This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

"How could I abstain?" - The High-Back Chairs

News item the first: Hanging out with Chris + shooting pool at Q Ball + an insane amount of old Metallica songs on the jukebox + the two of us trying to Eiffel Tower a fat chick + god knows how many pitchers of beer = pure awesome.

News item the second: My first assignment as a temp is a three-week bookkeeping job at DAG Petroleum. Pay's decent, but it renews my resolve to shoot down my father's attempts to get me to take accounting classes.

News item the third: If you haven't yet seen it, go rent Brick. It's amazing and required viewing for noir fans.

News item the four: Just a reminder, Hank Williams Sr. Day is tomorrow. Who the fuck is celebrating?

The High-Back Chairs were probably the most oddball band ever signed to Dischord. Compared to a catalogue mostly consisting of bands that wanted to be the Teen Idles and bands that wanted to be Fugazi, even the cream of Dischord's post-hardcore crop (Nation of Ulysses, Jawbox, Q and Not U, Lungfish, Rites of Spring, Holy Rollers, Slant 6, the Evens, etc.) were not widely known for easy hooks and straightforward, melodic playing. Eschewing the deliberately difficult sounds many DC groups adopt, The High-Back Chairs played a meaty take on alterna-pop before there really was such a thing.

Forming in 1990, the most visible and well-known member was Jeff Nelson, aka Dischord co-owner, drummer for the Teen Idles/Minor Threat, and the only person who could routinely make Ian MacKaye lose his rational demeanor. The High-Back Chairs are also notable for launching the career of Velocity Girl drummer Jim Spellman, who played guitar in HBC. They didn't last too long (what DC band does? the second you start getting into someone's record, they break up and form an experimental dance troupe or some shit), but they left two pretty killer mini-LPs and some odds and ends before they split.

In the days before alternative absorbed rock radio almost completely, HBH were combining indie rock guitars with pop melodies. Hell, if they'd had a cro-mag grunter like Chris Cornell, they mighta had a hit. "Kiss and Tell" is like a piece of candy, and "From Inches to Miles" sounds like ever single rock song that was popular between 1993 and 1997. The Naked Raygun-esqe harmonies add some heft to the ominous, moody "Afterlife."

Who ever thought they would hear a band like this on Dischord's roster? Harmonies, obvious pop melodies, traditional time signatures, and hooks galore really stick out against self-conscious art students noodling away on some dub song set in 9/17. It's too bad this is really the only pop band Dischord has ever signed, 'cause this city's had some good ones over the years.


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