Archive for the ‘The Rocket’ Category

From the Rocket…

Love Battery, “Between the Eyes” (From the December 1989 issue)

“Here is a band astonishingly adept at recreating the best elements of ’60s psychedelia.  Not as dense or complicated as the Screaming Trees, Love Battery have the sticky, pulsating wah-wah guitar sound down cold, complete with earnestly raw vocals on top.” (Grant Alden)

Sub/Pop 7 (June 1982)

“There are lots of competent, good, and even great rock bands around the country that never leave town.  Sub/Pop’s intent is to make some of these ‘local’ bands available to those of us outside the immediate neighborhood….it’s great to be able to hear even just one song by a band from Kansas or Tennessee or Florida.” (Herb Levy)

Nirvana, Nevermind (December 1991)

“New rules: Axl Rose WISHES he were Kurdt Kobain….the lyrics are shrugs, tossed off, the hardest part is convincing their rancor of imbecility….Next LP we’re gonna all write the lyrics and send ’em to Nirvana….You heard it here last.  Nirvana are the Anti-Christs, TOTALLY in control of Axl Rose’s mind.” (Mike Logan)

Mudhoney, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (July 1991)

“Certainly it is loud, passionate, and primitive, but the most astonishing characteristics of Mudhoney’s second long-player—that it will sell—elegantly epitomizes the transformation of the Seattle music scene over the last three years.  Mudhoney, after all, were formed precisely to avoid this fate.  Mark Arm, Steve Turner, Dan Peters and Matt Lukin are the anti-commercial spawn of Green River, the very bad boys who, at the height of the Reagan Revolution, resolutely chose art over commerce.  Their comrades in Mother Love Bone (now splintered again into Pearl Jam) parlayed Green River’s underground cachet into a huge major label contract….[Fudge features] small, carefully conceived parts added by all four [Mudhoney] players to the basic tracks.  This fresh interest in nuance includes quoting the guitar riff from ‘Cinnamon Girl’ as the overture to ‘Broken Hands’ and an homage to the Sonics (having been compared so often, they evidently finally checked out the godfathers of grunge) in ‘Who You Drivin’ Now.’  All that; and a big rock drum sound, too, all recorded on the old Stax/Volt board now housed in PopLlama’s Egg Studios.” (Grant Alden)

Gas Huffer, Janitors of Tomorrow (September 1991)

“Finally, a full-length Gas Huffer release.  And to make sure you buy it, the initial pressing comes with the most awesome insert I’ve seen in a rock record: a comic book that has each song drawn out in comic form by a different member of the band.  Most of this LP is what you’ve come to expect from the Huffer, energetic train rock on a course for adventure….Through the comic book and producer Jack Endino’s clarity, you get a chance to find out what that kook Matt Wright’s been singin’.  Like a song about working in a shoe factory and a song about a family in a nuclear shelter, where the father eats his children in gluttonous hunger.” (Chris Takino)

Mr. Epp and the Calculations, Of Course I’m Happy.  Why? (June 1982)

“Mr. Epp and the Calculations have a hit on their hands….‘Mohawk Man’ is a two-fisted satirical attack on the instant suburban hardcore scene—the type of kids who think it’s ‘punk’ to bash each other (and everyone else within range) with bottles, cans, fists or even their heads….Over [an] eerie cacophony Mark Arm chants ‘I’m the Mohawk Man/I can look real mean/I’ve got a Mohawk, man/I can make the scene…I’ll go see a hardcore band tonight/Gonna slam, hope I get the steps right/If I’m lucky I’ll get into a fight.’  A great song.” (Robert Newman)

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From the Rocket…

Skin Yard, Hallowed Ground (from the February 1989 issue)

Hallowed Ground is a strong, uncompromising album that proves that intelligence and sludge can mutually co-exist.  Skin Yard fits neatly into no convenient musical category.  I’m sure the band likes it that way.” (Robert Allen)

Nirvana, Bleach (July 1989)

“Nirvana careens from one end of the thrash spectrum to the other, giving a nod towards garage grunge, alternative noise, and hell-raising metal without swearing allegiance to any of them.” (Gillian G. Gaar)

Green River, Rehab Doll (June 1988)

“Like the aftermath of a police raid on Alki, this eight-song goodie peals out in several directions at once.  It’s a refreshing, multiple-injury approach to the doomy tunes that local noise addicts have been forced to love.” (Andrea Vitalich)

Terry Lee Hale, Fools Like Me (June 1988)

“Hale describes his music as ‘modern acoustic,’ a term that implies the use of the acoustic guitar as a percussion instrument….This tape takes chances; some folks who have seen Hale perform these songs solo live might be thrown by the arrangements.  This is a first class effort worthy of an audience.  I hope it finds one.” (Robert Allen)

