Friday, December 4, 2009

Review of the Decade - Part 4: Splits

The Screaming Trees called it a day in 2000. They had begun recording a follow-up to 1996’s Dust but there was no interest from any record company. After a 15 year career where they moved from a punky sound to a more classic rock sound in the 90s, they provided a vehicle for Mark Lanegan to refine his vocal talents. Accompanied by the Conner brothers and Mark Pickerel on drums, they recorded 7 albums, the best of which being the aforementioned Dust and 1992’s Sweet Oblivion. Pickerel tired of the notorious infighting in the group (who often brawled on stage) and left in 1992 to pursue other musical projects, with Barrett Martin replacing him.

While never approaching anything like a ‘hit’, the track Nearly Lost You featured on the Singles soundtrack which saw the band lumped in with ‘grunge’, as they hailed from Ellensburg, near Seattle. Interestingly Josh Homme had been playing live with them, would have been great to have heard how he would fitted in with the band on an album. Lanegan went on to a solo career punctuated by collaborations, Van Conner plays with Valis, Gary Lee Conner lives in Texas while Barrett Martin became a Zen monk and artist.

Red House Painters had in truth been over for some time, as their final album, Old Ramon was recorded in 1998 but due to record company politics wasn't released till 2001. The band had evolved into a vehicle for Mark Kozelek, though he dissolved it after this album and re-emerged, with RHP drummer Anthony Koutsos in tow, as Sun Kil Moon.

16 Horsepower was the bible-driven, fire and brimstone preacher band of David Eugene Edwards, who released what I would consider to be modern Goth, in a similar vein to Nick Cave. Latter albums emphasised the moodier side of the band, getting away from stomping anthems and they split in 2005, leaving Edwards to concentrate on his new project Woven Hand.

Arab Strap were a Scottish duo who specialised in sordid tales of drinking, misogyny and squalor over moody, sometimes acoustic backing accompanied by electronic beats. There was only so many times they could continue this formula without repeating themselves and they split in 2006, with Malcolm Middleton releasing solo albums and Aidan Moffat recording under the name Lucky Pierre.