The Myth of Jennyanykind
Rapture. Mythic is playing through the headphones on full blast. Mythic, from 1995. Arrived today in the mail, $4 off Amazon Marketplace. It’s been out of print for years, naturally, and my copy was lost long ago. [Note: Mythic was re-released on the band's BandCamp page one day after this article was originally published. See link below. -- CB]
Living in NYC in 1995, I was visiting North Carolina (a former and future home) when I found Mythic. I really liked their first record, “Etc.,” a minor local mind blower, but Mythic was all the best part of “Etc.” amped and twisted and cranked. It dropped into a Chapel Hill scene that was undergoing some serious transformation as Jimbo Mathus’s Squirrel Nut Zippers, which arose out of the ashes of Metal Flake Mother, were getting national attention, and weird rock purveyors Zen Frisbee soldiered on, having been solidly ignored for their brilliant album, I’m as Mad as Faust.
Thank you, Chuck Hicks, for reminding me of my own memory (http://progarchy.com/2013/01/05/back-at-the-crossroads-the-holland-brothers-dueling-devils/). Mythic is a lost, lost, long gone jewel. Imagine a Pink Floyd, bereft, Syd gone, what do we do?… recruit Syd’s guitar teacher D. Gilmour and set upon the sea that would produce Saucerful of Secrets and More. Did the Holland brothers, Mark and Michael, the core of Jennyanykind, have anything like this in mind when they set out upon Mythic? I could ask, but what would be the point. This is a record unlike any other, even Saucerful of Secrets, and sits proudly next to the two other records unlike any other — I’m as Mad as Faust, and Metal Flake Mother’s Across the Java Sea — as part of Chapel Hill’s old weird pre-internet America home-grown psych prog rock.
I am swayed, rocked by Chuck and his wonderful piece on what the Hollands have been up to recently. They’re hard at it. I love it. What they’re doing bears little if any resemblance to Mythic. Although, honestly, it might, in the end, be as indelible as the blues they’re into now. All the best of independent American music is here in both stages of their work, and I am standing next to my 27-year-old self in 1995, saying, “Get thee back to NC.” I am listening to a disc gone for 10 years, lent foolishly to a “friend” who turned out an enemy (well, not really, but he never got Mythic back to me, bastard), and truly believing that progressive is this — it is Rock, there is a southern river delta in this music, it is native ‘merican, but it is affected by a heavy dose of strange that for too long was confined to Austin and small pockets of the Texas nether reaches. But it is neither Butthole Surfers nor 13 Floor Elevators, it is informed by Syd-ness, and the Nile Song, and a complete, utter naivete. Backwoods. The pines of Carolina. Drones and carols and abandon. We been left here. The boat went back, Virginia Dare’s done gone and here we are with electric guitars and amps.
Get thee to a Band Camp page:
I would love to hear about other early- and mid-1990s post-grunge “scenes,” pre-internet and endowed with a certain purity in my head for that. It’s amazing what small places and bands were producing in the wake of Indie’s breaking. What’s your favorite album out of Cincinnati? Birmingham (AL or ENG)? Pre ‘94 or ‘95? What’s been lost? Because this is one, unbelievably, that never made it. Released on No. 6 Records in 1995, it enjoyed enough local buzz to get the Hollands a contract on Elektra, which then buried their pre-Elektra records. An American rock album in the tradition of Velvet Underground and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, minus the irony, Jennyanykind’s Revelater could be found in the record shops in St. Marks Place in NYC, nestled up against the other vampyric VU idolaters of the era. They were being PLAYED in these places, and Revelater was good. But it was no Mythic. St. Marks Place missed it by one, and so did Elektra.
There will be genius records that are invisible. Some remain unregarded for the better part of a generation, like Love’s Forever Changes, some will be minor records in the big picture of an artist’s career, like Joe Henry’s Shuffletown. Sometimes we relish these because those few of us know them for what they are. Some delight in how obscure their favorites are. I find no delight here. This record shoulda sold 8 billion copies.