lungfish: classic or dud

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not expecting many replies on this one...

i have rarely, if ever, encountered a band for whom the old hoary-ass "you either love em or you hate em no inbetween" was more true than for lungfish. for a very brief time, i might have called them my favorite band. i still own all their records (something i can say about very few bands/artists), although i play them infrequently these days.

only got to see them live once, opening for fugazi about two years ago, and then only for about 4 songs having arrived super late. (i did get to see the ex though, which made me happy.) one of my few "i didn't (really) see them live" regrets.

jess (dubplatestyle), Saturday, 14 September 2002 05:29 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

oh and search: rainbows from atoms, pass & stow, sound in time, indivisible...all stone classics.

destroy: hmmm...well, i've never thought the first album was much cop, and the last few have done less and less for me, although there's always at least one or two songs which make them worth keeping. "love will ruin your mind" is probably the best thing they've ever done (after "organ harvest.")

jess (dubplatestyle), Saturday, 14 September 2002 05:31 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Great fucking band, nice guys. Classic all 'round.

hstencil, Saturday, 14 September 2002 06:24 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

something to hear.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 14 September 2002 09:49 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

way classic, enough to make my lower itnestine sing in joyous raptors

Queen G (Queeng), Saturday, 14 September 2002 10:07 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

lungfish is seriously classic... great band...great lyrics... i'd wager that most of us who think they're classic appreciate the lyrics... i think lungfish has a literary appeal... that certainly brings me back more than some things on some of their more recent records.


msp, Saturday, 14 September 2002 15:20 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

total classic. never seen them live. any band who can extend one riff for 10 years has to be something pretty special

simon 803 (simon 803), Saturday, 14 September 2002 17:32 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

They stick out as one of the diamonds in the rough of DC. Great live

brg30 (brg30), Saturday, 14 September 2002 17:34 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

DC? They're from Baltimore.

hstencil, Saturday, 14 September 2002 21:30 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

What do they sound like?

Mark (MarkR), Sunday, 15 September 2002 03:08 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Kinda like a cross between Fugazi and Echo and the Bunnymen.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

hstencil, Sunday, 15 September 2002 21:43 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

An amazing live band, especially when with the first bass player. They were the sonic equivilant of a slow-moving freight train.

Colin Meeder (Mert), Monday, 16 September 2002 11:48 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Oddly enuf, one of the only rock bands my hip-dj-friend liked. Them and Roxy.

Now that I think about it they seem a perfect Jess band. Haven't listened to them in years.

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Monday, 16 September 2002 15:02 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

two months pass...
Amazing band all around. Dan Higgs is one of the most amazing vocalists; he just sounds so batshit insane that it's hard not to take him seriously. Their music makes you pay attention to the vocals as well, in as much as you don't have to pay attention to the music since it doesn't change much.

Ian Johnson (orion), Monday, 9 December 2002 00:20 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

You know, I used to think Lungfish weren't all that (based on 1 live performance, which I did not get at all), but after hearing that track on the Dischord retrospective, I think I actually Get It now, because, damn, it sounded pretty good. Yay for me! (Actually, _The Unanimous Hour_ sounds/ed pretty good, too, even if it is a bit, um, methodical.)

David R. (popshots75`), Monday, 9 December 2002 00:31 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

Lungfish are totally a classic. Their first and last records aren't great, but every other record in the middle is totaly timeless, I think.

Completely amazing band.


ps- hi Daver

Daron Gardner (Daron Gardner), Monday, 9 December 2002 17:15 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

haha dave you once called them "turgid grunge" (just to rile me up, i think.)

jess (dubplatestyle), Monday, 9 December 2002 21:06 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

this is weird, i definitely responded to this post and it's not here... what did you do to my post jess?

gygax!, Monday, 9 December 2002 21:08 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

I said that more for the alliteration than for any vauge sort of anti-Jess malice (though I think that's still a pretty apt description, except that I've come back around to liking grunge, so it's allll good.)

BTW, here's where I defend my stance (and actually give Lungfish props! Go me!)

David R. (popshots75`), Monday, 9 December 2002 21:23 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

i like deez guys

am0n, Wednesday, 10 October 2007 03:39 (eleven years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

in the year of our lord 10,000 BC!
it's later than i thought it could get
i lust in brand new ways

could it be that it was all so shipley? (M@tt He1ges0n), Tuesday, 20 October 2009 21:46 (nine years ago) Permalink

^fav lungfish jam^

"I get through more mojitos.." (bear, bear, bear), Wednesday, 21 October 2009 14:42 (nine years ago) Permalink

good fall music

am0n, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 14:53 (nine years ago) Permalink

+1 rungfish

cutty, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 14:54 (nine years ago) Permalink

Joan, I heard that you like Lungfish, and I was wondering if any other Dischord bands strike your fancy as well? Tell me what you like about Lungfish?

