Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rye Coalition - “The Story Of The Hard Luck 5” DVD (director: Jenni Matz)

Comprehensive look at indie rock "could-have-beens"

This documentary details the rise (and fall, in some sense of the word) of the not-famous indie rock act Rye Coalition, who in the 90s were poised for greatness, or so it seemed. Having recorded with Steve Albini and toured with Foo Fighters should’ve been the start of something bigger. Having Dave Grohl himself produce their to-be-major label debut would’ve put them over that edge, surely. But just then, their label dissolved, and Rye Coalition found themselves with nowhere to go, their stride towards greatness broken, and their record in limbo for years.

The band, intent on playing out and recording for almost no financial rewards, finally folded due to pressures both internal and external. “The Story Of The Hard Luck 5” is a thoughtful and serious documentary of the band’s times from then until now, with full band participation, as well as interviews with cohorts and supporters like Albini, Grohl, fans of the band, and their families and associates. It’s a fascinating look at some nice New Jersey boys who never aspired to much, yet got so very close to indie rock “star” status. Albini’s comments that the band were considered the best of the “Jesus Lizard wannabes” is both apt and unfair. Rye Coalition shared much with Chicago’s finest post-jazz aggro-scuzz outfit, but the differences were plenty, as evidenced by the many live clips here.

Director Matz has done a masterful work encapsulating the band’s history, and this 78-minute film is fascinating even for Rye Coalition novices like myself. Thumbs up here.

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