Monday, September 25, 2006

Go ahead! Bundle of Hiss

If you’ve seen Decline of the Western Civilization II: The Metal Years, you no doubt remember several scenes featuring the band London. London had slaved away on the Hollywood Strip for years, playing all of the important venues and attracting pretty decent crowds. However, London’s fame (if you could call it that) arose not from their music itself but from the band’s impressive list of alumni: future members of every big hair metal band in the world had tenure in London. London itself, however, never attained much success. In some ways, Bundle of Hiss resembles London: they slaved away for a number of years (1980 to 1988) without releasing a record, and they included two future members of TAD (bassist Kurt Danielson and, briefly, Tad Doyle himself) and a future member of Mudhoney (drummer Dan Peters). However, Bundle of Hiss differed from London in a few of important aspects:

(1) To my knowledge, Bundle of Hiss never introduced a song called “Russian Winter” by attempting to burn a Soviet flag, only to destroy their set’s momentum by failing to get the flag to ignite.

(2) Bundle of Hiss likely never credit carded themselves into massive debt because of a large Aqua Net, smoke bomb, and fish-net stocking budget.

(3) Bundle of Hiss—and this is the most important difference—were awfully good.

I didn’t learn this until recently, when I picked up a used copy of Sessions: 1986-1988, a posthumous collection of most of their demos released by Loveless Records in 2000 or 2001. The CD includes two demos: one from 1986, with original singer and founding member Russ Bartlett, and one from 1987-1988 with guitarist Jamie Lane on vocals. Bundle of Hiss also recorded a third demo (apparently their best), but no copies of the masters exist.

I didn’t post any songs from the first demo. Barlett’s voice is fine, but the band hadn’t found its bearings yet. They lumber through several sludgy and uninteresting attempts at post-punk. The Lane-era songs, however, contain much more power and purpose. I could give or take Lane’s voice (think Andy Wood), but he managed to marshal Peters and Danielson into a formidable rhythm section. Several tracks are great—really great—early era grunge.

It’s a shame that this band was more heard about than actually heard.

Bundle of Hiss--"White"
Bundle of Hiss--"Drown"
Bundle of Hiss--"Rables"



Sebastian said...

Yo ! Dan Peters rule!

Mars said...

It's like Soundgarden without the balogna.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't find this album anywhere, they were f*cking amazing.

It's true, White's riff sounds like Soundgarden's "Hunted down" from Screaming Life.

Thanks for posting!

Rob Christianson said...

hey, I did the artwork for this album!

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