Joan Jett: I think they are an incredible guitar band with an energy that I don't see from other acts... the lyrics are very intelligent and creative... other Dischord bands: Fugazi. I listen to all their albums.

am0n, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 15:01 (nine years ago) Permalink

What's the one Lungfish album I should listen to?

Obscured by clowns (NickB), Wednesday, 21 October 2009 15:06 (nine years ago) Permalink

'unanimous hour' or 'sound in time'

am0n, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 15:09 (nine years ago) Permalink

Okay thanks, will look 'em up.

Obscured by clowns (NickB), Wednesday, 21 October 2009 15:15 (nine years ago) Permalink

Joan covered a Lungfish song, didn't she? I remember CP doing a big story once that was full of quotes from her.

some dude, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 15:15 (nine years ago) Permalink

holy shit LOL @ the uncanny resemblance of the guy 30 secs in

am0n, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:19 (nine years ago) Permalink "save my band pls"

am0n, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:21 (nine years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

i'm still a very casual fan and have no idea how hardcore lungfish people regard that album but i really like it -- some days "sing" is my favorite lungfish song

some dude, Thursday, 5 November 2009 16:31 (nine years ago) Permalink

thats an awesome record. i can't get into a lot of their early stuff, its good songwriting-wise but the production/guitar tone puts me off

luol deng (am0n), Thursday, 5 November 2009 16:36 (nine years ago) Permalink

Yes, they certainly hit their sweet spot after those first couple of records, but after that they are as steady as it gets. Much like Stereolab, they generally write (or wrote, I guess) the same two or three songs over and over and over. Generally slow ones or mid-tempo ones. Definitely dig the Sean Meadows era the best I think, he is a pretty great bass player.

Also want to say that I really like the Pupils record, which is just Dan and Asa. Sounds sorta like Lungfish, of course, but takes it into some great slightly alien terrain (possibly the weirdest/funniest Higgs moment ever ... anyone?)

grandavis, Friday, 6 November 2009 17:14 (nine years ago) Permalink

Pupils rec rules. Def not the weirdest Higgs tho.

"I get through more mojitos.." (bear, bear, bear), Friday, 6 November 2009 20:07 (nine years ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

the naval sprouts a ladder beam
the column of ash in a pillar of dust
the pelvis awaits the sinking skull
descending in degrees of lust

the believers believe and the seers have seen
with their hearts and brains and livers and spleens
from leaf to branch to bough to trunk
they cycle the filth, burning clean

For Nick Lachey, Forever Ago (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 8 June 2010 18:04 (eight years ago) Permalink

Sorry, in response to this xpost:

"Pupils rec rules. Def not the weirdest Higgs tho."

I was trying to make a joke about what IS a super-great and funny moment on that Pupils record, which is one of the reasons I love Higgs so much.

"... but takes it into some great slightly alien terrain" refers to the song on that record called "Witness the Sidewalk Weeping Pools of Martian Brine", whose only words are "Witness the Sidewalk Weeping Pools of Martian Brine". Funny. And also really fucking weird when you hear it, but no, not as weird as some of the solo Higgs stuff of course.

grandavis, Tuesday, 8 June 2010 18:22 (eight years ago) Permalink

ha. forgot about that song. man, that record is good.

underwater, please (bear, bear, bear), Tuesday, 8 June 2010 20:50 (eight years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Dan Higgs solo stuff is phenomenal. Ancestral Songs is kicking my ass because it's like a mix of Fahey pluck on one track and then totally bent Amps For Christ on the next. Can anyone C/D his solo stuff?

travis markers (Whiney G. Weingarten), Friday, 20 August 2010 14:19 (eight years ago) Permalink

First impulse is to say SEARCH: EVERYTHING, but to break it down a bit...

MAGIC ALPHABET is Daniel improvising on the mouth harp. I rolled my eyes until I became utterly hypnotized. Beautiful buzzy drones.

SAY GOD is the recent, 'big budget' Thrill Jockey double album produced by the TV on the Radio guy. It's awesome; alternating acapella religious incantations with very pretty banjo instrumentals, and more. He can make a lyric like "hoofprints... on the ceiling of your mind" sound like timeless leturgical verse.

ATOMIC YGGDRASIL TAROT comes with a book of his (very cool artwork) but (to me) was hampered by how brutally lo-fi it is (it was recorded on a cassette player). I had to sacrifice some cred and take a couple of the screechier tracks off my iPod because they physically hurt my wimpy ears.

METEMPSYCHOTIC MELODIES is four tracks; it's the most Sun City Girls-ish of his albums, I think (though I admit I don't know TOO much SCG). The second track is some speedy banjo plucking and lasts for 15 minutes. Great album cover.

