The Lazy Music Group
Little did I know, prior to researching the history of Cincinnati's long-lost Lazy, Steve Schmoll conceived his trio out of the ashes to Pink Lady a (Dayton?) band that included Braniac mastermind Tim Taylor (are there recordings of this?). It all makes sense now. I knew that Lazy bore resemblance to Brainiac -- I saw the band numerous times throughout my salad days -- and were borne in the wave that spread from the Miami Valley down to the Ohio River -- but I never knew there was direct lineage. Listening to The Lazy Music Group (I'm in need of their debut, Some Assembly Required) the band was more than just a branch of Brainiac or a heftier Miss May '66 (from which bassist Kari Murphy was plucked), Scmoll carved very unkempt pop songs out of a Sonic Youth/Pixies/Beat Happening axis, re-imagined as a Midwestern punk trio buzzing in girl/guy dynamics. Thanks to the Afghan Whigs ubiquity among Alternative Nation, Cincinnati had a reputable slew of bands showcased beyond Ohio's borders -- Ass Ponys, Throneberry, the Tigerlillies, and the Wolverton Bros. all were making great records at the time. Lazy made two albums for Roadrunner Records (the same label which now brings you Slipknot and Rob Zombie), but in clicking that link you'd never know the band ever existed on the label (even though they were initially signed up to do many records). Surely, in retrospect, it's probably reasonable to believe that dealings with Roadrunner were a bane on the band, and led to their eventual disappearance in the late '90s. Schmoll could probably tell a yarn about the horrors of major labels and how they devoured "alternative" groups from the Heartland only to abandon them 24 months later. I'd love to hear it.
I would care less if Lazy's brief spark was as flippant and unformed as I remember. In re-hearing those early singles and their sophomore record, the Lazy Music Group, I realized I hadn't heard enough. And even if Lazy were likely more tied to Dayton and Columbus than I remember, I always placed them on the perimeter of what I was loving as a teenager. Despite the album's cringe-worthy cover (emblematic of the cutesy "let your friends design your album cover" indie rock aesthetics of the time) the Lazy Music Group is a consistently engaging record during an age when, as Ron House is known to quote, "most of these bands should only be putting out singles." Much like the songwriting style of his peers (namely Tim Taylor and John Schmersal) Shmoll used more punk than art, more pop than dissonant crackle, a somewhat laconic slacker vibe wrapped in occasional barbed wire or grrlie attitude. At times, as on "Cut It," Lazy could be mistaken for Brainiac, were they demoing skeletons stripped of synth and Moog. Then again "What I Need" is Lazy's Cars-esque new-wave answer to Brainiac's "Radio Apeshot." What distinguishes Schmoll from the pack is a song like "Cheery Smash" -- a tender moment on the record, indolent and breathy, reminiscent of the best dream-pop of the era, but still warped in the middle when Scmoll's guitar shards blast through the haze. Murphy and drummer, Megan Haas, work in tandem with Schmoll, leading the Royal Trux funk of "Cinderella" and the spunky Runaways/Breeders "last dance" track.
Though they provided a variety, the trio was usually tethered at the ankles, finishing each other's phrases, living in their own little punk world. This gave the music an ambiguity in both the lyrics and the sonics which found them focused more on the energy and catharsis that came with their songs. Angsty and brittle? Sure. But Lazy was a colorful diversion, or simple accompaniment, to the massively disparate, yet wholly united, triangle of hope between Dayton, Columbus, and the river-rat dregs of Cincinnati.
If you can point me in the direction of other Lazy records -- whether digital or physical -- I'm interested.