I’ve already talked about how much I liked Shrimper, a teenager, sporting my “Welcome To The Inland Empire” t-shirt during long shifts at the local Cumberland Farms. This new 36-song Smooth Sounds: Various Artists Play the Future Hits of Wckr Spgt compilation will be a treat for folks who submerged themselves in ’90s tape culture, and a good source of discovery for those who didn’t. If Wckr Spgt is news to you, they were a weirdo pop band formed back in 1981. (“Big Black on a Radio Shack budget” to quote Franklin Bruno.) The core consists of Joel Huschle, Mark Givens, and Dave Carpenter, but they’ve collaborated/had incestuous relationships with Mountain Goats, Nothing Painted Blue, etc. That’s how I discovered them. More specifically, it was the 1991 Shrimper comp Capgun or ’92s Pawnshop Reverb. Smooth Sound celebrates Wckr Spgt, but also the 20th Anniversary of Shrimper itself. The angle: Wckr Spgt wrote the songs especially for this compilation. The cast of contributors is appropriately evocative of the Inland Empire cassette world (Sentridoh, the Mountain Goats, Refrigerator, Jad Fair, Soul-Junk), expands elsewhere. NPB’s Franklin Bruno wrote the liner notes, but this blurb by Shrimper head Dennis Callaci is fairly hilarious.
All of them sparkling clean digital hand-jobs (of late) got me to thinking about the years I spent renting a room above a former farmer’s garage, dubbing tapes when my better-minded friends were going to college and/or fucking with crystal meth. Time flies (except when you are constantly typing in 0s and 1s to get someone’s laptop to cum) and certainly somewhere, a 16-year-old kid is online awaiting some hilarious critiques of the 20th anniversary Shrimper compilation Smooth Sounds: The Future Hits of Wckr Spgt double-CD: 36 exclusive songs specifically written for this project by Wckr Spgt and then given out blindly to the artists participating. With close to 200 releases under our belt and hundreds of artists that have recorded for the label, it was near impossible to choose bands for this project, so blindly into the depths of the third circle went we.
Refrigerator — their spare, ramshackle poignancy and melancholia — were one of my favorites from that era. Here’s their take on “Boom Boom (Thumb Rights).”
The lyrics sound like Refrigerator: “She wore filthy sweats / That were way too tight / And she wasn’t out jogging / At that time of night / The smell of cheap vodka / Filled the hall with dumb fights / And boom boom / Out go the lights / So who’s got the right / To be quick with a thumb?”
Smooth Sounds: Various Artists Play the Future Hits of Wckr Spgt is out 6/22 via Shrimper. There’s more info (like the tracklist) at wckrspgt.com. You can pre-order it now. There’s going to be an associated show with a number of the comp’s artists at the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona, CA on 6/24. Also: Growing Up With You, Carlos Valdez and Liz Perpetua’s book about Shrimper-related ’90s cassette culture, will be out the end of 2010.