Archive | March, 2018

Certain Songs #1173: The Miss Alans – “Winona”

Album: Blusher
Year: 1994

One of the incredibly small cohort of Certain Songs that might or might not be about Winona Ryder, but were definitely called “Winona” and definitely came out on Zoo Records — the other, of course, being Matthew Sweet’s — it turns out that the Miss Alans were relatively early on what has been an ongoing trend.

They maybe have been behind Matthew Sweet, but they were definitely ahead of Beck, Soul Asylum, the Old 97’s and Ryan Adams, which may have been why Ron was initially against recording it. He clearly saw the future, which is now cluttered by songs about Winona Ryder, as I discovered by googling “songs about Winona Ryder.”

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Certain Songs #1172: The Miss Alans – “Victoria”

Album: Blusher
Year: 1994

Oh yeah, “Victoria.” While it’s only my second favorite song on Blusher, it’s probably a contender for the greatest song The Miss Alans ever did. How in the hell “Victoria” didn’t totally and completely take over alternative rock playlists in 1994 is still beyond me.

Except, of course, for all of its charms, it really was’t a radio-friendly single: there was no chorus, and of course the entire last minute of the song was an instrumental rave-up and rave-down, featuring no vocals whatsoever. Hell, even “Marquee Moon” featured one last verse at the end.

That said, the version of “Victoria” that ended up on Blusher remains an marvelous gem of a psychedelic rock song: half Television and half the Velvet Underground, while remaining entirely The Miss Alans. Not to mention an absolute crowd-pleaser live, where the rave-up part went a full minute longer, because why the hell not?

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Certain Songs #1171: The Miss Alans – “Big Parade”

Album: Blusher
Year: 1994

Blusher is my favorite Miss Alans album.

Their first and only major label release — on Zoo Entertainment, a subsidiary of BMG — it was their shot at having the same kind of success as comparable artists such as Belly or Teenage Fanclub, and if they ran the table, Matthew Sweet or The Smashing Pumpkins.

While Blusher didn’t come out until May, 1994, I remember having been given a tape of many of the songs from it almost a year prior — the major-label gears grinding even more slowly than the indies — and being struck by how big and calm it sounded, full of songs that knew where they were going, and didn’t mind how long it might take to get there.

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Certain Songs #1170: The Miss Alans – “Mata Hari’s Butt”

Single, 1993

While dormant in terms of releasing any new music to the world, The Miss Alans had spent 1992 slowly re-tooling their sound yet again, and “Mata Hari’s Butt” was the first flowering of that retooling. Not only was it their first release by The Miss Alans since All Hail Discordia, and really — since “Crushed Impalas” was originally a Hollywood Demo, their first true studio creation since Smack The Horse.

And as such, was an absolute transition record on multiple levels.

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Certain Songs #1169: The Miss Alans – “Save It For Later (Wild Blue 03-30-1991)”

Album: Outtake from All Hail Discordia
Year: 1991

Throughout their entire career — though, naturally, more earlier than later — The Miss Alans sprinkled in a few covers during their live shows.

Obviously, doing covers is a really fun thing for a band that relies upon original material: you can break up your set with a somebody else’s song that shows where you’re coming from. Or maybe learn something for a special occasion, like Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day, for which The Miss Alans once played “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” at the Blue, with Jay on banjo. I don’t remember that at all, so it must have been a really good St. Patrick’s Day.

Then during the period where they were in L.A. trying to get a record deal and only had a single set of material worked up for the showcase gigs Kirk was getting them, they did an entire set of Neil Young covers — all of the usual suspects, which they then turned into long jams — which reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

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