The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Gig #109: Some 90s American indie rock songs that especially got to me: The Breeders, Sebadoh, Codeine, Jawbreaker, Superchunk, Babes in Toyland, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, The Lemonheads, Trumans Water, Fugazi, Sugar, The Flaming Lips, Melvins, Dinosaur Jr., Polvo, Drive Like Jehu, Lilys, Sonic Youth, Sentridoh, Shudder to Think, Portastatic, Weezer, Pavement, Archers of Loaf, Unwound, Guided by Voices, Cat Power, Red House Painters, Swirlies, Tobin Sprout, Girls Against Boys, Chavez, Yo La Tengo, Robert Pollard, Pinback, Low, The Microphones, Mercury Rev


The Breeders Iris (1990)
‘Pod is the debut album by the American alternative rock band the Breeders, released on 4AD in May 1990. Steve Albini has stated that it is the one album on which he felt he got both the best sound for a band, and the best performance from a band. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain called it one of the most influential albums of his life.’ — collaged


Sebadoh As the World Dies, the Eyes of God Grow Bigger (1991)
Sebadoh III is imbued with that sense of urgency and the compulsive urge to prove yourself by going in at least five different musical directions at once. The perfect backbone for Barlow’s nervous intensity was Gaffney’s fiendish appetite for “fucking with people” which was also, says Barlow, what made Sebadoh III so different from more well-adjusted contemporaries like Pavement. Speaking of Gaffney’s lyrical brilliance, Barlow says, “I found it legitimately poetic and disturbing. When Eric would start messing around with words, you were like ‘Oh my God, he’s going to come through the speakers and fucking kill me.’ It’s the perfect description of the sheer trauma that is Gaffney’s “As the World Dies the Eyes of God Grow Bigger” and a counterpoint to Barlow’s own musical mission statement, where it’s more about the emotions, than the warping thereof.’ — Gigwise


Codeine jr (1992)
‘In contemporary reviews, Peter Paphides wrote in Melody Maker that Codeine’s Barely Real EP was “25 minutes of snowblind glory waiting here if you want them. Each of them is a towering monument to nothingness”. The Alternative Press opined that the EP was not “a progression from the gorgeously devastated Frigid Stars and I couldn’t be happier. Codeine have hit upon a formula so pure and righteous it would be tragic for them to deviate from it.”‘ — collaged


Jawbreaker Bivouac (1992)
‘Unfortunately, it’s not 1991 anymore. Kids no longer pledge undying allegiance to full-length albums. Steve Jobs has made it so they can create their own compilations. This allows them to sensationalize the thought that a jumbled group of songs can merge together to deliver one blank slate of relevance. They customize their angst by selecting any particular slew of artists they want to remind them why they’re confused, enraged, or heartbroken. Jawbreaker made records that meant something to them, not their fans’ dwindling attention span.’ — Consequence of Sound


Superchunk Mower (1992)
‘After pushing the buzzsaw abandon of their earliest records to its logical extreme on the masterful No Pocky for Kitty, Superchunk begins reinventing itself with their third full-length, On the Mouth, a record as invigorating as it is frustrating. Without sacrificing any of the energy or conviction of past efforts, many of the disc’s 13 songs harness Mac McCaughan’s breathless pop-punk melodies into tighter, more demanding contexts — highlights, like the singles “Mower” and “The Question Is How Fast,” introduce a new arsenal of shifting rhythms and explosively tense dynamics which reveal unexpectedly limitless possibilities within the classic Superchunk approach.’ — Jason Ankeny


Babes In Toyland Bruise Violet (1992)
‘”Bruise Violet” is the second single by Babes in Toyland from their album, Fontanelle. In an interview, Bjelland was asked if the song “Bruise Violet” was written about Courtney Love, since one of Hole’s hits was entitled “Violet”. Her response was no, firstly because “Violet” was released two years later (though Hole had been playing the song regularly since 1991), and secondly that Violet was a muse that both she and Love wrote about. It was released on purple 7″ vinyl and features early or not produced versions of the song.’ — collaged


Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 Wide Forehead (1992)
‘The band achieved their greatest critical and commercial success in the mid-nineties when they signed with the influential indie rock label Matador Records. It was during this time that Thinking Fellers produced their most prominent albums, Lovelyville, and the critically lauded college radio hit Strangers from the Universe. Despite its relatively poor production values, Mother of All Saints is considered by many fans the group’s masterpiece.’ — last.fm


The Lemonheads Rudderless (1993)
‘Obviously the aimless “ship without a rudder” is figurative. I think it’s probably like “Evan Dando without his drug buddy is like a ship without a rudder”. That’s just my thought.’ — this is that song


