RIYL: The Walkmen, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Modern Lovers

Label: Third Man Records / Rough Trade

The first of the infantry that jump out of the trenches always catch the most bullets. Hindsight is always a deadeye 20/20, and once the culture has finally come around, everyone claims they were in on the ground floor. We’ve all read the storybook…The Velvet Underground & Nico sold like 300 copies in 1967, but everyone who heard it started a band. The Ramones’ debut sold 6,000 copies its first year, but its influence is still kicking us in the balls 40+ years later. The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique collected dust in every Sam Goody across the nation in 1989, but seven years later, Beck rode its coattails to the Grammys. And on and on and on…

New York 5-piece Jonathan Fire*Eater’s story is the opposite. Championed as “the next big thing”, the haunted post-punk grooves on 1996’s Tremble Under Boom Lights were absolutely singular for the era. Stewart Lupton’s howl channeled Nick Cave channeling Jonathan Richman. Paul Maroon’s squelching guitar shoved up against Walter Martin’s possessed organ tones like a knife fight in a dark alley. It was new, it was dangerous and the critics went ape shit…but within a couple of years, it was all over. You could blame the major label shift, the clashing of egos, the money…I dunno, ask The Stone Roses I guess. Despite their demise, their influence on the New York rock revival a few years later is paramount. Out of Jonathan Fire*Eater’s ashes came The Walkmen, another seminal act for their time. And Interpol, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Killers and The Strokes…they all tip their hat to the band that jumped out of the trenches first.

Third Man Records has not only done us the courtesy of reissuing this essential EP, but they’ve added some additional tunes for extra flavor. The rarest variant of this reissue, limited to only 300 copies, is on yellow vinyl and you can still grab it from Rough Trade. No idea how these haven’t sold out yet, but I’d take the opportunity now if you’re into it. Listen to the whole thing below.

The Details

First reissue since original 1996 release and now includes In the Head (previously unreleased). In a world chock full of flame-outs, coulda-been contenders and great white hopes, the band Jonathan Fire*Eater are among the “almost-est.”

Yellow Vinyl
Limited to 300 copies

Price $23.99

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