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Capsize 7’s Horsefly
When I think of Chapel Hill indie rock from the ’90s, three big names come to mind: Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, and Polvo. I’ve always appreciated how those bands formed a spectrum: Superchunk at the catchiest, most approachable end, Polvo at the weird, off-kilter end, and Archers of Loaf smack in the middle. It’s a fluid spectrum, since “Harnessed in Slums” and “Web in Front” certainly reign among the finest indie rock singles of the decade, Polvo’s “Can I Ride” and “Tilebreaker” are mix-tape ready, and Superchunk’s dynamic range blossomed with Foolish, but it helps orient where other North Carolina bands—why yes, there were other bands—fit into the scene.
This orientation isn’t always beneficial, as history favors the lasting legacies of big names. Groups like Capsize 7, Geezer Lake, the Raymond Break, Pipe, and Erectus Monotone are mostly footnotes nowadays (quite literally in the case of the Raymond Brake, whose Andy Cabic has gained a higher profile in his indie folk band Vetiver). So imagine my surprise when I find a seemingly new Capsize 7 album in Reckless Records’ CD bins—were they huge in Japan? Did I miss a reunion?
I certainly didn’t mind running into a new Capsize 7 album, even without knowing the back story. I’d first heard their Recline and Go EP when Parasol Mail Order recommended it for fans of Polvo and Archers of Loaf (target market = found) and quickly tracked down their 1995 Mephisto LP, which was issued on Caroline Records. I’ll hand it to Parasol, since I’d place Capsize 7 a touch past Archers of Loaf toward Polvo on the aforementioned spectrum. Tricky guitar work, emotional vocals, and hooks aplenty—essentially what I like about 1990s indie rock in a nutshell. “Western Friese,” “Column Shifter,” and “Pong” made appearances on my mix tapes at the time. Singer Joe Taylor has a touch of Bowie his vocals, which made finding Capsize 7’s cover of “Queen Bitch” (mp3 download) from Crash Course for the Ravers: A Tribute to David Bowie a thoroughly logical loose end.
The back story for Horsefly is all too familiar: following Mephisto, Capsize 7 goes into the studio with Drive Like Jehu’s Mark Trombino, records their sophomore album, gets dropped by Caroline, then breaks up. Their A&R rep at least had the courtesy to give them the rights to their album, which sat around for thirteen years until it was mixed in 2009 and pressed this year. The timing coincides with the release of Taylor’s new band’s first album, Blag’ard’s Mach II.
It’s a shame Horsefly went unheard for so long. It tightens up the hooks and instrumentation of Mephisto without losing its spirit. It’s also filled with lyrical reminders of its history—excellent opening track “Generator” (mp3 download) asks “Did you break up? / Did you try and never make it?”; “Start or Lose” goes into its chorus with a held delivery of “At least I tried”; and the title track features a count-up in years ending in 2009, which was either tremendously prescient or added last year. The modern mix helps to remind me of the good aspects of 1996 indie rock without the drag of dated production values (not that the reliable Trombino is a risk for those issues).
You can get all of the Capsize 7 and Blag’ard recordings direct from Joe Taylor through his Pig Zen Space site, which charges an entirely reasonable $3.50 per album for mp3 downloads and gives most of that money to the artist. (The site design is a 1997 HTML nightmare, though.)
Capsize 7 was comprised of Joe Taylor on vocals and guitars, Geoff Abell also on vocals and guitar, Mike Jackson bass guitar and on drums Chris Tons. Formed in the early 90’s this band built a huge following with their catchy punk pop sound.. They released quite a few indy releases and then they signed with Caroline Records and had a Sony Music Publishing deal not to mention a release on Cargo records… .. Touring with bands such as Hammerhead, Superdrag, Chavez and Silkworm. They vie with Superchunk, Archers of Loaf and Polvo as one of the best bands to come outta Chapel Hill.. When Capsize 7 were released from Caroline Records they were given the rights to re-release this CD so here is the ultimate CD from Capsize 7.. Thanks to Joe Taylor… There is not a sinker on this CD. Buy it you will not be sorry..
