Friday, September 25, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 159 : Belly - Star

By: March

Album -Star
Artist - Belly
Key Players - Chris Gorman - drums, percussion. Fred Abong - bass. Thomas Gorman - guitars, organ. Tanya Donelly - guitars, vocals
Produced By - Tracy Chisholm and Belly

Release Date - January 25, 1993

What caused me to blow off the dust?
It was a band, that as I scanned the cd rack I really had a "it has been a long time" moment with.

Overview - All four members grew up in Newport, Rhode Island and formed as the Boston based band "Belly" in 1991. They'd release an ep before this album "Star" would be shared with the world. They'd attain success thanks to college radio and MTV Buzz play. The album would go Gold and the band would be nominated for two or three grammy awards for this record depending on sources I have found. They'd continue to write and perform, but the fan base was slowly moving along and the band called it quits in 1996.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - A lone guitar starts "Someone to Die For" as Donelly begins to sing. She is hushed, but has an angelic sound to her voice. A second guitar comes in after the second verse but it keeps the same feel/tone for the duration. "Angel" opens up also with a single guitar note, before the second guitar(s) come in and fill out the sound. Once the drums kick in about 30 seconds in the band is on a more rocking pace. After a few bars the vocals come in and Donelly fits the mold. Her style offsets the music, but in a good way. As the music might feel aggressive, she keeps things on an even keel. . "Dusted" is another quick and to the point rocking song. "Every Word" begins with a very clean guitar and Donelly singing before the bass and drums start up. Abong and Chris Gorman don't get very technical,but they hold the song together. The guitar has a unique chime to it as it strums over the spacy vocals. The band tinkers a little with some delayed guitars and other guitar effects later in the song before returning to the vocals. One of the singles for alternative radio was "Gepetto". The guitars have more punch and the drums more kick. The band seems really focused on this track. Donelly stretches out more vocally on this track and Abongs bass is pushed up more in the mix. There is a quick guitar run before the there are hints of backing vocals (sounds like Donelly overdubbed these) and there is a second run on the guitar. Two guitars start "Witch" a track that calms the listener down from the prior track. It done on the electric guitar but acoustics would have been just fine. A more compressed guitar opens "Slow Dog" which feels more rocking right from the outset. The band is good at mixing tempos going to places they haven't been on the record. The percussive instruments and bass again are more up in the mix. The tempo shifts just enough to keep it interesting. The longest track on the albums comes just about the half way point in "Low Red Moon". The guitars feel labored at the start before Donelly comes in and song feels dark for the duration. The bands big money song on the record is "Feed the Tree". The band shines with each guitar carrying a load, the drums punchy and the bass holding the steady line. The verses are sung at a good pace and as the song grows towards completion Donelly pushes herself more and gives off a lot of energy. "Full Moon, Empty Heart" is a mellower song and Donelly holds a note for what seems like ages, and bends it up a pitch before the band comes in. Musically the song is at a fun pace Donelly goes to the high vocal range from time to time. The more groove oriented "White Belly" has the two guitars feeding well off each other, but the drums are kept in the background, keeping a laid back tempo and slowly building but never really cracking a mold. Acoustic guitars dominate on "Untogether" a pretty, breathy song. There is some lap steel or dobro guitar work during the guitar solo. Donelly is the focus on the short track "Star", where she sings with an acoustic guitar as accompaniment. The buzzy and swirling guitars return on "Sad Dress". The track kicks up quickly, but it is not a fast song. The guitars are buzzy and the vocals are delayed and swirl between speakers. The vocals would rotate from almost chanting to full soaring chorus'. The record closes out with "Stay" another song that allows Donelly to be show cased vocally as the band takes a more laid back approach.

Where are they now? - The group disbanded in 1996. Abong left the band after "Star" and continues to perform. I was unable to find info on either of the Gormans. Donelly has continued as a solo artist, releasing records and working from time to time with her prior band "Throwing Muses".

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I never saw the band live.

FDF Overall Take - I will admit the singles on the record I really do like, and they stand up. There are too many lulls in the record for me though. Donelly has a nice voice but at times I feel she is out of her range. The more rocking songs stand up better. It is not a terrible record by any stretch of the word. It can be found for not too much money (I found my copy for a dollar used) you should grab it.

Links -
Tanya Donelly official site and myspace page.

Fred Abong on myspace.

Finally, you can see what Tanya is doing with former band mate Kristin Hersh here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

the mp3's have been removed.

