Musings :: Superdrag

I've been feeling Nineties-nostalgic these days. Perhaps its the upcoming Smashing Pumpkins gig in Columbia, despite my bitter disappointment with the new record. (Read all about it here.) Perhaps it was the recent WUSC Nineties-themed fundraiser weekend, which reminded me why I loved the Nineties (I heard some of my long-forgotten favorite jams from The Presidents of the United States of America, The Drop Nineteens and a slew of one-hit wonders) and simultaneously hated the Nineties (middle school notwithstanding, a lot of Nineties non-college radio sucked massive dong). Imagine my delight, then, when I tripped over a Daytrotter session featuring one of my all-time favorite Nineties bands, Superdrag.

(Quick aside: To those of you who don't peruse Daytrotter on at least an occasional basis, shame on you. You're missing out.)

My introduction to the totally underrated Knoxville quartet — helmed by John Davis and featuring a rotating ensemble of players, including Mic Harrison, during the band's tenure — was Headtrip in Every Key, the follow-up to the band's other magnum-opus Nineties classic, Regretfully Yours. While the latter featured the MTV Buzz Bin — hey, remember that? — single "Sucked Out" and the anthem "Cynicality," Headtrip in Every Key was the stronger record from top to bottom, filled with everything that appealed to my suburban-white-teenness — well-crafted songs about boredoms, drugs and vampires; acerbic guitars and laconic vocals; and a psuedo-concept-album fell that was well suited to soundtracking listless driving and other teenage-riot miscellany. It didn't start a revolution like Nevermind and it wasn't trying to change the world like Siamese Dream; Headtrip is simply a five-star, A-plus powerpop record. No more, no less. Its beauty lies in its simplicity, but also in its inherent complexity — it's beautifully recorded and masterfully produced, leaving many hidden sonic treasures and sly musical jokes waiting for the attentive listener.

The 'drag (as I'm sure nobody called them) split up in 2002 after the release of Last Call for Vitriol, during the recording of which Davis apparently found Christ. Thankfully, he won't be stuffing the New Testament down our throats, telling I Am Fuel, You Are Friends that "'Christian' anything really is an irrelevant way to approach the Gospel anyway because it is not mean to be under glass." (Note: The I Am Fuel interview also contains several links to Superdrag songs, including covers of "Bastards of Young," "Motor Away" and "Wave of Mutilation.")

"Sold You an Alibi" was (and is) my jam from Headtrip, and Superdrag performed a spirited version of the song on its Daytrotter session (linked below), which came during the middle of its own reunion tour. Huh ... first The Pixies, then the Pumpkins, now Superdrag? Bring back The Presidents and I'll truly feel like I'm in the ninth grade again.

Superdrag: "Sold You an Alibi" (Daytrotter session) (via Daytrotter)

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