Back in the 1990’s I, like so many like me, was obsessed with anything and everything that came out of the Seattle Music scene. It would not be long before people as far as the southern border states were wearing flannel and devouring everything labels such as PopLlama, SubPop, and K Records would produce presenting many of us with music we would never have heard of otherwise. Much of this music was not played on the local top 40 and, if you were in the know, you found yourself part of a very small, and very eccentric, group of people.
One of the bands that I discovered from the Sub Pop label was that of The Fastbacks and is the artist for today’s stand out album New Mansions In Sound.
Why This Album?
As I mentioned above, I devoured everything I could get my hands on. Using the SubPOP 200 as my guide, I dove into bands such as Mudhoney, Tad, Green River, Cat Butt, Screaming Trees and many more, but one that I kept coming back to (other than Nirvana of course) was that of the Fastbacks.
Formed by Kurt Blotch, Kim Warnick and Lulu Gargiulo, the band continued from 1979 to 2001 making them one of the somewhat lesser known cornerstones of the Seattle music scene. My first exposure to this iconic band was a cover of a Green River song entitled Swallow My Pride and, soon, I began ordering every album I could find of theirs. It would be some time before I received New Mansions In Sound but upon it’s arrival I discovered something special.
The Fastbacks always had some strong punk/pop roots ranging from melodic to outright rock but there was something tighter and more refined about New Mansions that caused it to be a regular spin on my humble home system. With much of the album embracing the pop aspect of the band, Kim Warnick’s voice just seemed to strike my then later teen mind in a way that surprised me. Outside of my teenage hormones and her powerful pixie-like voice, I can’t really explain what it was that attracted to me to this particular album but, it was almost as if she was singing to me. From Songs like Just Say, which talks about being alone and wanting love, to 555 part one, which seemed to refer to my similar arcade obsession, I found nearly every track pertaining to me and my current emotional state. Keep in mind this was the same year as Weezer’s Pinkerton album and the early advent of ‘Emo music’, and here was a band who bucked the trend, keeping things pretty straight forward, never diving too deep into the diary while also finding a connection to it’s listeners. Whether Blotch, Warnick and Gargiulo intended it or not, they spoke to us and that was what made this album something special.
Interestingly, the Fastbacks is one of the most connected bands of it’s time having had drummers who would later join bands such as Guns N Roses, The Decemberists, The Presidents of the United States of America, The Young Fresh Fellows and there is even a Posies connection with Drummer Mike Musburger having drummed with both bands. It’s crazy how interconnected all of these band were.
555 Part One I just love this track. ’nuff said
Just Say A little more pop and emotionally charged but damn it’s good.
Is It Familiar? Another poppy song but yeah, solid stuff.
Ok, Where do I get it?
Good luck here. This one has been out of print for some time and it is doubtful it will ever get a new pressing. That aside you can listen to them on Spotify so there is that.
Give them a go, trust me. Solid stuff.
Late to the Game 10/13/2020 (originally published 5/12/2020)
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