J Church, "Sweet and Sour Plums"
WRCT, the campus radio station at Carnegie Mellon, used to get tons of records from just about every label. Primarily, that was because we actually would play stuff from smaller labels, having largely rejected the idea of "college rock" as well as "coherence" and "professionalism". From that wave of incoming stuff, somebody on the staff would listen to everything and write a little note on an index card to stick to it. You'd suggest which songs might make sense to play on the air, which songs you should avoid unless you were in the "safe harbor" (in other words, which ones had swearing), if a record was hopeless, whatever. If you really liked a record, you'd put it in the booth with the other notable new releases.
And I miss that stuff so much. I miss having a chance to actually touch and see so much stuff flow in. I miss reading the little capsule reviews not from strangers on the internet but from people I knew. I miss that feeling of putting something on with no expectations and being blown away. And while this project isn't quite the same, maybe in a small way it's a replacement for those old index cards.
People Under the Stairs, "Swan Fever"
Holy shit, y'all. I'll never get tired of out-of-place vinyl pops and sampled horns. I don't know why nobody talks about this band. Or maybe they do where I don't see it. I'm pretty out of touch! Anyway, I just learned they have several albums after this one I don't have, so hooray!
Note that I'm utterly uninterested in actual vinyl pops from actual vinyl records. Those damn things take up far, far too much space.
Rapeman, "Steak & Black Onions"
After the end of Big Black, Steve Albini formed Rapeman (named after the same manga that the cover art of Songs About Fucking came from) with Rey Washam (Big Boys and Scratch Acid) on drums and David Wm. Sims (Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard) on bass. And, with a noise rock pedigree like that, you'd expect them to be excellent. And they were! Arguably, the one album under that band name (Two Nuns and a Pack Mule) is better than any single album Big Black put out.
I feel like I have to address the name more. Obviously, it's a terrible name, and it makes me cringe to have to type it up there. It was an attempt at just being shocking and sophomoric, and I wish it were virtually anything else.
Stinking Lizaveta, "Front Window"
Apparently this band's name comes from The Brothers Karamazov. I did not know that. Anyway, they're related to the last track because like so many noise rock bands, they did some recording with Steve Albini. They played instrumental music that was kind of math-y, kind of jazz-y, and pretty noisy. I like it a fair bit, and am questioning my decision to only own two records.
(NB: This song begins at 3:22 in the linked video.)
The Notorious B.I.G., "Gimme The Loot"
It always feels a little strange to write up really famous artists on this thing. As I'm sure anybody paying attention has noticed, I've been listening to mostly underground stuff for decades. That's not a judgment of quality, just an observation of my taste. The biggest intersection of my taste and the cultural mainstream, though, is around rap. And yes, like most folks, I thought Biggie was really good. Of his two proper studio albums, his debut (Ready to Die) is easily my favorite, as it's grittier and more consistent than the second album. It's a landmark of hardcore rap, and should be on anyone's playlist to understand 90s music.