Posts Tagged ‘Matador Records’

Railroad Jerk

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Younger Than You / Ballad of Jim White 7″
Matador, 1991

Judging by the amount of unsold Railroad Jerk LPs I’ve seen around and the neglect of any mention of this stellar single on or, this NYC band never got the love it deserved. Once upon a time they were critically acclaimed and had a coveted touring slot with Extra-Width-era Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, yet somehow, anytime I play this or their excellent Third Rail LP for people it’s some big revelation and discovery. They caught my ear on the Matador label’s 1990 New York Ear & Eye Control compilation, from when the label was a little more adventurous, with a skronking, noisy mess of a song entitled “From The Pavement,” which I’ve included below. Railroad Jerk’s later releases became more polished and conventional, and presumably palatable to collegiate/indie/alt-country types, while their early work, like The JSBX, was a seamless amalgamation of raw punk noise with classic blues influences. In Railroad Jerk’s case, the blues influence had more of a chugging (in a non-metallic sense) railway hobo sound, with twangy vocals layered on top of sharp no-wave shards of bands like Mars, DNA, or Teenage Jesus & The Jerks. This early no-wave abrasiveness and snottiness, softened in later releases, is demonstrated perfectly on this single with two great songs only available on this 45.


Railroad Jerk – “Younger Than You”
Railroad Jerk – “Ballad of Jim White”

Railroad Jerk – “From The Pavement”
from New York Eye & Ear Control compilation

Thinking Fellers Union Local 282

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Admonishing the Bishops 10″
Matador, 1993

Easily one of the most interesting groups of the 1990s indie underground, the Thinking Fellers had a slew of releases on the Matador and Communion labels, with  this 4-song EP capturing their finest and most-focused songs. You can guarantee that every TFUL 282 record has its moments of weirdo brilliance, bubbling up from sprawling tracks that could effortlessly shift from warbling tape loops to the unlikely sounds of mandolin, banjo, and french horn. I caught them live a couple times in the mid-1990s and was impressed not only with how entertaining their live show was, but with how easily they could trade instruments and singing duty, all while delivering some truly interesting music. It’s a risky endeavor for most bands to take this freewheeling approach to making music, but TFUL 282, as their name implies, were indeed thoughtful folks who seemed to be driven by the endless possibilities of making cool, quirky music. The first track, “Hurricane” is a beautifully constructed, sweetly haunting song that uses off-key tuning to great effect, sounding something like a bizarro version of the Pixies doing a Slint cover, while “Undertaker” further employs off-key clashing that builds into a rollicking, locomotive song featuring vocals that slip into a falsetto yodel. Sounds crazy on paper — and it is crazy — but somehow it all works to great effect. Side two kicks off with the catchy “Million Dollars,” featuring a nicely treated guitar effects, before closing with another well-constructed song, “Father,” which somehow strings along nervy Dead C-style vocals and some buzzing beehive guitar work before mutating into a bluegrass stomp, complete with banjo and a hillbilly twang. Again, it sounds crazy, but somehow it works. Admonishing the Bishops remains one of the most interesting records of the 1990s and it’s a damn shame that it’s out of print and relatively unknown to the indie legions.


TFUL 282 – “Hurricane”
TFUL 282 – “Undertaker”
TFUL 282 – “Million Dollars”
TFUL 282 – “Father”


Official TFUL 282 Website