Late Greats: Rodan’s 2nd (Lost) Album

rodanIn the early fall of 1994, a promising young band from Louisville, Kentucky played its last show and then fractured into no less than four separate bands. The band I refer to was Rodan, and what made their split so surprising was that they had released a stunning debut less than a year before and, as evidenced by their summer 1994 three song session on John Peel’s BBC radio show, were set to make an even stronger follow-up album. Indeed, Peel even mentioned that July that the band was planning to record its follow up album that fall.

The band’s core members – Jason Noble, Jeff Mueller, Tara Jane O’Neil, and Kevin Coultas – have never really said too much about Rodan’s split. When it all comes down to it, one surmises that creative differences were to blame. O’Neil, whose first post-Rodan work was in Sonora Pine with Coultas, went on to found Retsin and has continued producing her low-key dreamcore sounds with a series of strong solo records. Noble and Mueller founded Rachel’s and June of 44 respectively, until joining forces again in 1997 as The Shipping News. If you throw the sounds of all of those bands into one collective mix, you can imagine the dreamy, dark chamber postrock that Rodan might have produced on their follow-up. Think Slint meets Sonic Youth.

Rodan being one of my favorite bands since I first discovered music in my own backyard, I’ve collected some live recordings over the years and have been able to compile a few hints at what said follow-up might have sounded like. There is of course the aforementioned (devastatingly awesome) Peel session from 1994, as well as a handful of demos, which can be downloaded here.  Additionally, the song “Rungs” can be found in stripped-down form on Sonora Pine’s first album.

But I’ve managed to dig up a lost live track from April 1994. Don’t know the name of the track, but I’ll just call it “Untitled 1” until someone tells me otherwise. You’ll be seeing it here shortly. (Apologies for the poor quality, I didn’t record it). UPDATE: Download here.

With that, it brings the grand total of “lost album tracks” to six.  Who knows, maybe someday Rodan will bring back the noise. Until then, dig in to the back catalogs of the post-Rodan acts. Start with June of 44’s “Engine Takes to the Water”, Rachel’s “Systems/Layers”, Shipping News’ “Save Everything”, Sonora Pine’s “II”, and Retsin’s “Sweet Luck of Amaryllis.”

Shout Out: Bird Show of North America

Been going through an post/mathrock phase lately, brushing up on old indie faves like Dianogah and June of 44. Faraquet in particular sounded great on the summery drive home this afternoon.

One band I’ve been wanting to write about for a while is Seattle’s own Bird Show of North America. Purely instrumental, Bird Show really stands out from the pack because of a refusal to rely on the hypnotic “drone” so prevalent in postrock over the last eight or nine years and instead spinning out ten exhilirating and original tracks on their debut LP, Murder Over Moscow. The band’s style seems to meet somewhere between Faraquet’s angular and hard-edged guitar rock and Low’s emotive and expressive slowcore. Apparently no recording can capture the full Bird Show of NA experience though – during live performances, the band is “fronted” by an artist who paints – get this – birds. Of North America. But the CD itself provides a great document of the band’s sound. I for one hope to hear more from this band in the next year or so.

UPDATE: Short doc on the band on YouTube.

The Chronological Fifteen

Not really my top 15 – more like a chronological development of my musical tastes.

1..U2 – The Joshua Tree, taught me that music can emenate the eternal
2..REM – Document, taught me that being a teenager is liberating and joyful
3..Sunspring – Poppy, taught me that anyone can make a decent record
4..Rodan – Rusty, taught me that music can be so much more than 3-4 minutes ready-made for the radio
5..Slint – Spiderland, taught me that the kids of Louisville, Kentucky are a special breed
6..Crain – Speed, taught me that art punk could be classic
7..Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary, taught me something that eludes me now
8..Radiohead – OK Computer, taught me to love all things Radiohead
9..Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West, taught me what being young and lost sounded like
10..The Band – The Band, taught me that my Dad knew what he was talking about
11..Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia, taught me to enjoy music with my wife
12..Wilco – YHF, taught me to love Wilco
13..Mark Knopfler – The Ragpicker’s Dream, taught me what happiness is
14..Over the Rhine – Ohio, taught me that we all have our songs
15..Radiohead – In Rainbows, taught me that I should never give up on the ones I love

Post Number One

Welcome to my blog, where I will be publishing all sorts of writing about music until the end of time. I don’t really know what else to say about this at the outset, except that I have a ton of ideas, I am compelled to write, and I will be writing specifically about music on this here web journal. So I hope you enjoy, and if you like it enough, why not drop a link on your own blog.

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