Saturday, April 22, 2006

Butterglory reconsidered

Crumble - Butterglory

Round about 2000, I sold off my Butterglory "collection" of a couple CDs in a motley pile of 90s indie rock (including, if I remember correctly, music from bands like Creeper Lagoon and Lotion). Compared to the dense, intricate, multi-multi-tracked stuff I was listening to at the time like the Beta Band, Butterglory's low-fi indie pop sounded limp and played-out. Even as I return to Butterglory with renewed interest, my exhaustion then seems excusable. Naive pop depends on a kind of suspended disbelief: That surely this is the first time it occurred to anyone to "make it real," to sing off-key into a boombox recorder, use whatever hollow object comes to hand as a percussion instrument or let the feedback wail unchecked.

I was thinking about this as I was listening to Figurines' album Skeleton (US, UK) this week. Because even as I'm pressing repeat on songs like "The Wonder" and "Rivalry," and enjoying the band for its infectious enthusiasm, undeniable hooks and surprising polish, the music's borders bleed with the sounds of thousands of similar-minded predecessors. And I can't help think that eventually I'm gonna get bored with this. If the songs are really as good as they seem, I'll come back. If they aren't, well...

Butterglory's songs, I've decided, are that good. They hold up. The band was guitarist Matt Suggs and drummer Debby Vander Wall, first from Visalia, California, then from Lawrence, Kansas. They lasted from approximately 1992, when they released the Alexander Bends EP, to about 1997. They were fortunate to find a home on Merge Records because the label has kept their albums in print and now also offers them on iTunes and eMusic. Six years after selling them off, I'm buying Butterglory back.

Tip: If you download nothing else, make it "Alexander Bends." One of the finest under-two-minute songs I've ever known.

Alexander Bends - Butterglory

Waiting On The Guns - Butterglory

Better Gardens, Better Homes - Butterglory

She's Got The Aksun! - Butterglory

For Figurines, try Hype Machine--there's no need for me to post the stuff.

And just to show "old" indie rockers never die, Matt Suggs is back with a new band, White Whale. Their album isn't due for release until August, but you can stream some extremely promising tracks on the band's MySpace.


Blogger jon manyjars said...

Does Butterglory sound like my beloved Hypnolovewheel, or is it my wishful imagination?

11:09 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I don't know Hypnolovewheel. Should I?

11:48 AM  
Blogger jon manyjars said...

Hypnolovewheel was a great band from NJ that came along a little earlier than Butterglory. You can get their album Space Mountain for one cent on Amazon, and you should. (But don't get the Altered States album.) Someone said Hypnolovewheel sounded like the 3D's from New Zealand, which I agree with. Butterglory sounds kinda like the 3D's too.

8:07 AM  
Blogger jon manyjars said...

Amy, I reposted the Hyplolovewheel songs that I had on my blog in February. After listening to these great Butterglory songs, I think you would be into Hypnolovewheel. Again, they were pre-Pavement, and their record production sounds very 80's, but the songs shine.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous la mick said...

The first solo album by Matt Suggs (Butterglory) -- Golden Days Before They End (Merge) is an awesome record. Completely overlooked, the songwriting is parts Dylan, part Bragg, part Davies, part McGowan....but all in all in sounds like his most unique and solid full length to date (including all of Butterglory and his most recent solo Amigo Row). Looking forward to the White Whale

12:22 PM  
Blogger bsglaser said...

Butterglory is one to hang onto over time, as you'll tend to fall through in-and-out-of-love cycles with them. Even within their slim catalogue, there's a lot of diversity (by the end, they've even got a bit of Feelies in their groove) and a lot to dig. Also, check out the Wedding Present's slow-burn cover of "Waiting on the Guns."

8:36 AM  

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