Grass Records megapost – New Radiant Storm King, Wrens, Toadies, Seade, Ditch Witch, Braniac, Liquor Bike + more

Posted: November 23, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One of my most distinct memories of high school, was taking the bus after class to my favorite place in the world, Brass City Records.There always seemed to be something new to listen to down there, and many times the albums I’d pick up to check out had something in common; they were from a label called Grass Records out of New York. They seemed to put out records at a much quicker pace than any of the other indies of the time and they were always pretty damn good. As the years went on, releases from the label all but disappeared. Which leads me to the story of why this was the case.

When it comes to musical quality and style, the story of indie label Grass Records is that of a true vintage 90’s nature. But as was the case with countless other bands and labels of the era, politics, greed, and the increasingly popularity of shitty music all contributed to a good thing going terribly wrong.

Founded in 1992 by Syosset, NY native Camille Sciara, Grass Records entered into a deal with the now defunct indie distributor Dutch East. The label’s first acquisition was a band Texas who later achieved notable commercial success, The Toadies. Over the next few years, Grass enjoyed a well deserved reputation for seeking out and signing some of the best kept secrets across the country. From bands who went on to maintain relative longevity such as Conor Oberst’s first band Commander Venus, New Radiant Storm King, The Wrens, Braniac, and Pollen to bands such as Ditch Witch, Seade, and Pencil who released a gem or two before disappearing, Grass Records was a symbol of diversity and integrity in the independent music scene.

Unfortunately, it all came to an abrupt halt in 1996. Alan Meltzer, president of distribution giant Alliance Entertainment Corp, decided that he wanted to pursue a new pet project; the endeavor of running a record label. After being offered what I can only imagine was a hefty sack of cash, founder Sciara took on the duties of A & R chief. The period directly following the purchase seemed harmless enough. The individual responsible for bringing us these great bands over the past few years – Sciara – would basically continue to handle the most important creative aspect of a label, finding its talent. Furthermore, Meltzer’s initial enthusiasm towards the discovery, development, and success of deserving bands was indicated by statements that appeared in a Jan 17,1996 edition of finance publication Business Wire:

“Throughout my career in the industry I’ve always tried to remain on the cutting edge of music marketing and distribution. Discovering Grass Records and the incredible Grass artist roster replete from top to bottom with cutting edge alternative music, provided a perfect fit.”

and

“What appealed to me about GRASS was the diversity of artists. This fit right in to what I wanted to do, which is to provide a platform for developing bands. We will remain an independent alternative music label, with no plans or interest in getting into any other kind of music”

Less than a year after these comments were made,Grass Records became Wind-Up Records and Sciara was replaced as head of A & R by Meltzer’s own wife.The most criminal and tragic casualties of this transition were the bands; every band who had been on the Grass roster at the time of the buy-out was dropped from the label. In lieu of new records from old mainstays and debut records from promising new indie bands, the label has since presented us with bands like Creed, Finger Eleven, Evanescence, and Five For Fighting.

A damn shame. Anyways, here are just a handful of some of the great records the original Grass Records gave us.

                                   

TOADIES – Pleather (1993)                       EDSEL – Everlasting Belt (1993)          

pleather.zip                                                      (ed: link removed by request of Jon from Comedy Minus One-being reissued                      by Comedy Minus One in September! Go buy it!)

                                    

NEW RADIANT STORM KING-                                      BRANIAC-

Rival Time (1993)   time.zip                              Smack Bunny Baby (1993) baby.zip

                                      

PENCIL – Skantron (1994)                           POLLEN – Bluette (1994)

pencilskantron.zip                                                       bluett.zip

                                    

     DITCH WITCH-                                                  LIQUOR BIKE –

Everywhere Nowhere (1994)                     Neon Hoop Ride (1994)

             EvNo.zip                                                       LiquorBike.zip

                                  

SEADE – Perf (1995)                                     LOOMIS- You’re No Tiget (1995)

perf.zip                                                                 loomisnotiger.zip

                                

THE WRENS – Seacaucus                  COMMANDER VENUS – Uneventful Vacation

seacaucus.zip                                            theuneventfulvacation.zip

 

Comments
  1. PSS says:

    Another Grass Records band. The entire Grass release starts with the song, “This Is The Sound Of A Hippopotamus.”

    http://www.ilike.com/artist/Hippopotamus

  2. hollinsworth says:

    Fantastic post. It’s a testament to what Grass created (and, sadly, what was dismantled) that several of those albums in your sampling hold up as some of the finest indie rock of that period.

    Time has not been as kind to the likes of Creed, Evanescence, etc.

    – J

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