I don’t remember where I picked up this record, but I’ve a feeling it was one of those ‘randomly acquired in a record shop’ purchases – on one of those record-shopping trips where I’m not looking for anything in particular, but usually emerge with a stack of unexpected new things that I didn’t realise I was after.
This record contains meaty, organ-heavy, dumbo garage rock that’s simultaneously of the grunge era and of the endless ‘influenced by mid-60s garage punk’ era. More than that, it spins off into widdly-diddly-guitar-solo worlds a la Dinosaur Jr, as well as the lysergic freakout of ‘Saint’ and the power pop of ‘Damn! Bam!’.
Once, in the past, perhaps around the time of this record’s release, I saw Gumball play an in-store at the Rough Trade shop in London. (Which one? The one that was below Slam City Skates in, I think, Neal’s Yard). That was fun, but not as fun as seeing Trumans Water, who played a set at the same event, and who were insane, unhinged and brilliant. Before the show I attended a Gumball press conference – presumably they had an album or something due out; perhaps Special Kiss, from which a couple of tracks on this record are taken? – and it was so busy that I had to stand outside, tape recorder in hand, straining to hear what was happening. Upon returning home I wasn’t entirely surprised to discover that my recording didn’t yield much more than a hissy mess with some very quiet, almost entirely unintelligible voices. That article didn’t get written. Still, thanks for the invite, whichever PR company invited me!
The illustration on this record’s cover is a bit of an Ed Hardy-by-way-of-Savage-Pencil thang, credited on the rear sleeve to Robert Parker. I’ve found this Robert Parker through Google, but I presume they are not the same person, unless he has a very diverse stylistic range.
Gumball features Don Fleming (both as musician and, on this record, producer). He’s a guy with a long, varied career in America’s indie rock underground scene, including:
- Producing records by Sonic Youth, Hole, Teenage Fanclub (yes, they’re not American) and more
- Being a member of Dim Stars (with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Television’s Richard Hell) as well as, for a while, Half Japanese
- Playing in the Backbeat Band, a beat combo put together to create music for the 1994 movie Backbeat, featuring Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum), Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Mike Mills (REM), Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) and Henry Rollins (Black Flag). Funny old situation, that. Read about the movie here.
Oh, and look: here’s Don Fleming the American football player.