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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ear Candy Classic: Sugartooth

So many albums come out every year, that it is impossible for even the most enthusiastic music nut to keep up with all of them. This is especially true these days with music being so readily available over the internet and being so portable via all the various devices you can listen to your MP3s on. That being said, in the early to mid-90s it was still impossible to keep up because labels were just shoving releases out into the market. One simply couldn't afford to buy every CD that came out, nor did you want to. Record labels had lost the consumer's trust by releasing so many albums with one great song surrounded by filler. You had to be cautious about what albums you spent your money on because there was NOTHING worse than getting home, popping that CD in the stereo and being wildly disappointed in every track except for the single you saw a video for on MTV. This is of course one of the main motivations that led to the explosion of file sharing...people were tired of spending a lot of money on poor product and wanted to get just the songs they already knew they liked...and for free. If record companies had embraced (and purchased) Napster in its early days as a way for consumers to sample product before they purchased, then perhaps the state of the industry would be different today, but I'm getting off topic....

I want to talk about an album from the early/mid-90's that flew under everyone's radar. Sometime in 1994 I saw a video on Headbanger's Ball for a song called "Sold My Fortune" by a band called Sugartooth. This was the era of massive popularity for Nirvana, Pearl Jam and grunge music in general and bands like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains who were lumped in with the grunge sound, but made no attempts to hide their metal influences in their sound were able to appeal to both mainstream audiences and metalheads alike. [Not that hard rock/metal bands reaching wide audiences hadn't happened before and doesn't happen all the time still. I could name a million examples, but Black Sabbath, Kiss, Metallica, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Stone Temple Pilots, Godsmack, Slipknot and Tool all illustrate the point. For purposes of this blog though, Soundgarden and AIC are perfect representations of what kind of sound the major labels thought was "in" at the time.] Because of this major labels began signing every band that fell under the hard rock-metal-grunge umbrella...and with mixed results. Certainly some great bands were discovered, but a lot of them seemed to present marketing dilemmas. Does this video belong on Headbanger's Ball or 120 Minutes? Specialty metal shows or mainstream rock radio? Do we try to get them on tour with Slayer or Sponge? And thus, a lot of great bands fell through the cracks and went unnoticed by the public at large (which is of course simply the reality of the music business). Sugartooth was one of them.

Sugartooth's self-titled release doesn't redefine music or even the hard rock genre, but it is a really great record that begs repeated listens and has aged nicely in the 15 years since its release. If you like bands that walk the line between hard rock and metal, then this release is for you. Certainly if you are a fan of Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Tad, Danzig and Kyuss (coincidentally, the drummer served a stint in Danzig and is now a member of Queens of the Stone Age), then this is worth hunting down. The albums is long out of print, but I can't imagine it wouldn't be available somewhere out there on file sharing sites. [Fun fact: The singer/guitarist and bassist contributed the music to Howard Stern's "Tortured Man" that was put together by the Dust Brothers for the Private Parts soundtrack and is still featured in the outro to Howard's show everyday.]

"Sold My Fortune"

"Sheffield Milestone"

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