Tag Archives: Shellac

“Out of This World”

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The Cure
Bloodflowers, 2000

I love tracking down little-known gems from big-name, established artists. Bands only become “iconic” after they’ve put in the work; I’d guess it takes three or four records widely acknowledged as “great” before any group can qualify. Underground acts on par with Suicide or Shellac — to name two very random examples — are influential, but the sum of their respective outputs isn’t enough to justify elder-statesmen status. As it turns out though, icons are in no short supply. I don’t think anyone would dispute that The Cure are an iconic band and have been for decades, both for their distinctive sound and their fantastic run of classic-era material. In 2000 however, after the commercial air ball that was Wild Mood Swings (an album I still love), Robert Smith and company were invisible to all but the hardest of hardcore fans. Bloodflowers was conceived as the bookend to two earlier critical favorites, Pornography and Disintegration, both of which represent the band at its darkest. As you might expect from any product of equally hubristic conceit, Bloodflowers does not live up to its pedigree. But just try to tell me “Out of This World” isn’t wonderful. Tell me you can listen to all seven minutes without falling under the familiar morbid sway of all the band’s best material. Tell me the guitar lead doesn’t pluck heartstrings you forgot you had. Late-era treasures like this seem to arrive at exactly the moment their creators need them most. For fans, they serve as a reminder that greatness is not simply something that happens.

[audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14312140/01%20Out%20Of%20This%20World.mp3]

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“On Molasses Lake (Treading)”

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Roadside Monument
Split EP w/ Puller, 1997

Roadside Monument were a ‘90s math-rock band that played without the clean precision of a Don Caballero or Hella; their murky, detuned wanderings fell more along the Shellac/Jawbox end of the spectrum (fitting, as Bob Weston and J. Robbins both engineered records for the group). As a dedicated 3-piece seemingly un-enamored of overdubs, they were limited in range but excelled with what they had. I suppose their album-length high water mark would’ve been 1998’s I Am the Day of Current Taste (best song title: “OJ Simpson House Auction”), but my personal favorite is EP orphan “On Molasses Lake,” which steadies the band’s erratic impulses just long enough to allow two very indie, very ‘90s verses to take hold. After that of course comes the requisite explosion: surging guitar, syncopated drumming, and a dramatic cry of “May we not be forgotten!” Doing my part to make that happen.

[audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14312140/03%20On%20Molasses%20Lake%20(Roadside%20Monument).mp3]

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