Feed the Tree

The tracks were taken from "Star" which you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, September 18, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 158 - The Presidents of the United States of America - S/T debut

By: March

Album - The Presidents of the United States of America
Artist - The Presidents of the United States of America
Key Players - Chris Ballew - vocals, two string basitar. Dave Dederer - three string guitbass, vocals. Jason Finn - drums and vocals.
Produced By - Conrad Uno, Chris Ballew and Dave Dederer

Release Date - March 1995

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I heard the song "Peaches" a few weeks ago.

Overview - Seattle based Presidents of the United States of America (the Presidents or POTUSA) formed in 1993 and by late 1994 they'd have a debut full length on a major label. The band, made up of three friends, played instruments that were short on strings and created some wonderfully fun pop songs on the process. This debut would be the fist of six full length records for the band and would be their largest seller.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The band gets a very unique sound due to the modifications of the instruments. Ballew has two bass strings on his guitar, and the bass used by Dederer had three guitar strings. The sound is full as is evident with the track opener "Kitty". The tone is full and deep and Finn has the cymbals that go "splish" then they are hit. The lyrics are campy with the backing vocalists meowing like cats over the spoken vocal line. The song gets faster and faster and ends on a high note. "Feather Pluckn" continues with the deeper guitar/bass groove (I will use guitar/bass as its easier to type). As the chorus grows Finn comes in on the drums and hits hard giving the track some punch. The sing along at the end is a nice touch. The bands biggest single "Lump" comes right up. Ballew sings to the pounding of Finn on drums. The guitar loop on the track, matched with the vocal delivery wins (or alienates) listeners quickly. The song is methodical and there is an instrumental break down before the verse continues. Its a very quick pop song and it holds up well after 10 years. "Stranger" is a much slower track than the previous tunes and it slowly builds. If you listen to the lyrics it appears to be about a stripper that someone has met. It is really sort of funny. A funky deep groove opens "Boll Weevil" and the guitar is played in choppy riffs before the be drums add some bounce to the track. The lyrics and music are back in the more up tempo clip of the early tracks. For the first time there is a "solo" on the record, its short, but it stands out. I'd love to figure out what guitar effect was used at the start of "Peaches" cuz I still dig it. After a short verse the whole band comes in. Ballew has reported this song was about a girl he wanted to date who had a Peach tree in her front yard, but you'd never know that. Sounds like we are moving to the country and eating a lot of peaches. The guitars are fuzzy, and the cymbal goes "splish" a bunch of times before the song builds to one tight crescendo to wrap up. "Dune Buggy" has a unique sound as it seems both the stringed instruments are trying to be tuned as the song starts. It has a unique charm to the song. "We Are Not Going to Make It" clicks off and ends up having a false start and the drums click it off once more. This is about as punk rock as the bad gets. The lyrics are self depreciating but still fun and the music keeps it all moving into their cover of the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams". The longest track on the record (4:11) is "Body". On this track the band has more a focus on the vocals than the instruments which is fine. There is not that "lets get in and out of this song quick" feel. A welcome change. "Back Porch" has, well, a very back porch feel. The rockabilly feel pokes fun about having no teeth and slurping on peaches. The guitar parts are kept to short burst of notes while the the bass and drum keep the tempo alive. "Candy" has a darker guitar sound, but that cymbal "splish" comes in pretty early setting you up. On this, and the past few, the backing vocals have been a more prominent part in songs. The harmonies are good and you may not expect that due to the speed of the music, or the quirkiness of the lyrics. The album closes with "Naked and Famous". Fellow Seattle guitar player Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) joins in on guitar. The POTUSA vibe is there, then Thayil has a solo and you can hear "Soundgarden". The track is a strong album closer, rocking just hard enough.

Where are they now? - The band is still active to this day. The band has hit some rougher patches with a breakup, a hiatus, a short re-form, a full reform. None the less the band has continued on. Dave left the band to spend more time with his family, but still plays shows. Andrew McKeag has been filling in on "guitbass" for a few years now and some folks speculate he has replaced Dederer full time.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - In looking I don't have a definitive answer. I thought i had seen the band one time as part of a radio festival, but I'd need to look further to confirm that.

FDF Overall Take - Time has passed and the band continues on. Radio is even still playing tunes from this record. If you don't want to venture down the road of this cd, they do have a best of. It is a fun poppy rock record. Most of the tunes are pretty short and a lot you'd recognize. There is little to not like.


Official site here and Myspace here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The mp3's have been removed...

