The Greatest ‘90s Band You’ve Never Known
Failure, revived after 17 years, is the latest success and heads top concerts of the week.
Top Show: Failure at the Rave, Saturday, May 24
To name something is not necessarily to determine its fate—an unincorporated community in rural Missouri, for example, is called “Success” —so the musicians who named their band Failure were probably echoing the tenor of rock music at the time.
The time was the early 1990s, and Failure’s co-founders, Ken Andrews and Greg Edwards, were obviously aware of rock subgenres like grunge, which responded to anticipated mainstream rejection with sludge, power, howls and feedback.
Failure responded with those elements, too, but after a 1992 debut LP, Comfort, foundered on engineer Steve Albini’s minimalism, the band took over its own production and came up with 1994’s Magnified, on which moody colors bled across a surface that made excellent use of the shades and tones possible in the recording studio.
(1994 was a good year for semi-neglected tours de force, as the recent reissue of Silkworm’s Libertine further proves.)
The third Failure album Fantastic Planet (1996) looked as though it would be a triumph commercially as well as critically, but the first single, “Stuck on You,” was a decidedly minor hit, and there was no second single. By 1997, Failure, mired in external and internal manifestations of its own name, ceased to exist.
However, rock nerds have learned to think like comic-book geeks: just as the latter are confident that superhero death is never permanent, the former have seen even the Velvet Underground reform. That doesn’t mean the Failure reunion—Andrews, Edwards and drummer Kelli Scott—isn’t exciting; it means it was never considered an impossible dream.
After a February show in its hometown of L.A., Failure has been touring the country and living up to the legend of its afterlife. Better yet, the members, after playing coy for a while about new material, have confirmed that there will be a fourth Failure LP.
The trio has backed up the claim with this, too, so it’s okay, for change, to hope for Failure:
Friday, May 23: Future at Rave
The path to hip-hop gold, platinum, diamonds and unobtanium is littered with bad business decisions, uninspired sophomore albums and outright criminal charges. Nayvadius Cash, a.k.a. Future, might make it further than many of his fellow rappers.
The reasons: (a) his official sophomore LP, Honest, doesn’t really need its guest list—Kanye West, André 3000, etc.—to outdo 2012’s Pluto; (b) he’s almost as smart with his music as he is sharp with his rhymes; (c) he’s expecting a child with his fiancée, R&B singer Ciara, so he’s got family concerns to keep him working hard.
Doing his best with the West:
Saturday, May 24: Lorelle Meets the Obsolete at Cactus Club
The word “Mexico” now has so many ideological connotations that we can forget how the country, like any other place, is mostly occupied by people who want to live relatively normal lives, complete with nights of good booze, good friends and hot rock ‘n’ roll.
Lorelle Meets the Obsolete is a Guadalajara duo that provides the third of those three things, thus encouraging the first two. Its latest album, this year’s Chambers, is so reverb-drenched and psychedelic that it’s almost spiritual. Live, it should be even more so.
Saturday, May 24, Two Cow Garage at Club Garibaldi
Two Cow Garage is from Columbus, Ohio. That location and the joke of its moniker only look unpromising, because the capital of that fine Midwestern state has generated a solid number of impressive rock bands and also because TCG’s music ain’t no gag.
The group’s most recent long-player, 2013’s The Death of the Self-Preservation Society, deserves shelf or hard-drive space alongside Hold Steady or Gaslight Anthem or any other group that effectively combines heartland rock with punk energy.
Monday, May 26: Daikaiju at Cactus Club
While there’s no reason for an Alabama band to represent itself as if it hailed from Nippon, Daikaiju (Japanese for “giant monster”) has a lot of fun doing it, and there’s no apparent harm to it, so…
Pitched somewhere between classic Link Wray surf rock and the more knowing variety of same provided by the likes of Man or Astro-Man?, Daikaiju last year issued a song enticingly entitled “Double Fist Attack,” suggesting that a new full-length is imminent. If not, the band might still be able to capitalize on revitalized giant-monster interest thanks to the new Godzilla movie.