Dig Me Out - 90s Rock Review
#394: Interview With Jonny Polonsky

#394: Interview With Jonny Polonsky

July 31, 2018

For the tens of thousands of bands who signed to a major label, put out a record, scored a minor hit and disappeared, there just as many divergent stories of what happened after the temporary spotlight dimmed. In the case of Jonny Polonsky, his tale started in the suburbs of Chicago, home recording cassette albums as a teen in his bedroom and dialing up famous guitarists for feedback, which lead him to move to Boston, the support of Frank Black of the Pixies, and a deal with Rick Rubin's American Recordings. His 1996 debut Hi My Name Is Jonny scored a college radio hit with "In My Head," but like so many in the mid and late 90s music industry machine, the churn happened quickly and soon after he find be looking to new outlets for releasing music and relocating to Los Angeles to start anew. There is a chance you've heard or seen Jonny in the 2000s without even realizing it, playing on records by Pete Yorn, Puscifer, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, Minnie Driver and more, while hitting the road with many more. Jonny shares with us his story, his approaches to songwriting, recording, learning new instruments, his love of David Bowie's side-project Tin Machine, and much much more.

Intro - In My Mind

Outro - Love Lovely Love

#393: Prick by Prick

#393: Prick by Prick

July 24, 2018

When an established name like Trent Reznor shows up in the credits of a 90s industrial album, the natural starting point is to compare it Nine Inch Nails. But what about when the artist is not a contemporary or disciple, but a predecessor? That's the case with Kevin McMahon, veteran of new wave group Lucky Pierre going back to the 70s, and where the Reznor connection occurs in the late 80s. Thanks to having over a decade worth of experience, on the 1995 eponymous debut by Prick, Reznor acts as less an overwhelming force upon McMahon and his band and more of a slightly different flavor. It's not hard to pick out which tracks Reznor had a hand in, but compared to the majority of the album, they pair nicely with the overall experience rather than stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. While so many industrial acts can either get weighted down by lyrical dreariness, musical repetition or underwhelming vocal performances, McMahon uses his new wave background wisely, crafting melodic hooks and not losing the rock aspect of industrial rock thanks to some well-produced guitar riffing.

Intro - Animal

9:36 - Tough

12:19 - Crack

14:44 - Other People

18:12 - No Fair Fights

25:42 - I Apologize

Outro - I Got It Bad

#392: Origins - Spoon In The 90s

#392: Origins - Spoon In The 90s

July 17, 2018

In the first of a new roundtable series, we're taking a look back at the 90s origins of Spoon, and how they went from devotees of Frank Black and Robert Pollard, to one of the most consistently interesting and successful bands of the 2000s. Britt Daniel and Jim Eno, the core singer/songwriter/guitarist and drummer/producer of Spoon, have been at it for almost thirty years. In the 2000s, starting with Girls Can Tell, and up to their most recent release Hot Thoughts, the band has managed to expertly toe the line between slick songwriting worthy of radio, television and film placement, while keeping a shape-shifting edge that expertly slips back and forth between minimalist and embellished production, tied together with Daniel's emphatic but easy on the ears delivery that manages to inhabit Ray Davies, Tom Petty and Prince all at the same time. But before they began their run of successful 2000s releases, the band was almost another tragic tale of the 1990s major label signing frenzy, bouncing between taste-maker Matador for their debut Telephono and EP Soft Effects, to then jump to the majors on A Series Of Sneaks at Elektra that saw them dropped four months after their sophomore release. Like so many before that have carved out long careers, the early years of Spoon reveal a band struggling to channel their influences into something wholly unique while Daniel's begins the process of finding his own voice.

Intro - Utilitarian (A Series Of Sneaks)

14:42 - Theme To Wendell Stivers (Telephono)

18:54 - Nefarious (Telephono)

22:43 - Mountain Of Sound (Soft Effects EP)

33:49 - The Minor Tough (A Series Of Sneaks)

47:39 - Metal Detektor (A Series Of Sneaks)

Outro - The Agony Of Laffitte (Laffitte 7" single)

#391: Six by Mansun

#391: Six by Mansun

July 10, 2018

Let's get this out of the way - thanks to the ridiculous nature of regional rights and legal mumbo-jumbo surrounding album releases, we are occasionally stuck reviewing the edited and inferior US release of an album rather than the original UK or Australian version that the artist intended. That's what happened when one of our Patreon patrons selected the sophomore album Six by Mansun for us to check out. The original 1998 UK release features extra songs, a different track list and mixes, and is overall considered to the superior to the chopped-down and rearranged US version released in 1999. Back in the day, we would have made a visit to the local Virgin Megastore and dropped twenty to thirty bucks on an important version, but that option is long gone, so we're playing the hand as dealt. While the band made no secret on their debut Attack of the Grey Lantern that straight-up Brit-pop was of no interest, the band managed to craft radio-friendly pop melodies with twisted instrumentation and odd embellishments. Six takes it one step further, honing the pop songs while doubling-down on the twisted and odd, taking long divergences into instrumental passages, drastic tempo shifts and, uh, The Nutcracker?

Intro - Six

14:23 - Negative

20:23 - Legacy

26:06 - Anti-Everything

34:48 - Being A Girl

Outro - Fall Out

#390: The Infotainment Scan by The Fall

#390: The Infotainment Scan by The Fall

July 3, 2018

Mark E. Smith of The Fall was a divisive character, turning people on or off with his kinetic one-note, occasionally slurred, stream of consciousness vocal delivery. After a decade and a half of abrasive post punk, line-up changes and restlessness led to a stylistic change, accounting for several electronic and IDM influenced albums. 1993's The Infotainment Scan falls into this era, while still featuring a jagged guitar line, clean (or sterile) production on programmed drums and synth keyboards dominates the overall sound, featuring odd cover song choices and sonic stretches that left us scratching our heads. There's a lovable cantankerous aspect to Smith's vocals that endears us to his limitations, but hearing the band go full rave seemed to a bridge too far.

Intro - Paranoia Man In Cheap Sh*T Room

14:17 - Glam Racket

19:30 - It's a Curse

28:44 - Ladybird (Green Grass)

Outro - Lost In Music

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