My first basement shows were at an old house in downtown Toms River, NJ. It was a new element to me, seeing music up close. The sweat, the noise; it was all very real and removed the untouchable element that clubs or stadium concerts had carried with them.
One of my first basement shows I attended in 1995 featured Grain and Harriet the Spy. I was still transitioning from alternative rock into the rawness that hardcore and punk was offering. Both bands blew me away and I listened to this record with a new found appreciation for how amazing music didn't need the smoke and mirrors of big clubs and sound systems; that a great band can just set up on a basement floor and blow you away.
Grain jump starts their side of the split with "Nibble", a fast paced run through a soundscape of perfectly blended aggression and melody that ends with a building chorus. The song ends beautifully with the repeated vocal line "I'm falling apart" just beneath the soaring guitars. "Breath" follows suit and shows that this band can consistently craft some upbeat, yet introspective music, complete with interesting musicianship. I find myself sometimes comparing Grain's work here to Seaweed's "Weak" record due to it's ability to be fast and melodic, yet absent of any traits of pop. The recording quality is raw and the vocals are a bit buried. I think it works in this regard though and the aggression is translated well as a result.
Harriet the Spy follow up side B with their experimental brand of noisy and unsettling guitar compositions. At times it reminds me of some of the other bands of that time like Bob Tilton or Schema, but it still manages to take on it's own life. "Credit Slip" is a high energy barrage of jangly guitars and high pitched yelling. The band takes things down a bit on "Sleeping Through the Money Shot" which seems to lean more on a droney sound accented with some off time starts and stops. The chorus kicks into a very satisfying, driving melody which brings the band out of hiding.
An oldy, but a goody. Check it out here.