October 20 [13:00 EDT] -- Linoleum. The word itself conveys the image of something durable and long-lasting, connoting dependability and functionality. Something you can walk on. But unlike deep-pile carpets or Persian rugs, linoleum is not known for its warm and cozy glow... not unlike the band that took its name from the synthetic material.
Real life is a preoccupation of Linoleum singer/guitarist Caroline Finch's, and it is a theme recounted and reconsidered several times over the course of the band's debut album, "Dissent."
Released in June 1997, the album chronicles tales of alienation and paranoia, unhealthy obsessions and self-destructive behavior, questioning so-called "normal" relationships to the point that they seem anything but normal.
All this cheeriness began back in 1991 when Finch and guitarist Paul Jones struck up a friendship based on a mutual love of such seminal New York bands as the Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth. Not really intending to
form a group, the pair began hacking around on guitars in each other's living rooms until the casual playing eventually blossomed into a full-fledged collaborative relationship in 1994.
That summer, the pair added drummer Dave Nice and, shortly thereafter, bassist Emma Tornero. The first single by the London-based quartet was released on their own Lino Vinyl label in April 1995 and featured, naturally enough, a seven-inch homemade linoleum record sleeve.
By 1996, the band's reputation had grown exponentially thanks to support slots on tours with the likes of the Butthole Surfers, 60 Ft. Dolls and Placebo as well as considerable UK airplay at the hands of legendary British radio impresario John Peel.
However, it was a pair of high-profile shows at England's Reading and Phoenix Festivals that summer that really solidified the band's reputation and, by the end of 1996, the unit had arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts to begin recording the 14-song "Dissent."
Sean Slade and Paul Q. Kolderie were enlisted on account of the band's respect for their work with Hole, Radiohead, the Pixies, Sebadoh, and Dinosaur Jr.
Recording mostly live-off-the-floor in a studio darkened except for a glitter ball twirling overhead, Linoleum was able to capture a mood on the album that Melody Maker magazine has called "subtle severity." Songs such as "Twisted," "On A Tuesday" and "Ray Liotta" meld Finch's detached, narrative vocals to Jones' unconventional guitar work--a playing style reminiscent of Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, the Smiths' Johnny Marr and Gang of Four's Andy Gill.