Sub Pop 200 (December 1988)

“Called the ‘ultimate document of the scene’ by its creators, Sub Pop 200 is a stylish box set of three EPs accompanied by a booklet filled with photos and data.  The vinyl itself not only holds contributions from Sub Pop stablemates like TAD, Mudhoney, and Soundgarden (before their departure for the majors), but a whole slew of acts that record for other labels: the Walkabouts, Fastbacks, and Screaming Trees, to name a few.  And not only is there diversity apparent in the choice of bands, it’s highlighted by the type of material the bands choose to perform.” (Gillian G. Gaar)

Some Random Mudhoney References

Posted: December 12, 2011 in The Rocket

from Seattle’s Rocket, by request:

“Most of this grunge stuff–for which Seattle has been notorious since the Sonics–is, for me, an object of alien curiosity in the same way rappers Public Enemy and Ice-T fascinate.  There is an undeniable force driving Mudhoney and Public Enemy, a clean, pure volcanic rage which I no longer share.  Rappers have transparent reasons for their displeasure with society, but what drives skinny white kids to this level of sincerity?  The Sex Pistols came with a political ethos and the slam pit became a metaphor for struggle in the English slums.  The famous Seattle grunge is still about sex and good times, and slamming here is a ten-year-old borrowed tradition that seems an empty gesture today.

“…“Touch Me I’m Sick”…comes with an approximation of a hook, but on any terms this is one hell of an opening salvo.  Kudos to producer Jack Endino for managing to so cleanly capture all of Mudhoney’s sound on this brown-colored single.”

Grant Alden, review of Mudhoney’s “Touch Me I’m Sick,” from the October 1988 issue.

“…Superfuzz offers six competent garage grunge things (not songs; more like brief, somewhat sophomoric essays on the art of noise), that seem dull and whining compared to [Touch Me I’m Sick’s] ragged, nasty edge….I had hoped for more.”

Grant Alden, review of Mudhoney’s Superfuzz Bigmuff, from the November 1988 issue.

Selected Top Northwest Records of All Time

#1) “Louie Louie,” the Kingsmen.

#2) Here Are the Sonics, the Sonics.

#4) Dreamboat Annie, Heart.

#6) Sub Pop 200.

#16) “Touch Me I’m Sick,” Mudhoney.

#27) Dry As A Bone, Green River.

Compiled by the Rocket staff for the October 1989 issue.

The Rocket Notes, 1986

Posted: October 12, 2011 in The Rocket

In 1986, things were beginning to percolate in the Seattle music scene, particularly in the grunge arena.  The Deep Six compilation, featuring Soundgarden, Green River and others, documented the arrival of the new sound.  But there was a lot of other exciting stuff happening as noted below (btw, note also the prominence of Bruce Pavitt and Jonathan Poneman, two years before they would launch Sub Pop as a full-time record label.  Finally, note the opening of Reciprocal Recording, which will be the studio’s second go-around.  The new studio set up shop in Ballard and would churn out recordings by Green River, Soundgarden, TAD, Mudhoney, and Nirvana.)

April 1986

“Deep Six LP.  You got it.  It’s slow SLOW and  heavy HEAVY and it’s THE predominant sound of underground Seattle in ’86.  Green River, Sound Garden (sic), The Melvins, Malfunkshun and even Skin Yard prove that you don’t have to live in the suburbs and have a low I.Q. to do some SERIOUS head banging.  As an extra bonus you also get one cut by local sex gods the U-Men.  They is one of their mega-hits but sounds quirky and out of context (a fat slab from skull thumpers My Eye would’ve made more sense).  But enough slack, THIS RECORD ROCKS.”

Bruce Pavitt, “Sub Pop USA,” 23.

May 1986

“Guns N’ Roses, an LA-based rock ‘n’ glam outfit with ex-Seattleite and former 10 Minute Warning charmer Duff McKagen, (sic) has signed a bigtime deal with Geffen Records.”

Johnny Renton, “Lip Service,” 7.

Pavitt mentions Monkey Business, Danger Bunny, the Walkabouts, Green Pajamas, and the Fastbacks in his Sub Pop USA column.

June 1986

“Bill Stuber, owner of Triangle Studios, left town in a big hurry on May 10, taking all the studio’s equipment, plus many master tapes bands need for their records.  Aggrieved musicians are hoping Stuber will return the masters at least, before a posse is thrown together…”

Johnny Renton, “Lip Service,” 9.

Note article on Metal Church.

“There’s just one catch to studio time that costs nothing.  It usually means you’ll end up with a demo that’s worth nothing.”

Ad for Steve Lawson Productions, 21.

