Archive for the ‘Volcano Suns’ Category

Sounds Like Hell: Volcano Suns

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Sounds Like Hell is an irregular feature on old and new noise rock.

When Volcano Suns re-issued their first two records in 2009, the announcement was accompanied by the following statement:

“People can’t seem to help themselves when describing either a little known band they used to love, or more commonly, a band they were more likely in … as “seminal”. E.G. “The Blake Babies were a seminal early independant group” ect and blah blah blah…any band described as seminal were filled, more than likely, with seminal fluid…
How about a new definition for “seminal”: a musical group that is vastly overrated because of their well deserved underrated-ness…”

It’s hard to disagree, and I’m not going to tell you that Volcano Suns were the most under-appreciated band of the indie rock explosion, but they were pretty fucking good.

After the dissolution of indie rock pioneers Mission of Burma, drummer Peter Prescott poached the members of fellow Boston band Disneyland to form Volcano Suns: a sardonic, proto-grunge outfit with a love of chunky bass lines and guitar fuzz.

There are plenty of aesthetic similarities with Mission of Burma – Prescott performs vocal duties in both bands and his deadpan wail stands out more than most anything, as well as his penchant for anthemic choruses. But whereas Mission of Burma favoured crisp guitars and rapid-fire rhythms, Volcano Suns’ sound is rooted in a kind of contained chaos and bombast, and almost drunken in its delivery.

Bob Weston – who’d later join Shellac in 1993 and follow Prescott into a reunited Mission of Burma in 2004 – jumped on board in 1987 for album number three, the excellent Bumper Crop. In 1988 they jumped to SST for a couple of records before releasing their final album – the Albini-engineered Career in Rock – on Chicago label Quarterstick in 1991.

Despite resurfacing briefly for a reunion in 2005 and the reissues in 2009, Volcano Suns remain largely unknown. (“Even with two lauded reissues, Volcano Suns ducks fame, escaping a certain fate” reads an Indyweek headline.) Some more signs of life came earlier this month, though, as Merge Records just put out a lo-fi live recording from 1986. It’s primitive and messy, but that’s half the fun and I’ll take what I can get.