Asphalt Ribbons: “Greyhound” (The Orchard EP, 1989)

During my senior year of high school, I joined my first band. It happened because I had a bass and I could sort of play it. This guy, Brendan, who was a year younger than me, had been writing pieces of music on his guitar, and we got talking in an art class. We both liked a lot of out-of-the-way music, and before long, I found myself in his living room, trying to figure out something to play along with what he was playing.

He got his brother to play drums, his cousin to play keyboards, and we all crammed into his basement a bunch of times to learn to play a few pieces of music, which we demoed into a ratty old boombox. We called ourselves Blind Side, and the music was simple. None of us wanted to sing, so we didn’t (the drummer saved his voice for his other band), and we wound up with a sound that I suppose you could vaguely describe as post-rock, though we had no idea what that was back then. 

It was fun. We played a couple of shows, and then I graduated and moved away, with a few good memories in my back pocket. During our time in the band, Brendan and I introduced each other to a bunch of music, and one of the things he introduced me to was Tindersticks. He’d picked up Curtains, which at the time was new (it was 1997), and when he played “Don’t Look Down” for me, I could hardly believe it. It was like a James Bond theme from an alternate universe in which Bond’s hard drinking wasn’t balanced by self-control and a tendency to do badass things.

Tindersticks have been one of my favorite bands ever since, and their first three LPs are probably my favorite three-LP run by anyone. But before they made those LPs, Stuart Staples and David Boulter (and later on, the rest of the band apart from Mark Colwill) were in a band called Asphalt Ribbons that was pretty damn good, too. 

"Greyhound" is on their debut EP. If you know Tindersticks, you know that’s Staples on vocals, and Boulter plays accordion here. It’s much more uptempo and indie rock than Tindersticks, but it still has a little of the same battered-but-continuing-anyway feel that a lot of Tindersticks’ best music has. 

The early Tindersticks discography got a good working over a few years ago—I’d love for the whole Asphalt Ribbons catalog (three EPs, a mini-LP and a couple singles) to be gathered on one disc, graced with some liner notes and reissued. On the basis of The Orchard, which is all I’ve heard of the band, it’d be well worth having.