Review: Ramona Forever/A Thousand Never Enough - "Split"

A Thousand Never Enough/Ramona Forever
(Epsilon 1999)

I always seem to find my favorite records in the most unlikely places, and for me, dollar bins of 7-inch vinyl have been teeming with short bursts of perfect pop. They're an often untapped resource of obscure, often uncharted forays into niche DIY scene, and they're often extremely interesting, if not satisfying, artifacts. With a Judy Blume reference on the cover alongside artwork that I believe is cut and pasted from the pages of Winnie the Pooh, it was love at first sight as my fingertips grazed the pulpy edges of this split between Ramona Forever and A Thousand Never Enough. The single's sleeve, cut from a grey, newspapery material, opened like a grade-schooler's math folder, split down the middle with pockets at the bottom. A lyrics booklet was tucked into the left side while the record itself rested in the other. Released in 1999, I couldn't help but wonder how long it had been since it was last played. The bands' cute and snappy monikers led me to hypothesize that they would take after the twee-pop of The Field Mice and Heavenly, but upon taking the record home with me, I was proven very wrong. The female-fronted quintet Ramona Forever adds a more frantic, fuzzy grittiness to Mineral's twinkly, calculated assault. It's the warm texture of late 90's midwestern emo infused with leftover scraps of Dinosaur Jr's sardonic proto-grunge, evident in the feedback squalls that open their side of the single, "The Pain of Letting Go". The vocals resemble a more polished version of Corin Tucker's for Heavens To Betsy. A Thousand Never Enough deliver two songs in the style of Sunny Day Real Estate, screamo vocals tempered by the twinkly stability of math-rock guitars. Though I haven't spun their side of the record as much as I have with Ramona Forever, I do have the suspicion I might find A Thousand Never Enough to be more substantial later on. This split single makes for a lovely physical artifact as well as a solid collection of tunes. If you ever come across it by chance, you'd be a fool not to buy it.