Trumans Water Fuller Piston Vinegar (1993)
‘There are plenty of reasons why rock has never been as fertile an improvisational canvas for musicians as jazz — chief among them, the hold of the 4/4 beat, the transience of attention spans (on the part of musicians and audience alike) and the fact that most aspiring bands would rather build a beer-can wall than a vertically soaring head. Despite a receding indie-rock orthodoxy, this San Diego quartet manages to successfully navigate the waters of improv with minimal listing toward the shores of pomp or shambling into silly lo-fi wankery.’ — Trouser Press


Fugazi Rend It (1993)
‘As i mentioned this song is sung by Gui and more than likely written by him. his lyrics are often introspective, poetic and open to interpretation.. Embrace (his original claim to fame) was one of the original outspoken EMO bands im the early 80’s, very progressive… Many people speculate of his enhanced and progressive mindset and possible use of “drugs”. Rend it – end it.. Of off of Fugazi – in on the kill taker… Open up the the case and remove the cd and you will see “i will not lie” hand written (supposedly from a dumpsterdived journal of a mentally unstable person) .. did they write it, or did they find it? Why did they include it… For a band with such content i cant turn a blind eye to it.’ — PDU


Sugar Tilted (1993)
‘Rarely has a band rocked out with such bleak intensity and utter conviction. A vast cathedral of noise and despair, erected and demolished in half an hour flat, this is an song which has to be heard to be believed.’ — The Times


The Flaming Lips Pilot at the Queer of God (1993)
‘When he [a former coworker of Wayne’s from Long John Silver’s who joined the army and served as the inspiration for the song] would come back from his duties, I felt like he was changed for the better. He went away and he was a hick, a chauvinist, but he came back and he’d surprise me with the things he would say about this woman, a lesbian pilot who flew Blackhawk helicopters and shot missiles and stuff. He was really impressed with her.’ — Wayne Coyne


Melvins Joan of Arc (1993)
Houdini is a great gateway to this clan of weirdos. If you like heavy shit you will probably enjoy anything these guys did up until around the turn of the century, IMO. If you like weird shit and/or the “noise” genre then I highly recommend this band.’ — Encyclopaedia Metallum


Dinosaur Jr. Not the Same (1993)
‘somehow his axe and his voice sing the same tune, momentarily transmuting his self-pity into simple sadness’. — Robert Christigau


Polvo Tragic Carpet Ride (1994)
‘More experimental than indie rock’s “accessible” success stories, Polvo could never establish a broad listenership — even after their later, more song-driven releases that stand up to the class of their genre.’ — allmusic


Drive Like Jehu Here Come The Rome Plows (1994)
‘Opening an album with a song as bracingly great as ‘Here Come the Rome Plows’ would be a shot in the foot for almost any other band, with its snakepit verses and a chorus that goes from balled-up fists to open arms and back again before you can take a breath.’ — Brendan Reid


Lilys High Writer At Home (1994)
Eccsame the Photon Band marks Kurt Heasley’s Lilys shift to a slower, moodier, and more spaced-out sound. “I went closest to what my 23 year-old brain could stand with Eccsame— to the edge of my own mortality and sanity”, Heasley says. “as far as the period, the energy, the zeitgeist of what we were intending, that was the only time we ever did it.”’ — collaged


Sonic Youth Tokyo Eye (1994)
‘Recorded by a likely baffled Butch Vig (the production sounds more Alien Lanes than Siamese Dream), the album is full of short, jarring songs with atmosphere to spare. Bonus: to save money, Experimental Jet Set, Trash And No Star was recorded over the band’s previously used master tapes (a common practice), so if you turn the album up real loud, you can hear Sister leak through during quiet parts!’ — Consequence of Sound


Sentridoh Chokechain (1994)
‘As Sebadoh grew in popularity and critical acclaim, Barlow continued work on the Sentridoh side project, which featured mostly home-recorded material similar to his output on the first three Sebadoh albums, but often recorded solo and with a less consistent sound quality.’ — collaged


Shudder To Think X-French Tee Shirt (1994)
‘This zeitgeist shift was in full swing in 1994, even if the pendulum seemed to have gone as far as it could with Nirvana’s 1993 swansong, In Utero, a clawed hand to the eardrums that puzzled or repulsed more people than it charmed. And pop music, no matter its coating, is supposed to be about charm. Which makes “X-French Tee Shirt,” a 1994 single by the Washington, D.C.-based band Shudder To Think, that much more bizarre. It was released on Epic, a major label, with the ostensible intent of being sold and making money.’ — AV Club


Portastatic Polaroid (1994)
‘Mac McCaughan manages to be extremely prolific yet maintain a high level of quality, and on I Hope Your Heart Is Not Brittle he created an idiosyncratic masterpiece. The guitar twangs out pretty but dissonant melodies while McCaughan sings oblique lyrics deep in the mix.’ — allmusic


