Jun 022011

All this talk about ’90s bands got me digging into some of the deeper cuts from that era. Here are two songs from an artist who I would classify as being most active in the ’90s. She is performing with two guitarists who were in groups that gained prominence in the ’80s.

[audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Mystery-Date-060211a.mp3|titles=Mystery Date 060211a] [audio:https://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Mystery-Date-060211b.mp3|titles=Mystery Date 060211b]

Now, I’m not very good at remembering the complete roster of names from a band’s history—I may recall the names of separate memebers but rarely more than one or two members. So today’s Mystery Date reflects a nexus of musical discovery for me: I knew the names of the vocalists of these two ’80s bands, but not the names of the other musicians. I had been listening to one of the guitarists’ ’80s band a few days before, and when I randomly picked this Mystery Date’s disc to listen to I made the sonic connection. The guitarist’s name hadn’t really meant anything to me but it was the distinctive sound that he creates that drew me to check the names on these two separate records and realize  that it was the same person. He was the sonic bullseye! Working backwards, I realized that I was also familiar with the production sound of track number two and worked out the connection between our Mystery Date and the second ’80s band.

Who is our ’90s artist? Who are the two guitarists?

[Additional note from Mr. Moderator.]

If you’d like to play this Mystery Date by the usual rules and you know who it is but don’t want to spoil it for the rest of us too soon, play the “mockcarr option.” (It sounds like Townsman geo already knows this one.) This option is for those of you who just can’t hold your tongue and must let everyone know just how in-the-know you are by calling it. So if you know who it is and want everyone else to know that you know, email Mr. Moderator at mrmoderator [at] rocktownhall [dot] com. If correct we will post how brilliant you are in the Comments section.


  24 Responses to “Mystery Date: A ’90s Artist”

  1. I don’t know what this is for sure, but I’m guessing that she is an American singer somewhat identified with the new folk movement and that the guitarists are both British. The sound of the guitarist number one is almost unmistakable on the first number. I’m guessing this because my band covers a song by her which was written by him and the other guy is a frequent collaborator with just about everybody.

    If it’s what I think it is, I don’t want to ruin it this early. If not, I sound like a total jackass.

    Also another artist of the nineties, rather famous, covered one of this guys songs on her 90’s era album.

  2. ladymisskirroyale

    I think you have a good idea of our artist, geo.

  3. I’ve opened the mockcarr option for anyone who fears they know the answer too soon.

    I encourage the Bad Attitude Club to play along. Don’t think I haven’t noticed how badly your attitude has slipped during these recent ’90s-centric threads!

  4. pudman13

    I have no idea who this is, but on the first song she sure sounds heavily influenced by Young Marble Giants (the lack of drums/bass on that one is vastly preferable to the fake drums on the second song, that’s for sure.) That said, I’m guessing this is a US artist.

  5. The heavy YMG influence on the first Mystery Date track is to be expected, pudman13. Bravo! The singer IS American.

  6. BigSteve

    Yes, my first impression was Liz Phair fronting Young Marble Giants, but I assume that’s wrong.

  7. misterioso


  8. It’s not Liz Phair; I’m sure of that much. I, too, thought she sounded like Phair.

    (BTW, ladymisskirroyale let me know she’d be in the middle of a busy day, so I’ll do my best to prod things along in her absence. I know most of the pertinent details to let folks know if they’re hot or cold.)

  9. BigSteve

    The guitarists aren’t ringing any bells. Peter Buck Vini Reilly?

  10. ladymisskirroyale

    Pudman’s and BigSteve’s observations of the similarity to Young Marble Giants is very appropos, at least for track 1.

    This female artist has performed both as a solo artist and as the singer (and at times the guitarist) in several bands.

  11. ladymisskirroyale

    Interesting about Vini Reilly. He said that he was inspired by guitarist #1.

  12. I’m completely stumped and I can’t get Liz Phair out of my head because of the vocals.

  13. When ladymiss first played me these tracks and quizzed me I thought Track 2, with the drum machine, was something Phil Manzanera was involved in. I have an early ’80s solo album of his with music like that. I was wrong, of course.

  14. ladymisskirroyale

    Here’s a hint for all you sports fans: the singer/artist has a connection to local baseball.

    Track 2’s guitarist is part of a band mentioned semi-regularly here in the Hall.

  15. ladymisskirroyale

    Oh, and another hint: the album that these 2 tracks came from was released the same year as Liz Phair’s “Exit in Guyville.”

  16. BigSteve

    Local where?

    And now I think I don’t understand the question. Track one is one guitarist, and track two is a different guitarist? I thought you were saying that the same two guitarists played on both tracks.

  17. What was meant was that the same singer is backed by a different guitarist on each track. By “local,” ladymiss means local to her, which is the Bay Area in California.

  18. trigmogigmo

    I don’t know about the guitarists, but I’ve sent Mr. Mod my guess for the singer that could fit some clues provided, and is a plausible vocal tone match, though I am really not very familiar with her except by name.

  19. That was a fine educated guess, trigmo, but innnnncorrect.

    The man guessed Penelope Houston.

  20. I think I’ve got it and I e-mailed my guess to the Mod.

    My guess was not based on any insight that I gleaned from the tracks. I just tried to think of women who were on the scene when I lived in SF in the late 80s/early 90s. I think I’ve confirmed my suspicions on Wikipedia.

  21. cdm has nailed the artist – for purposes of this thread, that is! The rest of you have the next hour or so to hash this out, then we’ll post the Big Reveal.

    Members of the Bad Attitude Club, who run at the mere hint of any post-1983 music and/or “female-fronted” bands, are welcome to chime in with their thoughts on these tracks.

    Believe it or not, another Mystery Date is waiting in the wings!

  22. cherguevara

    I’m surprised that both of these tracks are on the same album, they seem so unrelated. The one thread that passes through both songs, beyond the voice, though, is that I think both songs are terrible! Sorry…

  23. Ha! Fair enough. I’ve heard other stuff by this woman that I prefer.

  24. BigSteve

    Jeez I spent the whole time trying to forget about Liz Phair by looking for a guitarist who could sound so different on the two tracks.

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