viernes, 31 de julio de 2015

Martha and The Muffins

Based in Toronto, Martha and the Muffins initially comprised Martha Johnson (vocals, keyboards), Martha Ladly (vocals, keyboards, trombone), guitarist Mark Gane, bassist Carl Finkle, drummer Tim Gane, and saxophonist Andy Haas. The group formed in 1977 and, on the strength of their debut independent single, "Insect Love"/"Suburban Dream," were signed by Virgin U.K. The band's debut album, 'Metro Music', appeared in 1980, led by "Echo Beach," which would become a new wave classic. After 1981's 'This Is the Ice Age', and 'Danseparc' two years later, Johnson and Gane moved the outfit to England and recorded 'Mystery Walk' (1984) and 'The World Is a Ball' (1986) as M+M. From then on, Martha and the Muffins recorded sporadically, releasing 'Modern Lullaby' in 1992 and 'Delicate' in 2010. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 30 de julio de 2015

The Leather Nun

The Leather Nun once shocked an audience by showing a porno movie at a concert. While Sweden is often seen as the country that spawned disco queens ABBA, The Leather Nun are its bastard sons. Careening from garage rock to goth and industrial, The Leather Nun became cult heroes in their native land. Naming themselves after a London stripper, The Leather Nun was formed in Goteborg, Sweden, in 1979 by Jonas Almqvist (vocals), Bengt "Aron" Aronsson (guitar), Freddie Wadling (bass), and Gert Claesson (drums). Inspired by both Throbbing Gristle and Lou Reed (Almqvist's half-spoken, half-sung vocals were obviously patterned after Reed's), The Leather Nun recorded their debut EP, 'Slow Death', in 1979. Wadling left The Leather Nun in 1982 and joined Blue for Two. A handful of singles followed before The Leather Nun released their first LP, 'Alive', in 1985. The group's imported singles found their way onto U.S. college radio stations, earning substantial airplay with "Pink House," a deadpan parody of John Mellencamp's "Pink Houses." The Leather Nun's American audience eventually eclipsed their small following in Sweden as they never took off at home. In 1988, The Leather Nun were reviewed in Rolling Stone magazine, rare mainstream media coverage for the band. Aronsson recorded a solo album, 'Purification', as Sister Aaron in 1993. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 29 de julio de 2015

Kitchens Of Distinction

The lush, dreamlike British pop trio Kitchens of Distinction were formed in London in 1986 by singer / bassist Patrick Fitzgerald, guitarist Julian Swales, and drummer Dan Goodwin. Taking their name from a Hygena advertisement, they issued their 1987 debut single, "Last Gasp Death Shuffle," on their own Gold Rush label, signing to One Little Indian after the record garnered Single of the Week honors in the pages of the NME. Two further singles, "Prize" and "The 3rd Time We Opened the Capsule," followed prior to the release of their 1989 debut LP, 'Love Is Hell'. Despite the critical acclaim given the album as well as its follow-up 1989 EP, 'Elephantine', much of the early media attention afforded Kitchens of Distinction swirled around Fitzgerald, openly gay at a time when such public candor was quite rare. Though widely considered a cult band, their 1991 sophomore effort, 'Strange Free World', debuted on the U.K. Top 40, but quickly tumbled off the charts. 'The Death of Cool' followed in 1992, but did little to improve their commercial fortunes, and after 1994's 'Cowboys and Aliens' also failed, Kitchens of Distinction were dropped by One Little Indian. Upon resurfacing in 1996 on Fierce Panda with the single "Feel My Genie" (released under the name Kitchens OD), the group split; Fitzgerald subsequently continued under the name Fruit. It would be almost 20 years before the band regrouped for the 2013 full-length 'Folly'. The album was less of a reunion and more the result of two years of the bandmembers casually working on tunes together in Fitzgerald's home studio. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

martes, 28 de julio de 2015

The Jazz Butcher

The Jazz Butcher was the vehicle of prolific singer/songwriter Pat Fish, an archetypal British eccentric whose sharp observational wit and melodic gifts navigated the group through over a decade of constant lineup shifts, stylistic mutations and even a series of name changes which found the band performing variously -and apparently randomly- under such titles as The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy and The Jazz Butcher & His Sikkorskis From Hell. Fish was born Patrick Huntrods in London in 1957, and raised primarily in Northampton. He first began performing while studying philosophy at Oxford in the late '70s, fronting the short-lived Nightshift; a subsequent band dubbed The Institution later joined forces with their rivals, The Sonic Tonix, establishing the nucleus of players who later formed the core of The Jazz Butcher sphere. 

Fish first concocted his Butcher persona in 1982, quickly enlisting his Oxford mates to join him in a band of the same name; even from the outset, the group's roster changed seemingly on a daily basis, although Fish found an early mainstay in guitarist Max Eider. The Jazz Butcher's eclectic 1982 debut 'In Bath of Bacon' -including early skewed pop gems such as "Love Zombie" and "Sex Engine Thing"- was essentially a Fish solo record, but by 1984's folky 'A Scandal in Bohemia', the roster had stabilized to include ex-Bauhaus bassist David J. Following 'The Gift of Music', a 1984 compilation of single sides, The Jazz Butcher resurfaced the following year with 'Sex and Travel', a marvelously odd set ranging in sound from punk ("Red Pets") to cabaret ("Holiday"). 

After David J left the band to join Love and Rockets, the remaining quartet -Fish, Eider, bassist Felix Ray, and drummer O.P. Jones- rechristened themselves The Jazz Butcher & His Sikkorskis From Hell and recorded the 1985 live set 'Hamburg', followed the next year by an EP, 'Hard'. Leaving the rhythm section behind, Fish and Eider then recorded 1986's 'Conspiracy' EP, credited to the "Jazz Butcher vs. Max Eider" and foreshadowing the subsequent shift to The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy aegis for 'Distressed Gentlefolk'. Eider soon exited to mount a solo career, leaving Fish to team with guitarist Kizzy O'Callaghan for 1988's 'Fishcoteque', their first release for the Creation label. 

By the time of 1989's 'Big Planet Scarey Planet', the lineup also included the superb bassist Laurence O'Keefe, saxophonist Alex Green, and drummer Paul Mulreany; 1990's 'Cult of the Basement' was recorded with the same roster, but the usual disruptions soon left Fish essentially to his own devices for 1991's 'Condition Blue' and 1993's 'Waiting for the Love Bus'. Upon reuniting with David J, who produced 1995's low-key 'Illuminate', Fish decided to lay The Jazz Butcher name to rest, and performed a farewell performance in London at the end of the year. He subsequently signed on to play drums with The Stranger Tractors, but in 1999 reunited with Eider for a Jazz Butcher Conspiracy tour of the U.S. The live 'Glorious & Idiotic' appeared the following year, and 'Rotten Soul' was issued in fall 2000. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

lunes, 27 de julio de 2015

Half Man Half Biscuit

The acerbic post-punk outfit Half Man Half Biscuit was formed in Birkenhead, England in 1984 by singer/guitarist Nigel Blackwell, his guitarist brother Si, bassist Neil Crossley and drummer Paul Wright. While still languishing in relative obscurity, in 1985 they entered the studio to record their debut LP, 'Back in the D.H.S.S.'; upon its release, the album became a favorite of DJ John Peel, and seemingly overnight Half Man Half Biscuit became stars of the British independent music scene. The album quickly grabbed the top spot on the U.K. indie charts, and eventually ranked as the best-selling independent record of 1986.

