Friday, November 21, 2003

Small Factory's ouvre hasn't held up so well, or maybe my tolerance for nasal guys and/or off-key girls singing songs of lust disingenuously veiled as songs of puppy love has decreased over the years. Through the early 90's, though, they seemed like they were going places, moving from the 7" vinyl indie ghetto to a decent indie label to a major label and then....poof...they broke up, two of them turned into the god awful God Rays and then broke that up.

They only released three CDs, one of which is a singles compilation. In my opinion, much as I loved them at one time, they're not relevant anymore and the only real reason to listen to Small Factory at this point is to get nostalgic for a certain innocence of the pre-dead-Kurt days when it seemed like any nice group of youngsters with college degrees could become the next Unrest. With that in mind, I'm not posting tracks with the intention of "selling" the band. Movies is the b-side of the one single from their last album For If You Can Not Fly. It's kind of slow and boring, not particularly typical of the band's sound, and really emphasizes how nasal and annoying Alex Kemp could be. It sounds to me like the sort of thing that Alex might have played in concert while David changed a string. My copy of the single is, however, a very pretty shade of green.

Alex Kemp played bass and was the kind-of-dorky, kind-of-asshole, kind-of-cute center of attention. In the beginning he played acoustic bass (the guitar kind, not the stand up). David Auchenbach was the guitar player who never said much. Now he produces indie bands. He started out playing acoustic guitar in concert, but the band would amp up the volume, so the acoustic thing was kind of misleading, at least live. Their early singles were on the wispy side, so there was always a tension between their inherent twee-ness and their desire to be "rock stars." Drummer Phoebe Summersquash (hippie parents) was cute as a button (probably her official motto) and acted as foil, organizer and mediator in concert. She and Alex became a couple at some point, which seems to have moved him away from the puppy love stuff and towards a somewhat more adult affect.

Song number two isn't even by them. On For If You Can Not Fly, they played a nice cover of Happy For The First Time In Weeks by the strikingly named band New Radiant Storm King. This is the original, just for the curious. Pretty good song actually, in either version, but Small Factory's version is tighter and more concise.

Finally, the only song I can stand off of the terrible, tuneless God Rays album is this bit of interesting weirdness called Boy Scout Thriller. I heard later that Alex was a trust fund child, so I assume that music was just a hobby and that now he's a painter or a designer or in a video with Paris Hilton or something. [Actually it appears that he still plays music, though on a very under-the-radar level.]

Phoebe Summersquash still pops up as a drummer here and there and oddly enough, someone seems to have named their cat after her.

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