The Minders are one of the fairly numerous groups that are part of, or directly related to, the so-called Elephant 6 collective. I’ve mentioned those groups here many times, so I won’t list them all again (just do a search for “Elephant 6″ in that little search box in the upper-right corner of this site). But I have yet to give The Minders their own, devoted post of music love, so here it is.
The Minders are absolutely one of the best least-known American groups of the past 20 years. To be more specific, if you take into consideration all the bands that almost no one has heard of that released an album in that time span and then piled them up in order of how great their albums are, they’d be very near the top of the stack. Good thing too, because being at the bottom of a pile of bands that big would really suck, especially considering that bands aren’t known for great personal hygiene. But great as the Minders are, I’m fairly certain that lead Minder Martyn Leaper and company have never come close to being able to quit their day jobs. At least not thanks to their music income. Former Minder Rebecca Cole, who was with the band for all of their CD releases (they’ve also released a couple of MP3-only albums since her departure), has gone on to join up with Mary Timony and former Sleater-Kinney members Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss to form Wild Flag, but knowing how the music industry is, I’m sure that hasn’t been the windfall it deserves to be either. Oh, and while I’m on the subject of former Minders members: Tammy Ealom, lead singer and songwriter of Dressy Bessy, was in the original lineup of The Minders as well, but left before they released their first album, the completely outstanding 1998 release, Hooray for Tuesday.
I initially was going to post the catchy “Joey’s Pez” from that album as today’s song because, well, it’s really good, but also because I am a recovering Pez collector. That is, I don’t do it actively anymore, but I’ve got a large collection — large enough that people look fascinated when they see it for the first time, but all the while start giving me odd sideways looks because they want to try to catch the manic glint in my eye that they must have been missing in all the time they had known me previously. But I digress. The only reason I didn’t do “Joey’s Pez” is because, as good as it is, whenever I continue on through the album it’s always outshone by “I’ve Been Wondering,” the most outstanding track on Hooray for Tuesday. It’s a song that wouldn’t have been completely out of place on the Beatles’ Revolver — in fact, it’s the sort of track I would fantasize about the Beatles releasing if they had somehow kept going as a group into the late ’90s and then put out an incredible album of stripped-down rock that harkened back to their ’60s heyday after their unfortunately grunge-influenced, Jeff Lynne-overproduced effort, Free as a Mud Hen. But that never actually happened. So just enjoy “I’ve Been Wondering” for the marvelously energetic gem that it is, and appreciate The Minders for the great unheralded group that they are.