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Archive for the ‘1990s – Early’ Category

Raging Bellybuttons – Basement Hymns (1987-1990)

October 13th, 2019 Comments off

Album #: 72

Recording Dates: 1987-1990

Release Date: 2009

Catalog: SMR30

ScratchNotes:

Raging Bellybuttons were three long-haired guys who became friends at Libertyville High School. Each of us eager to push ourselves musically we plugged into a huge PA in Ken’s basement and recorded what raged out. The warmth of the wood paneling contrasted with the sarcastic bent of the lyrics, and we wrote songs almost as quickly as we played them.

While the guitar, bass, and drum duties were clearly identified the task of vocals was a bit of a wild card. Joe and I both stepped up and did the best we could. It’s certainly enthusiastic. Songs veered from punk to metal to funky to reggae to 12-bar-blues – we didn’t master any of these genres but visited as many as we could.

This collection features remastered versions of practice tapes, audio and images from VHS tapes and the odd experiment as well. All the Raging Bellybuttons standards are present – You’ve got Fight of the Bellybutton, Rubber Lover, Biker Gang…even New Bass Strings!

After rocking until 6pm three days a week for a few years the Bellybuttons ceased to rage. But this collection never does.

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__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Five Track Sampler

Disc 01 – Track 04 – Theme of the Bellybutton – Flight of the Bellybutton (Raging Bellybuttons) – What respectable young band does NOT write their own theme song? An intro of sorts really for the blunt proclamations of Flight of the Bellybutton. You. Can’t. Hide.  [Scratch on Guitar & Backing Vocals]

Disc 01 – Track 06 – Speak of the Bellybutton 1 (Raging Bellybuttons) – Here I let you inside the minds of a young band in development. It’s not always pretty. Since we were serious about recording everything that went into a post-school day rehearsal, we can now listen in.  [Scratch on Talking]

Disc 01 – Track 08 – Soundgarden Song (Raging Bellybuttons) – No, not a cover of a Soundgarden song. A song that reminded us of Soundgarden. This extended freakout jam often lasted 10 minutes, and I showed no mercy to my effects pedals as I force out every shriek, scrape, and swoosh hidden there. There were no set lyrics, so I improvised vocals each time we launched into this. This version of the song brings together some of my favorite performances in one warped eleven minute package.  [Scratch on Vocals & Guitar]

Disc 02 – Track 02 – Societal Rift (Raging Bellybuttons) – Finally we hear the funky side of Raging Bellybuttons! Yes, it is possible to turn a distortion pedal “off”. We bring the boogie in our own special way but still get in one of my crazy ass guitar solos as well as a ripping bass solo.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Disc 02 – Track 18 – Chronic Halitosis (Raging Bellybuttons) – About as straight metal as the Bellybuttons got. It’s still a powerful riff, even if 32 years later we still don’t have those lyrics.  [Scratch on Guitar]

MX Skroch – Ugly Music for Pretty Girls

September 23rd, 2019 Comments off

Album #: 69

Recording Dates: 1994-1997

Release Date: 2008

Catalog: SMR29

ScratchNotes:

Here is the final release from the “InSkroMental”, “Loophole”, and “Ugly Music for Pretty Girls” trilogy. This collection was created when I decided to digitally remaster & EQ some of my best original material to optimize fidelity.

“Ugly Music for Pretty Girls” is a collection of songs written, performed, recorded and produced by MX Skroch at home during the mid-1990s. This is primarily a song-based rock album which occasionally also ventures toward the unknown.

Lyrical inspiration provided by my friends, my actual ladies, my “wish they were my ladies”, introspection, depression, excess, and my general impression of existence.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Track Sampler

Track 02 – Monday on the Train Tracks (MX Skroch) – Back before the Internet we did things like walk down the railroad tracks to keep ourselves occupied. This song is kind of about that – but more about yearning. It’s got samples, acoustic bits, crunching riffs, wacky keyboards, and of course my sketchy crooning. A decent representation of the album as a whole.  [Scratch on Vocals, Samples, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, and Drum Machine]

Track 03 – Crusade (MX Skroch)  – Sort of a country-tinged ballad about coming undone. A meditation on motivation and devastation – also one of the slowest songs I ever mixed down to a Maxell cassette.  [Scratch on Vocals, Electric Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, and Drum Machine]

