Independent Record Label | Est. 2009
Wilmington, North Carolina



Saturday, December 16, 2023

Pressing Concerns: Common Thread – Fountain (30th Anniversary)

Release date:
 December 8th
Record label: Fort Lowell
Genre: Noise rock, shoegaze, 90s indie rock, post-punk
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Template

This year, Wilmington, North Carolina’s Fort Lowell Records have put out new music from a couple of longtime indie rockers in 
James Sardone and Summer Set, but for their final release of 2023, they’ve gone even further and grabbed a lost southeastern-U.S. indie rock record to hoist from relative obscurity in Common Thread’s Fountain. Common Thread originated in the late 1980s in the suburbs of Jacksonville, Florida, putting out Six Marbles and a Bowl of Mud in 1990 and following it up with Fountain, released only on cassette, in 1993. The band–guitarists Joe Parker and Travis Taylor, bassist Joey Zimmerman, and drummer Craig Parlet–toured the East Coast extensively, making an impression on the co-founders of Fort Lowell Records with their noisy but melodic mix of 1980s post-punk, noise rock, and shoegaze. The label’s James Tritten and Tracy Shedd have made it clear that this reissue campaign is especially personal for them–but, as someone who hadn’t heard of Common Thread at all before this year, I can confidently say that one didn’t have to “be there” at the time to appreciate their sophomore album. 

Last month, I wrote about 
The Veldt, another band who was making loud, layered indie rock at the same time in the same part of the country. It’s enough to suggest that the American Southeast is an underappreciated part of this era of underground music–not the least of which is because Fountain sounds so different from The Veldt’s Cocteau Twins-indebted sound. Common Thread were certainly influenced by Sonic Youth, as they had a similar attitude with regards to wringing noise out of their guitars, but they also brought a British sense of dour melody to their music that Parker, Taylor, and Zimmerman (all singers and songwriters) hid underneath their instruments. At the same time, the prominent, rumbling bass that marks songs like “Sesame” and “Digit” feels very American noise rock–coupled with Parlet’s tireless drumming, Common Thread boasted a rhythm section that a lot of contemporary “amplifier worship” guitar-heavy bands didn’t really have. Fitting of a band with three different leaders, Fountain feels like a lot–it’s absolutely a statement worth shining some more light on after three decades. (Bandcamp link)