Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008

Revisiting Ned's Atomic Dustbin

By Evan Rytlewski
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A decade later the Internet would begin to rob music of its monetary value, but in the early ’90s, music was expensive, and I couldn’t afford much of it. A compact disc might cost $12 or $13, which was a lot of lot of cash for an 11 year old, so if you saved up and bought a CD that turned out to be a lemon, you listened to it ad nauseam anyway. For lack of better music—or at least more music—I memorized every nuance of the few albums in my meager collection, which meant that I spent countless hours with albums like Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s God Fodder, a disc I played endlessly even though I didn’t particularly care for it.

They’d disappear in the mid-’90s, but at the start of the decade Ned’s Atomic Dustbin were a minor phenomenon on college radio, where they had a couple of nice little hits. Mostly, though, they were known for their T-shirts. The band made dozens of them, most riffing on their quirky logo, branding themselves with an audacity now mostly reserved for clothing chains like Abercrombie and Fitch. All the cool kids in Milwaukee were wearing them in the early ’90s, including my best friend’s totally awesome older sister. In a misguided attempt to siphon some of her coolness, I saved up about bought a copy of God Fodder. I wished I’d just bought a T-shirt instead.

Years later I probably hocked that album so I could buy a Screeching Weasel CD instead, but for months God Fodder lived in my boom box, despite my utter ambivalence to it. So when I found a one-dollar used copy of the album last week at CD Max, I picked it up, tempted by both nostalgia and the far-fetched (but still very real) possibility that this disc was the exact same one I jettisoned 15 years ago.

It was a far happier reunion than I’d expected. For an album I’d never cared for all that much, it sure has held up well. It stands as a last-hurrah of early-’90s Brit-pop, fusing Stone Roses-styled psychedelia with pop-punk muscle, a few of-the-moment Big Audio Dynamite flourishes and cavernous production that portended alterna-pop. The singles still hold up pretty well, too. Not a bad score for a buck.

To celebrate my nostalgic coup, here’s the video for God Fodder’s stand-out single, “Grey Cell Green”:

And, for the hell of it, the video for “Kill Your Television,” the song that played most to my 11-year-old attention span:

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