1993
Your Mother Wants To Know (7″) (Simple Machines Records) 1993
Inside Dave’s Garage – Volume Two (7″) (Radiopaque Recordings) 1994
Good Under Pressure (7″) (Simple Machines Records) 1995
Travel On, Rider (Cass, CD) (Elektra) 1996
Travel On, Scrawl (CD-EP) (Elektra)1996
Nature Film (CD) (Elektra) 1998

Tracks Appear On:

“Reuters” Lever (7″ Comp) (Simple Machines Records) 1991
“Bad Seeds” Fortune Cookie Prize: A Tribute to Beat Happening (CD, LP) (Simple Machines Records) 1992

“Clock Song (Go Girl Go)” International Pop Underground Convention (CD, 2xLP) (K Records) 1992

“Drunken Fool” The Lost Weekend (LP) (Blast First) 1993
” Reuters” The Machines 1990-1993 (CD) (Simple Machines Records) 1993

“Misery (Someone Is Winning)” They Came, They Played, They Blocked The Driveway (2xCD) (WFMU) 1993

“Your Mother Wants To Know” Fuck Loud Music (CD) (Ox Fanzine) 1994

“Good Under Presssure” Volume Eleven (CD, 2xLP) (Volume) 1994
“11:59 It’s January” Working Holiday (CD, 2xCD) ( Simple Machines Records) 1994

Debonair (CD Single1) (Blast First) 1994

Debonair (12″) (Blast First) 1994

Debonair (7″) (Blast First) 1994

“Ready” What Jail Is Like (12″) (Elektra)1994
“Louis L’Amour” Breakin’ Necks, Rockin’ Discotechs (Killer Blows From the Temple of Electra) (CD) (Electra) 1996

“Louis L’Amour” huH, Volume 26 (CD) (Huh Music Service) 1996
“Charles” CMJ New Music Monthly Vol # 58, June 1998 (CD) (CMJ) 1998
“I’m Ready” Gimme Indie Rock. Vol. 1 (2xCD) (K-Tel) 2000
“Charles” The Blue Album, Volume 2

Velvet Hammer (1993)

Playing Time: 37 minutes 3 seconds

Photobucket

1. Your Mother Wants To Know (3:20)
2. Take A Swing (3:54)
3. Disappear Without A Trace (6:10)
4. See (3:17)
5. Face Down (4:00)
6. Tell Me Now, Boy (3:07)
7. Drunken Fool (3:45)
8. Prize (2:41)
9. Blue Green Sea (2:50)
10. Remember That Day (3:59)

Buy Velvet Hammer from Amazon.com

Travel On, Rider (1996)

Playing Time: 40 minutes 36 seconds

Photobucket

1. Good Under Pressure (3:39)
2. The Garden Path (3:11)
3. I’m Not Stuck (4:23)
4. From Deep Inside Her (2:49)
5. Story Musgrave (4:46)
6. Easy On Her Mind (2:46)
7. Hunting Me Down (2:27)
8. Louis L’amour (3:12)
9. Come Back Then (2:49)
10. He Cleaned Up (3:09)
11. Story Musgrave (At The Piano) (3:39)
12. What Did We Give Away? (3:46)

Buy Travel On, Rider from Amazon.com

Nature Film (1998)

Playing Time: 44 minutes 40 seconds

Photobucket

1. Rot (2:54)
2. You Make It A Crime (3:11)
3. Charles (3:02)
4. Don’t We Always Get There? (4:39)
5. Standing Around (2:24)
6. Public Image (2:56)
7. 11:59 (It’s January) (4:46)
8. Clock Song (3:16)
9. Everyone I Saw Tonight (3:04)
10. Nature Film (5:08)
11. For Your Sister (2:49)
12. 100 Car Pile-Up (2:56)
13. Guess I’ll Wait (3:35)

Buy Nature Film from Amazon.com

 


 

Trains and Boats and Planes

Taking their name from the title of a Burt Bacharach/Hal Davis song this Danish (Nikolai Nørlund, Søren Kruse, Jens Ole Lembcke, Nikolai Stig Olsen & Soma Hammerlund) group’s one American record, 1994’s Minimal Star , was recorded and produced by Shimmy Discs legendary Kramer.

DISCOGRAPHY

Releases:

Hum (LP EP) (Cloudland Records) 1990
Hum (CD EP) (UFO Records) 1992

Engulfed (CD, LP) (Cloudland Records) 1992
I Like Cars (CD Single) (Cloudland Records) 1993
Minimal Star (CD, MP3 Album) (Shimmydisc) 1993

Tracks Appear On:

“Spook” Snowstorm: A Tribute To Galaxie 500 (2xCD) (Elefant Records) 2001

Minimal Star (1993)

Playing Time: 51 minutes 10 seconds

Photobucket

1. Parents’ Place (4:40)
2. I Like Cars (2:30)
3. Private Party (By The Coast) (3:30)
4. Minimal Star (4:45)
5. She Had Us (3:59)
6. All We Got (2:35)
7. A Wake (4:09)
8. Playback (3:48)
9. Kitty Wu (4:58)
10. Genius Spider (5:14)
11. Pat Is Free (2:52)
12. You Hear! My Dear (3:30)
13. Timelove (4:40)

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3 responses to “… And Seven Weeks Later We’re Back!!!

  1. Words cannot describe how much I love Scrawl. I always felt like they never got the attention they deserved. Thanks so much for this post!

    • Laura thanks for your kind comments. Comments like this it makes doing this all worth while. I have both Scrawl’s Smallmouth and Tsnuami’s The Heart’s Tremolo on tape. One of these days I should rip and post them. Wouldn’t that would certainly be an interesting pairing?

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