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:

Sheep Fiends – 04/22/2006

December 31st, 2017 Comments off

Album #: 56

Recording Dates: 04/22/2006

Release Date: 2006

Catalog: SF

ScratchNotes:

Another crazed Rumpus Room gathering from 2006. This is certainly more challenging than many CDs by the band (and that’s saying something) as the mixes for large group performances are pretty disappointing… but art never promised to be pretty…

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Two Track Sampler

Track 01 – Going Backwards (The Sheep Fiends) – The mixes on this CD can get a bit harsh, but sometimes the strangeness of it all works – like the unplanned bass solo freakout this song dissolves into for a minute.  [Scratch on Bass]

Track 07Nature of Insurgency (The Sheep Fiends) – Just Brian M. on improvised rhythm guitar/vocals and myself trying to put the urgency in insurgency on lead guitar.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Categories: 2000s - Late, Sheep Fiends Tags:

Sheep Fiends – The Poker Night String Band

December 31st, 2017 Comments off

Album #: 55

Recording Dates: 2005

Release Date: 2005

Catalog: SF

ScratchNotes:

For quite a while an acoustic sub-grouping of the Sheep Fiends had been playing Americana standards and the odd cover track. Mark A, Matt C, and Matty formed this nexus of this more traditional style band. I joined in for a few jams at Mark’s apartment that we happened to record (two tracks from which are featured below). This was great time, and created a very distinct vibe from the sounds of the larger more eclectic Sheep Fiends.

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Two Track Sampler

Track 03 – St. James Infirmary (The Poker Night String Band) – Mandolin anchors this bouncy track made famous by Louis Armstrong. Rather than the typical straight improvisation of a Sheep Fiends performance we were following some chords. But having never heard the song in my life I think my background electric guitar works on this.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 16Just What I Needed (The Poker Night String Band) – Deep in Appalachia one can hear the righteous gospel of our divine Ric Ocasek and his handpicked family The Cars. Presenting a spirited acoustic rendition of this classic rock track.  [Scratch on Vocals]

Categories: 2000s - Late, Sheep Fiends Tags:

Sheep Fiends – Live from the Rumpus Room – 10/16/2005

December 30th, 2017 Comments off

Album #: 54

Recording Dates: 11/15/1998 & 10/16/2005

Release Date: 2005

Catalog: SF

ScratchNotes:

The Rumpus Room became our new home base around this time. This was Brian M’s posh basement gathering spot with wood as far as the eye could see. While this space would see dramatic change a few years later; during this era we only had access to 2-track straight to tape recording – meaning the mixes on these CDs are as varied as the genres are…

This CD also contains a bonus 20 minute guitar freakout from 1998. You can listen to that one over at sheepfiends.com if the mood strikes ya.

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Two Track Sampler

Track 01 – A Friend Like You (The Sheep Fiends– Some slide guitar over a rumbling shuffle lays the groundwork for Matt C. to speak his mind and take the role of emcee. If you love off-kilter this is another one for you!  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 07Levi’s Gonna Break (The Sheep Fiends) – Sometimes the Sheep Fiends get topical, such as during this bizarre musical reaction to Hurricane Katrina. Robot voices and a Big Black guitar. Tones from the cosmos. Then it somehow devolves into some dumb blues. Then the singers riff on the theme of natural disasters. So it’s definitely the Sheep Fiends!  [Scratch on Vocals]

Categories: 1990s - Late, 2000s - Late, Sheep Fiends Tags:

Sheep Fiends – I Love America

December 29th, 2017 Comments off

Album #: 53

Recording Dates: 2005

Release Date: 2005

Catalog: SF

ScratchNotes:

This CD gathers the best from several jams during 2005.

