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The Haul: Cocteau Twins, Modest Mouse / 764-Hero, Shiner, Vitreous Humor, Wider

I’d visited Everyday Music during my last trip to Seattle, although it’s moved locations since that visit. Last time I got Chavez’s Ride the Fader LP, Hot Snakes’ Audit in Progress LP, and at least one more album if memory serves. This time around I found my two LP purchases (and the vast majority of things I considered purchasing but passed on buying ) in the just-in bin, which was organized by day (!). The general rock LP stock felt somewhat picked-over, perhaps because of the prime location by the Jimi Hendrix statue, but the seven-inches had some fine stragglers from the glory days of 1990s indie rock.

34. Cocteau Twins – Lullabies LP – 4AD, 1982 – $6

Cocteau Twins' Lullabies

After seeing an LP copy of Blue Bell Knoll for $20 at Sonic Boom, I was a bit concerned that any Cocteau Twins material I’d find in town would be grossly overpriced, but six bucks for this EP seems entirely reasonable. I couldn’t remember if the songs on Lullabies were included on The Pink Opaque, their early singles compilation, but I checked their Wikipedia and found out that they’re not. I’ve passed on a few of the EPs because of that reason—as much as I love “The Spangle Maker,” I don’t need it on multiple LPs—but I I’m glad to have more of their early work. I still need to track down Garlands, which I found at Looney Tunes in Cambridge, but it turned out to be sleeve-only, since the LP inside was a different Cocteau Twins release. Maybe I’ll even find a copy of Heaven or Las Vegas one of these days.

As for Lullabies, it’s more aggressive than I anticipated, perhaps because of original bassist Will Heggie. “Feathered Oar Blades” is downright driving, with a nearly cacophonous drum conclusion, “Alas Dies Laughing” is woozy concoction of edgy guitar leads and Liz Fraser’s repetitive phrases, and “All but an Ark Lark” pushes forward for eight minutes before finishing off with Fraser’s whoops and Robin Guthrie’s guitar feedback.

35. Modest Mouse / 764-Hero – Whenever You See Fit LP – Up / Suicide Squeeze, 1998 – $8

Modest Mouse / 764-Hero's Whenever You See Fit

Modest Mouse vinyl goes for gross amounts on eBay, especially the double LP, double sleeve edition of Lonesome Crowded West (I recently saw an auction for just one of these LPs), but I’m not sure of the value of this release, especially since the store had two copies of it for eight bucks apiece. I grabbed Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks from Mystery Train last summer with the intent of selling it, but it’s becoming quite apparent that I’m not particularly apt at the money-making aspects of collecting records, unless I have absolutely no interest in the group.

That isn’t the case here, since I am fond of early Modest Mouse. I don’t, however, recall having heard this collaborative release between them and the forgettable 764-Hero. I saw 764-Hero and a pre-Oh Inverted World version of The Shins open) for Modest Mouse at the Highdive in Champaign and heard at least one of their records, but my only impression of the group was generic Northwestern indie rock, like some extrapolation of Built to Spill and Modest Mouse’s aesthetic without the charisma. Maybe time has been kinder to 764-Hero than I imagine, but I have a feeling this will be the only release of theirs I pick up. Having now listened to the song (not the two remixes, I’ll save those for a rainy day), it’s an endearingly shambling combination of both bands, with Isaac Brock’s vocals and guitar trumping most other elements in the song. I am disappointed that these two groups could only string “Whenever You See Fit” along for fourteen and a half minutes.

36. Shiner – “Sleep It Off” b/w “Half Empty” 7” – Sub Pop, 1997 – $1

Shiner's Sleep It Off b/w Half Empty single

For a group that only pressed one of their full-lengths (their debut Splay) on vinyl, Shiner managed to put out a number of great singles, especially their Sub Pop single for “Sleep It Off” and “Half Empty.” The former made the re-release of Lula Divinia along with “Two Black Eyes” (which was originally included on a Law of Inertia compilation that also featured an early version of Durian’s “Four Mile Drop”), but “Half Empty” is just as good. “Brooks” b/w “Released” isn’t as essential, since both songs were on Splay, but “Cowboy” b/w “Floodwater” is worth hearing if you enjoy Splay-era Shiner. The split singles with Molly McGuire (“Crush”) and The Farewell Bend (“Spinning”) aren’t essential, but the former is exclusive and the latter is a slightly different version from the one on Starless. Ditto for “Semper Fi,” the best song from that album, but “A Sailor’s Fate” is a woozy, somewhat Louisville-influenced take on that era of Shiner’s sound. I tend to think of Shiner foremost as a live band, then an album band, but there’s good material on these singles and it’s a shame that some of them can be hard to track down.

A potential Shiner singles and rarities compilation could also include “Dirty Jazz” and “I’ll Leave Without You” from the Japanese pressing of The Egg, their cover of “Only Shallow” from the Grand Theft Autumn compilation, and a few unreleased tracks. It would provide fitting closure for Shiner, especially if they paired it with a DVD of their final performance in Kansas City. Considering that the group is working on a DVD release at the moment, this suggestion doesn’t seem to be unrealistic.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that I already owned this single, having ordered it from Parasol when it came out, but buying a second copy of a buck seemed like a no-brainer. I passed on a second copy of the Molly McGuire split single since I’m not exactly wearing out Shiner’s “Crush.”

37. Vitreous Humor – “My Midget” b/w “New Victoria Theater” 7” – Mute, 1996 – $2

Vitreous Humor's My Midget b/w New Victoria Theater single

I have Vitreous Humor’s first single, but I can’t remember much about it beyond a vague recollection of that Crank!-style of Midwestern indie/emo. I had no idea that they’d signed to a major until I saw this single, but apparently their time on Mute was limited to this slice of wax. Neither of these songs sounds remotely like a cash-grab and “My Midget” even begins with some lengthy instrumental interplay. Time to check out their self-titled EP and aptly titled Posthumous CD.

After Vitreous Humor broke up, three of the members reconvened in the short-lived The Regrets, whose lone CD, New Directions: Result Beat Boasts, was pulled out of the Reckless dollar bin a few years ago. I have even less recollection of that CD except that it was somewhat poppier than the Vitreous Humor single. A year after the Regrets split, one-hit wonders Nada Surf covered Vitreous Humor’s “Why Are You So Mean to Me?” at the behest of their label, which even slotted it as the lead single for their second album. Please cover this obscure indie rock band’s song. We know it’ll be a hit. It sounds like they hired me as an A&R guy.

38. Wider – “Main” b/w “Strapping ½” 7” – Third Gear, 1995 – $0.50

Wider's Main b/w Strapping Half

I’d seen Wider cross-referenced a number of times in relation to Chavez, since James Lo played drums and Matt Sweeney played bass in this group prior to joining Chavez (although the latter doesn’t appear on this single). I’d never actually heard Wider, though, and it’s entirely possible that I’d never seen one of their singles before, either. There’s another 7” floating around for “Triangle” b/w “Bloom,” which seems to come up exclusively through eBay searches. Is there a full-length floating around as well? Wider isn’t the most Google-friendly band name.

The music, to my expectations, is typical early-to-mid 1990s aggressive math-rock, with vocals only on the A side. Buying this single right after Don Caballero’s For Respect makes a lot of sense to me.