June of 44
The Rubb, Tampa • 5.1.98
Those of you who hate over-analyzation of things that are supposed to be just for fun, like concerts and records; JUNE OF 44 ARE A DAMN O.K. BAND, now go on to the next article. If you want the annoyingly picky perspective, read on.
Once, I almost thought (or realized) I was trendy. A month or so before the May 1st June of 44 show, my friends were excited because Unwound was set to play at the Rubb in Ybor City. Unwound are a band I’d never heard much of, but I knew what they were about; intelligent, chaotic, guitar rock, arranged smartly, the type of music I used to tear over. But then something happened. Maybe as a result of too much Orb, or maybe it was because I wrote a few record reviews, two show reviews, and all of a sudden became a hyper-critical, trendy, know-it-all, but God damn if I didn’t walk out of Unwound, because I felt bored and unchallenged.
I realize it’s all relative, and two years ago I would definitely have walked out of an Orb show, a group I’d now drive out of state to see. So, I couldn’t help thinking I was just being present intensive about Unwound, and limiting myself only to the enjoyment of ‘new’ music. I don’t want to be that guy, even for a night, that guy doesn’t really love music, it just keeps him occupied. But I have a thick skull, so in the course of debating with myself on this trite issue, I stood fast in my view of Unwound. Maybe they’re just stale, maybe they WERE boring. They’ve been doing THE SAME EXACT THING their whole career. All the once-fresh bands have done the same thing that made them compelling, until they now sound stale, like Eddie Van Halen. Eddie Van brought guitar tapping into the rock and roll universe, then everybody started doing it. Now, when he does it, I yawn (I yawn more for the lack of David Lee Roth, but that’s another article). I genuinely believe that, had it been their first time hearing or seeing Unwound, half of their fans would have been bored too, in May of 98.
So what about June of 44?
A few weeks after Unwound, June of 44 played at The Rubb. June of 44 sound like they could more or less be an evolved version of the members’ discarded bands, Rodin and Slint. But musicians of that same vague ilk feel the need to throw what they have away in order to do something new, as opposed to slowly evolving in a new direction. When will we get to see a trend setting late eighties/nineties band follow their muse to it’s logical conclusion and continue to do new things? What’s the use of breaking up, changing one member, changing your name, and then sounding almost the same? If there’s upheaval of a successful artistic unit, I want to see the phoenix rise from that shit. I want to see something new and trend setting; I want to see what’s really next for these artists. Maybe it’s trendiness, or with something as over-done as loud dissonant music, maybe it’s high standards.
That’s the picky over-view, but the question is; are June of 44 good? If you want something fresh out the gate for 98, June of 44 might not be it, but they’re definitely worth checking out. Largely because of drummer Doug Scharin. In these fleeting nineties, tastes have shifted slowly, like plate tectonics, to consideration of beats over melodies. At the Rubb, Doug Scharin, the band’s center piece and backbone, kept the beat junkies attention while the other member’s wove repetitive riff jams, and non-repetitive, linear, guitar compositions.
Aside from a more modern conceptualism on their new record (a more subtle, textured affair, as opposed to the rocked out live show), the only other thing that makes June of 44 sound fresh is this: where late eighties/early nineties bands were churning and mechanical, drummers like Doug Scharin and John McEntire add fluidity to that equation. Like their new album, Four Great Points, many highlights of the show consist solely of Scharin. At the Rubb, you got the bonus of seeing him lead the band like a conductor, waving sticks and smiling. A musician attendee of the concert said, “watching him play is as rewarding as playing myself.”
I had fun watching them play, and I enjoy listening to their record. June of 44 are recommended for today, and that’s the important thing. But past and present are issues to critics and some music lovers (how many records do you listen to today that are over fifteen years old? There are plenty of good ones). As I watched and enjoyed June of 44, I couldn’t help thinking that two years from now I’d probably feel like walking out.
Feeling like a band has some kind of impending expiration/freshness date waters down that gushing passion that I feel when I see a really great live band. It all depends on whether you have better things to care about.