Boll Weevil
We Are Not Going to Make It

All the tracks taken from the Self Titled record that you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, September 11, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 157 - Everclear - So Much for the Afterglow

By: March

Album - So Much for the Afterglow
Artist - Everclear
Key Players - Greg Eklund - drums, percussion, vocals, keyboards, slide whistle. Craig Montoya - bass, vocals, keyboards, mandolin. Art Alexakis - lead vocals, guitar, steel guitar, keyboards, banjo, mandolin.
Produced By - A.P. Alexakis

Release Date - October 7, 1997

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I saw a commercial for Behind the Music and I recall them being on an episode. I was never all that big in to this band honestly, but the cd did get a fair number of spins a few years back. Its been a long time.

Overview - Portland Oregon based band Everclear hit pay dirt on this, there third record. It was not an easy task as the band was drawing comparisons to the grunge bands of the time. The record initially sold modestly, then by the third single the album took off. It was no easy feat as a tour in Australia or the album nearly broke up the band. The band would release a few more records and find even more success, before struggling with labels and an a wavering audience.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The title track "So Much for the Afterglow" opens the record with harmonies you would not expect from a "rock band". The three share "oohs and ahhs" much like a Beach Boys tribute before the guitar comes in and its a far cry from those first 40+ seconds. The guitar is buzzy and the bass chugs over with the drums clacking off in quick time. Its a fast paced album opener that will wake the listener up. Alexakis gives a good quick guitar solo and the band breaks down with just a drum interlude and the band puts what is almost a false ending out there before repeating the chorus for the songs fade out. One of the big singles from the record "Everything to Everyone" is next. A lone guitar loops on what sounds like a police siren before the bass comes up. The album version has a more punchy bass line than the radio version for some reason. The bass high up in the mix on the opening verses and is punchy, but melodic. The guitar is never flashy and the drums keep on somewhat of an even keel. The lyrics are fun and easy to sing along to. Easy to hear why this was a single. "Ataraxia (Media Intro)" is just a 34 second interlude before "Normal Like You" begins. Another crunchy guitar opening. The bass once more comes right along with it. The drums keep with the simple back beat and the band is in fine vocal form. For the second verse the bass plays off with some sort of toy piano before the whole band comes in. The band has a "full sound" for sure. Another single "I Will Buy You a New Life" is next. This track is a little more laid back. For the verses the guitar keeps just short chords as the bass and drums add their parts. It gets a little more urgent at the chorus, but its never gets too heavy. The percussive instruments, such as tambourine are more in play as well. Continuing with the trend, another radio single "Father of Mine" begins. Alexakis sings right from the start only broken with a few guitar riffs on delay. As the song builds to the chorus there is more a full band approach as they all get involved in singing and the track opens up more. For a song that is a little more laid back at the outset it gets to be a strong rocking track. Alexakis gives a short solo, but Montoya holds it all in place. Eklunds drumming has never been flashy but he hits them hard. A fun, percussion based intro starts off "One Hit Wonder". Its a toe tapping opening before the band comes in along and Alexakis has some gruff to his voice. The guitar is distorted just that right amount and the rhythm section is complimented with a horn section after the second verse. This is a true gem on the record. "El Distorto de Melodica" is an instrumental track that is harder sounding than one may expect. Personally the punch to the bass is the best part. "Amphetamine" opens with some compressed guitars but a second guitar comes over and it launches in to a very punk rock feeling 3 chord, power riff based song. It is performed at a torrid clip both musically and lyrically but in the end it changes directions and is actually sort of mellow, at least for Everclear. The drums click off "White Men in Black Suits" and the back beat is a simple 4/4 time. Alexakis sings over a choppy simple guitar line. The song gets a little more full come the second verse but it never really opens up like you'd come to expect. Two guitars play off one another as the catchy "Sunflowers" begins. The tempo is fun on this track as well, and its a great pop/rock song. In a major change of pace a banjo opens "Why I Don't Believe in God" and remains a central instrument on the track. It still has an Everclear feel, but imagine more a front porch sort of feel. The record ends with the longest track "Like a California King / Hating You for Christmas" which is just over 8 minutes long. Opens with interplay off guitars as the band begins to come up with it. The main song ends and there is 3+ minutes of silence before the Christmas tune comes up. Its a slow builder but will bring a smile to the old stale Christmas "carols".

Where are they now? - Alexakis has kept busy, and is the lone original member of Everclear. Montoya and Eklund both left the band 2003 to pursue other interests. Eklund is currently the lead guitarist and a co-vocalist of The Oohlas and Montoya is the lead singer in the band Tri-Polar

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- I only ever saw the band live one time. It was December 2, 1997 as part of the WBCN Xmas Rave. Also on the bill was Ben Folds Five (FDF looks at Whatever and Ever Amen here) and Catherine Wheel. (FDF looks at "Chrome"). I don't recall a lot of their set, but the audience was ravenous for them. I must have seen them another time on the festival circuit, but I don't see them on my list anywhere.

