Hugs and Kisses 69: Bands With the Words “East” in their Names


This week, another installment of Hugs and Kisses from Brisbane-based Everett True, author of Nirvana: The Biography (da Capo Press) — another book about one of the most overrated bands of the Nineties. Although Everett’s lived in Seattle and Brighton, these days he’s in Brisbane, Australia, where the weather’s been shit. You think the recent cold snap is rough here in New York? At least we’ve got clean water.

Hugs and Kisses

The Storm-Battered Outbursts of Everett True

This week: Old Time Music

There was a band called East River Pipe, from New Jersey, I believe. Its sole member, Fred Cornog released a series of home-recorded cassettes, before teaming up with the UK’s cutie lynchpins Sarah Records in the mid-Nineties. His songs were fragile, near-broken — beautiful in a way, too redolent of heartbreak and trauma to be dismissed as more sensitive white-boy bedroom output.

(You’ll have to forgive me for sounding a bit shell-shocked. Three days without power, no clean water, trees strewn liberally everywhere, army on the streets… I thought Queensland was supposed to be sunny.)

There was a band called East Village, too. From England, ploughing the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield groove so beloved of bands back there in the early Nineties — championed by St Etienne and Manic Street Preachers — little meatier and more polished than the Pipe, but similar audience.

(The Prime Minister’s been out in the area pressing flesh. We’re expecting another storm this afternoon, and there’s a 15-foot tree stricken in our back garden poised to roll down the hill into our son’s bedroom.)

I’ve got me a new CD through the post yesterday — and it’s got it a Robert Crumb cover of a dude with a ukulele case arriving at a rainy, welcoming shack, to be greeted by a honey. That grabbed my attention (and the fact the postman bothered delivering anything). It’s by Eden & John’s East River String Band, from New York City. The ‘band’ numbers just two (with a guest pianist); he, sporting the sort of goatee that kind of makes you want to throw a curled-up hand his chin’s way to see what would happen — she, sporting the sort of tattoos that ensure that that would be just about the last action you ever took. The music is all jangling, ukulele-led, old-timey, black country blues, as championed by Mr. Crumb himself; referential without being reverential and sharp. You know this couple know their record collections intimately — we’re talking Mississippi John Hurt, Charley Patton (of course), Memphis Minnie… you get the score. It’s real, ‘Let’s grab a few bevies, go outside on our porch and strum a few songs watching that electrical storm while massive blocks of ice pummel the surrounding bush-land into submission,’ music.

Oops, sorry. Maybe that’s just me.