July 1986

“Local acts from the Young Fresh Fellows to the U-Men to Heir Apparent to Sir Mix-A-Lot to the Walkabouts to Green River are frantically touring the land, spreading Seattle gospel across the nation like so much seaweed.  Vinyl is bursting out (or about to) from every sector; the folk “scene” (Jim Page, Mark O’Conner, Uncle Bonsai), the metal “scene” (Metal Church, Queensryche) and always-popular compilation “scene” (Popllama’s 12 Inch Combo Deluxe, the Green M’s Monkey Business, Deep Six).  Such stalwart venues as the Backstage, Fabulous Rainbow and Central Tavern keep pushing a steady diet of local acts down our throats, with new-to-the-“scene” joints the Ditto and University Bistro hot on their heels.”

Johnny Renton, “Lip Service,” 7.

Lip Service also talks about Poneman’s KCMU Air Aid nights “were a smashingly successful series of rave-ups,” and Bruce Pavitt’s upcoming Sub/Pop 100 compilation.

Notes Jonathan Poneman as KCMU’s Audio Oasis DJ.

Pavitt recommends Feast’s live and like totally heavy, 23.  Note Pavitt heavily plugs Sonic Youth, the Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Scratch Acid…basically the hip alt rock acts of the period, throughout his various Sub/Pop columns.

“8-Track Recording: new studio opens July 1.  Otari-Revox-Lexicon.  Pro quality at reasonable rates.  RECIPROCAL RECORDING.”

Ad on 34.

August 1986

Reviews describe Green Pajamas as psych revival.

September 1986

October 1986

(Johnny Renton) Lip Service notes that Poneman has taken over as KCMU promotions director.  It also mentions that KCMU received FCC permission to build a new transmitter atop Capitol Hill, and will increase coverage by 400 percent, according to station manager Chris Knab, 7.

November 1986

“The Ditto closed and re-opened in the blink of an eye recently, a premature final night of music on September 28, with the musical antics of Sound Garden (sic), Bundle of Hiss, Weather Theater and more dazzling a capacity crowd.”

Johnny Renton, “Lip Service,” 7.

The Rocket Notes, 1984

Posted: October 11, 2011 in The Rocket

Seattle was at its nadir in 1984.  Musicians who wanted a career gave up and left town.  Nothing appeared to be happening.  People who stayed made music for fun, because that was all they were going to get out of it.  It was at this point, when things seemed to bottom out, that the seeds for intensive creativity were sown.  During this period, bands like the Young Fresh Fellows, the Green Pajamas, Soundgarden, Green River, the Walkabouts, the Squirrels, Terry Lee Hale & the Ones, and Girl Trouble (from Tacoma) began to emerge.  The U-Men, arguably Seattle’s most influential band, peaked around this time.  On the surface, however, things seemed pretty bleak:

June 1984 (all local music issue)

“…what this town really needs is one band to blow us all away.  Just one band who can play some new music that captures the imagination of the town, that would turn everything around.”

John Keister, “Who’s Killing Seattle Rock and Roll?  A Rant By John Keister,” 18. 

“What makes this record [The Young Fresh Fellows’ Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest] even more refreshing, is that it comes at a time when I thought the Seattle music scene was dead in the water.  This is undeniably the worst period in the last 10 years for Seattle music (with the exception of heavy metal) – there are fewer bands, fewer clubs and there are almost no bands in the area now making a living off music.  Almost in spite of that I sense a resurgence in an underground movement of bands and the Fellows are the best of the lot.”

Charles R. Cross, (Associate Editor), “New Sounds of the Pacific Northwest: Over 50 Reviews of Northwest Music.” “The Young Fresh Fellows: The Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest, PopLlama,” 27.

Reviews also talk about Feedback which featured “semi-interesting instrumentals” and had Daniel House (later in Skin Yard), Matt Cameron (later in Skin Yard, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam), and Nerm.

July 1984

“Fallout Records & Skateboards will be opening July 2 at 1506 Olive Way on Capitol Hill, under the direction of Bruce Pavitt and Russ Battaglia.  The new EP by Seattle’s U-Men is out on the Bombshelter record label.”

Johnny Renton, “Lip Service,” 10.

“If you play Steve Lawson’s phone number on this keyboard, [picture of a touch-tone phone] you’ll get 24-track recording time in a state-of-the-art studio for just $50 an hour.  Any day between 7 pm and 6 am.  Which is about $75 an hour less than you’d pay anywhere else for…more new high tech equipment than you’ll find anywhere north of San Francisco.”

Ad for Steve Lawson Productions recording studio, 25.

“Reciprocal Recording offers high quality 8-track recording services at incomparable prices.  We’ve got good equipment and a versatile space.  Check us out for your next demo or LP project.  $12.50/hr, $10/hr block rate.”

