marble stature The Offense we trust! Rural bullshit from the heart of Fox Point, Providence, RI 02906

Sunday, January 21, 2007



News, News... The Z Gun has been updated, so be sure to get yourself over there and read, read, read! The first printed issue should not be that far off, so I will post some information on that as soon as I get the word. In other news, the new Teenage Panzerkorps album, Harmful Emotions, showed up on my doorsteps yesterday morning. While it's about as fantastic as you'd think it to be, I wanted to write about a band from yesteryear that doesn't seem to get much praise these days. I think that this might be the first in a series of writings about the the many odd wonders hiding within Matador's well-known catalog.

Run On Start Packing (Matador, 1996)
Run On No Way (Matador, 1997)

This past Christmas got me thinking about this song "Xmas Trip" by Run On. I had never heard an album by them, but had watched the video on the Everything is Nice DVD once a few years ago, and although I wasn’t too into the song at the time, I was anxious to get back to Fox Point so that I could look at it with a more refined palette. I did, and had the song stuck in my head for days, which compelled me to go out and grab their pair of out-of-print albums on CD for less than $1 apiece on Amazon (and i'm sure that their vinyl ain't gonna break you bank either).

Now that I’ve been listening to them for a while, I’m really surprised that Run On never amassed much of a following (well they might have, but I had yet to meet a fan of them, much less somebody who has heard one either of these albums). While songs such as “As Good as New,” “Anything You Say,” “Doesn’t Anybody Love the Dark,” and the aforementioned “Xmas Trip,” are concrete proof they flaunted an impeccable talent for penning a pop song, but did so in a way that sounds so incredible unique and fresh, instead of relying on the fine-tuning the sounds and sonics of past pop giants (The Beatles, Beach Boys, Byrds, blah, blah... The Who). Man, I think it's time you all realize that there's nothing new about The New Pornographers. Run On's progressiveness seemed to make sense once I read up a bit more about the band: the sultry, proto-Neko Case-voiced, Sue Garner, who has some great solo albums on Thrill Jockey and was in the Homestead band, Fish & Roses, with her (eventual) husband Rick Brown, who also sings and plays drums in Run On. Perhaps one of the most innovative and resourceful drummers I’ve ever heard, Brown proudly turned his back on the use of hi-hats and developed a simple yet very complex style. Acclaimed avant-garde noisemaker/writer and former member of Love Child (another seldom-heard Homestead act), Alan Licht, who has seen his solo work released on Drag City, Corpus Hermeticum and Siltbreeze, among others. Yeah, pretty impressive as a three-piece core, but Run On always had a fourth element to add to their sound; on No Way, violinist Katie Gentile, and on Start Packing, trumpeter David Newgarden… (according to allmusic guide) a CMJ writer, former WFMU disc-jockey, member of The Mad Scene (with The Clean’s Hamish Kilgour!) and was an employee of John Zorn’s Tzadik label! Jeeeesus, I wonder what Newgarden’s up to these days?

I challenge anybody who digs their former label-mates and friends Yo La Tengo to try these two albums on for size, especially when last year's I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass had critics excited, one listen to either of these albums, will show that Yo La Tengo are just slowly retracing the steps that Run On walked over ten years ago. Now go out and raid those dollar bins!

Hey Sean, I saw Run On open up for Yo La Tengo right after On/Off (their, first, best(?) record) came out. They were a phenomenal live band. I bought their record from James McNew (who was manning the merch table) and he said something like, "this band is way better than we are." If you ever get the chance you should check out V-Effect, too (they were one of Rick Brown's earlier bands)... Anyway, good call.
matt ...i really should have guessed that you were a Run On fan
Have you heard Rick Brown's band Timber, who were from around the same time? Their one album Parts and Labor is worth picking up. Mixes up a lot of stuff from No Wave to folk, and almost always interesting.
Oh, and that V-Effect album is fab!
Sean, in case you are still wonderin' David Newgarden also managed Guided by Voices, Mark Eitzel and more for many years. Up until the end in GBV's case. Currently he manages (hometown hero), Willy Mason and a bunch of others. His management company is called Manage This! He's a really friendly and great guy!
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