Most people who know about indie rock have certainly heard of Superchunk: between them and their label Merge Records, they helped put North Carolina on the map, and repopularize a do-it-yourself approach in the wake of the major labels descending upon Seattle to sign every artist that wore flannel or had a single that sounded remotely like Nirvana.
The question remains, then, as to whether you've heard of Spent. Spent are sufficiently obscure and I might do a later post on them, but for now let me tell you what little I know of them. Unlike Superchunk, Spent were from New Jersey [I actually had to look this up -- I actually thought they were North Carolinians as well]. Like Superchunk, they had a whiny singer, John King, and they played a hyper, jingly-jangly blend of power pop and punk rock. Both were flagship bands of Merge Records in the middle '90s, but somehow Spent faded into obscurity after two albums, both of which you can find for a buck on Amazon [side note: Though I got their first record, Songs of Drinking and Rebellion, for a buck on Amazon marketplace, I managed to find their second record used on vinyl, so you might just get lucky like that].
Humidifier, then, is a merger of Superchunk and Spent. And when I say a merger, I don't just mean that their sound is a sonic child of the two, combining the more hyper elements of Superchunk with the more melodic, quirky guitar work of Spent - I actually mean that one of Humidifier's three members, vocalist/guitarist John King, sang in Spent, and another, bassist/guitarist Jim Wilbur, played guitar in Superchunk.
Humidifier actually formed in the '80s while the members were in college in Connecticut and released an album, called Misery's Redeeming, on a local Connecticut label, but this record is extremely obscure and I would have no idea how to find it (Edit: I found it completely unexpectedly! I'll be listening to it soon and will tell you more about it in a later post). There are a few mp3s of its songs, as well as some more detailed history of the band, here. But then, with two of the members finding mainstream indie success in Spent and Superchunk, Humidifier fell by the wayside until around 1996, when they holed up in Brooklyn's Rare Book Room studios for a weekend and recorded Nothing Changes, which is the record I have here for you.
Lots of people who've heard this one dismiss it as a mediocre second-rate version of Spent and Superchunk - but I find the songwriting to be up to par with both of those bands (this would make sense!). Tell me what you think!
More Songs and History: [here]
Even More Songs: [here]
Want Your Own Copy? Amazon has new ones for a buck and used ones for a penny.