Matador Records, Years One and Two: 1990/1991

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

Poll Closing Date: Monday, 14 February 2022 00:00 (in 2 weeks)

The other day I was listening to a podcast where the hosts were reviewing a movie. The movie credits involved a vinyl single spinning, with the director spotlighting a storied record label's logo, and one of the hosts remarked something along the lines of "back then, you couldn't go wrong with that label."

That thought stayed with me, and then I realized that it's something I do think about fleetingly from time to time.

In the 1990s I was a teenager and a twentysomething who was probably overinvested in uncommercial rock'n'roll, which meant that a bunch of record labels meant a helluva lot to me. None of those labels meant as much to me - for a startling amount of time - as Matador Records did. I wanted to hear everything they released. I wanted to buy every non-Matador product they carried in their online store. I thought the employees of this label quite irreverant and clever and dangerous, and being a Matador Records patron felt to someone that age like being part of some special secret society. They seemed determined, sometimes to a fault, to embrace and champion myriad genres. They had an anti-corporate magazine. They had cruel satirical mailers that came when you ordered stuff from them. (I ordered a ton of stuff before becoming a critic, at which point I started getting promo.)

There was even a message board (which later spawned a "fake" message board) that became it's own little dysfunctional family. A lot of us eventually wound up here and never left.

Matador Records still exists and still puts out records (including some favorites) but for the last 10-20 years ... it's just been another record label, putting out music that makes various generations happy in various ways, but (to me) with less sass and pomp and ceremony, one with fewer releases per year. I'm glad it survived and thankful for the music it continued to give us - but there's something sad about thinking about it, which is probably the difference between adolescence and middle age, or something.

So let's do what we do best: let's look back, poll by poll.

Teenage Fanclub - Everybody’s Fool
Superchunk - Superchunk
Railroad Jerk - Railroad Jerk
Teenage Fanclub - A Catholic Education
H.P. Zinker - The Know It All
Dustdevils - Geek Drip
H.P. Zinker - ...And There Was Light...
Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 - Lovelyville
Unsane - Unsane
Superchunk - No Pocky For Kitty
Superchunk - Breadman
Chain Gang - Kill For You
Toiling Midgets - Golden Frog
Shams - Quilt
Various Artists - Covenant House Party PROMO SAMPLER
Railroad Jerk - Younger Than You
Various Artists - New York Eye & Ear Control
Mecca Normal - Water Cuts My Hands
Dustdevils - Struggling, Electric, & Chemical
Teenage Fanclub - God Knows It’s True


Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 15 January 2022 01:26 (one week ago) link

Viva la fmbb!

Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Saturday, 15 January 2022 01:28 (one week ago) link

:)

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 15 January 2022 01:30 (one week ago) link

I guess it's never too late to finally experience early, early Matador Records, right

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwYL3ZiQCr4

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 15 January 2022 01:32 (one week ago) link

Ah, Stay Free!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stay_Free!

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 15 January 2022 01:37 (one week ago) link

i dread to think how much of that era of my life i spent / wasted on the fmbb.

i haven't heard a single one of these albums so will save voting for a later poll.

stirmonster, Saturday, 15 January 2022 01:41 (one week ago) link

Were the Dustdevils big Sonic Youth fans? Because it sounds like they were.

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 15 January 2022 01:41 (one week ago) link

Ah, Homestead was better/ more iconic to me.

I liked Matador’s late 90s hip hop and techno period.

A Pile of Ants (Boring, Maryland), Saturday, 15 January 2022 01:42 (one week ago) link

Looking ahead a few years, 1993 is going to be a painful choice

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 15 January 2022 02:24 (one week ago) link

This is cool, I was actually thinking recently of doing this for 1995!

(never heard any of these early ones other than New York Eye & Ear Control, though)

(Still) Swingin’ on the flippity-flop (morrisp), Saturday, 15 January 2022 03:03 (one week ago) link

1995: a singular year!

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 15 January 2022 03:12 (one week ago) link

CARBS CARBS CARBS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-Ps7y40gDo

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 15 January 2022 03:12 (one week ago) link

That's almost all the Teenage Fanclub and Superchunk I need, across that lot! It's been ages but I know juvenile me would definitely rep for virtually all of that. I dig out that latter Dust Devils record every now and again for the suitably unpleasant Fall cover followed by miscellaneous SY-esque thrills. It remains somewhat baffling in a somewhat pleasing sort of way.

Somehow I never knowingly heard Railroad Jerk. Maybe it's time lol.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Saturday, 15 January 2022 06:53 (one week ago) link

Unsane got better, but that debut's cover art is legendary for a reason.

That and Thinking Fellers are the only ones I've heard.

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 15 January 2022 11:20 (one week ago) link

Were the Dustdevils big Sonic Youth fans? Because it sounds like they were

Yes definitely - they came out of the late 80s SY-inspired Leeds noise scene along with AC Temple and Kilgore Trout. Saw these bands a few times supporting various Blast First bands (Ut, Dinosaur jr, Band of Susans, Head of David etc). Dustdevils relocated to NYC though in about 1989. Think Mark Ibold plays bass for them on the Matador releases

o shit the sheriff (NickB), Saturday, 15 January 2022 12:08 (one week ago) link

Anyhow, will never not vote for Thinking Fellers, god bless them.

o shit the sheriff (NickB), Saturday, 15 January 2022 12:11 (one week ago) link

With all the Eitzel gushing on ilx you’d think Toiling Midgets would come up a little more often.

Evan, Saturday, 15 January 2022 13:38 (one week ago) link

Due to changes in my musical focus of interest i never clicked that Leeds' Dustdevils were the same band as the NYC version. I have only heard the earlier version and have their singles on Rouska (last listened to early 90s). I also saw them with Head Of David and possibly Ut or Band Of Susans too.

stirmonster, Saturday, 15 January 2022 14:05 (one week ago) link

Years later and a different band but thus was my favorite M. Hall musical moment:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3QeiG1I77E

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Sunday, 16 January 2022 11:46 (one week ago) link

Thinking Fellas - I feel like I owned and spent time with one or two of their albums in the 00s but never fully got invested.

From the poll, this is new to me:

https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mt5LyQZu3uKO-m8inSuCPZWP-IBfYh9ns

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Monday, 17 January 2022 15:50 (one week ago) link

It’s chastening to realize - just now - that this label has polled pretty thoroughly here, if not in the exact same way I’m approaching this.

Anyway! It’ll be interesting if when all is said and done we can make some comparisons in perception over time.

Legalize Suburban Benches (Raymond Cummings), Thursday, 27 January 2022 11:51 (yesterday) link

Chain Gang

chr1sb3singer, Thursday, 27 January 2022 14:59 (yesterday) link

will never not vote for Thinking Fellers, god bless them.

― o shit the sheriff (NickB)

bad milk blood robot (sleeve), Thursday, 27 January 2022 16:53 (yesterday) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.