Sessions: 1986-1988

Bundle of Hiss

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Sessions: 1986-1988 Review

by Stephen Howell

This record is broken up into the two eras that comprise the total life history of Bundle of Hiss. Interestingly enough, the band decides to place their recordings in reverse chronological order, with the sessions from 1987 to 1988 at the beginning and the 1986 studio sessions on the latter portion. One reason for this may be that the 1986 sessions surpass the quality of the later years, and the group may have felt that they should leave a good taste in the listener's mouth by the end of the album. The first half of the record sounds like every other typical mid-'80s Seattle band. During a track such as "Amphetamine," the bass sounds like how you feel after eating a heavy meal -- it just sits there thudding in your gut. Other songs like the opener "Swamp" and "Drown" are very flat and stay at a one-dimensional level as far as the songwriting goes. Two of the only standouts from the 1987 to 1988 recordings are the songs "White," which displays Dan Peters' tightest drumming (as compared to his later work with Mudhoney) and "Rabies," where Jamie Lane's guitar interprets the song's title with foaming-at-the-mouth riffs. On the second half from 1986, you hear the power of the original incarnation of the group, which contains the backwoods/truck driver drawl of vocalist Russ Bartlett. Even though the 1986 tracks do sound a little dated with their danceable new wave tendencies, tunes such as "Hank N Doris" and "Apostasy" display the band's knack for writing more complex song structures than the innumerable three- or four-chord raveups from a couple of years later. Of course, during the earlier years, Lane could focus strictly on writing guitar parts rather than having to worry about both guitar and vocal duties, which seems to contribute to the group's weak music of 1987 to 1988.

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