South of Mainstream has offered up a beauty of an idea — and being grammar geeks here, we love the alliteration: Flashback Fridays. I was all agog this week with SofM dusting Hum off the shelf. I’m not sure I can keep up every week, but I’ll give it my best.
So, my first Flashback offering is (drumroll please) … Gwen Mars. This three-piece outfit formed in LA in 1995 and released “Magnosheen.” There was a bit of an underlying glam-rock aura about Gwen Mars but the music owed an undeniable debt to the grunge era and, in my opinion, the crunchy guitar riffs of the Smashing Pumpkins.
Honestly, I’m not sure why I liked this band or why I ever purchased “Magnosheen.” It was/is a guilty pleasure. Oddly enough, I saw them open for Catherine Wheel, the most unlikely of openers for CW. I also once saw them at Boston’s, a scrappy little club in Tempe that is no longer (R.I.P.). It was almost like Gwen Mars couldn’t decide if they wanted to go grunge or try the hair-rock route and got caught somewhere in between. But damn it if I don’t love those opening riffs on “Cosmic Dick.”
Lucky for me, I stumbled across a white-vinyl 45 of “Cosmic Dick” in Tucson. The B-side, “Shrink,” is also off “Magnosheen.” Apparently, the group resurfaced in 2001 with the full-length “Driving a Million.” I’m guessing it might be another six years before we hear from them again, if at all. Here’s to hair spray and lipstick on lead singers.