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#sonictruth: 90 Wildly Speculative Digressions On Why Yuck Might Be the Greatest Band of the ’90s


Yuck are a young London-based foursome — singer-guitarist Daniel Blumberg, guitarist Max Bloom, bassist Mariko Doi, and drummer Jonny Rogoff — who appear to be a magically seamless genetic splice of Teenage Fanclub, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, the Vaselines, Sonic Youth, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Yo La Tengo, Nirvana, Elliott Smith, My Bloody Valentine, Sebadoh, Superchunk, Lush, Built to Spill (and a pinch of Beat Happening, among others). Basically, they sound like ’80s babies who grew up to be ’90s alt-rock youth, though they’re actually ’90s alt-rock babies who grew up to be 2000s youth. What’s even more curious is that their self-titled debut may be more consistently tuneful than any album by any of the above bands. But along with their songful magic, Yuck have an apparitional quality., as if they’re really a mysterious visitation from some alternate slacker galaxy where The Adventures of Pete & Pete plays on endless loop and Pauly Shore is undeniably relevant and the Internet is just a portentous twinkle. Maybe so, butwe still need to get from there to here somehow. So let’s return to the alternative nativity once more and see what is revealed. #90spathology (See also: SPIN’s 20 Best Albums of 1991)

More From Our Best of 2011 Issue:
One Fucked Up Year: SPIN’s Best of 2011 Issue
SPIN’s 50 Best Albums of 2011
SPIN’s 20 Best Songs of 2011
SPIN’s 40 Best Rap Albums of 2011

Ed. Note: All references to Yuck song titles, lyrics, and side projects are in bold.

1. “Straight off the boooaaaat / Where to go-oohhhhhhh?” (CALL TO WORSHIP)

2. Does Jesus want me for a sunbeam or is it just a long con?

3. Q: What if, as a generation, we could transform marijuana into Chimayo’s sacred dirt, cocaine into pristine white sand, and crystal meth into a cure for the common cold?
A: Shut up and give me the pill.

4. J Mascis’ shimmering chord changes precisely calibrated the zeitgeist’s final sigh of innocence. Then I threw up on her blouse.

5. “I’m not your oxygen” = passive / “I’ll be your suicide policeman” = aggressive

6. Mudhoney Superfuzz Bigmuff Plus Early

7.You think you’re a man / But you’re only a boy / You think you’re a man / You are only a toy”

8. Nirvana hearts the Vaselines…and so it begins.

9. Scotland/Seattle/Olympia/Wales/the World

10. Sweeter than Matthew, a delightful buzz, etc.

11. Nirvana (Reading ’91): The U.K. finally decides America’s desperately reckless and ultimately quite terrifying male presence has become just vulnerable and self-aware enough to embrace.

12. Insert sarcastic/sincere, world-conquering-yet-not-quite-convinced-of-own-bullshit quote (see Kurt’s Journals)


14. “There’s nothing worse than people trying to understand you instead of just punishing you.”— J Mascis (SPIN, 1993)

15. “They jam electric drool.”— Erik Davis re: Dinosaur Jr. (SPIN, 1989)

16. Thrillingly Conflicted Dude Energy vs. Tenderly Transgressive Dude Energy

17. DANIEL BLUMBERG’s Cuffed Denim Shorts

18. JONNY ROGOFF Kickin’ Afrolistics

19. MARIKO DOI’s Fringe Theory

20. “Sic Transit Gloria. Glory fades. I’m MAX BLOOM.”

21. Captain America “Flame On” live video: Guitarist is clearly D. Blumberg’s spiritual father — floppy-mop Encino Man nimbus, baggy striped sweater, faded jeans, gentle wounded roar.

22. Captain America go on tour with Nirvana; Kurt wears their T-shirt under a blue cardigan; Captain America sign to Atlantic, receive a cease-and-desist letter from Marvel Comics, ill-advisedly change name to Eugenius. Fin.

23. Captain America’s “Buttermilk” > Eugenius’ “Buttermilk”

24. “Tell me when the pain kicks in…” (“Get Away”)

25. After Bandwagonesque and Nevermind, Yuck is arguably the other No. 1 album of 1991.

26. “Milkshake”: If Teenage Fanclub were actual teenagers

27. Nostalgia for when you were ten years old

28. Nostalgia for when you were 20 years old

29. Nostalgia for when you were still nostalgic

30. Irony slips out the side door, head down, collar up.

31. Susan Sontag said nostalgia is a meager emotion, and she’s right. But what if your skin is turning blue and everything else sounds like shit?

