The formation of Come in 1990 was a happy time indeed. Wise rock lovers had long before learned that singer/guitarist Thalia Zedek could do no wrong, whether in her first band Dangerous Birds (whose 1980 single "Smile On Your Face" was a highlight of the Sub Pop 100 compilation), the amazing Uzi (whose sole release, 1985's Sleep Asylum EP, was reissued by Matador in 1993), or Live Skull, who she totally transformed upon joining them as lead vocalist for the Dusted (Homestead, 1987) and Positraction (Caroline, 1989) albums. Fellow guitarist Chris Brokaw had been the drummer for Codeine, whose Frigid Stars LP still ranks among Sub Pop's best.
Come's debut single "Car" b/w "Last Mistake" came out in 1991 as part of the Sub Pop Singles Club and sure enough, it was awesome. Desperate, dangerous, and truly majestic, qualities Come continue to expand upon as the years unfold. The rhythm section of Sean O'Brien (bass) and Arthur Johnson (drums) was mighty. Matador won the prize and released their debut album Eleven:Eleven in 1992.
While most people agree that the band has been steadily improving, Eleven:Eleven still holds a special place in many hearts. Indie guitar rock was all the rage at the time of its release, but for all the fire and passion some of those bands had, nothing could have prepared anyone for music so raw, yet so regal. In fact, some of the greatest guitar heroes of that time--J Mascis, Bob Mould, Kurt Cobain--publicly hailed Come as one of the most exciting new bands in years.
The second Come album, Don't Ask Don't Tell, was released in 1994 and built upon the intensity of Eleven:Eleven. Where that album was so much resignation and tension, Don't Ask Don't Tell offers a broader emotional and sonic palette, from the wild ride of "Mercury Falls" to the gorgeous, crystalline "German Song." A hallmark of Come's sound is Chris and Thalia's rejection of traditional lead and rhythm guitar roles; the Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot called them "telepathic," describing how "one minute they twist like snakes around each other, the next they rip and tear like crosscut saws." The way their sparring guitars combine precision with such heartfelt wailing is remarkable; the grand, cascading sheets of sound have no real precedent.
Following the release of Don't Ask Don't Tell, Sean and Arthur left amicably. Despite much speculation about Come's demise, Chris and Thalia continued touring with a number of people on bass and drums, eventually enlisting 11 outside musicians to record 1996's mini-LP Near Life Experience. Widely praised as their best record up to that point, it features Chris on lead vocals on two songs; its only fault is its meager 32 minutes. Subsequent touring included a keyboard player; soon Come took it further, mounting a tour best described as pared-down electric, with piano and no bass. Dubbed the "cabaret" tour, it made some people long for the rock, but turned many others on to the songs' intrinsic strength.
On to the present. With a ton of new songs harking back to the heavy, propulsive rock for which they are perhaps best-loved, Come set about recording their new album with a phenomenal new rhythm section. You may know bassist Winston Bramen from his band Fuzzy, as well as his all-around good-guyness in Boston and beyond; drummer Daniel Coughlin, on the other hand, seems to have come out of the blue and is quite simply one of the most powerful drummers playing today. Recent shows have been devastating, the crowds ecstatic over the return of Come The Powerhouse Rock Act.
Come's genius has not been overlooked by the press. A small sampling: Rolling Stone: "Music you won't soon forget." Option: "Impossibly original." Entertainment Weekly: "Captivating...enthralling." Musician: "A revelation." Spin: "Ferocious." NME: "Staggering." Request: "They make time stand still." Melody Maker: "Come really rock, with force, like hell, almost literally." Creem: "A confession you've got no business hearing." Rip: "Truly brilliant, bruising stuff." New York Times: "Come's music evokes those moments in rock's demonic journey when the seam is about to split."
