bill bodkin brings the column back with a lost alt-rock gem…
The Lost Songs column often looks at these wonderful one-hit wonders or back catalog gems that the masses seem to forget about.
Then there are songs like Sponge’s 1996 single “Wax Ecstatic (To Sell Angelina)” the follow-up to their grunge/alt-rock classic “Plowed.” It’s a song you probably heard on the radio when it came on the air; maybe even a song you dug at the time, but it’s faded into the ether of your musical mind, getting drowned out by nu-metal, dub step, ska and Jimmy Ray. Or is that just me? Thought so.
See, “Plowed” was such a seminal song, such a defining song not just for the band, but for the genre, that anything else from the band is almost rendered meaningless. No song from Sponge can ever touch “Plowed” it’s just so big, so ubiquitous, it’s like the Cloverfield of singles.
And that’s truly a shame because “Wax Ecstatic” is such a fantastic song. The song is so much more polished than “Plowed” and sounds a lot less like Social Distortion too. The high pitched, near nails on a chalkboard guitar riff is such a brilliant hook. It’s intoxicating and inexplicably so. In terms of the vocals, lead singer Vinnie Dombroski brings his chords out of the basement and shows that he has range. In fact, he sounds a lot more like Scott Weiland than Mike Ness.
Also, the driving basslines and freewheeling guitar work, are so different from the very tight, compact sound of “Plowed” you might not even think the same band performed the song. I for one did not. “Plowed” was such a serious song with it’s “world of human wreckage” mantra. “Wax” is much more driving, a song that let’s its hair down and amps up the rock factor but still maintains the darker edge of the grunge scene.
It’s a shame that Sponge will only be remembered for it’s big hit. Not that it’s a bad song, in fact it’s a very good one, but with songs like “Wax Ecstatic” in their catalog you now that “Plowed” was literally just the tip of the iceberg for this Detroit-based rock band.