Monday, May 08, 2006

FDF Volume 1 Issue 11 - Sponge - Wax Ecstatic

FDF is thrilled to have dim jump on board. Be sure to check out his personal blog here.

Album: Wax Ecstatic
Artist: Sponge
Key Players: Vinnie Dombroski - Vocals, drums, guitar
Joey Mazzola - Guitars
Mike Cross - Guitars and bass
Charlie Grover - Drums
Produced by : Sponge and Tim Patalan
Release Date: July 2, 1996

Overview: Wax Ecstatic is the second disc released by "post-grunge" Detroit band Sponge. Formed in 1991, the band had some modest success with their first offering, Rotting Pinata, which yielded radio-tunes "Plowed" (which had a catchy guitar riff, but when Dombroski's Drano-gargled vocals spewed the lyrics "a world of human wreckage", the eyes rolled) and the overtly poppy "Molly (Sixteen Candles)". Didn't much care for that disc, so what do I do? I buy their second one. In the meantime, the band experienced the first in what would be many personnel changes when drummer Jimmy Paluzzi quit and was replaced by Charlie Grover (with Dombroski continuing to add the beats as he did in the first incarnation of the band, where he sang lead from behind the kit).

FDF Comments aka The Songs: From the moment Wax Ecstatic kicks in, you can't help but get the feeling that the band matured by leaps and bounds with this sophomore, yet not sophomoric effort. A waft of feedback and very cool drum beat heralds the arrival of "My Purity" and so starts this rocking bluesy journal into the underbelly world of drag queens. Yes, drag queens. Dombroski's vocals are much less abrasive here and the music, previously formulaic and forgettable is now richer, more textured, and well-played. The crunch of "Got To Be A Bore" wonderfully offsets the more delicate (yet equally powerful) "The Drag Queens of Memphis", the latter of which is piano-driven and complete with breezy slide guitar that makes you feel like you are walking down a dusty side street in New Orleans in the middle of the summer. The title track (parenthetically titled "To Sell Angelina") and the only thing close to a radio single from the disc is infectious as the front half of the disc settles into a great audio groove. The epically glorious "I Am Anastasia" closes out the first half and while the second portion of the disc falls a little short of its previous brilliance (Dombroski's gloomy vocals on "Death of a Drag Queen" are a little more annoying than they are spooky), it is still strong, with horns punctuating "My Baby Said" and the acoustic "Velveteen" finishing out the disc nicely.

Where are they now: Sponge put out three discs after Wax Ecstatic, including last year's offering The Man. Personnel changes continue to dog the band as only Dombroski remains from the Wax Ecstatic line-up.

FDF Personal Comments: I never saw this band live and can't quite recall what possessed me to get Rotting Pinata, since I didn't like the radio singles. And further, I can't quite recall what would have possessed me to get Wax Ecstatic, given my dislike for the debut disc. I never did get any of the follow-ups, but would be a liar to say that revisiting this disc didn't make me a little curious to check out their post-Wax offerings.

FDF Overall take - When a song from this disc comes up on the iPod shuffle, I always take notice, because Sponge is an anomaly in my collection. They have only one disc that I like, of the two that I own, but when I say I like it, I mean, I REALLY REALLY like it. The musical maturity here is staggering and if you can't immediately relate to Dombroski's tales of drugs and drag queens, you can at least relate to the emotion with which he sings about such topics. I highly recommend this disc, even relevant musically today after ten years. And when I tell someone when it is playing that it's Sponge, and they say "Isn't that that awful 'human wreckage' band?" I safely say "no". That band sucked. But this Wax Ecstatic band is very good.


At 10:23 AM, Blogger Jenny G said...

I liked their 2 singles. I'm surprised that they came out in '91 because I distinctly remember listening to those songs in my teen angst phase. I gave my hs boyfriend their 1st album for his birthday. I didn't know they did anything after that.


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