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Two Track Sampler

Track 05 – You Are the Zebra (The Sheep Fiends) – Sometimes you have no ideas so you pick a list and run with it. Encephalitis. Insidious. Quartanium. Uvula. Zebra.  [Scratch on Bass & Vocals]

Track 06Sinister Happenings (The Sheep Fiends) – A thumper of a rocker. A real haunting swirler!  [Scratch on Guitar]

Categories: 2000s - Late, Sheep Fiends Tags:

Sheep Fiends – Join In Now

December 29th, 2017 Comments off

Album #: 52

Recording Dates: 1995-2004

Release Date: 2004

Catalog: SF

ScratchNotes:

This collection spans the years 1995 through 2004 and features 23 different musicians. Lost sessions from one-time lineups appear along with more common configurations exploring numerous avenues of sound.

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Two Track Sampler

Track 05 – Earth Shake (The Sheep Fiends) – Pulsars set ablaze. Is this some space rock; garage rock, or native chanting? It’s all of them. It’s why we shake.  [Scratch on Bass]

Track 21Sea of Nothing (The Sheep Fiends) – Pre-millennium angst at the state of things (or lack thereof). And Facebook wasn’t even around back then…  [Scratch on Guitar]

 

Categories: 2000s - Early, Sheep Fiends Tags:

Sheep Fiends – I’m So Confused

December 28th, 2017 Comments off

Album #: 51

Recording Dates: 11/20/2004 & 12/19/2004

Release Date: 2004

Catalog: SF

ScratchNotes:

The Sheep Fiends found a new place to play and some new players right along with it. Brian C. moved into an artsy loft space near the lakefront and I continued my run of not showing up for much of the 2003-2004 era of the Sheep Fiends. Despite my inattention to the band this new combination of musicians is featured on several Sheep Fiend CDs.

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One Track Sampler

Track 12 – Groundhog Mull (The Sheep Fiends) – With such a bizarre blues tale as this closing the album, the title “I’m So Confused” never seemed so appropriate. If you’ve never lived in the suburbs, let me take you there.  [Scratch on Vocals]

Categories: 2000s - Early, Sheep Fiends Tags:

Scratchrock Volume XIV

October 10th, 2015 Comments off

Album #: 50

Recording Dates: 2001-2004

Release Date: 2005

Catalog: SMR22

ScratchNotes:

By 2001 my musical activities had slowed to a pace that only the Sheep Fiends could fill. There are numerous reasons why this volume that covers four full years is comprised of only live performances. The economy fell apart and my career was in serious jeopardy. My attention moved towards putting together the Skroch 200. I returned to school in pursuit of a Finance Degree. There just seemed to be no time for music; until a phone call or email arrived inviting me to the palace of free thought just off of Bryn Mawr in Chicago.

I showed up for 7 jams in 2001 and 7 jams in 2002 and no jams in 2003 and 3 in 2004. A total of 17 jams in 4 years – that’s 1460 days – a jam once every 85.88 days. This volume of Scratchrock is comprised of 14 songs from 9 of these musical groupings.

The Dentists formed in early 2001 as one of the many failed attempts at creating a “real band” out of Sheep Fiends. DDS ((aka The Dentists)(aka Dave, Doug, Scratch)) kind of learned some originals, but more often just crafted odd takes on a diverse collection of cover tunes like those of Boston and the Monkees found on this disc. After two months or so the Dentists stopped showing up altogether.

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Four Track Sampler

Track 01 – Inside a Room Inside a Cave Inside the Moon (Sheep Fiends) – A favorite of mine from this era. I’m your guide for another improvised cosmic journey backed by a somewhat bluesy performance from the band. Can’t you hear we’re docking soon?   [Scratch on Guitar & Vocals]

Track 06 – Russell’s Potion (Sheep Fiends) – Fuzzed out bass and swooping theremin form the soul of this track, with my warbling guitar and a jazzy beat bringing a healthy sense of confusion to the party.  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 09 – Don’t Try (The Dentists) – One of the few original tracks the Dentists worked on during their short stay in the chair. If this song had lyrics, I never saw them!  [Scratch on Guitar]

Track 12 – Is That All There Is? (Sheep Fiends) – Brian M. lashes out against the forces of dissatisfaction in this stomping aggro number. A cathartic despair expressing the downside of human interaction.  [Scratch on Guitar]