Local musician takes on “Museum” track-by-track
Mary My Hope’s “Museum” was released on RCA/Silvertone Records in 1989, and my first experience with MMH was the video for “Wildman Childman” on MTV’s “120 Minutes.” It was the summer of ‘89 and I was just discovering new bands such as Soundgarden and Jane’s Addiction, still a couple of years before Nirvana’s “Nevermind” would hit the record stores. I really thought I was watching a video of a new band that was about to be huge. So, I went to Sounds Familiar in Myrtle Beach the next day and bought “Museum”; probably from the late Jeff Roberts.
1. “Wildman Childman” - Opens up the record. One huge single snare hit, followed by an even bigger guitar growl. A simple power chord riff, then James Hall opens his mouth. Very few singers can pull off the rock-god vocal while still maintaining something deeper and darker to keep it from becoming cheesy. Hall nailed it.
2. “It’s About Time” - Another simple progression, but it’s the layers, dynamics, and tones that make or break a song like this. It’s the classic softer verse and huge chorus formula that the Pixies were also doing. Nirvana would later make this format infamous.
3. “Suicide King” - A jangly acoustic guitar introduces the tune. As Hall sings, you feel the darkness starting to come through the record: “I…I have no faith...It keeps me from tasting the joys of the world.” The song closes with a killer outro jam with unbelievable Plant/Cornell vocals that any singer would drop their jaw upon hearing. This tune fades into a minute of a track called:
4. “Untitled” - Which fades to the song on this record that still to this day makes the hair on my arms and neck stand up.
5. “Communion” - This song takes the darkness of Bauhaus, the bluesy side of Pink Floyd, and the sonic roar of Soundgarden and molds it into one song. Effected guitars, huge dynamics, a beautiful cello solo, breathy vocals sing: “Take faith by the throat.” The song suddenly completely changes groove into 3/4 time signature and rides out with counter melodies that you will walk around humming for days after hearing it once. I occasionally hear this song in my dreams.
6. “Hourglass” - This is the last song on Side 1. After “Communion” the band takes it back up for a good pop/rock hook. This song could have fit on any rock station at the time, with a simple, familiar-sounding riff; a good driving rock song about sitting here in the hourglass.
7. “I’m Not Singing” - A driving intro breaks into an acoustic/vocal verse. It then builds into a bluesy feel for the chorus. Why was this band not huge with songs and dynamics like this in 1989?
8. “Heads and Tales” – A little tune about killing your neighbor and having to apologize to Mom and Dad. ‘N’uff said.
9. “Grind” - This one showcases Hall’s vocal chops and the skilled musicianship of the rest of the band. I can see the Chris Cornell comparisons, which I’m sure Hall had to be getting during this time. An awesome break with a killer riff happens in this tune also.
10. “I’m Not Alone” - Another dynamic riff, kind of in the style of “Communion.” Again, Hall belts out those high notes, yet his softer side is still just as powerful.
11. “Death of Me” - The album closer; a dark progression on a reverb-soaked acoustic. The vocalist on this one is guitarist Clint Steele. A nice cello only adds to the ethereal vibe on this tune. Remember later in the ‘90s when all the grunge bands had their cello songs?