Certain Songs #1179: The Miss Alans – “Junk”

Album: Ledger
Year: 1996

It’s now been a little over six months since I sat in Scott Oliver’s living room and promised that I would do everything I can to help with getting the Miss Alans music out into the 21st century, though to be honest, Kirk & I had been bugging the entire band for years prior to do it. The problem was that any momentum just got bogged down by the fact that their music had been released on four different labels.

Finally though, they remembered that sometimes in order to get shit done, you just have to say “fuck it” and just get shit done. Like back when they assembled the copies of their cassette, or recorded a live album without a net, or any of a number of studio sessions where they didn’t know who was even going to release the music.

So much has happened in that six months: with the help of Christopher Estep, one of Scott’s partners in crime in the recent Thunderbolt 650 project, they’ve put out digital versions of Smack The Horse, Blusher & Ledger, as well as the first non-cassette release of Bus not to mention a batch of rehearsal tapes packaged as Your Favorite Graveyard Talk, which shows just how many great songs never got a proper recording. Not just “For Right Now,” but “Hollister,” “Society’s Coat,” and “Old House” among others.

In the middle of all of that was the second reunion show (more on those tomorrow), this insane month of posts, the KFSR Miss Alans special tomorrow night, and Remnants looms, and there’s still All Hail Discordia to get out — hopefully the whole show because why not? — and who knows what else?

At the very least, when all is said and done, the Miss Alans will be out there for future jangly-guitar psychedelic pop kids to stumble across, and at the end of the day, that’s really all you can ask for with your art: get it out there and see what happens.

It’s a far cry from 1996, when Ledger was put out — for pretty much the same reasons — except, of course, there wasn’t much chance of a shared playlist or an algorithm was going to point somebody to such great songs like “Sheen,” Samantha” or “Junk.”

For me, an interesting comp to Ledger is The Velvet Underground, but the Velvets of VU or Loaded, where the songs were far more straightforward, but still retained the elemental combination of Lou Reed & Sterling Morrison’s guitars and Moe Tucker’s drums. And yeah, Doug Yule.

And you can certainly hear that influence in a song like “Junk,” where Ron initially focuses on his floor tom and tambourine while Scott looks back at his past in a Velvets-appropriate lyric:

All I’ll miss will be your funny face
A lot like you when I’m drunk
Feeling honest in a hollow way
It seems we’ve gone and messed up
On the

Junk
That you took
Junk
That you took

And they hit the chorus, “Junk” which had been cruising along nicely, suddenly explodes with big guitar distortion and dissonantly hooky bass part from Jay that — as is the wont of a lot of the Ledger songs — sticks around for awhile after Scott is done singing the words.

It’s a super cool bass part, enough so that they isolate it at the end, with Scott doubling it on acoustic guitar while Manny makes atmospheric squeals in the background, as “Junk” drifts towards its end.

And that should have been it: the Miss Alans got to release one last record, it was pretty much the equal but still different from their previous records, and relatively few people got to hear it. And so, after 1996, the Miss Alans were just a nice memory, getting hazier and hazier as the century turned and everybody inevitably got older.

Just a nice memory, that is, until they were more than that once again.

“Junk”

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