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Comet Gain

Over the course of a long career that has seen them weather numerous lineup changes, multiple record labels, and shifting cultural tides, one thing remains blazingly constant for Comet Gain. No matter if it was one of their early records like 1995's Casino Classics -- which combined '60s-inspired rave-ups with sweet indie pop ballads -- the rambunctious and punk-inspired Realistes from 2002, or 2014's softly autumnal Paperback Ghosts, listeners could always count on the band for two things: lyrics that cut to the quick whether they were personal or political, and a sound that's shorn of artifice yet never skimps on melody. 2019's Fireraisers Forever! was made 27 years after they formed, and is just as inspired, angry, and devoted to their brand of pop as their early recordings. The first edition of the group was formed in 1992 by guitarist/vocalist David Christian (who also occasionally went by the names David Feck and Charlie Damage), bassist George Wright, and drummer Phil Sutton. Wright was soon replaced by Jax Coombes; vocalist Sarah Bleach, and guitarist Sam Pluck came onboard as well. This lineup developed the band's initial punk-meets-mod-meets-indie pop sound and recorded their debut album, 1995's Casino Classics, which was released by the influential label Wiija. In 1997, the label issued an eight-song mini-LP titled Magnetic Poetry; it came out in the United States on Beggars Banquet in (slightly) expanded form as Sneaky. However, months after their sophomore album arrived in stores -- and before they could finish work on their second album -- Christian and the rest of the band split over musical differences. They formed Velocette and he assembled a new version of Comet Gain from scratch, featuring Rachel Evans on vocals, Woodie Taylor on drums, and former Huggy Bear member Jon Slade on guitar and bass. The new version of Comet Gain cut the raucous 1999 album Tigertown Pictures, which was released by Kill Rock Stars in America and Fortuna Pop in the U.K. This proved to be a solid lineup, and with the addition of bassist Kay Ishikawa, the band released two more albums for Kill Rock Stars, 2002's Realistes (which featured a cameo from Kathleen Hanna and indulged in a scuffed up, lo-fi production style) and 2005's surprisingly tender, more cleaned up sounding City Fallen Leaves. In 2008 Feck assembled Broken Record Prayers, a 20-song compilation released by What's Yr Rupture?, which was drawn from the group's many single releases and compilation appearances. Their sixth album, 2011's Howl of the Lonely Crowd, featured new keyboardist Anne Laure Guillain and found Comet Gain receiving some production assistance from one of their heroes, ex-Orange Juice leader Edwyn Collins, as well as Ryan Jarman of the Cribs. After that record, the band lost longtime members Ishikawa (in 2011) and Slade (in 2012), replacing them with guitarist Ben Phillipson and Clientele member James Hornsey on bass. This line-up returned in 2013 with the "Avenue Girls" single before releasing their seventh album, the relatively quiet and autumnal Paperback Ghosts, in the early summer of 2014 on the Fortuna Pop label. Some of the tracks recorded during the Paperback Ghosts sessions that didn't quite fit that album's mood -- too raucous -- ended up on the Fingerprint Ritual EP in early 2015. After a break from recording, the band returned in late 2019 with the furious and heartbreaking Fireraisers Forever!, an album that combines Christian's politically charged lyrics with the band's alternately energetic and sympathetic backing. Recorded by the Proper Ornaments' James Hoare in his living room and mixed by Taylor, it was their first release for the German label Tapete. In the period that followed, Christian spent much his time between recording solo albums -- many were Bandcamp one-offs; 2021's For Those We Met On The Way was credited to David Christian and the Pinecone Orchestra and found the singer/songwriter teaming with Comet Gain bandmates past and present, as well as friends like Gerry Love and Cosmic Neman, on an album of typically heartfelt country and folk/rock-influenced songs he also delved into the Comet Gain archives to uncover unreleased and rare songs. Three volumes of said goodies showed up Bandcamp over the course of 2022, while the best of the lot, including two tracks from the never-issued third album, were compiled on the 2023 album The Misfit Jukebox. In keeping with the spirit of looking back, Tapete released Radio Sessions BBC 1996-2011 in early 2024, an album consisting of two Peel Sessions recorded by the first incarnation of the band -- including songs from the unissued second album -- as well as a Peel Session and a session for Marc Riley done by Comet Gain MK II.
© Mark Deming /TiVo


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