Tiny (American) Idol Also-Rans
My acquaintance Mark is responsible for a series of indie rock comps focusing on the sounds of the '90s. The series is called Tiny Idols and the first disc came out last year. Now compiling his second set, Mark hit me up to see what obscurities I have kicking around. I ended up throwing together six discs of stuff for him, and today I present some cuts I burned for Mark's consideration.
1. Air Miami -- "Pucker" -- All Virgos Are Mad 4AD comp
If you ask me, and I recognize you didn't, this song is the most transcendent thing Mark Robinson has ever been a part of. The guitars literally chime in places with some sort of heavy chorus effect, the bass pulses high across the neck and the production casts the whole thing in a very ethereal ambient wash. And of course all along you're never quite sure: Is Robinson saying "sit up and puck her" or "sit up and f*ck her." I think he's saying both. Anyway, the Teenbeat site here makes it look like the track was sposed to be released separately from the comp as a 12" [Teenbeat 197], but it was never. Too bad.
2. Barnabys -- "Gargamel" -- Jiffy Boy Records' Ten Cent Fix comp
Philebrador Joey Sweeney here finally gets his erstwhile rhythm section to really rock, or he layers so many glorious electric guitars in this track it just sounds that way as he finally approaches the electric heights of Barnabys' sort of sideways namesake. We'd argue this is the best Barnabys track, and one where the Sween's wordsmithery approaches earning the inebriated praise our man Zoz would sometimes throw out while we drove around in the car, praise wherein he linked JoJo's name with those of Dylan, Springsteen and Westerberg. More shockingly, this cached web page suggests someone recently requested the song be turned into a ringtone.
3. The Grifters -- "Queen of the Table Waters" -- Sub Pop 278 7"
While hardly rare, what with its release on Subpop, so far as we know this rocker was never issued on CD. The track holds one of the top spots on my unmade list of songs best suited for accompanying activities like driving fast or drinking shots. The final gleeful and nihilistic "yeah yeah yeahs" that close out the song press some sort of primal fun button in my head. This web page purports to show the cover art to the single, but we remember it being red and yellow -- perhaps we're remembering the back.
4. Clark Wallace -- "Brooklyn" -- Cities
Clark is a friend from college who was the first guy I knew to move to Brooklyn, which is where he ended up in 1996 or so. He tracked Cities in Jersey City in a room above a funeral parlor from what I recall. This is the biggest rocker on the record, and it is never far from my thoughts for some reason, which is odd since I don't think I've ever set foot in Brooklyn in my life. Even my wife likes to sing this song at random moments. RIYL Superchunk, you can buy the disc here at CDBaby.
5. Jeff Stern -- "Never Say Goodbye" -- Homemade Cassette
This is probably the best Bon Jovi cover you'll ever hear. Nothing counters the sap that drips from the original better than this spare, Casio-and-deadpan vocals version. Funny thing is, I feel like Stern's flatly delivered take lands more emotional punches than the Jovi version (Sorry Jon!). Stern is a friend from the other college I attended. He currently does time in The Farmhands (the only band to ever cut a double record featuring one song for each baseball franchise) and Girlfriend2000 (who have a live date in the Boston area in March).