Sunday Quarantunes: Ear Candy for Sheltering in Place (’90s Crate Digging Edition)
This article was originally published in Stereo Embers Magazine
Yes, being sequestered this long continues to suck to high heaven. But fear not, Sunday Quarantunes is here to occupy you for the next 2-4 minutes, minimum.
People – let’s imbibe our collective coffee pour-overs and momentarily retrace our steps. While seemingly unorganized and vapid, the Sunday Quarantunes procedurals have set forth a shockingly specific battle plan.
In the first edition, I gleefully reminded you about several albums that you were undoubtedly, unquestionably, unsparingly listening to in the ’90s. I felt your denial, so lovingly spared you Matchbox 20’s Yourself or Someone Like You, but you know you were rocking out to that one too, fuckers.
Next we dropped down a tier for the B-Sides Edition, in which we discussed some records that might have been on your radar. That one was hopefully a wee bit less painful for you. I’d heard back from a few of you badasses saying that there were a few disks on that list that you’d lost complete track of, so that’s rad (and thanks for reading, btw).
In this edition, we’re going deeper.
Secure that breathing apparatus and set your course for 20 degrees down bubble, cause we’re going crate digging, folks. Now before we put on our resting funk faces, let me add a tiny note of caution. The other main tenant of this Ear Candy series is to provide rigorous amounts of permission. I hereby grant you the permission to unshackle the un-cool within. Embrace the part of yourself that continues to listen to and enjoy the before-mentioned Matchbox 20 record. Let’s say it together, “Rob Thomas rules.”
That was hard for you, wasn’t it?
I provide this gentle reminder mainly to dissuade you from expecting the following records to be too fucking cool in a deeply indie-intensified way. They won’t be, so quit it. That said, you might recognize a few of these clandestine gems but also might stumble on a few glorious unheard relics.
But hey, who am I to say? I’m just a dude who fearlessly prefers the first two Radiohead albums to the rest of their other weird shit.
You too?! I knew it…
The Connells/One Simple Word (1990):
This banger of a record from these Raleigh, NC treasures is arguably their strongest overall effort. I’m pretty partial to the earlier side of their long recording output and this disk in particular features all that these jangle-poppers do best. “Stone Cold Yesterday,” “One Simple Word,” “The Joke” and “Take a Bow” are all classics. I’ve always speculated that these guys escaped popularity due to their all-too-clear tilt towards Athens, R.E.M., and such. There’s also a strong Posies odor happening. Worth noting that The Connells are one of the very few bands who’ve made the multiple lead singer thing less annoying.
Arc Angles (1992):
I’ve seen this disk littering the CD bargain bins for years and it always pisses me off. What a band! It’s like the Justice League of Badasses getting together for a good time and the sheer volume of rocket juice was uncontainable, causing almost immediate flameout. The Arc Angles were doing the Supergroup thing before it was trendy. Not only does the band feature A-list singer/guitar slingers Charlie Sexton and Doyle Bramhall II, but also boasts THE Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble rhythm section. Its almost too much greatness in one place to comprehend and could not have been any more out of step with what was happening in 1992. Still, pull up the lead track “Living in a Dream” and let that thing wash all over you.
The Sundays/Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic (1990):
Okay, so you probably know this one. In fact, it might have been better placed in one of the earlier Sunday Quarantunes editions. But any excuse to remind you about this record is redeemable as far as I’m concerned and I’m all about trying to help you guys. This was a decent size hit in their native UK and “Here’s Where the Story Ends” spent some time in rotation on MTV. When was the last time you spun this one, though?! I mean, Harriet Wheeler – (cue the swooning): Her voice is the stuff of magic and these songs in particular, stand the test of time. Check back in with this one. There’s not a bad tune to be found. I looked; they’re not there.
Dog’s Eye View/Happy Nowhere (1994):
You might have cast this one aside purely due to the band’s little brother status to Counting Crows and annoying affiliation with Adam Durtiz. You might have seen the lead single “Everything Falls Apart” on the tube, but very few actually waded into the full length itself. If you missed out on this one, despair not – you have Spotify. Cue up “The Princes’ Favorite Son” really quick, you’ll see where I’m coming from. While this album suffers from the typical 90’s far too many tracks problem (not to mention the truly terrible band name), it’s a stunner folks. This one will make you smile, guaranteed.
Emmet Swimming/Wake (1995):
Look, Todd Watts has a super strange voice. It’s one of the only possible reasons why this band never rose to its rightful place in the ’90s rock landscape. This is an especially great listen due to the band’s sound being caught somewhere in-between late ’80s post-punk and the alternative rock muscle of the time. “Broken Oar,” “Jump in the Water,” and “You’re So Pretty” are standouts. Much like the Geddy Lee Rush-effect, don’t let the voice stop you. Don’t let it go down that way!
You can’t stop me. I’m doing it. I’m going to talk about Brad and Shawn Smith as much as humanly possible. This is a classic grunge era record that sounds nothing like anything even remotely comparable. It’s a magical unicorn of an album that came to life from the band jamming together the songs during recording. It’s nothing if not raw as all hell and is so much more than merely a Stone Gossard side project. For all that’s still right and holy, please immediately spin this record. Luckily for you, the entire Brad catalogue was recently added to Spotify, so revelry is only a couple clicks away.