Jade Tree announced earlier this month that they will re-issue Nothing Feels Good, the seminal LP from beloved underground indie emo rock act THE PROMISE RING on vinyl and cassette for the first time in 14 years. Pre-order for Nothing Feels Good will begin on Thursday, September 17th at 12pm EST at http://jadetree.merchnow.com. Pitchfork is sharing a never before seen performance by The Promise Ring from Jade Tree’s October 20, 2000 CMJ showcase at the Bowery Ballroom.
One of the most beloved underground rock acts of the ’90s, it’s nearly impossible to oversell the profound influence The Promise Ring had on their genre’s past, present and future.
Formed in 1995 in Milwaukee by guitarist Jason Gnewikow, drummer Dan Didier and bassist Scott Beschta, the band was eventually rounded out by frontman Davey von Bohlen, who at the time was a new enlistee into Midwest darlings Cap’n Jazz but gave The Promise Ring their crucial missing piece.
In 1996, the group signed with Jade Tree and released their debut, 30 Degrees Everywhere: a powerful introduction that distilled the spirit and vigor of some of the members’ punk and hardcore backgrounds and spit-shined it with von Bohlen’s tastefully angsty melodicism. Theband’s music was deceptively complex, masked by layers of driving guitars and buoyant rhythms. But it was also deceptively dark, as the singer’s heart-on-sleeve lyrics — tackling love, loss, regret and disappointment — and emotive delivery were hallmarks of The Promise Ring’s genre-leading sound.
Nothing Feels Good, largely regarded as the band’s master work and one of the most important albums of its period, followed in 1997 and elevated The Promise Ring to new heights with a mix of power pop and indie rock still made all their own with von Bohlen’s charming words. The band — now featuring new bassist Scott Schoenbeck in the fold — continued to spread its pop wings on 1999’s Very Emergency, which found the quartet entrenched in power-pop and favoring the more saccharine side of their sound, before leaving Jade Tree for ANTI- to release 2002’s Wood/Water.
By that point, personal and professional strain had taken their toll on the group, and The Promise Ring disbanded shortly following Wood/Water’s release. But here’s the thing about a band as beloved as The Promise Ring: When that emotional connection looms large, when your art captures listeners’ hearts and impacts them on a visceral level, you never really die.
As such, The Promise Ring’s music is poised to live on forever, serving as the blueprint for scores of new bands who look to forge their own new paths while paying tribute to pioneers of the past.