Yesterday Drew and I went in search of a birthday present for his dad and I picked up two used CDs along the way, fIREHOSE’s fROMOHIO ($5) and Surprise Your Pig: A Tribute to REM ($4) featuring Band of Susan’s, Jawbreaker, and a few other notable types. Plus, I got a Tattle Tale 7” in the mail today (the “Alder-Wood Mall”/”Loose Lips” one on Chou-Chou). (Speaking of Tattle Tale, I also pre-ordered Jen Wood’s new album Finds You in Love, which finally got a physical release on New Grenada Records.)
Anyway, first things first. fIREHOSE. After reading Our Band Could Be Your Life, watching the fantastic Minutemen documentary, We Jam Econo, and spending a little too much time watching this YouTube video (taken from the aforementioned We Jam Econo) and (sometimes) crying, I became a pretty big Minutemen fan — but I never really checked out anything that Mike Watt and George Hurley worked on after D. Boon’s passing.
I knew that Watt and Hurley were in a post-Minutemen group called fIREHOSE, but had never heard any fIREHOSE songs. I spotted this CD while browsing through the used bin (where most of my CDs come from) and initially picked it up because I recognized the band name, but ended up buying it because it was called fROMOHIO and was recorded at Suma, a recording studio about 15 miles away from the house I grew up in.
Drew and I listened to about half of the album on the way home and then I listened to the full album this morning while eating breakfast and folding laundry. My favorite songs are the ones that sound vaguely country (you know, in that mid-to-late-eighties college radio sort of way.) “Riddle of the Eighties,” “In My Mind,” and “Time With You” are especially strong, I think. I really love listening to this and thinking about the band driving around Painesville, Ohio’s semi-post-industrial, semi-country landscape.
I’ve uploaded the album’s first two tracks, you can get your own copy direct from SST (CD $13, LP $9).
As you’d probably expect, Surprise Your Pig is a mixed bag. A few tracks lend a hardcore perspective to REM, some are instrumental drone type things. I’m definitely not an REM purist, but I did notice that I seemed to prefer the songs that stuck a little closer to the originals in sound. Sam & the Philistines contributed a nice foreign language take on “Talk About The Passion” & I really liked J-Church’s version of “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville” (a song that I’ve always been particularly partial to.) Other highlights: Jawbreaker’s version of “Pretty Persuasion”, the Mr. T Experience’s “Can’t Get There from Here,” the Punchline’s “Bandwagon,” and Vic Chestnutt’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”