Track 05 – Average (MX Skroch) – Passing judgement on my fellow 20-somethings…I guess some things never change with me. Kind of a singer songwriter track for the disaffected set. Fairly unique here is the lack of electric guitar; but don’t worry – the keyboard picks up the slack.  [Scratch on Vocals, Samples, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, and Drum Pad]

Track 13 – Extra Drunk (MX Skroch) – A heavy rager after all that contemplation. This song describes a typical Saturday night in West Chicago as I experienced it while delivering pizza in the early 1990s. Cars with subwoofers so huge their bumpers dragged on the ground raised the flags of their mother countries high. And drank beer. Lots of beer. It was quite a scene.  [Scratch on Vocals, Electric Guitar, Bass, and Drum Machine]

Track 14 – Settle for Me (MX Skroch) – A good example of why I don’t promote myself as a singer – still I think this track tells a nice story. I enjoy that the bass holds down the melody and that the chorus sticks in my brain like tar.  [Scratch on Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, and Drum Machine]

Categories: 1990s - Early, 1990s - Late, MX Skroch Tags:

The Hidden – Chicago’s Thickest Band in the World

September 15th, 2019 Comments off

Album #: 68

Recording Dates: 1992 – 1994

Release Date: 2007

Catalog: SMR28

ScratchNotes:

This is a compilation that captures other works of the Hidden beyond “Stop. I’m bleeding.”, “Brave New Failure” and the two comps listed below. Unreleased songs recorded in rehearsal or in concert; five bonus tracks recorded for the “Brave New Failure” album; sonic anthropology of life on the road via “Ladies Night with the Hidden” and “The Turdcutter Files”, and the title track of our very first release.

The album art contains many flyers from our days on the road, as well as homebrew marketing materials and video stills of honest moments.

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Four Track Sampler

Track 03 – Are You My Daddy? (The Hidden) – I guess you could consider this the early 90’s version of a meme. We had a tendency to ask this question over and over…and I don’t recall why.  [Scratch on Daddy]

Track 15Bone of Contention (The Hidden) – This menacing track is the most experimental thing the band released – and was the title track of our debut tape. Since I’m a balanced individual I recorded multiple news reports when the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer were revealed. Zack and I used cassette tapes to dub the sample track of these tapes with recordings of movie clips and commercials. Then just add some droning moaning madness and you’ve got “Bone of Contention”.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 16The Cleavage Enhancing Wonder Bra (The Hidden) – A really rough recording from our leaning basement. This was the final track the band came up with before going their separate ways, and features a number of slow building sections. The addition of Brian M. on guitar made us that much thicker. This sample track ends with a clip of Erik hawking the band and recounting our history on Y108.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 17Gnawing at the Stump (The Hidden) – This short outtake from the “Brave New Failure” sessions gets its point across with no delay. Sing along now! “I cut my feet, they’re bleeding…“.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Categories: 1990s - Early, The Hidden Tags:

The Hidden – Covered With Blood and Touring

September 12th, 2019 Comments off

Album #: 67

Recording Dates: 1993 – 1994

Release Date: 2007

Catalog: SMR27

ScratchNotes:

The Hidden played live for a bit under two years. Our first appearance with Brian M. was at the infamous Czar Bar in January 1993. The band largely culminated with a three week tour in late 1994 that took us to Texas and New Mexico and back through Colorado. This collection features live renditions of eighteen original songs plus covers of Pink Floyd and Pat Benatar. A lot of these recordings originate from our VHS recordings from these tours. Yes kids, our VHS recordings. Despite this limitation many energetic rock occurrences erupt with reckless abandon throughout.

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Four Track Sampler

Track 01 – In the Flesh (The Hidden) – Why not start a heavy rock show with this opening track from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”? It even works at the Czar Bar despite the always occupied pool table providing real-time ambiance.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 04Salamander (The Hidden) – Dynamics is the name of the game as our protagonist questions his mammality. Live from Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club in Kansas City, MO. [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 15B.O.F. (The Hidden) – While latter era Hidden often delved into longer more progressive tracks, this stormer shows we could still blast out a fast track as needed. Perhaps not appropriate for modern sensibilities.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 17The Specialist (The Hidden) – Ten different parts in three and a half minutes? Damn right! It’s the Specialist! [Scratch on Guitar & Backing Vocals]