Weezer Holiday (1994)
‘”Holiday” belies strong influences from the things Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo was interested in at the time of 1993. Cuomo expressed in a fan interview in 2006 that the famed beat poet Jack Kerouac was one of his favorite philosophers at the time. In the notable breakdown of the song (the band often refers to these as “Beach Boys Breakdowns”), Cuomo sings the line, “On the road with Kerouac”, a reference to Kerouac’s seminal work On The Road. The opening line, “Let’s go away for a while,” is also likely inspired by the Beach Boys track “Let’s Go Away For a While” from the Pet Sounds album, which Cuomo was also hugely influenced by.’ — Weezerpedia


Pavement Grounded (1995)
Wowee Zowee is the third studio album by Pavement. The album showcased a more experimental and spontaneous side of the group, returning them to the clatter and unpredictability of their early recordings after the more traditional rock sound of 1994’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. Rolling Stone speculated that the relative success of their previous album (having sold 169,000 copies by this time[citation needed]) was a reason for this album’s eclectic nature; the magazine’s review claimed Pavement were afraid of success. Stephen Malkmus refuted this, attributing the stylistic shift to excessive marijuana consumption.’ — collaged


Archers of Loaf Floating Friends (1995)
Vee Vee is very much a product of its time. The idea of the rock band acting as the rock critic doesn’t exist as it did back then.’ — Drowned in Sound


Unwound Swan (1995)
‘Seattle’s Unwound, the vehicle for Justin Trosper’s epileptic sermons, learned the lessons of Sonic Youth, Fugazi and Jesus Lizard and applied them to the brutal, harrowing vision of Fake Train (1993), broadening the lexicon of hardcore with techniques that borrowed from the blues as well as from the avantgarde, while maximizing the emotional impact.’ — Piero Scaruffi


Guided By Voices Redmen and Their Wives (1996)
‘Fans of Guided By Voices put their support behind various albums when concerning the greatest GBV album of all time. Vampire On Titus, Propeller, Alien Lanes, Bee Thousand, and sometimes even Mag Earwhig! all have their supporters. I am not alone when I throw my support behind the perfect Under The Bushes Under The Stars.’ — The Rock Robot


Cat Power Nude as the News (1996)
‘The song is autobiographical and tells the story about an abortion that Chan Marshall had when she was twenty.’ — RS


Red House Painters Mistress (piano version) (1996)
‘If you haven’t listened to Red House Painters before then be warned its some of the saddest music.’ — ISO50


Swirlies Sunn (1996)
‘From their full-length masterwork, 1996’s They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days in the Glittering World of the Salons.’ — kd


Tobin Sprout To My Beloved Martha (1996)
‘A self-taught musician, Sprout played with and was a major collaborator to the Dayton, Ohio band Guided By Voices. Employing a four-track recorder and a home studio he contributed to the unique lo-fi sound of Guided by Voices and he was a member of the band from 1987 through 1997.’ — collaged


Girls Against Boys Crash 17 (X-Rated Car) (1996)
‘My favorite song is “Crash 17 (X-Rated Car)” because it sounds like danceable Joy Division.’ — starling


Chavez Unreal Is Here (1997)
‘Chavez’s music is intellectual guitar rock — riffs are fractured and self-consciously asymmetrical, winding in on themselves and then turning inside out.’ — allmusic


Yo La Tengo Sugarcube (1997)
‘We hole up in a room and work for a really long time. Then we come out and blink our eyes because it’s sunny out.’ — Ira Kaplan


Robert Pollard Subspace Biographies (1998)
‘Not only one of Pollard’s great songs, but inspired (holy shit!) by my novel ‘Guide”. — DC


Pinback Rousseau (1999)
‘The band’s moniker is a reference to a character in the 1974 film Dark Star (played by Dan O’Bannon, who also co-wrote the film), directed by John Carpenter. Audio samples from this film are used frequently in the band’s early works.’ — collaged


Low Starfire (1999)
‘I think I can safely say that this is the best song ever written about two best friends who want to start their own ambulance service. Broken bodies all the time. Let’s take a ride.’– Crave


The Microphones What Happened to You? (1999)
‘The Microphones is the name of a project that Anacortes, WA’s Phil Elvrum has headed since the late 90s. Its sound is best described as lo-fi “fuzz folk,” ranging from drum-crashing, bass-thrashing sonic freakouts, strummy classical guitar love songs, angelic vocal choirs, and almost-whispered vocals over harmoniums and bell kits.’ — last.fm


Mercury Rev You’re My Queen (1999)
‘An unfashionably self-indulgent and earnest song, not for everyone, and maybe not even for some Mercury Rev fans, but in its own personal, insular way, it’s another triumph.’ — all music




