Saturday, August 23, 2008

New Sweet Breath - 20th Century Masters: The Singles Collection (1994-97)

Unbeknownst to even the most scholarly of ear-to-the-ground indie-rock geeks, Seattle's New Sweet Breath set up shop at the twilight of grunge's halcyon era. Immigrating from Lincoln, NE in the early '90s, the Graig Markel-helmed trio, also consisting of bassist Nicholas S. Rock and drummer Daze E. Hazel specialized in fuzzed-to-the-hilt, distorto indie-punk, coupling static-ridden noize with a melodic sensibility unparalleled since Husker Du. The singles this post concerns, as well as their first two albums, Supersound Speedway (1995) and Demolition Theatre (1996) (both on Ringing Ear Records), are unabashedly lo-fi. New Sweet Breath's adoption of such a seemingly meager recording ethic, may have been the product of financial constraints, but in the end, it worked very much to their advantage.


The majority of the selections presetned here hover at or below the two-minute mark, and while the visceral thrill of any given NSB song is all too fleeting, another one is just around the corner. I have organized their three singles and two split singles in rough chronological order, starting with "Blessed" b/w "Black to Blue," on what may have been their own label, Major Appliance Records. Sinkhole, who share the side of NSB's first split 7", were the flagship band for the aforementioned Ringing Ear Records. I have more affection for their second split release, the one with Virgina's short-lived Hefty, who's "Mean" packs a blistering but tuneful wallop that rivals NSB themselves, but doesn't quite beat them at their own game.


Their third album, A Shotgun Down an Avalanche, on Big Top Records helped to expand NSB's visibility, but after one more release, a riveting six-song ep, Acceleration and Distortion, issued on Mag Wheel Records (still available I believe, as well as the single) went on one might call, indefinite hiatus.

Post-NSB, Graig has released several solo albums, including Hard Grammar, Verses on Venus (both on Mag Wheel) and his latest, Via Novella, on his in-house Recovery label. Our man has also been having all kinds of fun with his latest project, The Animals at Night.

New Sweet Breath - singles tracklist

Major Appliance Records 7" (1995)
01. Blessed
02. Black to Blue

Ringing Ear Records 7" (1996)
03. Silka
04. Late
05. News to Me

Mag Wheel Records 7" (1996)
06. Go Aay
07. When It's All Said

split w/ Sinkhole (Ringing Ear) (1997)
08. Supersound Speedway (NSB)
09. Scractehd (NSB)
10. My Life (Sinkhole)
11. Dogs That Spit Bees (Sinkhole)

split w/ Huffy (1996)
12. Nice Lipgloss! (NSB)
13. 9ine Lives (NSB)
14. Armchair President (Hefty)
15. Mean (Hefty)

In addition to the disocgraphy at the New Sweet Breath Myspace page, and alternate version can be found here.

7 comments:

alex said...

Thank you! I've had an mp3 of "check out queen anne" from epitonic.com for years and years and have wanted more ever since. never understood why more people weren't into these guys - severely overlooked.

panzan said...

very tolerant of you to leave the previous blog intact...

this new sweet breath stuff is fucking awesome! sorry and embarrassed i never knew about them when i was doing a summer college radio gig at the time - this would have been right up my alley.

thanks for posting. despite my unfamiliarity this is making me feel young again.

if you're interested, i started posting on my own blog here: panzanblog.blogspot.com

Al said...

excellent band... I'm glad I got to see them in the 90s.

Scott Wy said...

I love your blog to death and I check it almost everyday. I have loved New Sweet Breath since I first heard SuperSound Speedway. At the time I was buying up all the Ringing Ear Records I could get my hands on. On Sirius just today I heard a new song by a newish (Formed in 2008) Sub Pop band named Male Bonding; the track title is "year's not long". Well take a listen because as far as I can tell these gents are straight up channeling New Sweet Breath. Not that it's a bad thing. In fact it's a very very good thing. Please keep up the good work.

Serg said...

It is indeed a great band, and like Al I also had the opportunity to watch them on 1993, this album reminded my the day that my uncle told me to buy viagra for him.

Notice said...

Saw them dozens of times circa 94-97ish. First time I saw them they played one song, started fighting, broke down their gear then left. Awesome.

Notice said...

Oh yeah, they browed my girlfriends drum set to recorded that first album.