Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tripping Daisy - i am an Elastic Firecracker

Tripping Daisy
i am an Elastic Firecracker

Speaking of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, can you think if a larger city with a more irrelevant music scene? While SEEKER and POWER TRIP are trying to change things, D/FW has been a wasteland for rock music as of late, but it wasn't always that way. It was only 20 years ago that Dallas had nurtured a strong crop of alternative rock bands. THE TOADIES, the REV. HORTON HEAT, REO SPEEDEALER (via Lubbock), THE NIXONS (via Oklahoma City), DEEP BLUE SOMETHING, HAGFISH, THE OLD 97s, and many more were all part of the Deep Ellum scene. The difference between the bold faces and "many more" is that all of the bold-faced bands ended up on major labels. So did Tripping Daisy, one of the most popular bands during the alt-rock heyday of Dallas.

It all started when The Edge started playing "Lost and Found." The only single from Tripping Daisy's first album Bill became a local hit in Dallas after it was picked up by KDGE. Then Island Records came sniffing around (remember, this was the period of The Post-Nevermind Great Alt-Rock Sweepstakes). In the spirit of cashing in, i am an Elastic Firecracker is a decidedly commercial affair. The record is far from musically bankrupt. It's filled with neo-psychedelic riffs and was produced by FUGAZI knob-twister Ted Niceley. i am an Elastic Firecracker has the same intended, radio-friendly gloss as the CANDLEBOXes of the day and it produced the intended results. The single "I Got A Girl" went supernova. That song was inescapable for a few years allowing Tripping Daisy to "move units" as they say.

No, i am an Elastic Firecracker is not Tripping Daisy's grand artistic statement. That record would be Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb; a record that would prove highly influential on the current crop of neo-psychedlic indie bands. What i am an Elastic Firecracker shows is that the major label tactic of "sign every band you can find and one of them will eventually produce a hit", well, that tactic actually works.

On the eve of the release of Tripping Daisy's forth record in October 1999, guitarist Wes Bergrren overdosed on a combination of cocaine and xanax. His death stopped Tripping Daisy in its tracks with the surviving members launching THE POLYPHONIC SPREE in 2000. Looking back, it's kind of surprising how similar Tripping Daisy's music is to the modern Austin indie rock bands; everyone from GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY to BRIGHT LIGHT SOCIAL CLUB. Sure, The Polyphonic Spree is one of the leaders of said music scene but I'd like to think that in some alternate universe Tripping Daisy is headlining the Austin Psych Fest. Somewhere...

In the meantime, i am an Elastic Firecracker is a solid album and a key part of Tripping Daisy's legacy. "Piranha" and "Prick" are awesome songs and "I Got A Girl" is one of the best singles of the 1990s. Killer, man.


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