there are just too many TRANSFORMATIVE bands that have been on the iconic BRITISH label 4AD RECORDS. acts like BAUHAUS, SCOTT WALKER, PIXIES, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, LUSH and COCTEAU TWINS, not to mention STEREOLAB, CAMERA OBSCURA, THE BREEDERS, THIEVERY CORPORATION or more recent acts like GRIMES, DEERHUNTER, ST. VINCENT, TUNE-YARDS, ZOMBY, MARK LANEGAN (RIP), PURITY RING and TWIN SHADOW. for the past 4+ decades, it just feels like every successive generation of EXCEPTIONAL musicians with an EXPERIMENTAL and INNOVATIVE edge somehow find themselves on this amazing label.
as someone who is interested in music and constantly jaded by the seeming triviality and copycat nature of new material (even personally experienced the internal pressures and incentive structures of such as a former co-owner of a recording studio), it is A GIFT to have a resource like 4AD available to seek out new acts that are pushing the boundary. whether i am ready for such or not is a different matter, but i love and appreciate the opportunity to be confronted with THE FUTURE by a curation i inherently trust. and that best describes my relationship with 4AD as a listener and music consumer: TRUST.
and there are other labels i similarly TRUST as well, namely FAT POSSUM, DOMINO, MUTE, WARP and MATADOR, but first among equals has always been 4AD. im always looking forward to what NEW SOUNDS theyve found and unleashed on the world.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that originally aired about two and half years just before the pandemic. the 4AD RECORDS playlist showcases a whole host of ECLECTIC music from throughout their CELEBRATED catalogue. enjoy!
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
in the popular consciousness, the brief two-year run of THE JON STEWART SHOW (MTV, 1993-1995) is best remembered as the cursory introduction of arguably one of the SEMINAL comedic and political voices in AMERICA LIFE. it is not hyperbole to put the continued social-political impact of JON STEWART up there with GEORGE CARLIN, MARK TWAIN or even THOMAS PAINE. he is an institution unto himself and it is great that he has had a bit of a resurgence with his THE PROBLEM WITH JON STEWART (APPLE TV+, 2001-present) program in recent years.
but THE JON STEWART SHOW was really just a RUN-OF-THE-MILL talk show on MTV, which a the time was still playing music videos in heavy rotation and was in the early years of developing and perfecting what would become its highly INFLUENTIAL and PROFITABLE REALITY TV formula via BUNIM/MURRAY PRODUCTIONS. in retrospect, one aspect of the show that absolutely flourished was its live ECLECTIC mix of musical guests which ranged from INDIE ROCK (DINOSAUR JR, GUIDED BY VOICES, BELLY, JULIANA HATFIELD) and POST HARDCORE (QUICKSAND, SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE) luminaries and METAL (SLAYER, MARILYN MANSON) veterans to UPSTART ALTERNATIVE ROCK (FAITH NO MORE, BLIND MELON, HUM, THE BREEDERS, OASIS, HELMET) bands. and the list really does goes on.
it is really IMPRESSIVE the amount of great bands that THE JON STEWART SHOW presented to the world during what are arguably their peak creative years. definitely something worth checking out.
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
MTV's LIVE 'N' LOUD series was one of many LONG-FORM LIVE PERFORMANCE series that the channel intermittently produced in the mid-to-late 1990s. much like with the more famous UNPLUGGED, it was a series that they could resurrect anytime they found talent that fit its structure, i.e. POWERFUL live bands and artists with multiple singles and/or a deep back catalogue. the series was shot all over the world, usually at outdoor venues or MASSIVE theaters that showcased throngs of people enveloped and deeply immersed in the music and the spectacle on stage.
as with all things NIRVANA, there was a MEMORABLE 1993 SEATTLE CONCERT for the series at PIER 48 that was filmed as part of their then-ongoing IN UTERO tour. other prominent participants over the years include CYPRESS HILL, NO DOUBT, SOUNDGARDEN, BJORK, NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS, ALANIS MORISSETTE (with future FOO FIGHTERS drummer TAYLOR HAWKINS in tow) and PAUL WELLER. these PERFORMANCES are genuinely WELL PRODUCED with PROFESSIONALLY MIXED sound and as the series moved through the decade it employed somewhat EXPERIMENTAL visuals (including filters, set design, high angle shots and curious lighting) as well to keep it INTERESTING.
definitely worth checking out as this series is most definitely a part of the historical record of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK movement so prevalent in the 1990s.
i grew up on ALTERNATIVE ROCK from the 1990s. i wasnt even in elementary school yet when the 1980s ended, along with it the INFLUENTIAL contemporaneous HARDCORE and INDIE scenes that are still very much CELEBRATED decades on. my entry to to that discussion was the FAMOUS SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE scene that sparked the 90s with SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM and NIRVANA being among the first records i ever received as a child before i became even a decade old. looking back its almost like being informed about previous PUNK ROCK, GLAM ROCK, NEW WAVE, POST PUNK, PROG ROCK and even BRITISH INVASION movements via a cultural bank shot. it was NEW music once or twice removed from those veritable scenes, but something uniquely SEPARATE at the same time.
