#381: The Proximity Effect by Nada Surf

May 1, 2018

Nada Surf scored a quirky one-hit wonder with "Popular," and as with most one-hit wonders, pressure from the record label to follow it up caused a divide. In this case, Nada Surf were dropped, record in hand, which they were able to release on their own label. While The Proximity Effect received some positive press upon release in 1998 (in the UK, 2000 in the US), it went mostly unnoticed. It wasn't until Let Go in 2002 that the band fully arrived, garnering rave reviews, following that up with Chris Walla-produced The Weight Is A Gift in 2005. Upon reflection, The Proximity Effect comes across as a transition album, with the band sound clearing, fuller and more confident, while not quite hitting the highs they would reach on their next two releases.

Special thanks to Sudio Sweden for providing our May giveaway - a pair of Regent headphones. Join us at Patreon by May 15th to be eligible to win, winner announced on episode 384. We’re following up on our previous Tre and Regent reports, if you like what you hear and want to grab a pair, use the code DIGMEOUT for 15% off your purchase.

Intro - Hyperspace

14:34 - Firecracker

21:23 - Dispossession

28:18 - Spooky

36:29 - Amateur

Outro - Robot


#380: Shōso Strip by Ringo Sheena

April 24, 2018

While we have traveled, musically speaking, to Europe and Australia quite often, Japan has been a much rarer trip, and we've never revisited an album that wasn't primarily recorded in English. Until now. Thanks to a patron selection, we're checking out the 2000 album Shōso Strip by Ringo Sheena. It's hard to nail down the sound or style of Ringo Sheena on her second album, which bounces from electronic pop to metallic distortion to cabaret swing, all backed by a talented band and produced to the nth degree, using every studio trick in the book. For a pop record, there is almost no western comparison. The better comparisons are trailblazing iconoclasts Bjork or Tori Amos, but even that fails to truly capture the twisted and wild ride that is Shōso Strip.

Intro - I Am A Liar

7:30 - Instinct

14:47 - Excuse Debussy

25:37 - Sickbed Public

32:31 - A Broken Man and Midnight

38:27 - Stoicism

Outro - Bathroom


#379: Sophomore Slump Revisited - The Chinese Album by Spacehog

April 17, 2018

Do you remember 1995? If you do, you probably remember "In The Meantime" by Spacehog off their debut album Resident Alien. The single went to number one on the US mainstream chart, number two on the US modern rock chart, and top fifty in about every country that had a radio station. The album went Gold in the US and Platinum in Canada, and the video was in constant rotation on MTV. So what happened with their second effort, 1998's The Chinese Album? We don't know because neither the album nor any single charted in the US. So it's time for a sophomore slump revisited, and decide once and for all if we need to revisit Mungo City, or leave it a ghost town.

Intro - Mungo City

15:45 - Goodbye Violent Race

18:15 - Captain Freeman

23:07 - Beautiful Girl

Outro - One Of These Days


#378: Laid by James

April 10, 2018

By 1993, James were already established with a string of successful UK singles on their four previous album. But with the release of Laid, they managed to crack wide open United States college and mainstream radio playlists with the quirky and catchy title track. However, like so many albums released in the 90s, a hit single does not always represent the sound of the band overall. While James had their fair share of uptempo tunes, including the New Order-esque Say Something from the same album, with the help of our Patreon patron Patrick (of Three Bines Hopped Spirits) who picked the album, we discovered a moodier, more melancholy sound, driven by bass and atmospheric guitars. While some of that credit is probably due to legendary musician/producer Brian Eno, the band themselves unveil a unique combination of post-punk edge, folk storytelling, Madchester bounce and Brit-pop swagger. It all makes for a listen that bares repeated listens to discover the layers, which also reveal some deficiencies that grew over time.

Intro - Laid

13:23 - Say Something

16:51 - Out To Get You

27:27 - Five-O

Outro - Sometimes


#377: Darkest Days by Stabbing Westward

April 3, 2018

Our Patreon patrons often surprise us. Our poll for April of 1998 included revered and critically acclaimed albums, but instead the votes went a surprising way. Stabbing Westward's third album Darkest Days, could (and was) written off in some circles as a Nine Inch Nails wannabe. In revisiting this, and other records there were not critical darlings in the 1990s, it is easy to see why. Following up a hit single (one-hit wonder?) on their previous record, the odds were against them pulling out another, especially while wrapping it all in a sixteen track, sixty-four minute concept album, in a genre (industrial rock) as pinned to the 1990s as grunge. But a funny thing happened, while lesser bands were layering oodles of synths and metallic guitars on top of mechanical drum beats, Stabbing Westward remember to write the hooks and keep it grounded in the more rock end of industrial rock. Sure, it's loud and abrasive one minute and whisper quiet serious the next, but with production master Dave Jerden assisting behind the board, the band manages to make it all in work despite the odds.

Intro - Save Yourself

12:15 - Waking Up Beside You

23:23 - Haunting Me

27:23 - When I'm Dead

33:13 - Goodbye

Outro - You Complete Me


#376: The Process by Skinny Puppy

March 27, 2018

Upon release in 1996, Skinny Puppy's eight album The Process divided and confused longtime fans, some accusing the band of selling out and writing rock and metal singles for a major label. While a band like Ministry was able to slip the heavier/noiser end of industrial into periphery of mainstream of MTV and commercial radio with Psalm 69, neither reached the heights of a band like Nine Inch Nails, or the legion of wannabes who followed. Thanks to our patron Josh "funkdoc" Ballard bring this record to us, we're able to not only check out a diverse and divisive album fraught with creative tension and tragedy, but also examine the shifting concept of what "commercial" and "selling out" meant in 1996 versus today. Check out Josh's article on Medium, "The Billion-Year Voyage”: Skinny Puppy’s Last Rights.