A 1986 EP, 'Trumpton Riots', followed 'Back in the D.H.S.S.' to number one, but Half Man Half Biscuit shunned the spotlight; they refused several offers to perform on TV, and while enjoying a major hit with the single "Dickie Davies' Eyes" announced their break-up in the autumn of 1986. A collection of B-sides and unreleased material, 'Back Again in the D.H.S.S.', followed a year later; finally, in 1990 the Blackwell brothers and Crossley reformed the band, issuing the LP 'McIntyre, Treadmore and Davitt' in 1991. 'This Leaden Pall' appeared two years later, with 'Some Call It Godcore' following in 1995. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC] 

domingo, 26 de julio de 2015

Gaye Bykers On Acid

An explosion of sounds and styles, Britain's Gaye Bykers on Acid were among the leaders of the short-lived "grebo" scene, which proved instrumental in bridging the gap between rock and hip-hop. Formed in Leicester, England, in 1986, the Bykers -whose image did indeed fuse Hell's Angels grunge with the psychedelic excesses of the hippie counterculture- were fronted by the flamboyant vocalist Mary Mary (born Ian Garfield Hoxley), supposedly a former runner-up in a local Alternative Miss Universe competition who frequently took the stage in dresses and platform shoes. In addition to co-founders Robber (a bassist born Ian Reynolds), guitarist Tony (Anthony Horsfall), and drummer Kevin Hyde, the group was later joined by DJ William Samuel Ronald Morrow, better known as Rocket Ronnie. 

Gaye Bykers on Acid debuted in 1986 with the EP 'Everythang's Groovy', produced by The Mekons' Jon Langford; the follow-up, 1987's 'Nosedive Karma', was the group's breakthrough, garnering considerable press attention for its use of hip-hop and dance beats -a major innovation in mid-'80s alternative rock. The resulting publicity won the Bykers a contract with Virgin, where they began work on their eagerly anticipated major-label debut; remaining media darlings, the band also toyed with public perceptions by creating a pair of alter egos -one, supposedly from New Zealand, was dubbed the Lesbian Dopeheads on Mopeds, while the other, an Eastern European thrash metal band, was christened Rektum

Finally, 'Drill Your Own Hole' -which required vinyl purchasers to do just that, as no hole was machine-cut in the center of the record- appeared in late 1987; reviews were mixed, and the Bykers quickly left Virgin to return to their own label, PFX (later, the name PFX also became another of the group's many aliases, this time as a guise for its more dub-oriented dance records). Despite the loss of momentum, the Bykers continued, although subsequent efforts like 1989's 'Skewed to the Gills' and 1990's 'Cancer Planet Mission' (issued on another self-owned imprint, Naked Brain) failed to attract much interest. Eventually, Gaye Bikers on Acid disintegrated; Hyde formed G.R.O.W.T.H., Tony joined Camp Collision, and Mary Mary resurfaced in Pigface. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

sábado, 25 de julio de 2015


This band from Birmingham, England, blended offbeat funk with an independent spirit that seemed destined to ensure them commercial success. Originally a trio comprising John Mulligan (bass), Dix (drums) and Luke (guitar), Fashion issued three diverse singles on their own label, spurred on by the do-it-yourself attitudes in the wake of punk. After November 1978’s ‘Steady Eddie Steady’ came ‘Citinite’ in June and then 'Perfect Product', an impressive debut album. ‘Silver Blades’ followed in March 1980, ensuring a contract with Arista Records. Now swelled to a six-piece with Martin Stoker (ex-Dance; Bureau) on drums, vocalist Tony (ex-Neon Hearts) and main songwriter De Harriss, many predicted that their resultant singles would break the band on the back of the futurist scene of the early 80s. ‘Street Player - Mechanik’ in March 1982, ‘Love Shadow’ in August and later, ‘Eye Talk’ in January 1984, all scraped the lower reaches of the chart, but failed to establish the band in the public eye. Despite this, Fashion enjoyed a strong undercurrent of support, reflected in a UK Top 10 album, 'Fabrique', in June 1982. However, interest gradually waned, the band moved to Epic, and 'Twilight Of The Idols', issued exactly two years later, was not as warmly received, despite two singles, ‘Dreaming’ in April 1984 and ‘You In The Night’ in June. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 24 de julio de 2015

Einstürzende Neubauten

Along with Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle, Germany's Einstürzende Neubauten ("collapsing new buildings") helped pioneer industrial music with an avant-garde mix of white-noise guitar drones, vocals verging on the unlistenable at times, and a clanging, rhythmic din produced by a percussion section consisting of construction materials, power tools, and various metal objects. Einstürzende Neubauten were founded by vocalist / guitarist Blixa Bargeld and percussionist / American expatriate N.U. Unruh in Berlin as a performance art collective; their early activities included a seemingly inexplicable half-naked appearance on the Berlin Autobahn, where the duo spent some time beating on the sides of a hole in an overpass. The group's early lineup also included percussionists Beate Bartel and Gudrun Gut, plus contributor and sound engineer Alexander Van Borsig.

Einstürzende Neubauten's earliest recordings are mostly unstructured, free-form noise issued on various cassettes and singles, including their first single "Fuer den Untergang," the 1981 EP 'Schwarz', and the 1982 album 'Kollaps'. Some of these recordings are compiled on the 'Strategies Against Architecture '80-'83' collection, with live shows on the cassette-only '2x4'. Bartel and Gut were replaced by ex-Abwärts member F.M. Einheit (who served as Neubauten's chief machinery operator) in 1983, when guitarist and electronics expert Alexander Hacke and Abwärts bassist Mark Chung also joined. A tour of England opening for The Birthday Party resulted in a contract with Some Bizarre Records, which released the slightly more structured 'Zeichnungen des Patienten O.T.', as well as consternation from club owners and journalists over Neubauten's stage demolitions and frequent ensuing violence. 

When Nick Cave left The Birthday Party and formed his backing band The Bad Seeds, Bargeld became the guitarist and toured and recorded with Cave over most of the decade. He remained with Neubauten, however, who released 'Halber Mensch' in 1986, showcasing their wider range of expression. The group disbanded briefly but soon re-formed, releasing albums off and on for Elektra and signing to Trent Reznor's Nothing label for 1998's 'Ende Neu'. While Bargeld remained a Bad Seed, Van Borsig and Hacke contributed to the remainder of The Birthday Party's recordings as Crime & the City Solution. In May 2000, Einstürzende Neubauten released the full-length 'Silence Is Sexy' on Mute Records. Two years later, they announced they were no longer interested in working with a traditional label and that their next recording would be made with the help of supporters. These supporters would pay a fee, receive exclusive material, and help fund the next official album. 