Never been able to track down: PLAYS THE MIRROR OF THE APOCALYPSE AND OTHER SONGS; ARMAGEDDON LULLABYE / RECITATION (which was an insanely small-run lathe cut 10" that sold for like $35 right out of the gate); HYMNPROVISATIONS FOR BANJO BY THE (A.I.U.) WITH PIANO AND RAINDROPS (limited edition LP)

Definitely see also!: Zomes and Human Bell (other post-Lungfish projects from ex-members)

She Got the Shakes, Friday, 20 August 2010 14:41 (eight years ago) Permalink

damn, thx

travis markers (Whiney G. Weingarten), Friday, 20 August 2010 14:42 (eight years ago) Permalink

No probs.

Oh, and see him live if you can. If there was any justice, some jam band taper types would be following him around to document this stuff. A year or so ago, I went to see him play in a tiny room in Adams Morgan in D.C. (the audience consisted of a couple of die-hard fans who luckily happened to catch a last-minute notice on the Dischord website (like me) and a Dischord all-star team). The stage was set up in front of a window that faced the sidewalk. At some point during the first song, he opened the window and started to incorporate the outside sounds (cars whizzing by and bumping songs, general neighborhood patter) into his improv'd banjo plucking. A couple of times, some partiers wandering by stuck their heads through the window and he engaged them in conversation as he played. It was just an incredible show - beautiful; unique; reverent but also very funny.

Going back to the albums - I think "Say God" is a great next move, but it's worth noting (in the event that it might put you off, even though it seems weird to even say that) that it's often very un-ironically and overtly religious (he's done plenty of gnosticism and mysticism in the past; some of this is overtly Christian).

She Got the Shakes, Friday, 20 August 2010 15:06 (eight years ago) Permalink

And a new Daniel Higgs album - a collaboration with Twig Harper under the name "Clairaudience Fellowship" - is going to be released on September 21st on Thrill Jockey:

She Got the Shakes, Tuesday, 24 August 2010 16:59 (eight years ago) Permalink

Also in 2010, Minor Threat/Fugazi/Dischord Records front man Ian Mackaye and London have been working on the upcoming 25th anniversary re-release of Reptile House's first Dischord 7" from 1985 (which Mackaye also produced.)

From Wikipedia this for real?! That would be amazing...

She Got the Shakes, Wednesday, 1 September 2010 10:40 (eight years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

Saw Higgs solo for the first time tonight and - WOW FUCKING WOW - this guy is unreal live. He played for about an hour, a few songs here and there, a lot of banter and just such a great Performance (with a capital "P"). Run, don't walk, if he lands anywhere near you...

Badmotorfinger Debate Club (MFB), Sunday, 27 February 2011 08:11 (seven years ago) Permalink

j., Sunday, 27 February 2011 08:48 (seven years ago) Permalink

^^^^wow, that a completely great track that is

original bgm, Sunday, 27 February 2011 22:00 (seven years ago) Permalink

holy shit skull defekts

bear, bear, bear, Sunday, 27 February 2011 22:31 (seven years ago) Permalink

five months pass...

unanimous hour was reissued?

№ (am0n), Thursday, 28 July 2011 16:07 (seven years ago) Permalink

yeah, on vinyl i think. i'm not sure, but i don't think the cd ever went out of print?

apichathong song (strongo hulkington's ghost dad), Thursday, 28 July 2011 16:30 (seven years ago) Permalink

I just wish someone - Scott Hull, Plotkin, Randall Dunn, any of those metal guys, really - would remaster their whole catalog. That band is so awesome but those records sound so Dischord-thin, does a disservice to the amazing riffs.

If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be An Airport, Thursday, 28 July 2011 16:48 (seven years ago) Permalink

i think the new unanimous hour is a remaster

No. I think social networks need to keep it real (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 28 July 2011 18:14 (seven years ago) Permalink

(check and it is, not sure who did it, wouldn't be surprised if it was bob weston)

No. I think social networks need to keep it real (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 28 July 2011 18:18 (seven years ago) Permalink

Man, "The Unanimous Hour" is so good. "Mated" is such a great song/riff. Hope I can find my copy.

grandavis, Friday, 29 July 2011 00:05 (seven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Alright, this is pretty great and really bizarre. Look at that baby face! Long live Daniel Higgs ...

grandavis, Tuesday, 9 April 2013 14:17 (five years ago) Permalink

wow crazy what year is that?

ums (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 9 April 2013 19:17 (five years ago) Permalink

Not sure, but I think they mention like 1990 or 1991, something like that? I believe that they say Higgs is 25 years old in the vid, if that gives you a better idea.

grandavis, Tuesday, 9 April 2013 19:50 (five years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

New ZOMES is really pretty and a nice evolution. Features a Swedish vocalist whose name I didn't recognize singing and chanting over top of the loops. Very pretty.