Intro - Candle

14:18 - Curcible

19:36 - Hardset Head

23:02 - Amnesia

34:31 - Jahya

Outro - Blue Serge


#375: Digging Your Scene visits New York City

March 20, 2018

New York City has been a global epicenter for music and culture in general for decades, so it is no surprise that the the 1990s are no different. From the legendary Velvet Underground, KISS and Blondie, to indie rock progenitors Sonic Youth, Talking Heads and Television, to the punk of the New York Dolls, Ramones and The Dictators, as well as the hip-hop, disco, electronic and dance scenes, the 1990s combined it all into a stew of unique sounds interpolated by artists such as the Beastie Boys, Living Colour, White Zombie, Girls Against Boys, Helmet, Biohazard, and more. Like every scene we've dug into, finding the venues, the media, the record stores, recording studios and labels that fostered the sound for the band, New York City has its own spin. How do you get gear to shows in a city most travel by subway? How do you get your band noticed in a sea of competition? How do you not get robbed and randomly punched in the face on the street? To help us unpack it all, we're joined by Eli Janney of Girls Against Boys and The 8G Band from Late Night with Seth Meyers, Mike Lustig of Ruth Ruth, and Mike Stuto from Brownies and Beggars Banquet Records.

Intro - New York Medley (New York City by The Cult, New York State of Mind by Billy Joel, Back in the New York Groove by Ace Frehley, New York City by T. Rex)

Outro - Safe In New York City by AC/DC


#374: 12 Bar Blues by Scott Weiland

March 13, 2018

During our revisit of the one and only Talk Show album featuring the three guys not named Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots during their infamous 1997 hiatus, we remarked how the music remained steady but the vocals and melodies were less interesting. Now we get to examine the other side of that temporary split with Weiland's 1998 solo debut 12 Bar Blues. Would the lack of the DeLeo brothers inventive riffing similarly hamper the lead singers creative output? The simple answer is no, thanks to Weiland's willingness to experiment, filling the record with interesting sounds and surrounding himself with accomplished musicians. It is an admirable, if occasionally messy, attempt to shatter the perceptions of what it meant to be "the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots," but more often than not, the influences start to show. Sadly, this left us wondering if the lukewarm critical reception, albums sales and radio play pushed Weiland back into the easy embrace of Stone Temple Pilots too quickly, who churned out successive radio friendly if bland riffage that palled to their primer-era output. Weiland never pushed the envelope like he did on this record, and we try to figure out why.

Intro - Barbarella

13:20 - Mockingbird Girl

18:05 - About Nothing

29:28 - Son

Outro - Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down


#373: Shapeshifter by Marcy Playground

March 6, 2018

Like any decade of rock music and commercial radio, the 1990s had plenty of one hit wonders, many of which we talked about in our One Hit Wonders RoundtableMarcy Playground managed their own, with Sex and Candy in 1997 spending fifteen weeks at number on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, and top ten on four other US charts, as well as top ten in Canada and Australia, and top thirty in the UK. In other words, it was a massive hit, so how did they follow it up? In 1999 they released Shapeshifter, the whips between more radio friendly pop, Americana-folk, Butthole Surfer weirdness and Nirvana riffage. In other words, it is all over the place. Sometimes an eclectic approach provides a interesting and diverse selection of tunes, other times it is a mess of one-off attempts and half-way-there ideas. Where does Shapeshifter fall? Tune in to find out.

Intro: It's Saturday

12:25 - America

14:09 - Love Bug

19:33 - All The Lights Went Out

24:14 - Secret Squirrel

Outro - Bye Bye


#372: Desert Rock Discussion with Director Jason Georgiades

February 27, 2018

Going into this episode, we thought desert rock and stoner rock were the same thing. We were wrong. We thought the "desert rock sound" started with the Sabbath influence lowend fuzzed riffs of Kyuss. We were wrong on that as well. There is an important lesson here - makes sure you are open to preconceived notions being challenged because the truth maybe more interesting than the vision in your head. That wasn't only the case for us. We invited on Jason Georgiades, director of Desert Age, a film about the 80s and 90s desert rock scene, who also had to shift his thinking once he started digging into history, talking to the people, and hearing the music of the California desert around Palm Springs. You've heard of Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss, but what about Across the River and Yawning Man? Or Unsound or Target 13? We talk the bands, the landscape, the (lack of) places to play and the illegal substances that made the desert rock scene of the truly most original in punk, alternative and hard rock. We also get a behind the scenes look at the making of a rock documentary in the twenty first century.

Use the promo code "Green Machine" to get 15% off anything in the Desert Age store.

Intro - Green Machine by Kyuss

11:05 - Monster in the Parasol from The Desert Sessions, Vol 3 & 4

24:04 - N.O. by Across The River

35:37 - She Got Me (When She Got Her Dress On) by Masters of Reality

53:33 - Rock Formations by Yawning Man

Outro - Rodney on the Roq by Target 13