American Thighs

Veruca Salt

Minty Fresh / DGC Records, 1994

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Anyone who was listening to alternative radio in 1994 knew the song "Seether." The first time I heard it, I wasn't sure who I was listening to, but I knew that I liked it. The snap of the snare drum and hi-hat cymbals with the jangly guitars, the intertwining of the two female vocalists... whoever this band was, I was going to snag their album fast!

The independent success of Veruca Salt led to a major label bidding war. When the smoke cleared, DGC won, and American Thighs (which had already been released on Minty Fresh) showed that the band lived up to the hype... barely. (Easy trivia question: What movie did the band's name come from? E-mail me with the answer... I'll take all the correct answers at the end of Monday, draw one e-mail at random, and will send that person a small goodie pack.)

The two-guitar-vocal attack of Nina Gordon and Louise Post was the hook that made Veruca Salt so infectious in the beginning. The slightly conflicting harmonies in the vocals seemed to add a special edge to the music that is still well-remembered from my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 American Thighs. "Seether" is still a great track that I have yet to get tired of listening to. The bass work of Steve Lack and the trap work from Jim Shapiro is just as important to the sound of Veruca Salt; when Shapiro left the band, I think that's when Veruca Salt started to die a little bit.

However, the unheralded track from this album was a minor radio hit: "Number One Blind." This track might even be better than "Seether"; the opening guitar chords alone are enough to hook me whenever this track comes on my stereo. From the simplistic but suitable lead guitar line to the harmonizing on a product trade name, Gordon and Post simply have a great track in this song, and it should have been a bigger hit for them than it was.

However, a lot of American Thighs is rather plodding, and unenergetic. Tracks like "Spiderman '79," "Twinstar" and "25" just seem to fall on their way out of the gate. Now, I know that bands can't always play fast songs, and they need to inject a few slower numbers to break up any monotony. Unfortunately for Veruca Salt, the slower numbers are their weakest points. I've listened to this album numerous times since I bought it, and it has gotten to the point where I dread listening to songs like "Spiderman '79" again.

Fortunately for Veruca Salt, American Thighs has enough material to keep my interest afloat. The opening tracks, "Get Back" and "All Hail Me" are a strong way to kick off this album, while "Forsythia" is a decent enough effort that is a nice change of pace. However, "Victrola" got seriously overplayed in Chicago, and I really don't like this song anymore. (For that matter, I wasn't that fond of the track in the beginning.)

So what could have been done to American Thighs to make it a better album? Easy: better songwriting on the slower numbers would have helped this album immensely. Had there been some serious song development on these tracks, I think that American Thighs would have been an unstoppable album. Unfortunately, we'll apparently never really find out what this band was capable of; they self-destructed earlier this year, a little more than a year after their second album Eight Arms To Hold You came out.

Veruca Salt had the ability to be one of the true superstar groups in the alternative world. While American Thighs has enough evidence of this, it showed that this was still a band in progress.

Rating: C+

User Rating: B-



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Minty Fresh / DGC Records, and is used for informational purposes only.