p.s. Hey. I hope it goes without saying that I would love to know what 90s US indie rock songs especially got — or get if you weren’t around or paying attention then — to any of you, if you feel like it. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Thanks, man. It’s a relatively minor but ultra-annoying/itchy malady that I hope is peaking and will very soon be on its way back into wherever it hibernates in my body. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, cool, thanks! Oops, the Conner film has already been removed since you found it yesterday. Grr. I think a case could be made for ‘Rubber Soul’ being their first ‘serious’ album, not that I’m making it. ** Bernard, Hi, B. Yeah, that one turned out really nicely, didn’t it? One of those ‘I wonder if …’ ideas that lived up to my fantasy. Thank you. Let me pass along your alert just in case. Hold on. Everyone, Listen to and heed Bernard Welt’s words, if they apply to you, please. His words: ‘On my way to Asheville Monday to work on this online arts thing. BENEFIT / LAUNCH PARTY, Wednesday Feb 8, if there’s anyone here in the Asheville area: “REVOLVE, in the River Arts District’s Cotton Mill Studios, is quickly becoming known as the reigning spot in town for bringing the Asheville art world into conversations happening in the global art and academic world.” Will be hosting musicians and performances; I’ll be contributing reviews, essays.’ Up until around the mid-80s, there were a couple of great rep houses in LA that showed experimental films like Lipsett’s consistently, thank god. If it weren’t for them, I’d probably think Nicolas Refn was an experimental filmmaker. Well, probably not, but you catch my drift. I feel terrible for jumping the gun about Tom Raworth. Strange, I read a long obituary about him on the Small Press Distribution site that … Hold on, let me check … Yeah, it has been deleted. I’m very happy that course has been reversed. I totally relate to the singing thing about writing, although I get pretty obsessive about the tune afterwards. I’m pretty sure I’ll be here in June, or for the bulk of it at least, barring a shortish work- or fun-related jaunt elsewhere. Hooray! I’ll help you with that stuff in any way I can, of course. Generally in the past I’ve just used calamine lotion on the impetigo, but calamine lotion is strangely very hard to find over here, so I’m using some kind of ointment that’s meant for herpes, to which impetigo is kind of related. Usually it just fades out after taking its unsweet time. I really don’t want to go the doctor/antibiotics route, but we’ll see. Supplements? Uh, hold on, I have to go in the kitchen and check the titles. At the current time: Vitamins B, C, D; Ginger, Turmeric & Bromelan; Chromium Piconate; MSM. Have a super swell weekend, B-ster. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Oh, the interviewing sounds great and, yeah, really pleasurable. It reminds me a little of what auditioning actors is like since Zac and I are mostly just interested to watch them talk and see how they look/ react/ behave when talking about things, whether it’s something very personal or something they like or don’t like, so you end up learning a fair amount about the auditioners. Thanks about my arm. Like I said, it’s mostly annoyingly itchy, but it does impact my immune system so it does make me feel a little bleah too. Anyway, hope spring eternal that it’ll be better by Monday. Yes, the guy loved the script and totally got it and said yes to playing the main role in our film! We’re extremely happy, and he’s really sweet and cool, and it’ll be fantastic to work with him. So, great news for us! Now onwards and upwards re: the rest of the cast. Gosh, I hope your weekend goes really, really well. Tell me what happened, and take good care between now and Monday! ** James Nulick, Hi, James. Really good to see you, man, and I’m really glad you’re doing okay and hanging in there. The guy accepted our offer to play the part, yes, and we’re excited. He’s perfect, and it’s going to be so great. Much love back. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. I think you said you’re going to uploiad some or all of your old ‘Tea With Tosh’ shows, right? I would so love to see your interview with Conner. And the rest. The gif stack was kind of meditative, right? It made me feel peaceful, which is not an easy state to be in these days, Thank you! ** Raymond, Hi. Ha, I didn’t think about people seeing the post on their phones, but I only use my phone for calling and texting and shooting photos/videos. I do think it probably needs a laptop or a tablet at least to work properly. Yes, you are certainly correct in thinking I am ultra-intrigued by that thing you saw on TV. Wow. I’m going to see if I can locate something about it with ‘trusty’ google. Very sorry to have RIP-ed Tom Raworth when he is apparently still very much alive. Have a lovely weekend, sir! What are you up to? ** Steevee, Hi. Just ointments at the moment. Like I told someone up above, it usually just comes suddenly, lasts a while, gets worse, gets better, and recedes, and I don’t have to get too warlike with it. But, like I also said, I haven’t had it in decades, and I guess I’m older now, so I don’t know if that will make it tougher to get rid of. I got what you were saying about Linklater, yeah. It just seems like there are people who have latched so severely onto the very legitimate issue of white privilege that they get incredibly hair-trigger in their accusations and don’t evaluate, contextualize, explore, etc. their targets before they launch their accusations, so they end up sometimes just seeming like the self-appointed art police force. I haven’t heard Nadine Khouri. Her thing doesn’t sound like mine — I don’t even like Erykah Badu — but I will try her work out with wide eyes. Best of luck to both of us re: our itchiness. ** Jeff J, Thanks, Jeff. Yeah, that GIF stack was one of those ideas whose almost overly simple conception ended up being its gift or something. Mm, I don’t remember that story about Bruce Conner wanting to destroy his films, but I could be blanking. Yes, we scored the lead performer we so hoped we would. Super happy. Yes, there are, in addition to the lead guy, three main characters who appear throughout the film. Two of them are ideally in their early-ish 20s, and the third is in late 20s or early 30s. Then there’s a fourth character who appears about halfway through the film and is prominent from that point on. That character is ideally in mid-teens. Then there are a number of minor characters, some with signicant parts and some quickies. They range from adult age to one maybe 10 year-old. And, of course, a bunch of extras. Right now we’re hunting for all of the roles, but especially for the four lead-ish characters. Now that we have our lead guy, it’s good because we can test them with him and see if the chemistry and the look of them together is interesting enough. I’ve only heard recorded Parquet Courts, and it didn’t overly excite me, but, if they come through Paris, I’ll try to see them. Thanks, man. ** Kier, Hey! Ha ha, that video is great. Another one of those ‘so simple it shouldn’t work, but it does’ things. Awesome. Everyone, your lips will move in an upward direction if you click this and watch a short video that Kier recommends. Dude, we got the lead guy we dreamed of getting! So it’s on! And you’ll get some video and pix and stuff of him from us before too long! Excited! Oh, way cool that the Sebadoh song did the writer trick. Another hopefully inspiring thing? Hm. What to do? Okay, this might not work at all, but how about this video. It’s of this model/writer John Tuite who has recently become a good friend of mine. There’s something about the video that seems wrong or secretive or something to me. I hope that works, I’m not sure. Itching sucks. And it’s ugly. But, luckily, small and not in anyone else’s face. I don’t remember impetigo lasting more than maybe a week at most. Best weekend, buddy. ** Jamie, Hi, Jamie! Cool. Yeah, that gif stack worked kind of mysteriously well, right? I was surprised. You have impetigo too? Weird, hugs. On your face? Oh, man, that’s unlucky. Mine has stuck discretely to near my elbow since it dawned when I was, like, eight years old or something. Yeah, it has a weird general effect in addition to the itching that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I don’t like whatever it is one little bit. Yes, we got the lead guy for our film! Thrilling! And the other person we tried yesterday — a very cool 15 year-old girl — could very easily have her role too, although that’s not absolutely for sure yet. So, not bad. Concentrating on Robbe-Grillet and Sarraute is a glorious concentration. That’s really exciting. Really, 30th of August? If that becomes firm, I’ll make sure to be here. Well, we just have to fit Euro Disney in. I can easily find a way if you guys can. Wow! I hope and trust entirely that your Saturday Writing gang meet up today is going to be blast. It was, right? I was right, right? Oh, fuck, I now have two days to think up three worthy questions for you, and I guarantee you will be saddled with them come Monday. Scout’s honor. (I was a Boy Scout when young, and, ‘once a Scout, forever a Scout’, so that means something.) Hurtling love, Dennis. ** H, Hi. Thank you about the post. Yes I do know and like Jess’s work. I met him once or twice in the early 80s, I think, with Robert Duncan. A very interesting artist for sure. I’m curious to read what you write about him, when and should that opportunity arise. ** Okay. A bunch 90s indie rock that I liked, and, in some cases, still do like, for you to fish through, and, should you be so inclined, to respond to with fave past indie rock nuggets of your own. Sound fun? See you on Monday.