Gently, Down The Stream is all of this and more, and their best yet. Thalia and Chris are playing with more passion and conviction than ever, and Winston and Daniel sound as though they've been in Come for years. Chris steps up again twice; his "Recidivist" is particularly moving. "Saints Around My Neck" is an epic on a par with the Wipers' "Youth Of America." The bright guitar of "New Coat" belies its pleading, angry sentiment. Other highlights include the meditative "March" and the lurching album opener "One Piece." Bring on the hyperbole.
The Boston Phoenix's Matt Ashare once said, "anger and beauty, hope and sadness, fear and transcendence--that's just some of the terrain that Come have covered in the course of an album, a song, or even just a riff." Indeed, even a section of a Come song speaks volumes. They are fearless, timeless, and classic.
News From The Matablog
Dear Friends, Since 1982, I've had the privilege of standing around trying to pry my jaw off the floor while Thalia Zedek uses 6 strings and a voice that's seen/felt-it-all to draw blood and much, much more. While everything she's done (Dangerous Birds, Uzi, Live Skull, Come) has run the gamut from great to really great her last couple of solo recordings for Thrill Jockey are kinda like Everest or K2 compared to 2001's 'Been Here & Gone' (or as I've started calling it, "Lhotse I" --- ASK MARK OHE). Anyhow, the reason I bring this up at 3:30am on a Saturday is because Thalia's new limited edition EP, 'Six' (also available from Thrill Jockey) is apparently only available in very limited numbers and maybe I purchased the last copy in Lower Manhattan, maybe I didn't. You shouldn't take my word for it no matter what.
So you mean to tell me that Come - with original lineup of Thalia Zedek, Chris Brokaw, Arthur Johnson and Sean O’Brien - are playing a free, all ages instore the night of the final show on their US tour in Atlanta at the famed Criminal Records. And while you're there, be absolutely fucking sure that you pick up a copy of the reissue of "one of the best rock albums of all time." You'll probably be treated to at least one version of " Submerge"
("Dead Molly, "Submerge", "Bell" and "William", live, May 25, 2013, Instants Chaviré) Just a reminder that the original Come lineup of Thalia Zedek, Chris Brokaw, Arthur Johnson and Sean O'Brien hit the road today in support of the double LP/double CD 20th Anniversary edition of '11:11'. Dates are below. 6/19 Bootleg Theater Los Angeles CA (w/ Tara Jane O'Neil) 6/20 The Independent San Francisco CA (w/ Tara Jane O'Neil) 6/21 Mississippi Studios Portland OR (w/ Rebecca Gates & The Consortium) 6/22 The Crocodile Seattle WA (w/ The Redwood Plan, No Grave) 6/27 The Sinclair Cambridge, MA (w/ 27) 6/28 Bowery Ballroom New York NY (with Jennifer O'Connor) 7/12 Empty Bottle Chicago, IL (with Brother JT) 7/26 40 Watt Club Athens GA (with Subsonics, A) 7/27 The Earl Atlanta GA '11:11' is available direct from The Matador Store or via iTunes. AND IN RECORD STORES Come - Facebook, Twitter
video courtesy WDR.de. Studio version of "Sad Eyes" can be found on the 20th Anniversary deluxe edition of '11:11'.
("Submerge", live in Offenbach) Our 20th anniversary edition of Come's astonishing 1993 debut, '11:11' is in stores today ; I'd love to show you a photo of how awesome the packaging is, but either someone has misplaced the camera in our New York office or they're worried that you'll be blinded by the sheer brilliance of it all. But rest assured, band + associates knocked it out of the park (or, if you deeply dislike inappropriate baseball analogies, they've done appropriate justice to one of the most important album in this label's history). Over at The Awl, Choire Sicha's interview with Thalia Zedek touches on the band's history, their recent reunion (clips from last week's shows in Germany and Holland are above and below, respectively), the nutty '90's and Thalia's solo work. ("Fast Piss Blues", live in Amsterdam) '11:11' is available for preorder from The Matador Store. follow Come on Twitter : @TheRealCome