OX – PunkRock, HardCore, Rock N Roll
CAPSIZE 7 existierten kurze fünf Jahre von 1991 bis 1996. In dieser Zeit veröffentlichten sie zwei Singles auf Pig Zen’s Pace, eine weitere auf Get-Go sowie eine EP auf Hepcat. Danach unterschrieb die Band bei Caroline Records und brachte dort 1996 das Album „Mephisto“ raus.
Im selben Jahr wurde auch das vorliegende „Horsefly“ eingespielt. Warum es jetzt via Pig Zen Space (beziehungsweise Pig Zen’s Pace, keine Ahnung, was es mit diesen Verwirrung auf sich hat) veröffentlicht wird, kann ich nicht nachvollziehen.
Die Band existiert seit 14 Jahren nicht mehr. Wahrscheinlich zu Recht, denn es ist schwer vorstellbar, dass wirklich jemand diese Mischung aus blutleerem Punk und uninspiriertem Indie braucht.
Aber wer unbedingt wissen will, wie Mitte der Neunziger gepflegte Langeweile in Verbindung mit Gitarren produziert wurde, kann gerne zugreifen.
Mish Mash Music Reviews
Capsize 7 – Horsefly
Blag’ard – Mach II
Pig Zen Space
This duo of releases features guitarist Joe Taylor, formerly of Capsize 7 and now with the duet Blag’ard. Capsize 7 was a Chapel Hill-based quartet in the early 90s who was briefly signed with Caroline Records. They recorded an album in 1996, Horsefly, which was never released by Caroline, and has now finally resurfaced and found new life. The group had a flirtation with indie-rock fame, sharing the stage with likes of Archers Of Loaf and Superdrag, before their disappointing drop off the radar in the mid-to-late 90s. The music here has that distinctive mid-90s indie edge, reactionary to the rise and fall of grunge rock which had been dominating the scene up until then. It’s a smart sound that is wound around tight, noisy dual-guitar lines, driving beats, and unassuming vocals. Good stuff, and a shame that it had to sit idle for so long.
Fast forward to 2010 and Taylor’s new group Blag’ard, where the aforementioned indie rock group sound is stripped down to the primer. It’s just guitar, vocals, and drums, but don’t try to make any comparisons to the likes of the White Stripes et al, because this is certainly a different ball of wax. Taylor and drummer Adam Brinson both sing, sharing the vocal load while trading off harmony lines, filling in the gaps left by a lack of bass and other instrumentation. The setup is basic and simple, but the rhythms and melody lines are progressively complex and weaving. When you add the dueling vocal patterns to the mix, the sum is much greater than the parts. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s hard to believe there’s only two guys with two instruments making all this ruckus.
PALABRA Y SONIDO/WORD AND SOUND
CAPSIZE 7 “HORSEFLY”
Al oir esta banda reafirme mi postulado de que la buena musica,esa hecha con pasion y con ganas,no tiene tiempo.13 temas grabados en 1996,que no vieron la luz hasta recien este año.Indierock,Proto-punk,un poco de grunge son los estilos por los cuales transitan los temas de este disco.Guitarras con buenos cambios de ritmos y una bateria que puede sonar rapida o lenta sin que te des cuenta del cambio de ritmo,el trabajo vocal aunque con un tono dulce expresa mucha fuerza.Me pregunto como puede ser que vivi los 90’s sin saber de esta excelente banda!!!!!!!
Good music is timeless,is the very true and this band confirm this sentence.13 tracks recorded in 1996 but just released this year on lp/cd.Indierock,Proto-punk and some grunge are the music styles you can find here.Guitar work that play fast and slow and you dont even recognize it,a great done drum work and a voice that is clearn and sweet but still with power.I ask myself,how can be possible that i lived on the 90’s and i dont knew about this great band!!!!!!