  1. You’ve got so many awesome tracks here, a few that really inspired me:

    Further – Quiet Riot Grrrl

    Space Needle – Before I Lose My Style

    Betty Please – Song For Evelyn Hamberger

    Big City Orchestra – Grass (XTC Cover)

    Silver Jews – New Orleans

  2. Ah this takes me right back to my days as a US indie-rock obsessed schoolboy before I began frequenting the Leeds techno scene. I remember being very into Babes In Toyland – Catatonic, specifically the (superior imo) Peel session version that I would listen to incessantly on a free cassette given away with the now-defunct Vox magazine. Good times!

    Got a couple of new records myself the other day: some fucked up ambient from Naaahhh on Blackest Ever Black and the massively positive reissued Italo classic I.M.S. (International Music System) – Dancing Therapy on Dark Entries.

  3. Hi D, almost all these songs are new to me, and about half of the bands too, so I’m looking forward to cueing them up and listening to them while I go about my day. I’m sure I’ll be discovering some great ones. I have a variety of birth-centric tasks to do today; I feel quite underprepared, in that it seems like there is so much you have to have thought about before labour even starts, and I just haven’t really got on top of it all.

    I found some clips from that programme. Here’s the orangutan one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vssqb-0i2-A. And here are some other good ‘uns: 1. Baby croc spy cam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bVZeOt7bCw 2. Wild dog spy cam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFjWQEhdMwE 3. Monkeys grieving over ‘death’ of spy cam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaIH5tLmC8U (As you can tell from the video titles, the programme is called Spy in the Wild; I’m sure you can find the whole thing online somewhere.)

