Where have you been all my life, Bailterspace?
Matador announced a 25th anniversary vinyl reissue of Bailterspace’s Wammo and it popped up in one of my social feeds. The name was familiar – back in the early-to-mid 90s when I writing for MOO Magazine, I’m fairly certain that Jerry (Moviola) wrote about Bailterspace, reviewed an album or even did an interview (I’ll dig through the box of MOOs I have in the basement and see if I can confirm this). Jerry and the rest of the MOO crew (who mostly also were in Moviola) represented the indie label side of the house while I gravitated more towards the major label stuff. There was some common ground (Pavement, Chavez, Guided By Voices, Ass Ponys) but this was pre-internet so unless the guys threw something in the CD player at MOO headquarters, I remained blissfully unaware of what these bands sounded like.
Looking back, wish I would have known about Bailterspace in the ’90s as the shoegazing style of music is something I liked back then (Swervedriver, My Bloody Valentine) and like now (Teenage Wrist, bdrmm). Bailterspace is a little noiser, a little more Sonic Youth than the previous mentioned bands, but I’m shocked that this last week was the first time I listened to them – the algorithms have failed in this case!
It’s always nice to discover that a long-lost band is still active and putting out new music. Much to my surprise, Bailterspace released an 8-song album in July which I discovered is available digitally on Bandcamp – I don’t believe there is a physical release at the time of this post.
I’ll only just skimmed the surface on my Bailterspace discovery but as we head into the end of 2020 and the hard break on new releases, I’ll be using the down time to keep going on this exploration.
In a nutshell, glad to have Alice In Chains back in my life again
When my friend Kim and I were seeking out alternative metal in 1990, we discovered Alice In Chains. I don’t remember if we saw the “We Die Young” video first or if we bought the Facelift cassette (released in August) but by the time Alice In Chains opened for Extreme (“More Than Words”) at the Akron Agora on September 27, 1990 we were fans.
Side note: I bought the Facelift cassette at Singing Dog Records in Columbus and remember that it sounded really bad. I was thinking to myself, “I know this is supposed to be alternative, but you can barely hear the vocals, the music sounds swampy, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get into this” only to discover that I had gotten a defective cassette.
The show at the Akron Agora was great, pretty sure Alice In Chains scared a lot of the Extreme fans in attendance but Kim and I loved it. I have pictures of Extreme from that show but, for some reason, didn’t take any of Alice In Chains. After the show, as I did back in the day (and, well, as I often still do), I hung around by the backstage doors waiting for the bands to emerge. While waiting for Extreme, the guys in Alice In Chains did come out but, even though I was a fan of the music, they gave off a certain vibe so I didn’t approach and ask for an autograph or photo (yes, to this day I regret that).
Like most grunge fans in the ’90s, I became a big Alice In Chains fans and followed their career, buying every CD on release day and then spending hours and hours consuming the music. We all know what happened with Layne Staley and Mike Starr, and most fans should be aware that Alice In Chains reformed in 2006 with William DuVall on lead vocals and have released three great albums.
MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle) recently honored Alice In Chains with a prestigious Founders Award which recognizes artists whose “noteworthy contributions continue to nurture the next generation of risk-takers.” In this time we’re living, there couldn’t be an in-person celebration so a number of artists submitted recorded covers of Alice In Chains songs as a way to pay homage to the influential band. My favorite take was Fishbone’s horn-filled “Them Bones” cover.
The other two that I’ve gone back to many times to watch are Mark Lanegan’s gold-teeth cover of “Nutshell” and Mastodon’s dirty take on “Again”.
Irish artist Rosie Carney found a creative outlet while quarantining – covering Radiohead’s The Bends in full. And while none of the songs have been radically reinterpreted, it’s nice to hear a female voice presenting a different take on the songs, many of which have been burned into my subconscious over the years. Not sure if there is a universally-agreed upon favorite album by Radiohead fans (maybe Kid A?), but I’ve always been fond of The Bends, spent a lot of time with it when it came out and even interviewed drummer Phil Selway. Admittedly, it’s been a long time since I’ve listened to it in full (probably over a decade) so listening to Carney’s version was welcomed and something I plan on doing many times in the future. Currently available on streaming services like Spotify, hope it comes out on vinyl some day.