After years of being out of print, Dump's first full-length album, 1993's Superpowerless
, is getting a much-deserved second coming (and vinyl debut). As a Yo La Tengo fan in the early-'90s, discovering that the affable James McNew was recording jangly lo-fi pop songs on the side under the moniker of Dump was a very welcome surprise. Like other four-track aficionados of the era (think Lou Barlow), McNew was prolific and experimental. Sure, you'll hear plenty of Yo La Tengo here on the album's 27 tracks, especially in noisier jams like "How Many Bells?" and "Outer Spaceways, Inc." However, what is unexpected are the places where McNew breaks free from the walls of noise. In "Secret Blood" he is brooding and dark as he recounts a sleepless night spent lost in regret, because "I know you're thinking of the nightmares I gave you/I think about them too/I think of all the awful things that I did to you." McNew wonders where his motivation has gone in the anthemic "Intro/Nothing Left" culminating with the simple, perfect line: "I'm up early and everything's broken." "Just for You" is a tender love song with McNew gently repeating: "There won't be no sorrow/If only for tonight/Up in the moonlit sky/A thousand stars are shining/Just for you/You you you." In spite of its roughness, the appeal of the four-track recording was, and still is, the intimacy and immediacy it conveyed. Hearing McNew stripped down like this still feels really special.
-Kari Boston (March 20, 2013)
RECORD LABEL NOTES
"Morr Music reissues the legendary first album by the solo project of James McNew (Yo La Tengo)
from 1993. "Some people complain that friends today are made with
mouse-clicks. As if it was more personal in the '90s. James McNew, for
example, became a good friend of mine in 1994. Never mind I hadn't even
talked to the guy -- hell, he covered Jandek AND Silver Apples. We had so much in common! James McNew is a fan boy. If the name-drop list ranging from Albert Ayler to Young Marble Giants included with his first 45 didn't tell you that, the blazing in his eyes when a name like The Shaggs was uttered, certainly did. Yet McNew is not obsessed with obscurity but with music. When his debut album Superpowerless appeared in 1993, the choice of covers ranged from Sun Ra to that tune Audrey Hepburn
serenaded to millions of movie watchers, "Moon River." While McNew's
high, sexy voice might be "superpowerless," his ears certainly are not.
It's been the intimate sound of a 4-track recorder that tied these
different angles of his eclectic taste together. Yes, Dump was part of the lo-fi generation. Nothing makes that clearer than the bonus tracks on his follow-up album I Can Hear Music.
Recorded during the infamous Dutch Fast Forward Festival in 1994 in --
naturally -- a living room, it contains all that was great about the few
short moons of tape-hiss: collaborations triggered not even remotely by
virtuosity (had Chris Knox ever played trumpet before that afternoon?); cardboard boxes as bass-drums; the victory of enthusiasm over perfection (have Half-Japanese
been covered with more empathy?). The only thing that wasn't quite
right about these first two Dump albums, was the format. But as justice
doesn't know age, it's good to see these CDs finally being pressed on
vinyl! They deserve it. After all, James is a friend. Did I mention he's
playing bass in Yo La Tengo?" --Gregor Kessler, Hamburg, December 2012"