Driven by Pixies, Wire, and Robert Pollard, the Austin outfit find a grunge-y sweet spot in the middle on their debut. There were still massive hooks, though more raucous and wild in energy than their eventual R&B-indebted swagger. The record packs a wallop and gets to it quick, front-loading some massive melodies and sharp-edged guitar. There’s a Pavement looseness, but a punk fury; that’s particularly true on “Nefarious”, where Britt Daniel speak-sings the opening verses about “torture to me” (even with a little Jonathan Richman slacker sneer), practically strangling his guitar over Jim Eno’s scrappy but precise drumming. “Claws Tracking” scrapes and lunges like Nirvana, a Metz precursor if Spoon cranked everything further into the red. It’s a strong album, but doesn’t have the unique personality that would come later.
A couple of those songs were from a band I’d been in before. “Wanted To Be Ya Friend” [released as “Wanted To Be Your” on Telephono] and “Plastic Mylar” were from this band called Skellington that I was in before. But I think we’d been a band for maybe almost a year before we started recording that album. Mostly those songs were written when we were playing in bars. That was what the band was about: weekend gigs. I was pleased with the record. I thought it was good, but there were a few things … I remember we were very, very particular about the kick drums and how they would sound on that record. The producer got a kick drum sound that sounded like he was dribbling a basketball. It sounded like a basketball hitting the ground real quickly. For the most part, I thought it was good, and a lot of labels were interested in the band based on the strength of an early version of that record. It was basically the same record; it just hadn’t been mixed yet. I was just convinced it was great.
We were going to wait for some label to approach us from our album, but I just thought that we could take things into our own hands. That was the way that bands I admired were doing it. John Croslin was an Austin guy. We were making the record in 1994. John definitely had a lot of ideas and taught us a lot about recording. His band’s records weren’t essential influences, but they were good. I liked the first one the best. Our record was made at John’s house, in his backyard toolshed that he’d converted into a studio. We knew a lot of people in town that he had recorded, like this band called The Wannabes that we did gigs with all of the time. [John] was from The Reivers, and I don’t know how we got introduced, but I was pretty psyched that he was interested in it.