Album Reviews

Bedhead: 1992-1998 (Numero Group)

bedhead
At the time this Bedhead started they were lumped in with the genre known as slo-core (or slow rock). I know, the name’s not so great but heck, neither is pop punk. From the very beginning, these guys were on to something. The Dallas-via-Wichita Falls quintet, led by the Kadane brothers , Matt and Bubba, had a small but loyal following. Once they broke up I don’t recall their name being mentioned as near as it should have, but I hope this box set will change all of that. 1992-1998 includes everything that the band recorded: their three full length albums, as well as a separate cd that includes singles, eps and b-sides, as well as la nice, thick booklet including liner notes by Saturnine’s Matt Gallaway and plenty of pics and info.

The band’s sound was mostly quiet and contemplative with occasional loud bursts and the vocals were usually low in the mix. The band released before recording their debut full-length, 1994’s What Fun Life Was, released via Trance Syndicate. That album opened with the superb “Liferaft” and then ripped right into the louder, more driving “Haywire” and on to the gorgeous “Bedside.” This dynamic carries on until the chaotic ending of “Wind Down.” It was a powerful combination; their music was quiet, but it was quiet in a very, very loud way–a tendency that translated the band into a powerful live force–one that will be documented in a forthcoming live album from their final tour.

Full length number two, 1996’s Beheaded, saw then further refine their sound an even add a few things (like some slide guitar) but it’s still the same basic formula. Opening title track has Matt Kadane mumbling sweet nothings while a web of spidery guitars forms around it, while the six minute “The Rest of the Day” positively brims with fire and passion. In songs like “What’s Missing,’ “”Burned Out” “Withdraw” and “Losing Memories” do we see a theme here? Possibly.

By the time of their swan song, 1998’s Transaction de Novo the band were basically indie rock heroes, at least to some of us. Opener “Exhume” shows that the band could slow the pace down even more (believe it or not) as well as “More Than Ever,” while on “Parade” it’s just the opposite, which is like the speed of a D.R.I. song by comparison. Their sound remained the same, but yet it picked up an air of accessibility that was quickly becoming much more commonplace in the indie rock scene–proof of their growing influence on younger bands.

Disc number four is a compilation, putting together their two EP’s, singles, and unreleased material, includes some great stuff including covers of both Joy Division (their cover of “Disorder” is not to be missed) and an unreleased version of The Stranglers‘ “Golden Brown.” The only thing missing here is the posthumous recordings that were labeled “Bedhead” on a collaboration with Macha that appeared in 2000–an interesting but not essential (and not really Bedhead) collection.

Sadly, though,that was that. Boredom brought the band to an end. Three full-lengths and some extras in six years–a relatively small discography, to be sure, but every minute they released was and remains essential. The Kadane Brothers would refine this sound further in their next band, The New Year. They did it their own way and they mattered. I’m glad someone at The Numero Group thought so, too.

–Tim Hinely

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