    I was trying to think of some 90s US indie tracks and couldn’t really come up with any. I don’t have enough access to my memory this morning. Then I found myself thinking of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg1Txa8zqnE. Doesn’t count, as it’s from the mid 2000s. But then again I remember thinking at the time that it was almost like something put in a time capsule in the mid 1990s, for listening to in a decade’s time, as per the title.

    I don’t know that poetry anthology but would like to track it down. Hopefully there are some cheap copies on Amazon. When Keston Sutherland’s good, it’s because he somehow manages to fuse all sorts of registers (politics, desire, plain excitement of ideas) into one (in a way that Tom Raworth does, and also people like Sean Bonney maybe). There’s something he said in an interview that often comes back to me: ‘I must and possibly everyone must, by writing, try to teach herself or himself as much as they possibly can about the possibility of their own future existence. I would never write anything, or accept as a finished poem anything that I felt didn’t teach me something that was very difficult for me personally to learn.’ I don’t really know what the fuck this means, but I like it.

    I was pleasantly surprised to realise recently that Ed Atkins, the artist, is actually quite a good writer too. I like his ‘A Tumour’. I like his way of thinking about things too. I saw a good interview between him and Hans Ulrich Obrist in which they range over all sorts of subjects, from Ann Quin to Sade to Blanchot to the abjection of severed heads: all the kinds of writers and topics that I wish British fiction writers would make the effort to seem more interested in (with the exception of Tom McCarthy and Lars Iyer, though these both seem to take it upon themselves to domesticate the wildness I so love about the aforementioned). It sometimes feels like the art world is a better place for writers in the UK than the publishing world.

    Have a great weekend! I look forward to listening to this lovely clutch of tracks.

    • Here’s something I was meaning to post in relation to Revolver but forgot to. It’s one of my favourite bits of Juan José Saer’s The Witness: one of the first moments when you get an intimation of how strange and haunting a book it’s going to turn out to be: ‘When I returned to clear the table I knocked on the cabin door and, receiving no reply and thinking he must have gone out, I decided to go in. Then I saw that he was in fact still sitting at the table, alone in the middle of the brightly lit cabin, carefully studying the fish I had served him some time ago and which lay untouched on his plate. He did not even hear me come in, or at any rate nothing in his attitude indicated that he had. The captain’s gaze, simultaneously intense and vague, remained fixed on the fish and, in particular, on the one round eye that had remained intact during cooking; though lifeless, it seemed to exercise an inordinate fascination over him, to attract and hold his attention like a spinning red spiral.’

    • Hey Raymond,
      If you see this, where can one find the interview you mention with Ed Atkins and Hans Ulrich Obrist? Is it the one on Youtube? My girlfriend is massively into Ann Quin and is always pleased to see her and work discussed.

  4. Hi D

    YES YES YES Great gig post 🙂 Blaring it right now
    some of my most favourite bands and songs. i think Low are the band ive seen live to most, (the most amazing gig was in chirst church in dublin, the sound was amazing i floated out) Sparklehorse and Mogwai close seconds. Those 90’s Low albums are pretty perfect as are Pavements! i was listening to that Red House Painters album recently too. Cat Power <3
    I remember getting a Matador records sampler cd and finding so many amazing new bands on it, its where i found Unwound and a few others.
    You threw in a few i dont know too, Shudder To Think, Portastatic, Archers of Loaf (love that name) and Tobin Sprout. I missed out on Chavez, they have a new ep out. Ive been obsessed with Matt Sweeney's Guitar Moves youtube series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OvB-wDt7mA
    in other non 90's music ive been really into Beatrice Dillon's stuff and Mica Levi's Jackie soundtrack.

    not much happening here, mostly staring at this screen and rendering all week… reading some Eileen Myles and Chris Kraus when im locked out of the machine.
    Hope your weekend is awesome!
    Im gonna play Yo La Tengo loud now so I know mines already great!

  5. Interesting stuff, needless to say. But my own taste takes me out of time contextualization. I don’t think of music in “contemporary” terms. I’m constantly going from Mahler to Sondheim to Nico to 60s Girl Groups, to Autosalvage to Mozart to Nina Simone to Van Dyke Parks to Ennio Morricone to Charlemagne Palestine (an old Communist Martyrs High classmate) to Serge Gainsbourg et. al.

  6. Dennis, no Liz Phair ??!!! Why I oughta…

    I’ll put together a short list of my fave 90s tracks and post the list here ~
    meanwhile I’m going to rock out to a few nuggets on your own list here @ DC’s.


  7. You can still see “A Movie” HERE

  8. Hi Dennis,

    Once again you encapsulate the soundtracks of my late teens/early 20s. It’s awesome revisiting this stuff.

    I feel like Swirlies never got their proper due. For at least a year, this was probably my favorite song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4v8GlncaO4

    Ditto with Pinback. My friends and I were obsessed with Blue Screen Life. Beautiful record.

    We were also way into Hum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hymX3-i0eX0

    Always happy to catch up on these posts come Saturday morning. They’ve been quality respites from nightmare North America. Hope you are well

  9. Dennis,

    a list personally & lovingly compiled for you … some of these are a bit too obvious, but oh well, I love them!