decades on now i see ALTERNATIVE ROCK as the beginning of GENRE-LESS music. it seemed all manner of PRODUCTION TECNIQUES and ideas were being thrown in the mix, from SAMPLING and BEAT-MAKING utilized in both HIP HOP and INDUSTRIAL circles, new sonic TEXTURES were experienced with bands and artists like BECK, GARBAGE and NINE INCH NAILS that embellished and expanded upon the TRADITIONAL textbook of what a ROCK AND ROLL band sounded like and could get away with. i also always think of music within a social context and while some listeners doggedly clung to OUTMODED identities based out of geographically LOCAL variations of PUNK, INDIE and HARDCORE scenes, i grew up more or less around people that could appreciate multiple DISPARATE genres and cultural movements ranging from FUNK and R&B to HIP HOP, PUNK ROCK and extreme METAL. in essence it was all the same VIBE, but DIFFERENT expressions. decades on you have artists that seamlessly split the difference between various UNRELATED genres and have no issue garnering a MASSIVE audience, which to my perspective showcases the OPEN-MINDEDNESS past down by the ALTERNATIVE ROCK generation that was less interested in PURITY and more concerned about songwriting and sonic INNOVATION.
at least that is my sense of the musical and cultural EVOLUTION that took place during my conscious time on this planet as an ACTIVE listener. some may disagree and thats alright.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that originally aired almost exactly four years ago. hard to believe ive had a radio show that long! the playlist includes music from throughout the ALTERNATIVE ROCK movement of the 1990s. enjoy!
there is something REFRESHING about the manner in which RECORDING ENGINEER STEVE ALBINI goes about his business. too often people, me included, lionize PRODUCERS as if they are MOSES navigating clueless bands through the RECORDING PROCESS and to the promised land. at best, some producers have HUMILITY and perceive themselves as COLLABORATORS or vehicles for artists to utilize in realizing their vision. with ALBINI he strips all of that pomp and circumstance to the core, instead viewing himself as a COMMON engineer attempting to capture the live sound of the band with no input or outside manipulation. being a musician himself as a founding member of the SEMINAL CHICAGO noise rock band BIG BLACK and later projects such as SHELLAC and RAPEMAN, ALBINI wholeheartedly believes in enabling the artist. as a RECORDING ENGINEER (he scoffs at the title and never refers to himself as a "PRODUCER"), ALBINI believes in a STRICT division of LABOR whereby creative decisions are the sphere of influence of the artist and the tracking of which is his.
he is known for recording quickly with MINIMAL if no overdubs altogether, which leads to music that has an IMMEDIATE, UNVARNISHED quality such as CELEBRATED albums like PJ HARVEY's RID OF ME (ISLAND, 1993), PIXIES' SURFER ROSA (4AD, 1988), HELMET's MEANTIME (INTERSCOPE, 1992), NEUROSIS' TIMES OF GRACE (RELAPSE, 1999), THE BREEDERS' POD (4AD, 1990) and arguably most famously NIRVANA's IN UTERO (DGC, 1994). he also charges a SET RATE with NO FUTURE POINTS on the album. in this way he sees his work as a form of LABOR akin to a plumber or electrician. he comes in, completes his SERVICE, and lets the artist keep the results with no strings attached.
what is AMAZING is that there is almost FANATICAL PURITY to that WORKINGMAN ETHOS as ALBINI has refused time and again to leverage his position to create FINANCIAL WINDFALLS for himself and his family. again, as an artist himself, such GAINS would be perceived at the EXPENSE of his clients and result in a COMPROMISED DEBASEMENT of the RECORDING PROCESS. in his perspective, such would be a blaring CONFLICT OF INTEREST. for him, his experiences and IMMENSE abilities are a resource for use by the creative community with NO ELITISM or expectation attached. the more i think about it the more REMARKABLE his BUSINESS ETHICS are.
ive made no qualms about hiding the fact that i am currently enrolled in business school pursuing an MBA. everything there is seemingly done with the end objective of extracting as much ECONOMIC VALUE from any product or service as mathematically and ETHICALLY possible, with an emphasis on the former. it is not that ALBINI's method is an anomaly in the music industry, it feels like an outlier in general. i cant even begin to imagine how much MONEY he left on the table with IN UTERO alone. but thats kind of the point.
FINANCIAL CONCERNS will come and go, but art lives on forever. best to maintain and ensure the PURITY of that PROCESS and let the other matters come to its own equilibrium and conclusion. ALBINI is someone i am continually FASCINATED by both musically and ETHICALLY and i find myself coming to terms with his since of BUSINESS ETHOS all the time.
embedded below is the second DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC, which originally aired a little over three years ago. the playlist includes music from throughout STEVE ALBINI's 'PRODUCTION' catalogue. enjoy!
