This is a review of the albums that I have been listening to whilst working from home. Albums listened to for week 15 cover from 29 June to 3 July.
Monday 29 June – Sonic Youth
I must admit I would never have heard of Sonic Youth if it hadn’t of been for the Nirvana influence. I first encountered the band on the BBC2 late night Arena show which was entitled “No Nirvana”. Basically giving other bands a major platform to the UK audience and Sonic Youth were one of them.
It was this performance of Drunken Butterfly on the show that lead me to purchase Dirty (1992). By now the alternative rock revolution was under way and I was getting into more and more bands from the US alt-rock scene. I would get to see the band the following year in 1993 when they came to Dublin to play the first ever Sunstroke festival.
Dirty is a great album and one I constantly played. And of course I would start to follow the band after that. Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (1994) was the follow up and I started getting some of their back catalogue with Goo (1990) their major label debut and the seminal Daydream Nation (1988). Wish I had discovered them earlier.
I picked another two albums, Washing Machine (1995) and Murray Street (2002) were two fantastic albums as well. Biggest regret in 2002 was not seeing them at the Witnness Festival due to band clashes. I hate that when it happens but looking back I definitely made the wrong call!
Tuesday 30 June – The National
Ending the month of June was over to The National. Their Belfast gig for the summer at Botantic Gardens was cancelled due to the pandemic. I had hoped to get to see them again. Formed in the late 90s, they are one of a few bands from the turn of the century that I have taken an interest in.
The Boxer (2007) was recommended to me by a friend and we went down to Dublin to see them at the Olympia Theatre. It was a really great gig but they did play Belfast after that and I didn’t go second time around. You just regret these things when you don’t do it! This album was definitely a favourite and I also have the live CD Boxer Live in Brussels (2018). Originally released for Record Store Day on vinyl.
The next two albums, High Violet (2010) and Trouble Will Find Me (2013) are also great albums. I don’t think I enjoyed Sleep Well Beast (2017) maybe need to give that one a few more listens. Prior to The Boxer, I also played Alligator (2005).
Tuesday 1 July – Faith No More and The Levellers
Mixing up the new month with some great music from the 1990s. Both Faith No More and The Levellers were two groups that I have enjoyed listening to over the years.
I picked four Levellers albums and two Faith No More albums that I thought deserved a listen to for the first time in ages.
Following the success of Angel Dust, they released their fifth album King for a day…Fool for a Lifetime (1995). This was their first effort without guitarist Jim Martin who quit the band. While this record was not a big seller like the previous two albums it still holds up well.
Their cheekily titled sixth album, aptly called Album of the Year (1997) was their last studio album before they disbanded in 1998. The band reformed in 2009 as part of The Second Coming tour. I got to see them in Dublin strangely enough sitting at a gig instead of standing as it was near impossible to get standing tickets for their show at the Olympia Theatre. Was so looking forward to their return to Sunstoke this summer but we all know that went!
I’m trying to remember how I got into The Levellers. They are an English folk band and were probably one of the most popular indie bands in Britain during the 1990s. Their headline slot at Glastonbury in 1994 was at the peak of their popularity.
Levelling the Land (1991) was the first album I bought and I really liked it. I continued to follow the band for the next three albums – Levellers (1993), Zeitgeist (1995) and Mouth to Mouth (1997). It was in 1997 that I got to see them live at the Ulster Hall which surprisingly was poorly attended. Fun fact – support came from the then unknown Snow Patrol. The band had continued to release albums after this but by then my interest had waned a bit. I found out recently that their new album Peace is out soon. Perhaps this will be a chance to get listening to them again. That will be about seven albums worth to catch up on!
Thursday 2 July – Thursday with some Thrice
I must admit that I have been meaning to do this since lockdown began! I visited both bands earlier as part of the emo today but seeing that 2 July was Thursday, I might as well play some albums by Thursday and also some by Thrice as well because I think both of these bands compliment each other in different ways.
Today was pretty much all about Thursday with Thrice almost like a support act. Early 2000s I was taking an interest in some of the new music coming from the US. I have five albums by the band and one compilation Kill the House Lights (2007) which included five new songs, two live recordings, outtakes and demos. Their second album, Full Collapse (2001) was the first album I bought. The follow up War All The Time (2003) and A City by the Light Divided (2006). Their last studio album was No Devolucion (2011).
Thrice concluded the day as a support act with the live album, Anthology (2012) which was recorded as part of the bands farewell tour but like everything else bands never go away as they came back on the scene five years later.
Friday 3 July – Sugar
Rounding of the end of the working week was one of my favourite bands from the 1990s – Sugar.
Formed in 1992 they were the band at the right place and at the right time as I was discovering all this new American music as I embraced all things grunge. Sugar aren’t a grunge band but I liked what I heard and Copper Blue (1992) was one of the best albums that year. I would soon discover that Bob Mould’s previous band was Husker Du and he had done some solo work as well.
Bob Mould could see that Nevermind had changed the way people listened to music and he wasn’t wrong as the doors were opening for me to embrace new music and bands.
Copper Blue remains an all time favourite for me. The following year they released the brutal juggernaut of a record, Beaster (1993) which was more heavier and darker. Mould would compare the album as the evil twin of Copper Blue. Not an album for pleasant listening but it definitely is a tour-de-force.
The bands last album, File Under: Easy Listening (1994) is probably not regarded as their best album. Often shortened to as F.U.E.L, I think it tries to combine some of the first two records. It is not at all a bad album it just doesn’t hit you as hard as Copper Blue and Beaster.
The next album is a compilation called Besides (1995) and it contains various b-sides, live and some remixes of tracks. When I first bought this my copy contained a bonus disc titled The Joke Is Always on Us, Sometimes which was recorded in 1994 in Minneapolis.
All three albums got the deluxe treatment and of course, I bought them again especially for the extras, Copper Blue included a live CD from 1992 at the Cabaret Metro whilst the extras on F.U.E.L was the Besides album.
I first got to see Sugar when they came to Dublin in 1993. My recollection of them back then was not sure what to expect. I think I was a bit disappointed to be honest as they were the one band I really wanted to see that day. Their set seemed a bit short. But Bob Mould would revisit Copper Blue in 2012 playing the album in its entirety. I went over to London to catch that show and it was loud!
Sugar are no more but their legacy definitely lives on and Bob Mould continues to make great solo albums. He has a new album coming out next month that I am looking forward to.