FDF Overall Take - Honestly this was better than I recalled, but there was a time, and even in re-listening, that the radio singles just don't do a lot for me. I think they were beaten in to the ground on alt/rock radio stations. Some of the other tunes are quite strong. Most people would probably make due with a best of collection.

Everclear official site as well as myspace.
Tri-Polar on myspace. The Oohlas page here and a personal myspace page for Greg.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

**the mp3's have been taken down**
So Much for the Afterglow
One Hit Wonder
Father of Mine

All the tracks taken from "So Much for the Afterglow" that you can buy here

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

Friday, September 04, 2009

FDF Volume 2: Issue 156 - School of Fish - School of Fish

By: March

Album - School of Fish
Artist - School of Fish
Key Players - Josh Clayton-Felt - Guitar, Drums, Drum Programming, Drum Machine, Vocals, Michael Ward - Guitar, Drums, Drum Machine, Drum Programming, Vocals, Vocals (Background), M.P. aka Michael Petrak - Drums, Dominic Nardini - Bass
Produced By - John Porter

Release Date - April 1, 1991

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I always loved the single "Three Strange Days" but never bought the whole cd. In recent weeks I stumbled upon the cd for $1.00. It was well spent.

Overview - Los Angeles, California based "School of Fish" released their debut record in the Spring of 1991. The band would find moderate radio success with their single "Three Strange Days". The band would release a second record, but it didn't sell well and the band would dissolve in 1994 as a result.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- The album opens up with an acoustic guitar driven track simply called "Intro". A lone electric guitar comes over the percussive beats and some simple short lyrics before some "swirling" of guitars "3 Strange Days" begins. One guitar holds a fuzzy loop as a second chops over the top. The drums click off and the crunch of the guitar is immediate. The lyrics are chipper but the focus is on the crunchy guitar. There are some nice harmonies at various times, not when you'd expect them. M.P keeps a solid, yet simple back beat. After an instrumental break down the vocals get a little more urgent. The guitar really keeps the song "full" for the duration. The chorus is repeated as another run of guitars fades the song out. "Talk Like Strangers" begins with no gap on a lone guitar and 4x4 drum beat. The bass chugs underneath and Clayton-Felt has a deeper drone to his voice. The bass as noted is up more in the mix on this track feeding off the drums which keep a steady pace. As the track begins to wind down there a percussive break down and each instrument slowly drops off the track. The band continues with the songs running in to each other and "Deep End" begins. Once again the guitars screech over the top and the drums are hit hard. As the guitars work, the second goes to a more focused punch on the notes. As the lyrics begin the bass once more becomes a little more prominent. It is not flashy as it allows for the guitar riffs to echo over the top. This is the first track to not segway into the next track and it ends with seagull calls. Starting off with some shouting count of of 1-2-3-4 "King Of The Dollar" begins. Its a more rocking tune that we are used to so far on the record. The drums are crisp but they don't flash out of the standard mold. "Speechless" more laid back, but once again uses the dual guitars well. As one holds long notes, the second chops out more of a rhythm. There are times when the guitars even seem to sound like a string section. A very cool effect. The harmonies are strong as well. "Wrong" opens with a more sequenced drum beat before it crunches down. Another strong rocking track with buzzy guitars chugging bass. The band does a nice job of rotating acoustic and electric guitars. The brightness of the acoustic cuts over the buzzy guitar at various times during the song. "Rose Colored Glasses" keeps the strong interplay of the guitars running. "Under The Microscope" has a a more plodding musical feel and the lyrics are full, but seemed to be sung at a slower pace than they could be if that makes sense. The song has a big enough sound that is for sure. "Fell" ditches the electric guitar for acoustics showcasing some diversity within the band on its overall sound. "Euphoria" closes out the record. The track, the longest on the record starts off slow enough with a simple back beat and the guitars the song slowly builds with more guitars and a little more driving tempo as it slowly builds, but really could have erupted, they just chose to not do that. A strong album closer.

Where are they now? - Micheal Ward has worked with artist like The Wallflowers and John Hiatt, playing guitar on various records. Josh Clayton-Felt released a few solo records but towards the end of 1999 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He would pass away on January 19, 2000. I was unable to find information on the other members.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I never saw the band live.

FDF Overall Take - There are some shining moments on the record for sure, but its easy hear/understand why "3 Strange Days" was the albums big moment. It is also easy to understand why there is a cult following for Clayton-Felt, he has a very strong, and sadly overlooked vocal ability.

School of Fish on myspace.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

***The mp3's have been removed**
Deep End
3 Strange Days

You can find the record is out of print, but it is very easy to find. Try here for example.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request