    The Dambuilders – Burn this Bridge


    Superdrag – Sucked Out


    Nada Surf – Popular


    Folk Implosion – Natural One


    Local H – Bound for the Floor


    Guided by Voices – Atom Eyes


    Liz Phair – Crater Lake


    Fountains of Wayne – Radiation Vibe


    Pee Shy – Little Dudes


    Bloodhound Gang – Fire Water Burn


    Len – Steal my Sunshine (Well, does he like butter tarts??!!!!)


    Radiohead – Street Spirit


    Guided by Voices – My Valuable Hunting Knife


    Wheatus – Teenage Dirtbag (tube socks!)


    Xoxo Dennis & all my fellow DCers!

  10. Ok Dennis one more

    Buck-O-Nine – My Town


  11. It’s odd, but I had to sit down and really think about Indie American rock in the 1990s. I almost have no memory of it. I was aware of some of the bands and even the records, but had no interest in either. A band like Pavement meant nothing to me, and I’m not sure why? I had friends who were into those type of bands, but I felt nothing when I heard them. I respected Kurt Cobain as a writer and performer, but even his music didn’t mean that much to me. What I did discovered was The Pixies, around the time when they first broke up. By chance, I bought their last album, loved it, and then bought the others. The Breeders I found boring. So what did I buy and listen to? In the 1990s I was spending a great deal of time in Japan, so I think I was discovering Japanese artists like Jun Togawa and Haruomi Hosono. I also remember that Sony re-released all the old Glenn Gould catalog on CD. And I would go to my local music shop in Kokura to purchase one every few weeks or so. At the time, Japan was releasing the most obscure British and American music on CD for the first time. At times, it was like walking into a music store circa 1968. The other band that impressed me in the 90s was Pulp. I loved them. Blur I thought were interesting and Oasis I just didn’t get. Although I thought the brothers in that band were hysterical.

    Bruce Conner films for me don’t work as videos or on DVD. The best way to see his work is on film, 16 mm film. I find his works very focus on the medium, and the DVD, streaming are totally different mediums to me. Watching a Conner film on YouTube is too distracting. You need a quiet room or theater to capture his intensity. But that’s just me!

  12. I can’t say that I’m a fan of 90’s indie rock, though I do like some of it… “Bruise Violet” is pretty intense. For whatever reason I’ve always been pretty indifferent to Sonic Youth’s 90’s albums (with “Washing Machine” being the lone exception). Most of the 90’s rock music that I like either falls into the industrial rock category (Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Skinny Puppy) or goth rock acts (like Cruxshadows, Switchblade Symphony, and so forth). Could Depeche Mode be classified as indie rock? Maybe by the 90’s they could be: “Barrel of a Gun” is a pretty ace track from that era. I always want to give a listen one day to Guided by Voices and Sebadoh and so on as you name drop them in your books of that era but I just never get around to it… I suppose you could say my main interest in the genre is the influence they had on your books.

    One album I’ve been listening to recently (for the first time ever) is Genesis’ “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.” Still not sure if I find it good pretentious or bad pretentious. First disc was pretty good, not so sure about the second one though. Either way, “Abacab” has nothing to worry about.

  13. I was a teenager in the ’90s. Here’s a few off the cuff

    Sebadoh – The Freed Pig
    The Lemonheads – The Turnpike Down
    Nirvana – Aneurysm
    Bikini Kill – New Radio
    Dinosaur Jr – The Wagon
    Jawbreaker – Chesterfield King
    Fugazi – Promises
    Unwound – MK Ultra
    Smog – 37 Push-ups
    Beat Happening – Redhead Walking
    Liz Phair – Fuck and Run
    Shutter to Think – Hit Liquor
    Courtney Love (the band not the human) – Disappearing Lessons
    Unrest – Yes she is my Skinhead Girl
    Versus – Frog

    I loved your Revolver Dennis.

  14. @kier That video! Amazing and too much…like, who figured that out?


    I meant to finally sit down with Death Spiral today, truly I did. (Un)Fortunately I got caught up in the music post, and then revolver (the gummy bear was breathtaking, the shiny stone reminds me of the fools gold that my brother and I used to buy when our parents took us to Pioneertown, and that stack from the head to the hub to the hunched over robot…I don’t know why, but that one really got me.) Just when I thought I was free I found that essay you posted from Gary Lutz on the sentence (forwarded to a few writer friends) and now I’m all out of time for the DC blog for the day. Why do you keep doing this to me, Dennis? It’s all such good stuff.

    Anyway, glad to hear you found your leading person! One step down, many more to go, but it must feel so nice to have that big one out of the way! Can’t wait to hear more news as the process moves forward.

    I’m heading into the city tonight to finally see Moonlight and then catching a screening of Dr. Strangelove at midnight. Somehow I’ve never managed to see it. Hope your day is filled with nothing but good things. Talk soon!


