This Little Underground: Overlooked ’90s bands Failure and Hum reunite

Our music community has always been extraordinary in its support of its own in times of need, and this is definitely one of them. Bryan Raymond – a guitarist in elite local heavy band Junior Bruce – was in a very bad motorcycle accident on Oct. 12. The good news is that his condition, though critical, is stable enough for surgery. The bad is that he'll need many because his body is completely shattered. 

Besides a talented musician, Bryan's a devoted father, a hell of a gardener, and just a good guy. So please send some strength, love and – if you can – financial help his way (donate at

The Beat

Although often irresistably sweet, there's something intellectually cheap about culture revivals. One noble result that sometimes comes of them, however, is the chance to correct history with some perspective. So while the '90s revival is in full moon, the time's ripe for overlooked bands like Failure and Hum to reunite, bring the original golden flame back to life and make a renewed case for their place in the canon.

Both groups have the somewhat canceling honor of being both critically esteemed but popularly forgotten. Hum and especially Failure mostly slipped through my personal net as well, so this concert was almost as much discovery for me as it was for the kids. And apart from the warm-up from new-school underground titans Torche, their joint show (Oct. 11, House of Blues) was a big, choice slab of atmospheric '90s heaviness.

With a consistent and deliciously palpable fog of space drone, Illinois' Hum proved deeper and greater than just their minor 1996 hit, "Stars." They weren't much to look at, what with the anti-image adopted in certain alternative corridors of the decade. But with long, beefy sonics and crushing beauty, their sound was unmistakably, impressively there.

L.A.'s Failure has been especially serious in their ambition. Theirs is no basic reunion. With the release of their first new album in almost two decades (The Heart Is a Monster) over the summer, this is a full-on comeback campaign. Producing an album as well-received as it's been and playing live with no sign of rust after this much time would be proof enough of their will. But on stage, they came fresh with splash and vigor, giving their clarified and progressive space rock the wings of swank visual displays and an enhanced lighting rig. Failure isn't reentering the arena just to collect retroactive propers. This is a band gunning hard to get back in the game.

DeYarmond Edison is an early 2000s Wisconsin band you may not have heard of but whose splinters you probably have. From the cinders of their 2006 dissolution emerged the phoenixes Bon Iver, Megafaun and Field Report. That last one is the vehicle for Chris Porterfield, who just made his first Orlando appearance solo (Oct. 15, the Social).

Field Report – which is less impressionistic than Bon Iver and less outlandish than Megafaun – is definitely the most pop-oriented of the three brother bands. That said, Porterfield's indie-folk songs also sigh a hushed Northern kind of beauty, blowing down cool, lonely and yearning like a Great Lake breeze. That their muted shimmer translated with little loss in shine even without a full band shows that the music's center of gravity is the quiet power of Porterfield's voice.

The performance of headliner Noah Gundersen, however, was a mind-changing revelation. Musically and emotionally, this Seattle singer-songwriter paints in subdued hues. On record, the huddled bedroom vibe can sometimes be so subtle as to be barely there, on the verge of evaporating like an early morning reverie.

But live, it's a very different experience. Music that seemed pleasant but ephemeral was revealed to be deep and sweeping when played at volume and with powerful intent by a good, well-furnished band. What often receded into the wallpaper – gentle edges of gospel, soul and country – sprang to sudden life and purpose. And it culminated in one of the most enveloping soft shows I've seen in ages, a polished, full-mast and gorgeous performance that will forever change the way I hear his recordings.

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