Classified ad for Reciprocal Recording, 38.

August 1984

Noticed Matt Groening listed as an artist.

The Rocket Notes, 1981

Posted: October 8, 2011 in The Rocket

January 1981

“The Refuzors recent gig at the Gorilla Room got the band 86d from the mostly “new wave” club.  Seems some tables got broken as did a few glasses.  To be exact, two tables, four chairs, six pitchers and twelve glasses were casualties.  “It’s about time someone woke this place up,” offered band member Mike Refuzor.”

Ricky Cresciend’o (Confidential Reporter), “Lip Service,” 5.

Tacoma’s Baby Knockors are mentioned here and before.

An ad for the WREX marketed itself as “Seattles(sic) only video & new wave dance club,” 11.

February 1981

Cross (who was just a contributing writer at the time) writes favorably about the Heats’ debut album Have an Idea.  “The Heats also must get some credit for their initiative in releasing this album.  After getting sick of waiting for a major label to sign them, the Heats put out this album on their management’s own label, Albatross records.  Albatross, in addition to managing the Heats, manages Heart, and one would guess that the money that comes from managing such a super group made this album possible.  The goal now seems to be to attract a major label for re-release or distribution.”

“But for all the merit of this album, taken outside of the context of Seattle it is outshadowed by 10,000 other similar bands playing the same kinds of songs from Portland to Pensacola.  In the realm of power pop groups, the Heats seem insignificant compared to bands like San Francisco’s the Beat or L.A.’s 20/20.”

Charles Cross (CW), “Four Guys in Search of an Idea,” (23, 24)

March 1981

Lip Service (by the C with the apostrophe dude) reports that the Beakers broke up and that drummer George Romansic and lead guitarist Mark Smith have joined up with Colin McDonnell, guitarist from Macs Band, and bassist Scott Smith to form 3 Swimmers.  Beakers bass player Frankie Sundstrum has moved to the Blackouts.  Page 5.

The Fags are mentioned (as also by Jamie) as well as the Empty Set and Jr. Cadillac, who had been around apparently since 1970.

“Ex-Mental Mannequin vocalist-keyboardist Barbi (sic) sang an inspired “White Rabbit,” climaxed by a shower of those pills that make you larger and smaller, craftily disguised as Good ‘n’ Plenty treats.  Usual lead vocalist Upchuck (his name’s on the P.A.) sang one or two songs, but mostly wandered out of sight.”

Scott McCaughey (CW), “Put Me on the Guest List: the Fags, the Empty Set, Jr. Cadillac,” 11.

Notes I took while researching Seattle’s Rocket.

Oct 1979

Nov 1979

“Heart put Seattle on the map [as a] recording town and it’s been…off ever since. Seattle has nothing to be ashamed of in the quality of its musicians….it blows your mind, [what’s] happening in the music [scene.]”  She also talks about the wide array of local styles and variety of talent levels.

Kay Joslin (Contributing Writer), “Homegrown Guide to the Puget Sound,” 5.

Dec 1979

(Musicians classified section starts to appear)

Jan 1980

(Note that the Enemy shows up in these early issues)

“The large record company commercial radio stranglehold on American musical tastes will most likely continue into the ’80s and beyond.  There is, however, a growing distaste for the entertainment corporations which may manifest itself as increasing support for a cottage recording industry.  Punk and disco took us two baby steps away from superstar worship and towards a curiosity about unknown artists while the industry, sluggish to respond to trends, promotes and packages them to an unrecognizable pulp when they finally sink their bucks in.”

“…sophisticated recording studios will start cropping up in more and more places.   Accessible technology is a key phrase for the future of recorded music with the small label and independent artist playing a larger role in our cultural lives.”

“Forty-fives have made a comeback because small-time bands can put them out without the paternal presence (and the money) of a record company.”

Karrie Jacobs (Senior Editor), “Music 1980: Packaging a Diverse Decade,” 8.

Feb 1980

Mar 1980

“…that interplay of hate, sex and violence that drives the latest wave, leave that to the Enemy.  Their most recent 45, “Trendy Violence/Bang-Bang You’re Dead,” crackles with nasty energy like pavement against your cheek.”

“Trendy Violence,” by lead singer Suzanne Grant, begins with overlapping voices, an actual recording of the Enemy being attacked by Seattle police atop The Bird, an early punk club.  Grant suffered a broken arm.”

Robert Ferrigno (Editor), “New Enemy Single Hits Home,” 19.

April 1980

Talks about the opening of The Gorilla Room, as an all-ages, non-alcoholic club in the Pioneer Square area.  It opened its doors on March 14, 1980 with a show featuring Psycho Pop [sic] and the Refuzors.

(Noticed Cross showing up as a contributing writer as well as Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows).