Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Bungling of Truly

Hiro Yamamoto’s departure from Soundgarden happened at an unlikely time—right after they released their first major label record, Louder Than Love—and fundamentally changed the sound of the band. Although I like much of Soundgarden’s arena-rock material, none of it holds a candle to the sludgy, dirge-y early stuff. So when Yamamoto resurfaced in Truly not long thereafter, it excited me, and I picked up (and later lost, and later picked up again) Truly’s first release, the Heart and Lungs EP (Sub Pop #0118), almost immediately after its release.

A fair amount of buzz circulated around Truly owing to the band member’s resume. Not only did they include Yamamoto, but former Screaming Tree Mark Pickerel pounded the skins. Furthermore, singer/guitarist Robert Roth originally fronted another well-known band, before Sub Pop forced the band to replace him. And that band was called . . . Nirvana!

OK, I’m kidding about that last bit.

Truly’s homepage contains several reviews, interviews, etc. One of the funnier ironies I learned from the interviews is that both Pickerel and Yamamoto left their respective bands when the pressure applied by the major labels turned making music into a job. Truly must have appeared to promise less pressure. Truly, of course, later signed with a major themselves.

Heart and Lungs, which was produced by the band plus John Auer of the Posies, was a fine ep. Musically, they sounded little like either Soundgarden or Screaming Trees. Instead, they played an unhappy, narcotic brand of indie rock, at times bearing a slight resemblance to Pavement and Sonic Youth, if either of those bands had decided to drink a bottle of Robitussin before playing. While they have a strong sense of melody—especially on the wonderful “Married in the Playground”—marketing a slate-gray band like Truly must have given Capitol Records a headache.

Tom mentioned to me a few weeks ago that he had never encountered a Truly fan; I haven’t either. At least in part, Truly’s pedigree can be faulted, as the Heart and Lungs EP lacks the carnality of Soundgarden or the psych/garage punch of Screaming Trees; Truly’s charms don’t present themselves as immediately. Most blame lies, however, with Capitol, who bungled their handling of this group. Capitol signed Truly while they were in the midst of recording a full-length for Sub Pop that went unreleased. Four years passed between Heart and Lungs and their debut for Capitol, Fast Stories . . . from Kid Coma. By the time Fast Stories hit the racks, Kurt Cobain had killed himself, and the music press had relocated to some hipper, younger scene. All of the buzz had been squandered.

Floodwatchmusic.com has a review of Fast Stories that’s worth a read. I have to confess that I’m among the many who forgot about Truly between releases, and I’ve never owned anything but Heart and Lungs.

Word of warning: my copy of Heart and Lungs has some scuffs and scratches, so the last two tracks contain a couple of skips. I copied the two songs from the “Leslie’s Coughing Up Blood” single from Robert Roth’s homepage; I’m not sure whether this version of “Virtually” was the same as that on the original single, or whether Truly rerecorded it for Fast Stories. I also snagged the excellent “Blue Flame Ford” from that site.


Heart and Lungs

Heart and Lungs
The Color Is Magic
Truly Drowning
Married in the Playground

Leslie’s Coughing Up Blood

Leslie’s Coughing Up Blood

Fast Stories . . . from Kid Coma

Blue Flame Ford


Mars said...

Links seem to be El Broke-O.

Lamestain HQ said...

Hmm . . . they seem to be okay on Firefox. Are the Girl Trouble links working? (We're trying a new mp3 hosting site.)

Mars said...

I'm using Safari with no luck. My Firefox hasn't been able to download for months (no clue why).

Okay, I just tried a Girl Trouble link (which I DL'd last week without incident) and got a MEDIAMAX account sign up page.

I love your Space Needle icon BTW.

Lamestain HQ said...

It appears that the new mp3 host service we're trying limits the amount of data downloaded each month. Hmmm, might have to use a different service. However, the Truly links should become available again on the 9th. In the mean time, check out Robert Roth's and Truly's homepages, as several of the songs can also be found there.

Anonymous said...

Interesting news--Truly has apparently reunited and are due to release a record sometime this year or next. Perhaps they're due for an opportunity for a popularity increase?

Joseph Kyle said...

oh man, i loved truly. i bought one of their CDs for 99 cents in 1993 and it was total, utter love.
some asshole stole those cd's i had of theirs.

too bad few people appreciated them back then....

Anonymous said...

Tom never met a truly fan? I-am-a-truly fan. Alot of the stuff put on in those years I can no longer listen to, but the EP still sounds fresh today. I didn't connect w/ the full length much, but the EP is truly 4 great songs.

sark said...

and i ordered a friggin truly zippo lighter from the us of a to germany. that makes me a truly fan, doesn't it? oh yeah, and twilight curtains os one of my fave albums ever. eat this, mr. stain.

Anonymous said...

Please re-upload fast stories!

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Truly has apparently reunited and are due to release a record sometime this year or next. have nice day!!!

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