We’ve been raving of late about the debut record by Wild Flag, the new band that features two-thirds of Sleater-Kinney (namely, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss) along with Mary Timony of Helium and Rebecca Cole of The Minders. The album is great in its own right, and also because it’s the closest thing we’re likely to see for some time (and maybe ever) to a new Sleater-Kinney album. Anyway, as we were listening to it this week, we got to thinking about ’90s bands we’d like to see get a second shot — somehow it seems that in amongst the slew of cash-cow reunions of late, it’s never the bands we loved best who get back together. Of course, this refusal to cash in may well speak volumes in those bands’ favor. But still. Here goes.
So much promise, so little end product. Elastica’s 1995 self-titled debut was a delight, its post-punk stylings anticipating the work of latter-day revivalists like Franz Ferdinand and Interpol, its songs cleverly crafted and jam-packed with pop hooks. The album’s follow-up, however, took five years to arrive — largely because of the band’s collective heroin intake — and was a relative disappointment, with Elastica splitting soon after. With the band scattered to the four winds — Justine Frischmann is a painter and based in San Francisco, Donna Matthews is the head of some sort of university Christian organization, Justin Welch is married to former keyboardist Sharon Mew, and Annie Holland seems to have disappeared — there doesn’t seem to be any realistic chance of a reunion. But since this is a purely hypothetical feature, we can fantasize about a parallel universe where the band gets back together again to give it another, drug-free, go — and succeed spectacularly.
Tanya Donelly’s post-Throwing Muses project was responsible for one great album (1993’s Star) but lasted barely five years — they split after Star‘s follow-up King didn’t match its predecessor’s commercial success. Donelly’s since released some excellent solo records (particularly 2004’s gorgeously melancholy Whiskey Tango Ghosts, which is highly recommended if you’ve not heard it), and these days apparently works as a postpartum doula — but we always felt that Belly had more to give, and we’d love to see them work together again one day.
Under the Radar magazine tracked down Lush’s Miki Berenyi in 2007 and asked her what she thought about an online campaign to get Lush back together. “It’s flattering that anybody gives a shit,” Berenyi chuckled. “[I’m] not sure how enthusiastic the support would be if they realized that bringing back Miki Berenyi would deliver a 40-year-old office employee with graying hair who’s still struggling to shift the weight from her last pregnancy.” The answer is, of course: very enthusiastic indeed. Lush were one of the great underrated bands of the 1990s, and while we appreciate why they’ve never reunited, given the tragic circumstances of their break-up — the band split in the aftermath of founding drummer Chris Acland’s suicide — we’d still love to see the surviving members back together one day.
Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci
Another hugely underrated 1990s band, Gorky’s spent a decade making albums of lushly beautiful pastoral psychedelia without ever threatening to break through into commercial success. They eventually split in 2006, and while main man Euros Childs has gone on to make some beautiful records of his own, the world of music is poorer for the band’s absence. We feel that they may end up as one of those bands who end up being more appreciated in retrospect.
While we’re on lushly beautiful, let’s also revisit the work of Mazzy Star. Hope Sandoval and David Roback haven’t played together since 2003, with the former having since founded a new band called the Warm Inventions and the latter having decamped to Norway. But seeing as they’ve apparently never officially broken up (Sandoval hinted in 2009 that a new album may arrive one day), we’re not calling this a lost cause just yet. Either way, you can hear Mazzy Star’s influence in the work of artists like Widowspeak and Trespassers William, and we’re sure a reunion would be welcomed by pretty much anyone with ears.
The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
With Michael Franti now well settled into his groove of dreadlocked, festival-friendly, acoustic, can’t-we-all-just-get-along tedium, it’s easy to forget how vital a force his Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy were. Their literate, intelligent, fiercely political interpretation of hip-hop would be just as welcome now, if not more so, than it was in the 1990s.
Fact: if we ever get to hear “Shitlist” live in concert, our life will officially take one step toward being complete.
Like Mazzy Star, they’re not technically broken up, but Fugazi have been on an “indefinite hiatus” since 2003, and no one’s holding out any realistic hope that they’ll be playing any time soon. Of course, that shouldn’t stop anyone holding out unrealistic hopes that they’ll get back together again, should it?
There are plenty of English bands who prospered briefly in the warm afterglow of the Britpop explosion, but who never ended up getting quite the attention they deserved: The Bluetones, Geneva, Sleeper, The Auteurs, The Lightning Seeds… The list goes on, so much so that we could probably do an entire post of second-tier Britpop bands we’d like to hear from again. But if we had to choose one, it might just be Gene, the quartet whose output captured perfectly the trajectory of Britpop and its associated cultural shift. Their debut Olympian was an unlikely top 10 hit in England; by the time of 1999’s Revelations, the post-Blair glow was well and truly gone, and the album’s bitter lead single “As Good As It Gets” reflected on the broken promises of what had looked to be a genuine cultural and political renaissance. The band lasted until 2004, then went their separate ways. Britpop nostalgia is in full swing these days, though — maybe a reunion mightn’t be out of the question?
Similarly, with something of a resurgence in all things riot grrrl after the release of Sarah Marcus’s excellent Girls to the Front, what price a Bikini Kill reunion? Or, failing that, what about a Le Tigre reunion? Surely it’s not too much to ask for a chance to go bonkers to “Deceptacon” just one more time? Eh?
Neutral Milk Hotel
One day. One day…