Despite their best intentions, Einstürzende Neubauten released their 2004 album, 'Perpetuum Mobile', on Mute. The releases for supporters that appeared over the next few years helped fund the official album 'Alles Wieder Offen', which was released on the band's own label in 2007. Elektra reissued both 'Strategies Against Architecture' compilations on CD, and another supporter album, 'Einstürzende Neubauten', arrived in mid-2007. 'The Jewels' arrived in 2008. It was compiled from a series of single-track digital downloads the band offered via its website one at a time using a game called DAVE, where deliberate and enigmatic instructions were inscribed on cards the members drew and generated ideas from -without telling one another what their cards were inscribed with. They were then used to construct and complete tracks within a day or two. In 2010, Mute released the compilation 'Strategies Against Architecture, Vol. 4', and the album 'Kollaps' was remastered and reissued by Potomak. Their 2014 effort, 'Lament', was based on music composed for a World War I memorial exhibition held in Diksmuide, Belgium.[SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 23 de julio de 2015

The Darling Buds

With their Beatles-influenced vocal harmonies and hook-laden melodies, The Darling Buds were one of the most promising bands in Wales during the late '80s and early '90s. Firmly entrenched in the "blonde" period of British indie music, the group is remembered for the singing of blonde female vocalist, Andrea Lewis (born: March 25, 1967) and the beatnik-like black clothing worn by the band's instrumentalists. 

Formed in Cardiff, Wales in 1986, The Darling Buds took their name from a comic novel, "Darling Buds of May" by British author H.E. Bates. Releasing their debut single, "If I Said," on their own label in February 1987, the group began attracting considerable attention. Reissued by the Native record label, the single was heard numerous times on John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show. 

Signing with Epic in 1988, The Darling Buds released several singles before issuing their debut full-length album, 'Pop Said', in January 1989. The album quickly reached the British Top 30 and led to an appearance on popular British TV music show, Top of the Pops. 

Just as it looked as though The Darling Buds were headed for stardom, things began to fall apart. Original drummer Bloss was replaced by Jimmy Hughes, formerly with British rock band, Black. Although they reached for a more-sophisticated sound with their second album, 'Crawdaddy', they lost the raw edge of their initial sound. The release of their third album, 'Erotica', in 1992, did little to recapture The Darling Buds' early glory. Released a few weeks before a Madonna album with the same name, it faded into obscurity before making a dent on the charts. Although they toured the United States in support of the album for a year, the members of The Darling Buds grew increasingly frustrated by their lack of commercial success and disbanded. 

Moving into acting, Lewis worked for a Cardiff theater company before agreeing to host a show, "The Slate", for BBC Wales. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

miércoles, 22 de julio de 2015

The Cannanes

Australian indie pop legends The Cannanes formed in Sydney in late 1984, originally comprising singers / guitarists Stephen O'Neil and Annabel Bleach, bassist Michelle Cannane, and drummer David Nichols; namesake Cannane left the loose-knit group early the following year, the first in a seemingly never-ending series of lineup changes which became as much a trademark as the band's resolute D.I.Y. defiance and primitivist pop aesthetic. With new bassist Frances Gibson, The Cannanes began writing and rehearsing on a more regular basis, releasing their first single 'Life / It's Hardly Worth It' in a limited edition of just 12 cassettes; another cassette, 'The Cannanes Came Across with the Goods', appeared in 1985. In April 1986 the band entered the studio for its first official session, with the resulting EP, 'Bored Angry & Jealous', declared "Single of the Year!" in NME. 

While Nichols spent the better part of the year studying in the UK, drummer Foxy signed on as his replacement; following Nichols' return, The Cannanes booked studio time to record their first proper LP, 1987's 'The African Man's Tomato', but because it was a beautiful day outside Bleach chose not to attend the sessions, with O'Neil's friend Randall Lee tapped to handle lead vocal duties instead. Coinciding with the simultaneous release of the singles "Cardboard" and "Weather," the group mounted its first live dates outside of Sydney, briefly disbanding before reuniting (minus Lee, who went on to form Nice) to cut 1989's 'A Love Affair with Nature'. Frustrated by their continuing lack of success at home -despite cult followings in the U.S. and Europe- The Cannanes then vowed to quit touring, focusing solely on recording; tapes for a planned third album were lost, however, and so the band started 'Caveat Emptor' (recorded with French horn player Nick Kidd) from scratch. 

Completed in early 1991 and planned to coincide with The Cannanes' first tour of the U.S., 'Caveat Emptor' did not see official release until mid-1993; by that time bassist Gavin Roy Butler had joined the line-up, appearing on 1994's much-acclaimed 'Short Poppy Syndrome'. Nichols then left the group -he and his brother Michael later recorded as Blairmailer- and in the wake of his exit The Cannanes went on a nine-month hiatus, during which time Butler departed as well; O'Neil and Gibson then worked briefly as a duo before recruiting bassist Francesca and drummer Ivor Moulds to record a 1996 self-titled effort. 'Arty Barbecue' -a long-in-the-works release actually predating 'Short Poppy Syndrome'- appeared later that same year, and following a brief American tour, Francesca left to have a baby; new bassist Andrew Coffey and violinist Sally Cameron signed on soon after. Trudging into the new millennium, the band released 'Communicating at an Unknown Rate' in fall 2000. The group played on occasion throughout the next decade without releasing too much new music. Shows and tours in Australia, Japan, Mexico and the U.S. filled much of the time until a resurgence of studio work in 2013 when the band released both the 'Small Batch' EP in March and the 'Howling at all Hours' full length in July of the same year. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 21 de julio de 2015

Balaam And The Angel

The gothic pop band Balaam & the Angel were formed in Birmingham, England in 1984 by the Scottish-born Morris brothers -vocalist/bassist Mark, drummer Des, and guitarist Jim. The siblings started their career while still children, playing men's clubs as a cabaret-styled act; as adults, they began as a more pop-oriented unit, but found themselves affiliated with the goth rock movement after a series of opening dates for The Cult. After founding their own label, Chapter 22 Records, Balaam & the Angel released their debut EP, 'Love Me', in 1985; the subsequent 'Day and Night' brought the group to the attention of Virgin, which issued the full-length 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' in 1987. After touring in support of Iggy Pop and Kiss, the group resurfaced with second guitarist Ian McKean in 1988 with the harder-edged 'Live Free or Die'. Like its predecessor, the LP failed to make a dent in the charts, but Balaam & the Angel soldiered on, traveling to San Francisco to record 1989's 'Days of Madness'; when it also failed commercially, Virgin opted to cut their losses and dropped the band from their contract. Under the abbreviated name Balaam, they issued the 1991 heavy metal EP 'No More Innocence'; 'Prime Time' followed in 1993. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 20 de julio de 2015


