The Sweet Things are the great, lost lo-fi party of the 90's. Formed in 1990 in New York, they at once embraced delicate, heartfelt (though roughly hewn) pop on the one hand and earthy, Howlin' Wolf inspired bursts on the other.
From their critically hailed first e.p. "Deliver", the poppier "Teen Guitars" e.p. through the odds and sods of "Hangin' Out With...", this CD compiles both the rare early 45's with out-takes and the rarer-than rare 78 rpm 10". Name-dropped by Kurt Cobain as one of his favorite bands!
All Music Guide Review (Jeremy A. Schmidt):
The Sweet Things belong to that sprawling batch of late-'80s and early-'90s bands who injected the punk ethos of scuzzy ephemerality into pop music. They're descendants of Big Star and Hüsker Dü, contemporaries of Mudhoney, Pavement, and Guided by Voices. But while those groups endured, honed, and experimented, the Sweet Things disappeared. Part of Lo-Fi Is a 4-Letter Word's charm is the straightforward brevity of it all. The group was born at Vassar College in 1990, named after a Shaggs' tune, and died in San Francisco in 1997, all without ever having left the basement -- literally, the Sweet Things recorded all their material in basements and bedrooms. Lo-Fi gathers their three releases (the Deliver EP, the Teen Guitars EP, and the Hangin' Out with the Sweet Things 10") plus all existent outtakes.
There's something satisfying about fitting a band's entire career on a single disc, having it laid out chronologically. The succinctness of the Sweet Things' story, however, is by no means the main reason to listen. This compilation is less Collector's Only than Lost Classic. Sure, on the rowdy opener "Boots" when Hall Newbegin vows, "Gonna be a big star/Yeah yeah yeah/All gonna know my name" his tongue is firmly enough in cheek to blur the vocals to noise. But outside of two forgettable instrumentals, all 18 tracks on Lo-Fi do deserve to be known. Newbegin's raw offerings ("Never Fall in Love Again," "Punk Rock Underground") set the collection's tone. The cleaner, catchier Pete Gowdy-crafted numbers ("Sad Eyed Girl," "Can You Do No Wrong?") provide balance. When Gowdy croons "You can f*** for hours/You got magical powers," it's not only the lyrics but the need for clear sentiment amid the rush that comes across. In the end, though, it's a Newbegin track from the first EP that best encapsulates the band. "Cherry Ball" punctuates a cartwheeling mess of fuzz with a series of yelps. The last of these, at 1:14, is one of the most blissful screams ever caught on tape. It's the kind of moment when knowing names, like articulating words, is utterly beside the point. It's the sound of musicians excited just to be recording. the Sweet Things have documented that sheer exuberance as well as anyone.
"Lo-fi..." reviewed by Joe B. at tinymixtapes.com:
There are a bunch of things I want to write about The Sweet Things that will make me look like an idiot. I genuinely think this album deserves a place in some shaggy-haired pantheon next to the rawer offerings of Pavement, Half Japanese, Swell Maps or at least Thinking Fellers. I am a frothing madman over this album, so I feel like I should demand my comments not be taken with a grain of salt. It’s tough to articulate this album’s genius because it isn’t particularly provocative or innovative; it’s just really, really good. In a way, it came as a huge breath of fresh air. Every time I’m worried my sensibility is getting too esoteric or weird, a record like this comes along, hands me a beer and reminds me that volume, simplicity and fun are king. At no point during Lo-Fi does it sound like the Sweet Things aren’t having the time of their lives. They were, I assume, a bunch of friends writing songs about and for their other friends. Perfect.
Review of the "Deliver" e.p. by Everett True/Melody Maker/March 27, 1993:
Maybe it's just me. Maybe every record sounds this way. But ever since I came in here, it seems that every other band in America has rediscovered that glorious dissonance, that beauty through chaos thang which made bands like Pere Ubu and Red Crayola so crushworthy. (Or, if you like - Pixies and Pavement.)
San Francisco's Sweet Things deliver the missing link between Ubu, Half-Japanese and Pavement with such riotous, selfless alacrity that... hell, every f***ing home should have one.
More songs about worm-laded dirt, wicker furniture, groin-pounding and Xanadu dust. Or so it says here. In my head. Which hurts.
A non-alignment pact.