Cub – Betti-Cola

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

Cuddlecore was the term bestowed upon Cub, and as usually goes with such things, it is both accurate and misleading. Coming out of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 1992, Cub was fiercely DIY and wrote catchy songs that layered innocence and sweetness upon pop-punk foundations. Sometimes. Because Lisa Marr is too talented a songwriter to just do one thing, and Cub was capable of making a racket when they wanted to, so it was not all songs about chinchillas and vegetables, and playing guitar cross-legged on the floor of the stage during live shows. Not only did Marr get down and dirty with openly carnal songs, she also explored all aspects of relationships and heartbreak with clarity and dignity, and was able to get dark and weird on songs like “Go Fish” and “A Party.” There is nothing cutesy about a band that sings “My assassin walks along beside me / He holds a little knife just to remind me / That everything’s precarious / And love is never near enough to save you.” So cuddlecore is a clever and apt moniker, but it doesn’t tell the whole story and worse, can be wielded dismissively. There is nothing about Cub you should write off. The band’s own core was bassist Lisa Marr and guitarist Robynn Iwata, with a rotating cast of drummers that included Neko Case and eventually settled on Lisa G. (Nielsen).

What I Think of This Album

Betti-Cola collects almost all of Cub’s early E.P.s and adds a bunch of new and/or previously unreleased songs, and at 23 tracks, I am at a loss as to why anything was left off. At that point, just tack on the missing (six?) songs.

This collection is a nice showcase of Cub’s talents. There are the melodic, sunny, jangly tracks like “Flying Carpet” and the inimitable “My Chinchilla,” with the classic opening line “Satan sucks / But you’re the best,” as well as the charming “Motel 6” and the gentle kiss-off “Pretty Pictures.” And there is the thick and sinister “Go Fish,” the vaguely druggy “A Party,” and the mournful Man Ray/Georgia O’Keefe/Salvador Dali referencing “Electric Chair.” The band gets vulnerable with the classic pop of “They Don’t” – I adore the way Marr spits out the lyric “pack of lies.” Not to be missed are “A Picnic,” which is sweetly sour, and “It’s True” which is effectively angry against an insistent strum. The trio displays a burst of optimism on the irresistible “Someday,” and “Leapfrog” is a song any band would love to have in their repertoire.

The four covers are almost-neighbor Beat Happening’s “Cast A Shadow,” actual neighbor Windwalker’s brilliantly bruised love song “Backwoods,” a randy take on Daniel Johnston’s “Tell Me Now” (“But if this is really love / Then let’s get it on”), and a bare bones but sugary version of the Beach Boys’ “Surfer Girl.” The 24th track is a cover of a Cub song by NFA (whom I’d never heard of). Built to Spill also covered Johnston’s “Tell Me Know.” This album was released on the Mint Records label, which was co-founded by Robynn’s brother, Randy. There is a reissued version that adds a few more tracks.

The Best Thing About This Album

“My Chinchilla,” by a whisker.

Release Date

October, 1993

The Cover Art

Somehow the band got Archies Comics artist Dan DeCarlo to create this giddily triumphant cover (though he incorrectly has Lisa playing a guitar instead of a bass).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