Actifed, formed in Hounslow, London, never made a great impact outside of the early 80s UK punk scene. The band, which comprised David Rogers (vocals, lead guitar), John Bristow (bass), Clinton Grace (guitar) and Stuart Hemphill (drums), were acclaimed on the London club scene of 1981, and such was their following that they appeared on the front cover of Sounds magazine the following year before they had even released any records. In retrospect, it did them few favours. By the end of the year, the same magazine had crowned them with the ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’ award, as no records had been released following protracted contractual problems with the promoter John Curd. Further complications arose with the concern of the pharmaceuticals company Actifed about the use of their name by four young men with antisocial haircuts. The upshot was a crucial delay in the beginning of the band’s recording career. They finally plucked up the courage to ask original singer Weazel to leave on 1 March 1983, prior to 'Dawn Of Legion', a sprightly four-track 12-inch released on Jungle Records, which was produced by former Generation X member Tony James. They then embarked on a major UK tour and a second single, ‘Crucifixion’, followed in June 1984. However, the planned debut album was dropped from the schedules when the group collapsed later that year. This left Actifed to be remembered as a classic case of squandered talent. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 19 de julio de 2015

Young Fresh Fellows

Unsung heroes of the Seattle rock community, the witty, rough-edged pop unit Young Fresh Fellows formed in 1982. Originally comprised of vocalist/bassist Scott McCaughey, guitarist Chuck Carroll, and drummer Tad Hutchinson, the group debuted in 1984 with 'The Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest', an understated pop nugget featuring whimsical numbers including "Teenage Dogs in Trouble," "Power Mowers Theme," and "Rock and Roll Pest Control." 

After recruiting bassist Jim Sangster to allow frontman McCaughey to switch over to the guitar, the Fellows returned to the studio for 1986's 'Topsy Turvy', spotlighting the adolescent hijinks of tracks like "You've Got Your Head on Backwards," "Hang Out Right," and "The New John Agar." The following year's 'The Men Who Loved Music' (aka "Chicago 19") and the follow-up 'Refreshments' EP solidified the band's cult following, which included among its ranks a number of other members of the indie music scene; The Replacements' Paul Westerberg considered the Fellows kindred spirits, and the two groups often toured in tandem. 

After 1988's 'Totally Lost', Carroll left the group. In the wake of his departure, the remaining three Young Fresh Fellows issued an authorized bootleg titled 'Beans and Tolerance' (aka "Simply Wonderful, Wonderfully Simple") before enlisting Fastbacks kingpin Kurt Bloch for 1989's rootsy 'This One's for the Ladies', issued concurrently with McCaughey's solo side project My Chartreuse Opinion

With producer Butch Vig in tow, the Young Fresh Fellows returned in 1991 with 'Electric Bird Digest', while Memphis R&B legend Willie Mitchell took over the production reins for 1993's then-swan song 'It's Low Beat Time'. In the wake of the Fellows' demise, McCaughey formed a new band, The Minus 5, an ever-changing aggregate of Seattle area all-stars; additionally, he toured as a sideman with his pals in R.E.M. But the Young Fresh Fellows still had some life to them after all, and a "comeback" album, 'Because We Hate You', appeared in 2001, followed eight years later by the Robyn Hitchcock-produced 'I Think This Is' from Yep Roc Records. The band's thirteenth long player, 'Tiempo De Lujo', arrived in 2012. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

sábado, 18 de julio de 2015

Clan Of Xymox

Clan of Xymox have been in the unfortunate position of always being compared to other bands since their inception. Whether it's The Cure or Joy Division, Clan of Xymox have never been able to shake off the similarities to their influences. Nevertheless, the group has produced an impressive body of work that consistently absorbed new sounds while remaining faithful to the '80s goth rock menu. 

Clan of Xymox were formed in Nijmegen, Netherlands, in 1983 by Ronny Moorings (vocals, guitar) and Anka Wolbert (bass, vocals). A year later, Moorings and Wolbert moved to Amsterdam, releasing the LP 'Subsequent Pleasures' as Xymox (The album was limited to 500 copies). Xymox then became the opening act for Dead Can Dance in England. The band's presence on Dead Can Dance's U.K. tour caught the interest of 4AD Records, and the label eventually signed them. A year later, Xymox lengthened their name to Clan of Xymox and recorded a self-titled album in 1985, followed by 'Medusa' the next year. In 1987, the group shortened its appellation to Xymox once again, contributing another version of "Muscoviet Mosquito," originally on 'Subsequent Pleasures', to the 4AD compilation 'Lonely Is an Eyesore'. After the release of the single "Blind Hearts," Xymox left 4AD and joined Polygram/Wing.

In 1989, Xymox released 'Twist of Shadows', their most commercially successful LP, selling 300,000 copies. The infectious and uncharacteristically upbeat "Phoenix of My Heart" landed on the modern rock charts in 1991. However, the full-length 'Phoenix' didn't do as well as 'Twist of Shadows'. Wolbert departed from the band that year, replaced by bassist Mojca Zugna. In 1992, Xymox left Polygram/Wing for ZOK Records. Xymox record two albums for ZOK Records -1992's 'Metamorphosis' and 1993's 'Headclouds'- before switching to Tess Records in 1997 for the album 'Hidden Faces'. Moreover, Moorings called the group Clan of Xymox once again. 

In 1999, they signed with the Metropolis label and released 'Creatures', which was followed a year later by the two-CD 'Live'. The 2001 album 'Notes from the Underground' was reinterpreted on the double remix CD 'Remixes from the Underground', which landed in 2002. 'Farewell' from 2003 was a themed album with bittersweet goodbyes to lovers and friends the main topics. The 2004 collection 'The Best of Clan of Xymox' found latter-day highlights next to re-recordings of the band's early material. Two years later, the album 'Breaking Point' was announced by the single "Weak in My Knees." The 2009 effort 'In Love We Trust' was a return to the layered sound of their 4AD years. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 17 de julio de 2015

The Walking Seeds

Liverpool, England’s premier psychedelic ‘grunge’ specialists arose early in 1986 out of the ashes of The Mel-O-Tones. In between, John Neesam (drums), Frank Martin (vocals) and Bob Parker (bass, guitar) formed The Corinthians for three months, recording a seven-track demo that formed the basis of The Walking Seeds’ set. The band’s first EP, 'Know Too Much' (1986), set the pace, fronted by the strong "Tantric Wipeout". By the time of the follow-up, ‘Marque Chapman’ (1987), Neesam had been replaced by two former members of Marshmallow Overcoat, Tony Mogan (drums) and Baz Sutton (guitar). This was followed by the extreme but patchy 'Skullfuck' (the title influenced by a Grateful Dead album cover) later that year. After lying low, the band signed to Glass Records, issuing 'Upwind Of Disaster, Downwind Of Atonement' in 1989. Recorded in New York, the presence of Bongwater’s Mark Kramer as producer helped to bring a more defined, but nevertheless uncompromising, aura to the proceedings. Sutton left to join The La’s and was briefly replaced by Andy Rowan for 1989’s 'Shaved Beatnik' EP (wherein the band admirably slaughtered Cream’s "Sunshine Of Your Love"). The mini-album, 'Sensory Deprivation Chamber Quartet Dwarf', was assisted by psychedelic wizard Nick ‘Bevis Frond’ Saloman and new bass player Lee Webster. When Glass folded, The Walking Seeds recorded ‘Gates Of Freedom’ which included a b-side cover version of Pink Floyd’s "Astronomy Dominé". This coincided with 'Bad Orb... Whirling Ball', a more considered but still aggressively garage-like effort. The Walking Seeds tore through Bevis Frond’s ‘Reflections In A Tall Mirror’, backed by his interpretation of the band’s "Sexorcist". However, at this point, the band ‘self-destructed’, despondent about their lack of success, despite recruiting ex-Dinosaur Jr guitarist Don Fleming. A swan-song was offered in 'Earth Is Hell' on the Snakeskin label, housing live material recorded in Germany earlier that year. Parker and Mogan then set up the Del-Bloods, issuing ‘Black Rabbit’ in 1991. The pair also surfaced in White Bitch for ‘Animal Woman’ and teamed up with Martin for Batloaf’s ‘Meat Out Of Hell’ soon afterwards. Webster, meanwhile, had joined Baz Sutton in Froth that same year. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

