Photo by Jody McFarland
Who doesn’t want a thrashy, fuzzed-out bass, sixty-two-second intro? I’ll never know. Neither did Common Thread. With their 30th Anniversary release of Fountain, and lead single, “Lydia Elle,” listeners can come to expect this mentality of pre-Y2K angst, raw crunch, desperate pleas for a brighter future.
“Lydia Elle” is youth on display, not only sonically, but an earnestness of adolescence that is yearning to be seen, heard, validated. Thirty years is a long time, and Common Thread has shared stages with some formidable acts like Agent Orange, The Smithereens, and The Veldt, but I’d say this release can hold its own against the new names of the genre.
When asked about the resurfacing of this sound trend and the changed DIY landscape, frontman Joe Parker said, “It’s tempting to think we were on the cutting edge…more of a result of having similar musical exposure…We would regularly perform with 8-10 effects pedals apiece and be the only band I saw doing this.”
Indie labels have been moving forward with more archival work and releasing somewhat forgotten music to a new audience. Regarding Fort Lowell’s re-release of Fountain, Parker said, “In a way, these are modern field recordings. It gives the music another chance to be discovered and audiences get a richer picture of a bygone scene.”
This moment feels like a direct response to the day and age we find ourselves, when things are easily accessible, full albums made with a single microphone and stock DAWs. But Common Thread recorded Fountain and “Lydia Elle” on a cassette tape back in 1993, a time when music production was accessible but still a considerable effort. The nuances are not lost in this re-release thirty years later. The fuzz and near disintegration, the warble, the echo: all of it feels sincere, even until the last few seconds of soaring vocals and phased distortion. This music has come from a deep moment in these young people’s lives and brought to light so many years later, and it shows that some things might still be timeless.