Down the Stream
February 10, 1998
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
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,
May 21, 1996
happens when half a band decides to call it quits, but the
other half isn't quite finished?
Life Experience is Come's new record, its third for Matador.
The record marks a series of firsts for the Boston-based band,
formed in 1990. It's the first to feature 11 different musicians,
it's the first recording that guitarists/singers Chris Brokaw
and Thalia Zedek have made since drummer Arthur Johnson and
bassist Sean O'Brien left the group in the summer of 1995,
and it's also the first to feature Chris's lead vocals on
musicians include Bundy Brown (ex-Tortoise, Gastr Del Sol)
on bass, Mac McNeilly (Jesus Lizard) on drums, Tara Jane O'Neil
(Retsin, Sonora Pine, ex-Rodan) on bass, Kevin Coutas (Sonora
Pine, Rachels, ex-Rodan) on drums, plus old pals Andy Bryant
and John McEntire engineering.
Life Experience represents a step onward and upward for the
band. Its hallmarks are brevity and variety; the songs are
shorter, the whole record is shorter, Chris sings, various
instruments are brought into play... there's a lot more going
on here than a simple lineup change. Out of considerable disarray,
Come has fashioned for itself its most entertaining work to
Ask, Dont Tell
October 4, 1994
establishment "journalist" once quoted Thalia Zedek
(inaccurately, I think) as saying Come originally set out
to play "pretty, but scary" music. Over the past
3 + years, this Boston-based quartet has managed to encompass
far more extreme ends of the spectrum -- no other group we've
heard has made rock music sound so harrowing and beautiful
at once. That this is accomplished with a minimum of melodrama,
yet an abundance of poise (i.e. do not challenge them to a
staring match) just makes requisite comparisons even tougher
second full-length from Come, Don't Ask, Don't Tell,
was recorded throughout early 1994 at sites in Memphis, New
York City and the bustling metropolis that is Stoughton, MA.
Early attempts at recording at a Hoboken facility were aborted
when the ghost of Lenny Kravitz appeared and insisted on "jamming"
with the group (an exorcist could not be hired as this happened
during Super Bowl weekend).
Zedek - vocals, guitar (also see Uzi)
Chris Brokaw - guitar, vocals
Arthur Johnson - drums
Sean O'Brien - bass
March 31, 1994
afternoon, welcome to the new Come EP. Three big songs for
you, available right now on the Matador label in the 7"
vinyl and CD formats. The first song is called "Wrong
Side," and features three Come members singing at the
same time. Those of you who can name all three will receive
a dollar. The second song is called "Loin Of The Surf"
and was written many years ago by the Swell Maps. Those of
you who can determine exactly what is happening in the "bass-drums
break" will also receive a dollar. The third song is
called "S.V.K.," and those of you who can accurately
transcribe this acronym will receive a dollar. This totals
three dollars, or roughly the retail price of the 7"
at your local record shop. The CD will cost more but don't
come to us looking for any more dollars.
three songs were recorded one day in November of 1993 at the
world-famous Easley Studios in Memphis, TN, with the able
assistance of Carl Plaster, Doug Easley and Davis McCain.
Should your travels ever bring you through Memphis, we would
encourage you to sing a song at Easley's, hurl a pipe bomb
at the gates of Graceland, and stop by Payne's for a chopped
shoulder sandwich. Tell them Come sent you. No dollar. Mind
December 1, 1992
makes music that leaves a stain.
following the lead of one-time lover Rick Springfield in 1982,
Thalia Zedek made the successful transition from daytime television
to rock 'n' roll superstardom. Leaving the role of Audra on
The Guiding Light to front the overnight pop sensation Dangerous
Birds Uzi, whose debut release outsold the Go Go's that year.
Thalia was on top of the world -- that is, until tragedy struck
in 1983: the Dangerous Birds flew a final time when all its
members save Thalia were struck down in the ill-fated Korean
Airline disaster. The vocalist/guitarist sought refuge in
New York's shadowy underground, lesbianism and drugs. "It
was the darkest point of my life," she now says of the
period during which she hijacked Andy Warhols brainchild,
Live Skull, and developed her signature sneer and angry bluesy
makes music that comes out with a little soap and warm water.
was in Athens, Greece on a late eighties European tour with
Live Skull when she met the two comely, red-Georgia-clay-blooded
gentlemen who would one day compose Come's rhythm section.
Sean O'Brien was stationed there as an anti terrorist tactician
in the French Foreign Legion, which he joined to escape prosecution
for killing a pair of stewardesses during his decadent days
as bassist for the Stray Cats. (Sean's real name cannot be
revealed to this day.) His friend, former Bar B Q Killer drummer
Arthur Johnson, had left the States to avoid a paternity suit
by Country & Western singer/older woman Tanya Tucker,
and was supporting himself in the degrading world of international
fashion modeling. Homesick for blues-based American rock-n-roll,
they begged Thalia to jam with them. She did -- with pleasure.
Come was in the air.
makes music to beat people up to.
had quit Live Skull and moved to Boston when she ran into
her old high school sweetheart, dimpled hometown football
hero, Chris Brokaw, who had forgone a promising career in
professional sports to play guitar. The commercial success
of this band, Pay the Man, had been equaled only by their
longevity, but it was time to move on... with Come. He and
Thalia went to Greece for a romantic getaway, and came back...
with Come. Sean deserted the legion, and Arthur put down his
portfolio for his drumsticks, and both returned to Boston
with Chris and Thalia to make some of the very finest rock-n-roll
we have. -- Shannon Hamann
Zedek - vocals, harmonica, guitar (also see Uzi)
Chris Brokaw - guitar, vocals
Arthur Johnson - drums, vogueing
Sean OBrien - bass, hurdy gurdy