jueves, 16 de julio de 2015

Tom Verlaine

Famed for his trailblazing work as the singer and guitarist for the seminal New York punk band Television, Tom Verlaine also carved out an acclaimed and eclectic solo career. Born Thomas Miller in Wilmington, DE, in 1949, Verlaine (who borrowed his name from the French symbolist poet) was trained as a classical pianist, but gravitated toward rock music after an encounter with the Rolling Stones' "19th Nervous Breakdown." In 1968, he and bassist Richard Meyers (later Richard Hell) moved to New York's Lower East Side, where they and drummer Billy Ficca formed the group The Neon Boys. After the addition of second guitarist Richard Lloyd, the band renamed itself Television

Beginning with their landmark 1975 debut single, "Little Johhny Jewel", Television became one of the most renowned groups on the burgeoning New York underground scene; though lumped together with the punk phenomenon, the band's complex songcraft -powered by Verlaine's strangled vocals, oblique lyrics, and finely honed guitar work- clearly set them apart from their peers. However, after only two albums, 1977's classic 'Marquee Moon' and the disappointing 1978 follow-up, 'Adventure', Television disbanded, and Verlaine started a solo career. 

He resurfaced in 1979 with a self-titled debut that featured the song "Kingdom Come," later covered by avowed fan David Bowie. 1981's dense 'Dreamtime' earned significant acclaim, and even hit the U.S. album charts. Both 1982's diverse 'Words from the Front' and 1984's 'Cover' drew raves from the British press, spurring Verlaine to take up residency in London. After a three-year hiatus, he returned with 'Flash Light', regarded as one of his best solo efforts. Following 1990's 'The Wonder', Television briefly re-formed for a self-titled album and tour; the group again broke up, however, and in 1992 Verlaine issued his first instrumental LP, 'Warm and Cool'. In 1994, he composed the score for the film "Love and a .45". After that, Verlaine renewed his working relationship with Patti Smith (he played on her first two albums), playing shows and recording new material with her sporadically for the next decade. Also in the mid-'90s, sessions as producer for Jeff Buckley were scrapped (although the material was later issued as 'Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk') and Television continued to be an on-again, off-again live venture. It wasn't until 2006 that Verlaine finally released new solo material: 'Songs and Other Things' and an instrumental follow-up to 'Warm and Cool', 'Around', for new label Thrill Jockey. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 15 de julio de 2015


A trio comprised of Nina Canal, Sally Young and Jacqui Ham, Ut was born near the end of the no-wave New York scene of the late '70s. In fact, Canal had worked with no waver Robin Crutchfield in his band Dark Days before jumping ship to create Ut. Ut's music, influenced by the abrasive anti-rock of the no wave scene, was dissonant in a clangy, guitar-driven way similar to bands such as Liliput, The Slits, and the Au Pairs. But where those three bands accented the groove, Ut's backbeat was less pronounced, and was considerably more jagged and yielding. Occasionally this meant that unfocused, uninteresting tunes went on far too long, but more often it meant that the rhythms lent shape to the semi-melodic wailing, but not in a manner that limited the potential to be realized in improvised, free playing. After being ignored by New York's post-no-wavers, Ut packed it in and headed for England, where they landed on the adventurous indie label Blast First. While the English press was kinder, Ut's difficult rock noise was not for everyone. After a Steve Albini-produced 1989 release, 'Griller', Ut called it a day. For a band that remains almost completely unknown in their native country, Ut should be remembered for their decidedly skewed approach to rock & roll, one that can still be heard in the recordings of bands such as Sonic Youth, Bikini Kill, and Sleater-Kinney. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

martes, 14 de julio de 2015

The Teardrops

The Teardrops were an amalgamation of various stalwarts of the Manchester new wave scene. Buzzcocks bass player Steve Garvey was joined by original Fall bass player Tony Friel, who had played with Contact and The Passage, and drummer Karl Burns, also previously with The Fall and The Passage, plus Public Image Limited. The band’s first outing, ‘Seeing Double’, on local label TJM, was what might have been expected from the members involved: a fairly robust but murky brand of post-punk. After featuring on TJM’s "Identity Parade" sampler ("Colours"), The Teardrops released a 12-inch EP, 'Leave Me No Choice', before calling it a day with the appropriately titled 'Final Vinyl' in 1981. Burns rejoined The Fall in time for "Lie, Dream Of Casino Soul". [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 13 de julio de 2015


Long before the riot grrrl movement opened the floodgates for the widespread emergence of female artists in the male-dominated world of indie rock, the Columbus, OH-based trio Scrawl carved out their own tough-minded yet feminine niche within the underground community. Formed by singer/guitarist Marcy Mays, bassist Sue Harshe, and drummer Carolyn O'Leary, the group -originally dubbed "Skull"- debuted in the summer of 1985 by playing a 20-minute opening set for the Meat Puppets; with the financial assistance of friends, they entered the studio to record their debut effort a year later, releasing 'Plus, Also, Too' on the small No Other label in 1987. 

In the wake of the album's strong reviews, Scrawl toured extensively before signing to the Rough Trade label in 1988. 'He's Drunk', an assured indie pop effort recorded at Prince's Paisley Park Studio, soon followed, and in 1990, the trio returned with 'Smallmouth', a more intimate album produced by Gary Smith. Problems with Rough Trade forced Scrawl to depart the label in the autumn of 1990; a few months later, the company declared bankruptcy, and with its demise, the group's back catalog immediately went out of print. 

