Back in 1989, Philadelphia was about as far from Seattle musically as you could get. It was at that time when the Northwest was beginning to give birth to the future of rock and roll. Kevin Morpurgo, Mike Morpurgo, Carl Hinds, and Dante Cimino, also known as Dandelion, were stuck on the east coast going through similar creative motions of their own, wedged somewhere between the punk rock they grew up on and the distorted power chord sound that was being created right at that moment. It took them a couple of years to release a first demo, but when they did in 1991with their demo, Silver, it was clear that they had found a psychedelic niche among the grunge invasion that was about to hit full steam. Their first album, I Think Im Going To Be Sick, was released in 1993 right at the peak of the musical movement they were trying to break into, and did gain them some critical notice. It was not until their more polished sophomore effort, Dyslexicon, in 1995 that they were fully noticed both with positive and negative consequences.
Dyslexicon was a polarizing record for fans as it carried very similar tones and styles to a few of the front runners from the grunge era, while at the same time showing what the band can really do when not being forced into mediocrity by their record label. It’s a sign of the times both musically and from a business sense. Fans and critics, while divided, agreed on one thing, when the record shines, it does so with gusto.
Opening with the pace setting Pass The Stone, there is a clear punk rock tone, even more so than with their contemporaries. Just imagine a relationship between The Monkees and The Stooges. The next two tracks, Weird Out and Trailer Park Girl present the very reasons why the music community wasnt quite sure what to do with them. They almost come across as too much of a synonym for the genera, not to mention Kevin Morpurgos vocals sound especially Cobain-esque. The later of the two has the same issues, but where it sets itself apart is in the wailing guitar solo and seemingly random flute outro. The drive to be different is there, as it was when the band began, but it’s obvious that Sony and friends got too excited with making them the next big thing.
Thankfully, after the two single have passed by, the meat of the album lets the band be creatively free while at the same time grow into a much bigger, crisper sound. What A Drag mixes instrumental interludes with the bands signature wa-wa driven, sonic guitar solos for a song that is distinctly their own. Super Cool sticks to the originality with a driving drum beat and break down that leads into an all out grunge assault for what could be the best track on the album. The Stooges make a return on Retard as the sludgy vocals try and keep up with the rest of song and the early Metalica styled solo.
The most appropriate track on the record comes second to last with Trapped. Im all used up, and you all know why is sung with a haunting message that still holds true now over ten years later. It is the ghost of post-grunges past as they ditch the punk rock speed for the slower, chunkier riffs of todays modern rock scene. It is ominous to listen to as they spell out the fate of the music they once embraced, as well as their own, considering the band would break up shortly after this album. By this point, it’s obvious that we have heard everything the group had to offer at that time, which is again a direct reflection on the times musically. They (and grunge) were all used up, and it was obvious why.
Dyslexicon is mosh-pit ready as it embodies everything we love (or hate for some) about grunge and punk rock. Unfortunately, thanks to Sony, the band and their hard work was lost with the movement, and consequently forgotten. Bad timing could be to blame for this one, but who is to know if the band was even aware of what was happening across the country back in 1989. Maybe they too were suffering from the same social ailments of the Bush Sr./ glam rock environment. Either way, at face value, it’s a fun and random record to dig up as it reminds us that there was much more to grunge than Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
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