Every Wednesday (Hump Day), I’ll be digging in the youtube vaults to find some classic Northwest alternative/indie sounds to share with you. I might also share some touring band that I was lucky to see at a local venue. Should be a fun way to kindle the memories, and-you might just discover a new favorite classic band.
For this first edition, I was in the mood for something, well…chipper. One of the first bands that sprung to mind was Hazel. Based in Portland, Hazel put out two solid albums on SubPop in the early/mid-90’s, Toreador of Love and Are You Going to Eat That?. I had the pleasure of seeing this quartet at Sit n’ Spin (a combo laundromat/live music venue-definitely one of the oddest and coolest venues in Seattle at the time) on a bill with Some Velvet Sidewalk and, I believe, Harvey Danger and Modest Mouse.
Today’s hummable is Day-Glo, off of Toreador of Love. Read more after the jump.
Even though they were on SubPop, Hazel was sort of outside the alternative explosion of Seattle/Pacific Northwest at the time. Their catchy, melodic, upbeat brand of noisy, punky pop had more in common with Superchunk and bands from the East Coast than other bands in the NW scene. That being said-they definitely still had a loyal regional following.
There were two main things that set Hazel apart from their peers. For one-a lot of their songs had interweaving, dueling vocal melodies vs. just a background vocalist harmonizing. Second-one of their members, Fred, did not play an instrument. He was a dancer/performance artist. Sure-the Happy Mondays had Bez-but Fred wasn’t just shaking some maracas on the side of the stage. He was a whirlwind of dreadlocks, flailing arms, Jethro Tull-ish toe pointing, and other shenanigans. He really brought something quirky, alarming, and special to a Hazel show. While their two albums are great (especially Toreador), this is one case where if you weren’t able to see the band live back in the day, then you kind of missed out.
Fortunately, this video for Day-Glo captures some of that energy. I hope it brings a smile to your day.