The sting of the Rough Trade debacle clearly informed 1991's superb 'Bloodsucker', recorded with Steve Albini; a biting, bitter record, it too fell prey to industry whims and poor distribution, quickly joining the group's other records in limbo. After O'Leary broke ranks, Scrawl mounted the "Foxcore, My Ass" tour as an acoustic duo, recruiting new drummer Dana Marshall prior to signing with the Simple Machines label for 1993's 'Velvet Hammer'. After jumping to Elektra, Scrawl issued their major-label debut 'Travel On, Rider' in 1996. 'Nature Film' followed two years later. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 12 de julio de 2015


Razorcuts were part of the legendary C-86 scene in the U.K. and went on to become one of the more influential indie pop groups of the 1980s. Founded in 1985 in Luton, England by Tim Vass and Gregory Webster, Razorcuts released singles on the Subway Organization and Flying Nun labels before signing with Creation and releasing their first LP, 'Storyteller', in 1988. 'World Keeps Turning' was released in 1989 but the band soon split. Vass and Webster went on to play separately in many bands including Saturn V, The Carousel, Forever People, and Sportique. In 2002 Matinee released 'R is for...Razorcuts', a collection of the duo's best recordings. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 11 de julio de 2015

The Passions

The Passions were a post-punk band formed by guitarist/vocalist Barbara Gogan, bassist Claire Bidwell, drummer Richard Williams, vocalist Mitch Barker, and guitarist Clive Temperley. Prior to forming in 1978, most of the members had spent time in other groups. Most notably, Temperley was an ex-101'er, and Williams was in Prag Vec precursors The Derelicts. The Passions debuted in March of 1979 with the "Needles and Pins" single on Soho, which helped them gain a contract with Fiction, home of The Cure. A year passed between the release of the single and 'Michael and Miranda', the band's debut LP. Another single and a pair of trips to the BBC studios for recording sessions preceded the release of their highest charting song, "I'm in Love With a German Film Star," which hit number 25 on the U.K. pop chart during the winter of 1981. At some point prior to its release, Bidwell and Barker had exited (the former to join The Wall), and David Agar took over on bass. The band's second album, '30,000 Feet Over China', was released in August 1981. Something of a split between a compilation and a new record, the LP collected a number of previously released A-sides and added several new recordings. Temperley was out by the end of the year and was replaced by Kevin Armstrong, who had played previously with Local Heroes. The group also added a keyboard player by the name of Jeff Smith, who had played with Lene Lovich. Following another pair of singles, the LP 'Sanctuary' saw the light of day in September of 1982. Shortly after that, the band dissolved. Gogan popped up again in 1998 when she released 'Made on Earth', a record made with experimentalist Hector Zazou. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 10 de julio de 2015

Ozric Tentacles

A band from another time, Ozric Tentacles served as the bridge from '70s cosmic rock to the organic dance and festival culture that came back into fashion during the '90s. Formed in 1983 with a debt to jazz fusion as well as space rock, the band originally included guitarist Ed Wynne, drummer Nick Van Gelder, keyboard player Joie Hinton, bassist Roly Wynne (Ed's brother), and second guitarist Gavin Griffiths (who left the group in 1984). The Ozrics played in clubs around London, meanwhile releasing six cassette-only albums beginning with 1984's 'Erpsongs'. (All six were later collected on the 'Vitamin Enhanced' box set, despite a threatened lawsuit from the Kellogg's cereal company for questionable artwork). In 1987, Merv Pepler replaced Van Gelder, and synthesizer player Steve Everett was also added. 

Ozric Tentacles' first major release, the 1990 album 'Erpland', foreshadowed the crusty movement, a British parallel to America's hippie movement of the '60s. Crusties borrowed the hippies' organic dress plus the cosmic thinking of new agers, and spent most of their time traveling around England to various festivals and outdoor gatherings. The movement fit in perfectly with bands like Ozric Tentacles and The Levellers, and The Ozrics' 1991 album 'Strangeitude' became their biggest seller yet, occasioning a U.S. contract with Capitol. After the British-only 'Afterswish' and 'Live Underslunky', 1993's 'Jurassic Shift' -featuring flutest John Egan, who would become known for his on-stage trance-dancing during the group's live performances, and new bassist Zia Geelani in addition to original bassist Roly Wynne, who departed the band in 1992- hit number 11 on the British charts, quite a feat for a self-produced album released on The Ozrics' own Dovetail label. The album was released in America by IRS Records, as was 1994's 'Arborescence'. Neither album translated well with American audiences -despite the band's first U.S. tour in 1994- and Hinton and Pepler left the band that year to devote their energies to their dance side project, Eat Static, releasing several albums on Planet Dog Records. 

Ozric Tentacles returned to their Dovetail label for 1995's 'Become the Other', featuring new members Rad and Seaweed, who also appeared on 1997's 'Curious Corn'. Ed Wynne's brother Roly, whose later life had been plagued with difficulties, committed suicide in 1999, a tragic development for the Wynne and Ozrics families. However, the band forged on, closing out the decade with the release of 'Waterfall Cities' that year, and during the summer of 2000 The Ozrics resurfaced with 'Swirly Termination'. The band also released 'Hidden Step' in 2000, followed by the EP 'Pyramidion' in 2002. 'Live at the Pongmasters Ball' arrived in 2002 as well, their first venture to be released on both CD and DVD. 

By 2004's 'Spirals in Hyperspace', Ozric Tentacles were largely guided by sole original member Ed Wynne, who was responsible for guitar, keyboards, and beat programming on the studio effort, which nevertheless included appearances from previous Ozrics contributors Zia, Seaweed, John Egan, and Merv Pepler, plus drummer Schoo (who had replaced Rad after the former's departure following a 2000 U.S. tour), Ed Wynne's wife Brandi Wynne on bass, and even space rock/electronica guitar legend Steve Hillage. Released in 2006, 'The Floor's Too Far Away' continued the trend of Ozrics domination by Ed Wynne. A live appearance from June 2007 was documented in 2008's 'Sunrise Festival' disc, and 2009 saw the release of a new studio album, 'The Yumyum Tree'. Inspired by Lewis Carroll, the latter album featured, in addition to Ed Wynne in the leadership role, Brandi Wynne on keyboards along with bassist Vinny Shillito and drummer Roy Brosh. Yet another permutation of the latter-day Ozrics was a true Wynne family affair, with Ed joined by his son -and the late Roly's nephew- Silas on synths, wife Brandi back on bass replacing Shillito, and Ollie Seagle on drums. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 9 de julio de 2015

Colin Newman

Although Colin Newman is most readily associated with Wire, like bandmates Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis, he has undertaken numerous additional creative endeavors. Across a range of projects, the Wire guitarist/vocalist has consistently reinvented himself, venturing from post-punk art pop into ambient, electronic territory, along the way producing other artists and setting up his own label. 

Newman was born in Salisbury, England, in 1954 and attended Watford School of Art, where he studied under Peter Schmidt. At Watford, he formed Wire with Bruce Gilbert in 1976 and the band quickly emerged as one of British punk's more innovative, intelligent acts. Having evolved at a breathtaking pace over three albums that were among the period's most influential records ('Pink Flag', 'Chairs Missing', and '154'), the group went on hiatus in early 1980. 

With Wire producer Mike Thorne, Newman immediately embarked on a solo album, 'A-Z', much of which had been written during the making of '154'. Recognizing 'A-Z''s commercial viability, Newman's U.S. label suggested extensive touring to break the album, but since he had already been through this process with Wire, and with little success, he declined. (The 'A-Z' track "Alone" would later be heard by millions on the soundtrack to Jonathan Demme's "The Silence of the Lambs").