  15. Yola Dennis! Nice gif.
    How was your weekend? We had Writing Gang, which was as excellent and as cheering as ever.
    Thanks for the post. Most of the songs are from the period where I’d given up on US guitar bands and was spending all my time and money on techno and ecstasy pills. I remember friends listening to some of these bands and I think I might have played in a band supporting Jawbreaker too. It’s nice to be hearing what I was missing out on. What inspired you to focus on this period?
    We don’t have any firm dates for a Paris sojourn yet, but Hannah’s birthday is on Sept 1st, so probably just before then. Will keep you informed.
    Totally great about your actor! Will you do some revising of the script, based on him playing the part? Exciting! Fingers and toes crossed for that other actor too.
    What else? What joys does the coming week bring? I’m off to Newcastle/Sunderland early Monday morning. Should be fun.
    Original love,

    P.S. I was a scout too – a cub scout.

  16. Hi!

    Thank you for the gig! It’s awesome! I’m not a pro in musical terms so I’m not sure what ‘indie rock’ can and cannot include but here’s one I think might fit. I love this song a lot:
    Soul Coughing – Rolling (1998)

    Your auditions sound like an actual dream. Really. I’d love to just sit there and listen to and watch all the actors. And in other cases I’d like to be one of them myself.
    How’s your arm? I know you said it usually takes a week or two for the itchiness to go away but I hope it’s getting better!
    Wow, yes!! I’m so happy for you! Congratulations! You’ve got the main character, this is huge!!
    My weekend was filled with some more work on the interviews and lots of sweet rest. And today I had my very first civilized walk with our puppy, haha. Looks like all the training is worth something, I’m really proud of her.
    How was your weekend? I hope it was all kinds of awesome!

  17. Hey Dennis

    I liked that Codeine ep – none of their other stuff though. I liked some songs by Low, saw them play in Edinburgh. And I love Unrest! Cath Carroll from Perfect Teeth!

    Hope you had a good weekend


  18. I liked almost all these bands at the time, but I haven’t listened to most of them in at least 15 years.

    There’s someone I follow on Twitter with whom I’ve exchanged quite a few friendly tweets. Over the past week, his Twitter posts have been one long ache of anguish, along the lines of “I’m feeling depressed and completely worthless’ and “I’ve had suicidal thoughts all my life.” I responded to the former by saying “I’ve been there and partially climbed out. Does your job cover mental health care?” He never wrote back to me. It seems odd to make such a public cry for help and then ignore the people who respond. I’d like to try to help him if I can, but there’s a weirdly performative element to the whole thing.

  19. this post is fun, it was my weekend soundtrack. i especially liked that Dinosaur Jr song. the lines “In a dream I always talk to you / You seem fine again, my sweet / Feels alright to me” inspired a story idea, so thanks for that !! they’re such a good band, i want to spend this week diving more into their discography.

    & i really liked that Drive Like Jehu album !! i hadn’t heard of them before but i’m very into them right now. very good electricity music, the type of music u plug into for instant energy.

    so far this year i’ve been taking advantage of my spotify account & making music my main source of entertainment again. music is always guaranteed to make me feel happy & fulfilled. & i get a lot of writing ideas from it. music & books, those are two of my favorite things about being alive.

    as a teen i was super into Fugazi. Fugazi & Bjork were maybe my two biggest musical idols. i love Fugazi b/c the music is so good & abstract & emotional sounding, but also them being so DIY had a giant effect on me as a teen, & still does. the idea that they weren’t really trying to win their way into any kind of big prevailing culture but instead make their own culture, their own world, their own values. that’s still a very appealing & motivating idea to me. in the world but not of the world, like the bible says.

    that’s what attracted me to alt lit the most. now i know a lot more about it & i can see how difficult it is to create & sustain a community like that. it’s probably always gonna be a very fragile thing. mainstream culture is always gobbling things up & being sort of Satan-like in terms of polluting the soul of things by offering cheap temptations like popularity & power & other shit that frequently spoils everything. but the fragility of DIY cultures also makes them more magical. anyway this post got me listening more to Fugazi this weekend & feeling very re-inspired by those DIY, anarchistic, ‘create yr own places’ ideals. i’m feeling re-centered about certain things.

    i don’t have a #1 song with Fugazi but ‘Steady Diet of Nothing’ is still my favorite album by them. that’s the one i feel most affectionate toward b/c that was the first one i heard, the one that made me fall in love with them.

    thank u so much for doing this blog !! i caught up with like the last week of posts & there’s so much cool amazing stuff. i appreciate this place so much b/c i feel that u have successfully run it according to the same sort of ideals i was talking about above. i really appreciate how u focus on more obscure things that might otherwise go unnoticed. i always learn about new things here, i often think of it like taking a class in the underground. or a library of the underground. this place is a very welcome refuge from the rest of the world.

    take care !! hope u have a good monday & a good week

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