One for Friday: The Trash Can Sinatras, “Obscurity Knocks”

There are all sorts of bands from my college radio days that I remember fondly for a song or two, but don’t give much of a thought to beyond that. This partially due to the fact that many of the bands that can roughly be categorized as “college radio one hit wonders” had a notably short lifespan, fading entirely into the ether without even the benefit of some version of oldies radio to keep reminding listeners of that one moment in the sun when they created a guitar riff, a beat or a killer hook that kids hovering around the age of twenty briefly found irresistible. While I’ve certainly used the bounty of digital resources now at my disposal to reacquaint myself with a fair number of those performers, often marveling at the way they persevere in reunited forms, even if now often relegated to essentially local heroes. Still, there are many that I assume had their modest peak and almost entirely disappeared. Lest that seem dismissive, I’m rarely proved wrong.

As I turned to writing this week’s One for Friday offering, I was proved wrong. In my memory, the Scottish band the Trash Can Sinatras flared up for a moment in the earliest part of the nineteen-nineties with a debut album, Cake, that was packed with nice shimmery pop songs that were sort of like the products of the still ascendant Madchester scene, albeit with a little less of the trippiness that characterized many of those bands. They had one particular single, “Obscurity Knocks,” that made for a nice addition to any set, marked by a jangly little guitar line, gleaming melodies and the sort of clear, wispy vocals that surely must have been delivered by a lead singer whose head was rocking back and forth like the arm of a metronome. I have vague memories of a follow-up that inspired little interest, but I’ll admit that I could be completely wrong, confusing them with any number of other bands that followed that pattern around that time. Regardless, I assumed there wasn’t much more to their story than whatever I half-remembered.

Turns out the Trash Can Sinatras never really went away, I (and a lot of people, I suppose) just stopped paying attention to them. While there are some sizable gaps between full-length albums, they’ve been creating, releasing and performing music since that 1990 debut, even collaborating with Carly Simon on a fairly recent album (which doesn’t exactly mean they’re rubbing shoulders with the most current of superstars, but she is a notable enough figure that she could have showed them her Oscar when she visited the studio). It’s actually a fairly nice reminder: just because a band has disappeared from my personal frame of reference, which is by definition limited, doesn’t mean they’re not still churning away with some level of success out there. I’m not necessarily going to seek out their new music, but I’m glad for them that they still have enough fans that will.

The Trash Can Sinatras, “Obscurity Knocks”

(Disclaimer: While Trash Can Sinatras have soldiered on, the album Cake is still out of print, and it doesn’t even seem to be available for online MP3 purchases either, at least as far as my admittedly limited sleuthing has determined. I sure don’t think you can go into your favorite local, independently-owned record store and order a copy in a manner that will provide due compensation to the artist, the label and the proprietor of said store. I’m posting this with the belief, then, that I’m not taking money from these various parties by sharing this. I could be wrong, especially since a band with over two decades of history could surely have some sort of “best of” album that I didn’t spot in my poking around. Whatever the case, I’ll gladly remove the song if contacted by someone asking me to do so, at least if they have due authority to make such a request. If it’s just some guy with a weird grudge against Trash Can Sinatras and doesn’t want their music to make its way to the masses, I’ll probably leave it up.)