The 1990s produced some of the greatest music ever heard. The list of great bands and artists goes on and on. While those musicians are deserving of their fame, other not-so-well-known bands are deserving of the same recognition. Alternative rock band, Remy Zero, is one of those bands that didn’t receive mainstream attention, but contributed plenty of attractive music for eager ears.
The Alabama-based band began recording demo cassette tapes, hoping to make their music known to the outside world. Remy Zero included Birmingham locals Cinjun Tate (vocals, guitar), his brother, Shelby Tate (guitar, keyboards), and Cedric Lemoyne (bass). Two Mobile, Alabama school mates, Jeffrey Cain (guitar) and Gregory Slay (drums) would eventually join the others in Birmingham, ultimately completing the band. According to an MTV interview with Cinjun Tate, Remy Zero’s music never really caught on in Alabama, causing the band to eventually move west to California.
The long-awaited moment came when none other than English rock band, Radiohead, heard Remy Zero’s demo tape over the radio and invited them to open on their The Bends tour in 1995. It would not be much longer until Remy Zero would release their first and self-titled studio album. The band had caught onto something wonderful and would hold onto it as long as they could. Their unique sound made of Cinjun Tate’s vocals with a mixture of instruments, was going to be heard.
Even though their first album did not catch on as one would hope, it is a treasure chest for anyone who presses play. The album shows that those who put in the work can add their art to the vast universe of music. What is endearing about the album is that the band found their identity, and it wouldn’t have happened if not for this record. Many have criticized this album as being lackluster, but within it one can find just as much emotion, rebelest nature, fine sounding instruments, and strong vocals as their later albums. Here are some songs from the ten track album (I honestly recommend all the songs):
“Temenos (Here Come The Shakes)” gets the album started off on the right track. The song has a fast beat and pleasing guitar. Cinjun Tate’s voice doesn’t disappoint either. The guitar sounds especially good at the 2:40 mark. This song is enjoyable for the raw quality that it was and gives it a garageband type sound. Their cutting teeth of making demo tapes paid off.
“Descent” has an emotional sound to it. The slow guitar picking at the beginning sets the mood flawlessly. It’s the perfect song to play on a dark dreary day. The build up to the chorus reaches its climax with the well-placed explicit word. The bass between the verses is amazing at bridging the song together. The backup vocals add to the dismal feelings, but the yelling at the end pushes the listener awake. It’s the best dramatic ending to an already stirring song.
“Gold Star Speaker” starts off very low key with soft vocals and guitar, but at the 1:12 mark the drums kick in, delivering a burst of energy to the lyrics. The song repeats this formula up to the end. Around the 1:26 minute the song completely changes its sound with some fancy piano playing.
“Twister” should have brought this album critical acclaim. This is the song that lays the groundwork for what Remy Zero would sound like in future hits. The acoustic strumming along with powerful lead and backup vocals provide a well written song that has an incredible sound to it. The short impromptu drum session at the very end adds a little flavor to the track.
“Queen Of Venus” has a much different sound than the previous songs, but it’s a good thing. It adds more style to the collection. Couldn’t find a link to share this song.
With one album under their belt, Remy Zero found themselves writing new songs about the different places they found themselves in while touring. They eventually had enough new songs to create another album. Their second studio album would be the one to bring the band commercial success, and it was named after an apartment they were living in at the time.
With the release of their second album, Remy Zero would go on tour again supporting OK Computer, the third studio album by Radiohead. Remy Zero was dubbed the “next big thing” with how well their new album was received. Being compared to the likes of Radiohead and U2, Remy Zero was blazing their own path despite the similarities to the mentioned bands. Their second album speaks for itself. Tracks from the album were used on many different television shows and movies during the late 90s. Here are some of those songs:
“Hermes Bird” starts the album off just right, much like “Temenos (Here Come The Shakes)” did on their debut album. The distorted drums and bass set it up while the lead guitar plays a catchy intro. Tate’s voice sounds just as great as it did from when it was last heard on the first album, not missing a note.
“Prophecy” is without a doubt the most popular song found on the album. It was on the United States Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart as well as the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The song is well deserving of the fame. It features the band performing at their best giving the listener a great upbeat rock song. It showcases the talent of each band member.
“Gramarye” begins with some simple piano and vocals, but quickly evolves into something incredible.
“Fair” is a song that should be heard. It is beautifully written and has a pleasant sound to it. If there is any Remy Zero song that you skip, don’t let it be this one. It is pure emotion.
The third and final studio album would bring even more attention to the boys from Alabama. This album would feature songs that would be heard in television and film just like their previous album. It would usher in the end of something wonderful that would create a lasting sound in the listeners’ minds for years to come.
The Golden Hum
The songs below are highlights from this remarkable album. The entire album should be heard, from the beginning (“The Golden Hum”) to the end (“Impossibility”) since each song is connected in one way or another with different sounds. The physical copy of the album even featured a hidden track (remember those?) known as “Sub Ballon.” The instrument that comes to mind the most when thinking of this album is the drums. There are some serious beats being hit in the majority of the tracks. Gregory Slay does an excellent job of slaying his cymbals.
“Glorious #1” is just that… glorious. Following the first track, “The Golden Hum,” which sounds like a cat purring into the microphone, comes this enjoyable song. The guitar intro sets the mood with the notes being played and features plenty of those epic drum beats as well (the 1:55 mark). Cinjun’s vocals are magnificent, too.
“Bitter” has more drums and heavy guitar. Cinjun’s poetic singing drives home the message of the song. It gets really emotional with guitar and vocals at the 2:30 spot.
“Perfect Memory (I’ll Remember You)” is the perfect song to play to bring back those nostalgic feelings of days/people of the past. It could also be the perfect song for a tribute to someone meaningful in your life. The acoustic guitar at the beginning gives the song a personal sound. The lyrics are the strongest act of this great song.
“Save Me” would become the biggest song that Remy Zero would ever release. Literally millions of people would hear this song on a weekly basis. Beginning in 2001 and up until 2011, the television station known as The WB (and later The CW) broadcasted their hit series Smallville with “Save Me” being the theme song for the entire ten year run. The show was about a young Clark Kent before he became the legendary superhero, Superman. Remy Zero would forever be ingrained in television history.
The remainder of the songs add their own flavor to the album offering plenty to enjoy. The final listed track “Impossibility” just needs to be heard for the sake of the drums. It is just so good and gives the finale that fans of the band deserve – going out with a bang. Turn it up.
Remy Zero would break up after the release of The Golden Hum, with each band member going on to work on other well-received projects. Sadly, in 2010, Gregory Slay would pass away, on New Years Day, due to issues from cystic fibrosis. The band would come together once more in that same year to perform tribute shows for Slay. They would even release a new single called “‘Til The End,” and also a limited CD for the 2010 tribute shows. The CD offered rare unheard songs which were dedicated to Slay.
Even though the band made it known that they would not return following their 2010 shows, their music has left an imprint in the hearts and ears of many individuals ever since. Their experience as a band has shown that music has no limits to time, or even death. It is up to the listener to press “play” and leave the rest to these talented musicians. This is Remy Zero.