32. “I don’t like nostalgia, unless it’s mine” — Lou Reed, after hearing Pavement’s “Shoot the Singer (1 Sick Verse)”

33. Dreaming of a guitar solo that’ll take you by the hand and lead you on a stroll around the treatment facility’s verdant, dewy grounds, whisper soothing aphorisms about your higher power, and even sneak you a smoke; instead, you get Gibby Haynes and Robert Downey Jr. working out material at four in the morning.
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34. “Have done with childish days: The lightly proffered laurel / The easy, ungrudged praise?/ Comes now, to search your manhood / Through all the thankless years / Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom??/ Sexy, comical, repugnant, whatever? / Leggo, my eggo”

35. Careening from Creation to Matador to Geffen to Matador to Creation (Repeat Until Humbled)

36. In 2011’s version of 1991, a soft-spoken, self-deprecating lad with a receding hairline, wearing an Oxford button-down, provides decade-summarizing lead guitar. The circle completes.

37. “Georgia, what’s a girl to do?” Yuck easily could’ve named the object of affection in their song “Georgia” after any state in the U.S. But being unrepentant indie/alt completists, they chose not to.

38. Chickfactor, but a tad grungier

39. “Rose Gives a Lilly” makes me want to join a Generation Catalano Blingee

40. House of (So Much) Style (and It’s Wasted)

41. Fanzine (band)

42. If Yuck were a zine, they’d be Ben Is Dead + The I Hate Brenda Newsletter + Socially Fucking Retarded — an earnestly self-immolating journey into our retromaniacal mind’s eye

43. “Holing Out”: Imagined soundtrack to Sweet Valley High when both Margo the Evil Twin and the Fashion Mag Mentor attempt to murder Elizabeth (and Elizabeth falls in love with the guy in the Witness Protection Program)

44. “Suck”: Elliott S. heals a nation’s suicidal scars, pulls us close, our tears streaming down his face like he was a personal goddamn storm drain.

45. “Stutter”: A sepia flexidisc postcard from Box Elder, SD

46. “Soothe Me”: Such a delicate simulacrum that it’s like you’re sipping a double heroin latte and swaddling a junkie in a Portland thrift-store Pendleton

(Photo: Philip Gay)

47. Sketchbooks and cassettes, a carefully arranged altar of ancient totems at the edge of the stage, before, during, and after a hushed set of piano-lesson pop (Youpa, Glasslands, 2011)

48. Ibanez Tube Screamer TS808

49. Electro Harmonics Little Big Muff

50. Homebrew Electronics Power Screamer
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51. BBE Two Timer

52. Boss Chromatic Tuner TU-2

53. Tech 21 NYC Double Drive

54. Crowther Hot Cake, MXR Micro Amp

55. Lovepedal Pro Valve Distortion

56. Lovepedal Eternity Overdrive

57. Electro-Harmonix Big Muff 58 MXR Phase 90

58. MXR Phase 90

59. Holy Grail Nano Reverb

60. Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler

61. Cry Baby Wah Pedal

62. Pro Co RAT

63. The Very Idea of Fucking Calvin Johnson

64. Secret soulmates cooing teenage symphonies to God at the International Pop Underground Convention (August, 1991) while the Spinanes play “Jad Fair Drives Women Wild” and Ian MacKaye mans the door

65. Nü-gaze > Shit-gaze

66. Putting the “twee” into Everything in Between

67. “Ever newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers.”— Heraclitus via Simplicius via Plato

68. “All things move and nothing remains still.”— Plato via Heraclitus via Simplicius

69. “Everything changes and nothing remains still…and…you cannot step twice into the same stream.”— Plato via Simplicius via Heraclitus

70. “We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not.”— Heraclitus via Plato via Simplicius

71. “They’re way existential.”
— Cher, Clueless

72. Genitalia collages

73. Irony slips back in the side door, head up, collar down

74. “Cousin Corona”: “I wanna go out on the weekend / I wanna hang out with my best friend”

75. There’s Nothing Wrong With Heartfelt Apathy

76. Sassy “Cute Band Alert”: “Yuck are like Brian Krakow‘s cooler cousins!” (October, 1994)

77. Grand Marshals of the 16th Annual Rex Manning Day Parade (July, 2011)

78. Reality (Still) Bites (and Leaves a Mark)

79. Following:

80. #likefuckyeahkeanu #daydreamnationbelievers #megafuzzkill

81. Generation X-Girl: Kim designed it, Chloë worked it, Mike drew it, Kathleen pimped it, and Spike ran it

82. At the end of the day, it all comes down to ab ringer T-shirts

83. Or the sculpting, cleaving, etching, hewing, shaping, carving, molding, and transmuting of feedback

84. Thurston


86. Kim

87. Lung’s Legacy

88. Coco

89. Daisy Von Furthermore

90. “And one day we will die / And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea / But for now we are young” (BENEDICTION)
Read the entire January/February 2012 issue of SPIN.