Friday, December 18, 2020

Forgotten Gems: Truly - 'Fast Stories... from Kid Coma'

Recently, I received a delightfully-unexpected early Christmas present from my Lonely Note comrade, Steve -- the 25th anniversary double-vinyl edition of the Singles Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.

For anyone uninitiated, the Cameron Crowe-directed Singles and its accompanying soundtrack are legendary in the unfolding success story of the Seattle Grunge scene of the early '90s.  It's one of the era's greatest movie soundtracks and still stands as an important document of American music history.  It was the right soundtrack at the right time.

This review from Pitchfork covers a lot of ground in explaining the interconnectivity and rise of the local music scene in Seattle during that time period.

Bands such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees and Alice in Chains all were prominently featured on the soundtrack right at the time when Nirvana's star was skyrocketing and Grunge was catching national attention.

Of course, for every major commercial success story, there are plenty of other great bands that unfortunately slip through the cracks and don't get the attention they desrve.

Truly was such a band.  

Truly was formed in 1990 by singer-guitarist Robert Roth, who had recently auditioned to be the 2nd guitarist in Nirvana (who decided to remain a trio) after the dissolution of his previous band, Storybook Krooks.

Roth was joined by Mark Pickerel, a founding member of Screaming Trees, and by Hiro Yamamoto, the original bassist for Soundgarden.  

In 1991, the "supergroup" released their debut EP, Heart and Lungs, under the renowned Sub Pop label.  The title track was featured in the movie Singles, but unfortunately didn't make the cut on the official soundtrack release.  However, the 25th anniversary vinyl release does include a bonus CD chock-full of previously unreleased recordings from the movie, including "Heart and Lungs".

In 1993, as major labels were attempting to swoop up as many Seattle bands as possible, Truly was signed to Capitol Records.  Their full-length album, Fast Stories...From Kid Coma, was released to positive reviews in 1995, but failed to catch on like some of the band's contemporaries of the time.  

AllMusic gave the album 4.5/5 stars, calling it a loosely-based concept album, with songs that "...further the swirling, psychedelic sound present on the group's early Sub Pop EPs, but show an even more refined sense of songwriting and arranging."

Right out of the gate, the album's opener--"Blue Flame Ford"--comes out swinging, with a deep chugging riff and wall of psychedelia, met with Roth's menacing-but-melodic vocals.  The song sets a tone for the rest of the album, which twists and turns in dense swirling layers of edgy rock that demand repeat listens.

Discouraged by the lack of support from Capitol, Truly departed back to an independent label, Thick Records, who released their follow-up album, Feeling You Up in 1997.

Although Truly stayed true to themselves and have continued to work together off and on for over two decades, they never quite found the mainstream or reached as wide of an audience as some of their Seattle brethren--which is truly a shame based on the quality of the band's songwriting.

Below, stream Fast Stories...From Kid Coma, the band's critically acclaimed debut, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2020.  

If you're a fan of early 90s Alternative and Grunge, I highly recommend you download the full album from Truly's Bandcamp page, which also says to look for a remastered double-gatefold vinyl edition in the near future!


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