Saw Higgs two nights ago in a tiny chapel in Bethnal Green - it was beautiful. He's gotten so good at the banjo! Playing with some unusual open tunings. Lots of good new material; lots of incredible-as-ever stage discussion.

She Got the Shakes, Thursday, 16 May 2013 07:12 (five years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

Highly, highly recommend the Fountainsun album, "Music Today" - it's Higgs with a Japanese musician named Fumie Ishii. It's certainly the most structured thing Higgs has done in a long while, sort of the culmination of his last couple years of wandering. A real grab bag of cool stuff.

Your Ribs are My Ladder, Monday, 19 October 2015 22:40 (three years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

Theres nothing left to do
But go and ask the trees

Pull your head on out your hippy haze (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 17 August 2016 16:27 (two years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Went on a bit of a Lungfish bender over the wknd, what an absolutely amazing band. Every yr that passes the fact that they existed in the 90s seems even stranger to me.

chr1sb3singer, Monday, 9 July 2018 13:20 (seven months ago) Permalink

And it is weird to me to think of the word that Higgs is singing as "lyrics", I mean obv they are, but I can't imagine him sitting down and working & revising, they feel like they are being pulled out of him fully formed.

I have no clue what any of the songs are about.

chr1sb3singer, Monday, 9 July 2018 15:38 (seven months ago) Permalink

I realize part of my love for this lyric is the notion of Higgs at concession stand getting a semi-flat soda in a paper cup is surreal in and of itself but so, this kind of reminded me of the side discussion of Neil Young lyrics that read as banal but convey serious import. This whole song, but this verse in particular, captures a kind of perfectly strange banality of daily life.

"I had a drink
At the concession stand
There was a dog digging
Through a garbage can
He whispered low
But I could understand

"Don't shun the world. Shed it""

chr1sb3singer, Friday, 13 July 2018 13:01 (seven months ago) Permalink

Higgs is certainly a case in point of there being kind of a "totality" to his thing that works extremely well when experienced but is hard to sell on paper. I mean, the lyrics are wondrous and special to me in so many ways, but if you just write them out for someone I could get why they might not be sold, but they really work within the context of what he was doing in Lungfish. I mean, I like all the stuff he has done since then as well, but Lungfish will always be prime Higgs.

grandavis, Friday, 13 July 2018 17:43 (seven months ago) Permalink

One of my favorite live Higgs moments was him giving a review of the Planet of the Apes movie reboot (whichever one was out in roughly 2011) in the middle of a long banjo improvisation. He kept playing during the whole thing, but the movie review was great and hilarious. And then he just tore into that banjo again for like another 15 minutes. Very compelling but I mean it sounds ridiculous in the telling of it.

grandavis, Friday, 13 July 2018 17:46 (seven months ago) Permalink

My fave Higgs live banter was a long song intro about standing naked in front of full length mirror that segued into a longer side bit about why mirrors don't provide an accurate representation of your reflection since the glass is full of imperfections that you can't see so the image you seen in a mirror is actually a distortion of reality but the were the best tool we had and anyway here's Wonderwall

chr1sb3singer, Friday, 13 July 2018 18:30 (seven months ago) Permalink

They were opening for Fugazi and though there Lungfish fans in the crowd for the most part the discrepancy between the mindset of the band the mindset of the crowd was like this *holds hands as far apart as possible*

chr1sb3singer, Friday, 13 July 2018 18:32 (seven months ago) Permalink

Hah hah that is very Higgsian. I only ever saw Lungfish live once, and can't even remember who else was on the bill. My buddy Tyler and I both recall that Higgs actually ate a ballpoint pen onstage (no really) but I kind of find it hard to believe that it actually happened. I do not put his kind of thing past Higgs though ....

grandavis, Friday, 13 July 2018 18:53 (seven months ago) Permalink

I believe the ballpoint pen thing, that sounds about right. I saw them three times in one yr, twice opening for Fugazi and once with Gas Huffer of all the random bands on planet earth, Lungfish played the same set each time, "Sound In Time" straight through.

The show with Gas Huffer was an early all-ages matinee so doors were at 4 in the afternoon, it at the 7th Street Entry in Mpls which is right down town and the back door was open to the street so there was light pouring in and you could see people walking around, city traffic, etc.

There used to be a coffee bar in the First Ave mainroom, which otherwise was closed & house lights were on and I was drinking a coffee and smoking a Backwoods cigar and Higgs was smoking a cig and we talked about how weird it was that I was smoking a Backwoods and also I was working overnights at the time so 4 PM was roughly 4 AM to me so this was all talking place within about 45 minutes of me waking up.

chr1sb3singer, Friday, 13 July 2018 19:06 (seven months ago) Permalink

Wow. Quite a way to wake up.

grandavis, Friday, 13 July 2018 19:13 (seven months ago) Permalink

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