Down In The Shacks Where The Satellite Dishes Grow

The JudyBats

Sire/Reprise, 1992

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


Ah, the dreaded sophomore slump. Many artists fear it, and it’s not the easiest thing to overcome. The Judybats, fresh off some radio success with tracks like “Native Son” and “Don’t Drop The Baby,” re-entered the studio in the fall of 1991 to try and better their near-perfect debut. Shedding a few pounds as they kicked their inexperienced drummer out and replaced him with a walloping session guy, the band turned up the volume and came out with some of their catchiest tracks.

The disc opens with “Our Story,” a tale that is as wholesome as possible and a great track to start things off. It features great storytelling from lyricist Jeff Heiskell as always. “Is Anything” is an odd choice for a single, but interesting in that it contains a four letter word never found in other Judybats tracks – so that right away is a sign that things aren’t quite the same here. A cover of the Kinks’ “Animal Farm” has become a fan favorite over time and is one of their more interesting tracks.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The title track, one of the strangest titles I’ve ever come across, is just okay; it sounds good but has such a weird vibe that it’s a bit unsettling (not much, just a little). “Witches Night,” which is a Judybats oldie from their club days, goes on far too long and drags the record down a bit. It’s not one of my favorites at all.

“Saturday,” originally called “Killing Machine” until the label suggested something a bit friendlier, is a total eye-opener, detailing life in a small town with not much going on. It really struck a chord with me. Featuring great storytelling and musical power from the band, it deserves to be heard by every single person who loves ‘90s alternative rock as much as I do. This was the kind of song that pushed me into worshipping the Judybats. It literally is one of my top 10 favorite songs of all time and probably always will be.

The lushness of “Lullaby ~ Weren’t We Wild” is a great musical showcase for the band particularly session drummer Kevin Jarvis, who goes for broke in the latter half of the track. Guitarists Johnny Sughrue and Ed Winters, bassist Tim Stutz, and keyboardist Peg Hambright hit a musical peak that they themselves wouldn’t be able to reach again.

Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the end for the band as first Hambright, then Stutz left the band during that year. They lost the keyboards and their mystical sense of wonder and were no longer all that interesting and different. This record, with all its greatness, marked the end of whimsy in college rock before everything got overly dark and depressing.

Rating: B

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