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO celebrating the music of INDIE ROCK icon KIM DEAL!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
join us TONIGHT at 8PM EST for an all new episode of DEER GOD RADIO on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC with a playlist celebrating the amazing INDIE ROCK music of KIM DEAL!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
and if you haven't done so already, make sure and download the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
photo & text by nacrowe
when i moved from KUWAIT to SACRAMENTO to live with a relative shortly after 9/11 i was pretty shellshocked. it was a tough relocation and on top of that it was my senior year of high school. so i just remember being alone a lot listening to records. fortunately a few blocks away was a solid (sadly now defunct) record store called DIMPLE RECORDS where i basically spent my allowance on all things POST PUNK, GOTH ROCK, INDIE ROCK and beyond.
one of those discoveries was THE BREEDERS. i knew THE PIXIES pretty well but ended up delving headfirst into KIM DEAL's other project, specifically the POD (4AD, 1990) and LAST SPLASH (4AD, 1993) albums. along with ELASTICA, i remember listening to LAST SPLASH when going on a trip to SANTA CRUZ visit the university there. man did i want to attend that school. you had the mountains and the beach and oblique references to PULP FICTION (MIRAMAX, 1994), it seemed perfect. unfortunately i didnt get in. i was considered an out-of-state applicant. i missed the deadline by less than a week. if 9/11 had only have been 8/11 id have gotten in. i remember tutoring peers at my new high school in the afternoon who got in. it was a mess. it worked out though, RUTGERS and COLUMBIA aint half bad at all. but i cant help remembering how fun SANTA CRUZ was for that weekend.
THE BREEDERS fit that vibe so well because everything about their music, visuals and lyrics was a bit askew, a little bit off. they kept the soft verse, explosive chorus of THE PIXIES, whom KIM DEAL was a founding member of, but really explored odd time signatures and interesting guitar-based textures that wrapped her husky vocals seamlessly. standout tracks such as "DRIVIN' ON 9," "NO ALOHA," "DIVINE HAMMER," "DO YOU LOVE ME NOW?" and of course, "CANNONBALL" all mined the same sources that seemed to veer from classic 1950s SURF MUSIC to recent SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE ROCK with infectious melodies and interesting harmonies. vocally the harmonies created by KIM and her sister KELLEY DEAL really provided a lift during the choruses due to the preternatural similarities between the tone of their voices. watching live videos i am always stunned to see how something i thought was a KIM vocal was actually KELLEY and vice versa. those harmonies definitely added a signature sonic element to their songs.
for me LAST SPLASH is an iconic 1990s record on par with anything NIRVANA, THE BEASTIE BOYS, JANE'S ADDICTION, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, OASIS, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, THE WU-TANG CLAN or BECK put out in terms of sonic experimentation and innovation. its a cornerstone record that deserves rediscovery and reexamination more than two decades later.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
i discovered this ongoing series on the PREMIER GUITAR youtube channel a few years ago and have long been obsessed with it. as a failed guitar player myself, it is fun to hear from the players and their techs about all sorts of details regarding their sound and setup. the format is basically a run through of their guitars and amps as well as pedal configurations and individual opinions/philosophy regarding reliability/fidelity tradeoff between analog vs digital, cords vs wireless, in-ear vs speaker monitors, etc.
its really cool to to witness the minutiae of their sound, even diving into things like string gauges, pick thickness, pickup configurations, bridges, tuners and the list goes on. it is definitely a niche audience that gets off on this sort of thing, but i am squarely in that demographic.
for me their is never enough times to witness people talk about their prized LES PAUL JR, JAZZMASTER, D-28, COUNTRY GENTLEMAN, P-BASS, 370 12-string, JAZZ BASS, DOBRO TRICONE, 4003 BASS, WHITE FALCON or TELECASTER. or for that matter any variety of high-gain amplifier models like the DUAL RECTIFIER (BLINK 182, PENNYWISE), JCM 800 (SLAYER, JUDAS PRIEST), ROCKERVERB 100 (MASTODON), HIWATT CP103 (THE WHO), 5150 (VAN HALEN), JMP 2204 (AC/DC), SHIVA (ALICE IN CHAINS, TOOL), BE100 (ALICE IN CHAINS), VH4 (TOOL), CENTURY 200 (PANTERA, WHITE ZOMBIE), UBERSCHALL (TOOL) or a MARK IIC+ (early METALLICA)
whats also interesting over time is witnessing firsthand the trend towards digital amp profilers and modelers like the HELIX, KEMPER and especially the AXE FX which allows their setup to be easily transportable (like hand carry-on in a plane easy) as well as more consistent given that traditional tube amplifiers require maintenance from time to time depending on weather, humidity conditions.
you really get a sense of how and why guitar and bass musicians and those that support them utilize the gear they do on tour. you also get a clear "inside baseball" perspective on how they view these numerous tradeoff decisions every musician has to make, and they all have differing opinions. its basically required viewing for anyone interested in gear used by rock bands.
anyway, if you're interested definitely check out the examples i embedded below (these don't even scratch the surface of the total playlist linked HERE).
artwork by nacrowe
tonight's episode of DEER GOD RADIO at 8PM on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC will be all about ALTERNATIVE ROCK from the 1990s.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST and THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW are available here at the DEER GOD website.