Categories: 1990s - Early, The Hidden Tags:

40 Gallons – The McLennon, Peterson, Skroch, and Webb Collection

September 8th, 2019 Comments off

Album #: 66

Recording Dates: 1991 – 1994

Release Date: 2007

Catalog: SMR26

ScratchNotes:

After finally finishing up the Hidden’s “Brave New Failure” twenty-two years after its initial recording, I got the urge to re-evaluate our piles of recordings to finish filling out our legacy of non-success. First up was the initial era when I played with Paul, Zack and Erik as IMF and then for a while as the Hidden. This crew actually saw more recording studios than the later group – including time spent with Steve Albini and Chuck Uchida in Chicago. This collection includes live shows, radio performances and studio demo recordings.

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Four Track Sampler

Track 10 – I’m Dead (The Hidden) – Acoustic guitars? Why not! The Hidden’s understanding of punk rock was indeed wide ranging.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 12How I Feel (The Hidden) – This one minute blast is the most frantic thing the band played live. A ruckus really. A beautiful beautiful ruckus.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 15I’m Your Bug (live on WZRD) (The Hidden) – In July 1992 the Hidden played a spirited live set in the Chicago studios of WZRD. It was a strange setup and I feel like maybe we were in different rooms? My poor memory aside, we delivered a rousing and thumping performance.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 16On the Mountainside (live on WZRD) (The Hidden) – This twisted love song gets a strange pulsing intro before blasting into its pre-emo big rock attitude.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Categories: 1990s - Early, IMF, The Hidden Tags:

MX Skroch – Loophole

September 22nd, 2018 Comments off

Album #: 65

Recording Dates: 1992-2000

Release Date: 2007

Catalog: SMR25

ScratchNotes:

Here is the middle release from the “InSkroMental”, “Loophole”, and “Ugly Music for Pretty Girls” trilogy. This collection was created when I decided to digitally remaster & EQ some of my best original material to optimize fidelity.

“Loophole” is primarily focused on experimentation. This is the only album of the three to include other musicians, mostly on one-off performances or looped multi-track creations.

From the 90-second whimsy of “Soundo Effecto” to the brutal cacophony of the 17-minute “Intended Sexual Assault”; “Loophole” throws something completely different and unexpected at you every few minutes. Soundscapes, industrial music, loop built tracks, recordings of pizza delivery interactions…it’s all that and more!

Four samplings from this album can be accessed below. Enjoy!

P.S. You can click the cover image for a larger version.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Track Sampler

Track 01 – Tingle (MX Skroch) – A spooky cloud moves in from the distance. Your skin begins to crawl. Something is bubbling within. Suddenly it bursts out!  [Scratch on Sequencer]

Track 03 – Sitting Duck (MX Skroch with Suneel V.)  – Piano rock turns into crushing heaviness before bridging into a dance bit that turns into satellite signals reaching out for spiritual assistance when suddenly your messages get a response and a plea as sad orchestral music begins to take shape… Also featuring a rather unique vocal performance as I elucidate the context of modern life.  [Scratch on Bass, Vocals, Drum Beats, Galactus & Space Phone]

Track 08 – Cotton Candy (MX Skroch) – A drum driven, mostly sample based slap across the face. I’d recently taken a liking to obtaining collections of samples to play with. Where they came from wasn’t important – sometimes they came from CDs I bought; boom box recordings of the TV in my living room, or a small pocket tape recorder I kept handy for those special occasions.  [Scratch on Guitar, Drum Beats & Samples]

Track 13 – We Used to Wear Toughskins (MX Skroch) – This time it’s personal as I share recordings of pizza deliveries; answering machine messages from the Chophouse and our landlord trying to throw us out, and commentary about Jeffrey Dahmer. Oh, and I guess I made recordings of my neighbor’s kids in the mid-1980s so I fit that in as well; and some movie samples from 1961. So something for all ages I suppose!  [Scratch on Recorded Pizza Delivery, Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Keyboard, Drum Beats & Samples]

MX Skroch – InSkroMental

August 18th, 2018 Comments off

Album #: 62

Recording Dates: 1990-2000

Release Date: 2007

Catalog: SMR24

ScratchNotes:

My computer in 2005 was certainly laughable by today’s standards, but at the time it seemed so powerful that I decided to sort through all my recordings and digitally remaster & EQ some of my best original material. Remasters of the Raging Bellybuttons, IMF, and the Hidden would come later – first I focused on my solo recordings. Looking for themes I came up with a 3 CD set: “InSkroMental”, “Loophole”, and “Ugly Music for Pretty Girls”.

