Friday, November 10, 2006

Landspeed Song

Song: Landspeed Song
Artist: Tanya Donelly
Album: Lovesongs for Underdogs

The early 90’s saw a slew of indie bands suddenly gain mainstream recognition due to the explosion of both Nirvana and Pearl Jam. While indie rock had been around for some time, major labels and mass audiences hadn’t really paid attention until the Nirvana/Pearl Jam “Alternative Rock” explosion happened, helped, no doubt… by the media. Caught up in this “alternative” wave was Belly, the band formed by Tanya Donelly, who had co-formed Throwing Muses with Stepsister Kristin Hersh, who ran away with that band for herself, and then The Breeders with Kim Deal of the Pixies, who ended up doing the same thing. So Belly was Donelly’s baby and after their debut “Star” was released, things looked very good for her and the band.

“Star” spawned the modern rock hit “Feed the Tree” and Belly was soon nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy, which was just about unheard of for bands in her peer group. For the follow up, after all the success of “Star,” 1995’s “King” was poised and discussed as their mainstream breakthrough… and it tanked. Donelly soon broke up the band to go solo and released “Lovesongs for Underdogs” in 1997. Since then she has released two other solo albums as well as a live collaboration album which was released last month.

I was full on in love with Belly’s dreamy guitar pop when “Star” was released my junior year of High School. My friend and I even got their very odd but very fun song “Slow Dog” played at our prom, to the confusion of… well, everyone but us. (But that’s what you get when you highjack a playlist!) It felt like a decade before “King” was released while I was in college, especially since my good friend and I got to hear the songs, played for the first time live, at their concert more than a year before. I ended up loving “King,” which was a bit harder than the previous album (no doubt due to hard rock chick Gail Greenwood on base) and I tend to listen to it more so than the debut, which I could have possibly just worn out in the final years of high school.

I remember being emotionally distraught when I heard that they broke up (though not as much of a mess when “Twin Peaks” was cancelled,) but it was not before long that Tanya had released her solo debut “Lovesongs for Underdogs” which basically sounded like a third Belly record. I lost touch, and interest, in Tanya after a very sleepy and disappointing follow up record and haven’t heard any of the new material. Pulling “Underdogs” out again and taking a listen I was pleasantly surprised at how well it has aged. I highly recommend the album, though if you don’t know Belly at all it might be best to start with their “Best Of” which is very strong despite being basically culminated from just two albums. (And you thought Britney’s Greatest Hits was pre-mature!)

Tanya has a beautiful girly voice but is most proficient both lyrically and writing insanely catchy hooks. “Landspeed Song” is a good example of this.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree. Catchy-good hooks.