Saturday, March 19, 2011

Digging into the archives: revisiting records by Wool, Th' Faith Healers and more

Pete Stahl -- formerly of Wool -- with Goatsnake in Seattle, 2010. (Andy Nystrom photo)

By Andy

Lest we not forget these solid albums that hit our CD and tape players in 1992-93. Oh, the years have passed, but Wool, Th' Faith Healers, Pond and the Junk Monkeys' music still rings true in our ears.

I reviewed these albums for the Los Altos Town Crier back in the day, and I still can't believe I snuck these corkers past the editor.
Th' Faith Healers (Courtesy photo)

Wool singer Pete Stahl is probably the most memorable of the bunch here, as we can attest to his powerful live performances in both that band and in his current doom/metal outfit, Goatsnake. (He can also mix a mean cocktail, as witnessed backstage at last summer's COC/Goatsnake gig in Seattle.)

So roll on, and revisit these records -- or seek them out for a first listen.

Wool - "Budspawn" (1992)
The moniker is very apt for this blazing Hollywood quartet: While its HEAVY rock/punk/metal barrage keeps your body energized, its messages instead peel the wool away from your eyes and slam reality in your face.

Only six songs here, but there needn't be more for Wool to prove its point. Soulful yet crazed singer/guitarist Pete Stahl and brother/guitarist Franz, bassist Al Bloch and drummer Peter Moffett do more with these scorchers than most of today's bands can only dream of.

Furthermore, these guys dig into some of the coolest jams I've ever heard: the tight groove on "Slightly Under" and intense crescendo on the sedate-starting "Medication."

Yes, Wool is definitely the medicine you need.

Th' Faith Healers - "Lido" (1992)
In short, England's Th' Faith Healers are incredible. Tons of swirling guitar riffs -- heavy and delicate -- dominate this release. And the volatile female vocals blend in well: At times they're soft, but at others they walk the edge of insanity such as on the raucous "Hippy Hole." Check out "Moona-ina-Joona" for the ultimate mind-bending experience; but whatever musical style you dig, it's all in there somewhere.

Pond (Courtesy photo)
Pond - "Pond" (1993)
Imagine soothing curtains of guitar-buzz unfurling over your ears, mind and body. Pond's dreamy bass/guitar layers send you reeling, tossing and turning on life's open seas. While the band's music is hard to describe, it's best said that Pond churns out a set of eclectic psychedelic-punk anthems (notably "Wheel," "Young Splendor," "Tree" and "Gone"). This record is a must.

Junk Monkeys - "Bliss" (1993)
This set of tunes fueled by raw, powerful guitar chords and vocals is just that, total bliss. After two mediocre tries, the Detroit unit has finally found the elusive songwriting touch and churned out a solid, lively release.

The Monkeys' early Soul Asylum feel is best described as "barroom rock" ... you can easily imagine the sounds of pool balls smacking and loud chatter in the background.

Songs getting the nod of approval fall into two divisions: the all-out-rockin' "Bliss" and "Day Away"; and the tamer, gutsier "Rag" and "Frayed." Singer/guitarist Dave Bierman and guitarist Dave Boutette even pull out the acoustics on the ragged "Shine," which seems to be swiped from a Paul Westerberg songbook.

This is good junk if you like it rough.

The Junk Monkeys (Courtesy photo)

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