For the follow-up, 'Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish', Newman and Thorne parted company. Thorne was convinced of Newman's chart potential but Newman wasn't interested in making purely commercial records. Inspired partly by Lewis and Gilbert's experiments as Dome, 'The Singing Fish' was a moderately ambient, Eno-esque exercise. Although he re-adopted a more conventional, group-based, rock approach for 1982's 'Not To', Newman had become increasingly frustrated with the music business and, after producing the Virgin Prunes' 'If I Die, I Die', disappeared to India for a year. 

Following Newman's return to Britain in 1984, Wire resumed its activities, releasing 'The Ideal Copy' in 1986. The next five years were especially productive as Newman kept his creative options open, recording and touring with Wire and also pursuing solo projects. Having produced Minimal Compact's 'Raging Souls', Newman moved to Brussels and, in collaboration with Minimal Compact's Malka Spigel, made two more albums, 'Commercial Suicide' (1986) and the synthesizer-based 'It Seems' (1988). Throughout this period, both Wire's and Newman's own recordings became increasingly computer-oriented. While advances in digital technology prompted Wire drummer Robert Gotobed's departure and temporarily ended the band's existence as a foursome, they also stimulated a new phase in Newman's work. 

With Spigel, he relocated to London in the early '90s, founded the Swim label, and put out records by diverse electronic artists including Ronnie & Clyde, Lobe, dol-lop, and Pablo's Eye. Energized by the flourishing techno and electronica scenes, Newman collaborated with Spigel during the '90s on her 'Rosh Ballata' (1993) and under various monikers: Oracle, Immersion, Earth, Oscillating, and Intens

In 1996, as Immersion, the pair contributed a sound installation to a group show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. The following year saw the release of 'Bastard', an album of instrumental, melodic electronica that was Newman's first self-credited record since 'It Seems'. In addition to working on Spigel's second full-length record, 'My Pet Fish', co-producing Silo's 'Instar', and remixing such diverse bands as Bowery Electric, Hawkwind, and Gentle Giant, Newman returned to performance in 1998-1999, playing gigs in Europe and America with Spigel. Another Immersion album, the abstract, ambient 'Low Impact', followed, and 2000 found Newman and Spigel again playing live as Immersion, this time with more of a multimedia emphasis. 

Just as Newman had recaptured some of punk's original D.I.Y. spirit with the foundation of the Swim label, in 2001 he continued in the same vein with the launch of -a web-based store aimed at the distribution of independently released music. 

Amid this flurry of millennial activity, Newman also regrouped with Wire for concerts in the U.K. and the U.S. in 2000 and the band eventually began recording again. The first entirely new Wire material in over a decade appeared on 2002's 'Read & Burn 01'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 8 de julio de 2015


M/A/R/R/S' lone single "Pump Up the Volume" remains a watershed in the -hop into dance music and ultimately the pop mainstream. The 1987 single was the brainchild of 4AD chief Ivo Watts-Russell, who assembled M/A/R/R/S' lineup from the ranks of label acts Colourbox and A.R. Kane. The concept behind the single was to fuse the rhythms and beats from classic soul recordings with state-of-the-art electronics and production, complete with scratches by champion mixer Chris "C.J." Mackintosh and London DJ Dave Dorrell. Originally mailed in an anonymous white label to a group of 500 influential DJs, "Pump Up the Volume" derived its title from the Eric B. & Rakim rap snippet that was the disc's most obvious sample. It appeared commercially six weeks later, debuting in the Top 40 of the U.K. chart and eventually reaching number one, where for untold listeners it served as an introduction to the nascent underground dance scene. "Pump Up the Volume" was also a hit overseas, but plans for a follow-up never materialized as M/A/R/R/S quickly disintegrated in the wake of financial squabbling, becoming a one-hit wonder of rare influence. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

martes, 7 de julio de 2015

Laughing Clowns

Ed Kuepper's Laughing Clowns were a bit more off the beaten path than The Saints, the infamous Australian punk band Kuepper played guitar for during the '70s. Integrating jazz influences into their unique take on post-punk, the Laughing Clowns released several records between 1980 and 1985, before Kuepper began his solo career. They made their debut in 1980 with a self-titled, six-song EP on Aussie independent Missing Link. At the time of its recording, the band was Kuepper on vocals and guitar, Ben Wallace-Crabbe on bass, Dan Wallace-Crabbe on piano, Jeffrey Wegener on drums, and Bob Farrell on saxophone. In 1982, after the release of a clutch of singles and a compilation of old material, called 'Reign of Terror/Throne of Blood', the group relocated to London and underwent some major lineup shuffling. Only Kuepper and Wegener remained on board, with bassist Leslie Millar, saxophonist Louise Elliot, and trumpet player Peter Doyle filling out the lineup. After another single, they released their 1982 debut LP, 'Mr. Uddich Schmuddich Goes to Town', on the Prince Melon label. Confusingly, another self-titled release was in Australian record shop bins by the end of the year, which extended the reach of 'Reign of Terror'. An album of new material, 'Everything That Flies', was also issued by the end of 1982, but it only received distribution in Germany through Rough Trade (in another perplexing move, a truncated version of the record was later released in the U.K. under the title 'Laughter Around the Table'). The 'Law of Nature' studio LP was released in 1984 through Australia's Hot label, followed closely by 'History of Rock N' Roll, Vol. 1', a best-of package. The band's final studio LP, 'Ghosts of an Ideal Wife', was released in 1985. After breaking up, Kuepper flew solo and also formed The Aints. In 1995, the repackaged/recycle-happy Hot label released 'Golden Days: When Giants Walked the Earth', a -you guessed it- highlights compilation of Laughing Clowns favorites. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 6 de julio de 2015

Killing Joke

Heavy and slow, Killing Joke (at least early in their career) were a quasi-metal band dancing to a tune of doom and gloom. They eventually became less heavy and more arty (the latter seems almost impossible) -more danceable, even- but early on they made some urgent slabs of molten dynamite that oozed with the power of thick guitars, thudding drums, and over the top singing. The origins of Killing Joke lie in The Matt Stagger Band. Paul Ferguson was drumming for the group when he met Jaz Coleman (vocals, keyboards) in the late '70s. Coleman joined The Matt Stagger Band briefly, but soon he and Ferguson split to form Killing Joke in late 1978. The duo recruited bassist Youth (born Martin Glover Youth), who had previously played with the punk group The Rage, and guitarist Geordie (born Kevin Walker) to complete the band's lineup. Killing Joke moved to Notting Hill Gate and recorded their debut EP, 'Almost Red', with money borrowed from Coleman's girlfriend at the time. BBC disc jockey John Peel was impressed by the EP and offered the group a session on his show, which became one of the most popular shows he broadcast in the late '70s. By the end of 1979, the group had signed with Island Records, who allowed them to set up their own label, Malicious Damage. 

Killing Joke released "Wardance", their debut single, on Malicious Damage, in February of 1980. Following its release, Killing Joke and Malicious Damage switched from Island Records to EG and the band released their eponymous debut album. The group began playing shows regularly throughout England and gained a reputation for being controversial. Their artwork often featured repulsive or inflammatory images, and after one of their concert posters pictured the Pope blessing legions of Nazis, the group was banned from performing a concert in Glasgow. Despite the controversy, the group began amassing a following of both punk and disco fans with hard-edged but danceable singles like "Psyche" and "Follow the Leader". The band released its second album, 'What's THIS For...!', in 1981. 