“InSkroMental” features compositions I’ve recorded completely by myself that don’t contain lyrics; newly remastered to optimize fidelity. These tracks were recorded everywhere: my Chicago apartment on Wolcott, then the Leaning House of Trog, then my apartment in Chicago on Larchmont, even at my Mom’s house over many years. Despite a wide range of styles this is the most straightforward approach to music I took during the 1990s.

Since this is a retrospective it features dozens of different instruments and effects I used over the years. The cover captures many of the tools used in the creation of these tracks.

I consider this set one of my more critical releases, so a full five song sampler is provided below. Enjoy!

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Track Sampler

Track 01 – The Implant (MX Skroch) – This frantic opener was created when I got a new synthesizer/sequencer and tried to figure it out. Of course I went aggressive, dark and dissonant. Wouldn’t you?  [Scratch on Sequencer]

Track 03 – Covered With Blood and Twitching (MX Skroch)  – This is one of the most fully realized tracks I’ve written and recorded over the years – the Hidden even did a version on the “Brave New Failure” album. This mix is mostly instrumental and uses a wide collection of guitars, keyboards, and kazoo to tell the sad, sad story.  [Scratch on Kazoo, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Drum Machine, Samples & Vocals]

Track 06 – Toilet Sonata (MX Skroch) – Sometimes you need your soul to quiet down for a bit. In these times of introspection a piano ballad is often appropriate mood music. Are the sounds of my upstairs bathroom also welcome? Toilet Sonata makes the case that yes they are…yes they are.  [Scratch on Piano & Samples]

Track 12 – Vikings (part 3) (MX Skroch) – A follow up to some instrumental tracks from a few years back, the third incarnation of “Vikings” brings back pounding drums and jazzy horn sounds to accompany this fast paced and ever modulating rocker. I find the use of tension to be particularly effective here.  [Scratch on Guitars, Bass, Keyboards & Drum Programming]

Track 17 – Eyesore (MX Skroch) – Another sequencer creation exploring my twisted vision of chamber music. Or something.  [Scratch on Sequencer]

The Hidden – Brave New Failure

January 1st, 2018 Comments off

Album #: 57

Recording Dates: 1994

Release Date: 2006

Catalog: SMR23

ScratchNotes:

In the Summer of 1994 the members of the Hidden booked Flat Iron Studios in Chicago to begin work on the follow-up to their “Stop. I’m bleeding.” CD. Once again Chuck U. ran the board but this time not in his own studio. We recorded for several days and mixed down close to 20 songs. We were dubbing cassettes of the master tapes over several days to listen to music on other systems. Somehow the band never got a hold of the master tapes (or even a digital copy of mixdowns) of these sessions and broke up in late 1994.

I worked hard to find the best version available when I began work in 2002 on finally releasing this album. I had four different cassettes that contained most of the recordings so I could identify the best source material (arg…from cassettes) to create the album. There was tape fuzz to deal with; some tapes had little glitches on some songs but not others, plus the songs had never been mastered so a round of equalization was needed.

A dozen songs made the album’s final running order. Looking at it 23 years later (arg…I was 24 when we recorded this!) it’s kind of an odd album – which makes it fit perfectly into this discography!

Below are three tracks that I hope get across the many moods of this record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Track Sampler

Track 03 – Salamander (The Hidden) – Here’s a blast of distorted heft leading into purgatorial torment. From heavy to haunting in a split second the band shows a more complex style than on early recordings, and displays a wide dynamic range on this metallic track.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 07 – Pink Snow (The Hidden) – Pink Snow was a live favorite and its relentless plodding still captivates all these years later. It’s got a stop-start intro, a slow groove bass, a frightening vocal performance and that simmering buildup to the ending with the bonus drum jam. This is one of the Hidden’s better constructed songs.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 09 – Suicide King (The Hidden) – Set the manic to 11 as Brian M. unleashes a violent sermon on another dark track. I’m quite fond of how my guitar came out on this recording.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Categories: 1990s - Early, The Hidden Tags: