Following the massive success of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ album at the end of 1991, the major labels turned their attention to Seattle and the surrounding areas hoping to sign “the next big thing”. Bands that’d been working hard on an underground scene suddenly found themselves thrown in the spotlight as the musical tide turned. Screaming Trees signed a deal with Epic Records and subsequently released their three finest albums (including the career defining ‘Sweet Oblivion’); Tad moved up the ranks from Sub Pop to the East/West label and even Melvins – previously considered an almost unmarketable commodity – struck a three album deal with Ahmet Ertegun’s legendary Atlantic Records.
In some ways, the idea of grunge as a musical umbrella was a myth; a media invention borne from a lazy journalistic need to pigeonhole everything. Most of the bands that broke through in the early 90s actually had little in common aside from a geographic locale: Nirvana’s Pixies and Wipers obsessions bore little resemblance to Soundgarden’s updating of Black Sabbath’s monolithic riffery, just as that had absolutely nothing in common with Mudhoney’s desire to be Iggy & The Stooges. Yet, they were often lumped together. Also primarily thought of as a “grunge band”, from their inception in the mid-80s right through to their quiet demise approximately fifteen years later, Screaming Trees honed retro sounds of yet a different kind. Here was a band that drew influence from heavy psychedelia. Like the other more popular Washington State bands, their only obvious link came from a love of khaki kecks and heavy plaid shirts.
On May 24th 2019, Cherry Red Records / HNE Recordings will release a double disc deluxe edition of ‘Sweet Oblivion’, the sixth album by Seattle legends Screaming Trees.
Their second major label album (and sixth overall) is arguably their first true masterpiece including the should-have-been hits ‘Dollar Bill’ and ‘Nearly Lost You’.
Formed in Seattle in 2010, experimental electronic act Darto have spent years carving themselves a niche in the musical underground. Their music, while always interesting, isn’t always completely accessible; that said, somewhere within its darkness – for those able to invest the time – haunting songs eventually emerge. Don’t expect big hooks, though, since Darto are all about the overall mood. On their 2018 EP ‘Fundamental Slime’ (recorded by the legendary Steve Fisk), the songs take many cues from the darker and artier side of the late 70s – a period after Roxy Music had all but abandoned art for pop sheen and Ultravox were not the worldwide hit makers known to millions, but a Roxy/Eno obsessed synth band.
In an age of digital music and at a time when so many listeners seem to be cherry picking bits of albums from streaming sites as opposed to viewing a piece of work as an artistic whole, the long player format sometimes seems to be floundering. This fact hasn’t escaped Seattle’s Devils Hunt Me Down, who’ve chosen to release their 2017 album ‘In Medias Res’ as three four track EPs as opposed to saving it up and putting it out as a whole. Sometimes this approach can be interesting (see Joshua Ketchmark’s trilogy of releases in 2012, where the singer songwriter used each one to explore a different style), but sometimes, it just leaves the listener wanting more with works that seem fractured.