Friday, April 14, 2023

Truly - Fast Stories... from Kid Coma (1995)


 A lot of people have strong opinions about the word "grunge". It's divisive because its one of the few music genres that doesn't have have definable sound. Pearl Jam and Tad are about as different as Jimi Hendrix and Judas Priest, but they both receive the label "grunge". 

The progenitors of the genre are nearly all from Washington state, and in fact grunge was also referred to as "The Seattle Sound", but if one uses that as a metric then both L7 and Stone Temple Pilots don't get included, which would upset many to the point of pitchforks and torches. Another interesting thing about the genre, if that's what we're calling it, is that none of the people credited with it wanted any ownership of the word. Punk bands proudly call themselves such. Not the case with grunge.

Whether they liked the term or not, Truly was a band from Seattle that no one in their right mind would debate calling grunge. For starters, the rhythm section features founding members of both Soundgarden (Hiro Yamamoto) and The Screaming Trees (Mark Pickerel), 2 of grunge's biggest bands. 

Frontman Robert Roth, the least known member, was actually very well known in Seattle's grunge community of the early 1990s. He was considered to join Nirvana when the band began seeking a second guitarist. Roth's voice actually brings to min
d Kurt Cobain during his most somber moments, and the nasal screeching of Mark Arm from Mudhoney when he screams. His guitar sound is incredibly dense and distorted but without sacrificing melody. Where Truly TRULY stands out is their incorporation of 60's sounds and song styles. "If You Don't Let It Die" almost sounds like The Kinks if they'd been a strung-out Seattle band in the 90s. A Rhodes piano featured on "Angelhead" lends a Doors-esque quality to the song's stoned feeling, not to leave out the use of a mellotron in the song's chorus, harkening to "Strawberry Fields Forever" (Roth would later earn mellotron credits on Built To Spill's Perfect From Now On).

Make no mistake however. While the songs on "Fast Stories... from Kid Coma" all have a psychedelic 60's vibe, the bulk of the sound is firmly rooted in punchy distorted rock music more akin to plaid shirts than paisley bellbottoms. This was producer Adam Kasper's first produced record... his other credits include heavier bands like Soundgarden and Queens of the Stone Age... and he would later go on to winning a grammy for Foo Fighters "There Is Nothing Else to Lose".

This album has been described as grunge music's lost masterpiece. It has also been called grunge's swan song. While it was released to critical acclaim, it seems like it should have been bigger. That said it is almost too weird for what MTV was selling at the time: the tides were shifting away from grunge and toward pop punk and grunge-lite bands like Silverchair. Truly was too dark and heavy for a world still hurting from the death of Kurt Cobain. But in retrospect, this album deserves to be listened to and talked about by those still interested in whatever grunge is (or was). It is a fantastic sounding record that feels like the 1990s. They say the 1990s are back... which is maybe true but you never hear bands like Truly anymore.

Truly - Fast Stories... from Kid Coma

No comments:

Post a Comment