After recording and releasing the group's third album, 1982's 'Revelations', Jaz Coleman -who had developed an obsession with the occult- decided that the Apocalypse was near, so he left the group and ran away to Iceland with Geordie. While in Iceland, Coleman and Geordie worked with a number of Icelandic bands, most notably Theyr, which would later evolve into The Sugarcubes. Youth followed Coleman to Iceland shortly after his departure. After a few months with no sign of the end of the world, Youth returned to England and formed Brilliant with Ferguson. However, Ferguson left shortly after the group's formation and moved to Iceland with Killing Joke's new bassist, Paul Raven. Youth continued playing with Brilliant, while Killing Joke's new lineup -featuring Coleman, Geordie, Ferguson, and Raven- worked in Iceland for a brief period. Soon, the group returned to England and recorded 'Fire Dances', which was released in 1983. 'Fire Dances' demonstrated a calmer, more straightforward band than the one showcased on the group's earlier records. 

For the rest of the '80s, Killing Joke continued to release albums, all of which failed to regain the audience they had in the early '80s. After 1988's 'Outside the Gate', the group broke up, only to reunite two years later for 'Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions'. 'Extremities' featured a new drummer, Martin Atkins, and returned the band to the noisy dance experiments of their earlier records. Following its release, the group took a four-year break. In 1994, Killing Joke re-formed as a trio with Coleman, Geordie, and Youth and the group released 'Pandemonium', a harder-edged, heavier album than its previous records. 'Democracy' (1996), a second self-titled album (2003), and the live celebration 'XXV Gathering!' followed. After opening for the reunited Mötley Crüe on a 2004 tour of the U.K., the band settled in Prague to record its next album, 'Hosannas from the Basement of Hell', which appeared in 2006. In October of 2007, Paul Raven died of heart failure in Geneva, Switzerland. The original lineup of Coleman, Geordie, Youth, and Paul Ferguson all attended the funeral and decided to reunite in honor of both Raven and Killing Joke. After a worldwide tour, this lineup entered the studio and recorded the 2010 release 'Absolute Dissent'. Touring and archival releases kept the band busy for the next few years with 'The Singles Collection: 1979-2012' arriving in 2013, while 2014 saw the release of both the remix set 'In Dub' and the live album 'Down by the River'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

domingo, 5 de julio de 2015


Japan's evolution from rather humble glam rock beginnings into stylish synth pop (and beyond) made the British group one of the more intriguing and successful artists of their era. Formed in London in 1974, Japan began its existence as a quintet comprised of singer/songwriter David Sylvian, bassist Mick Karn, keyboardist Richard Barbieri, drummer (and Sylvian's brother) Steve Jansen and guitarist Rob Dean. In their primary incarnation, the group emulated the sound and image of glam rockers like David Bowie and The New York Dolls; Sylvian's over-the-top vocals, much in the vein of Bryan Ferry, also earned Japan frequent (if derisive) comparisons to Roxy Music

After winning a label-sponsored talent contest, they were signed to Germany's Ariola-Hansa Records in 1977 and debuted a year later with a pair of LPs, 'Adolescent Sex' and 'Obscure Alternatives', which received little notice at home or in the U.S. but did find favor among Japanese audiences. With 1979's 'Quiet Life', Japan made a tremendous leap into more sophisticated stylistic and subtle territory; a subsequent hit single covering Smokey Robinson's "I Second That Emotion" further underscored the newfound soulfulness of their music. 

1980s 'Gentlemen Take Polaroids' continued to broaden Japan's scope, incorporating a variety of exotic influences into their increasingly atmospheric sound. With 1981's 'Tin Drum' (recorded minus Dean), the band peaked: tapping sources as diverse as funk and Middle Eastern rhythms, the album moved beyond pop confines into experimental tones and textures, and scored a U.K. smash with the single "Ghosts".

However, 'Tin Drum' also proved to be Japan's swan song: long-simmering differences among the bandmembers came to a head when Karn's girlfriend moved in with Sylvian, and the group disbanded in 1982. The individual members quickly forged ahead with their projects: Sylvian began a successful solo career and also entered into a series of collaborations with performers like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Holger Czukay and Robert Fripp, while Karn issued a 1982 solo LP, 'Titles', before founding the short-lived duo Dali's Car with Bauhaus' Peter Murphy. In 1986, meanwhile, Jansen and Barbieri issued 'Worlds in a Small Room' under their own names before recording together as The Dolphin Brothers

In 1987, Karn released 'Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters', a solo LP which featured contributions from Sylvian and Jansen, spurring rumors of a reunion which came to fruition in 1989 when the four principal members re-teamed under the name Rain Tree Crow. By the time an eponymously-titled album appeared in 1991, however, relations had again dissolved in acrimony, and the musicians went their separate ways; while Sylvian continued working independently, as the decade wore on Karn, Jansen and Barbieri occasionally reunited in various projects while also maintaining solo careers. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 3 de julio de 2015

Half Japanese

Few of punk rock's founding fathers could have anticipated the extreme to which Half Japanese took the music's D.I.Y. ethos. Founded by brothers Jad and David Fair, Half Japanese were quite probably the most amateurish rock band to make a record since The Shaggs, all but ignoring musical basics like chords, rhythms, and melody. However, the brothers made that approach into a guiding aesthetic, steadfastly refusing to progress in their primitive musicianship over a career that lasted decades. David Fair's article "How to Play Guitar" outlined the Half Japanese philosophy: if you rejected conventional ideas about fingering, tuning, and even stringing a guitar, there were no limits on how you could express yourself on what was, after all, your instrument. 

Half Japanese's proponents (who included Kurt Cobain) saw them as the epitome of a pure, unbridled enthusiasm for rock & roll, the ultimate expression of punk's dictum that rock should be accessible to anyone who wanted to pick up an instrument and play. Detractors found them gratingly noisy, borderline unlistenable, and too self-conscious and willful about their naïveté. That naïveté extended to their lyrical outlook, too, not just their technical abilities; when they weren't singing about horror movies or tabloid headlines, most of their songs were about girls, veering between innocent longing and wounded sexual frustration. Early on, with less outside influence, their work was more chaotic and cathartic; as time passed, David Fair became a sporadic contributor, and the prolific Jad built a core of semi-regular backing musicians who brought a rudimentary sense of songcraft to the proceedings. 

Jad and David Fair formed Half Japanese in their bedroom in the mid-'70s. Accounts differ as to exactly when (somewhere around 1975-1977) and where (either Michigan or their eventual base of Maryland; the family apparently moved around a lot). It is known that the brothers made their first home recordings in 1977, issuing their debut EP that year, 'Calling All Girls', on their own 50 Skidillion Watts label. Several homemade cassettes circulated in the underground, which resulted in a deal with the small British independent Armageddon. In 1980, Half Japanese became the first band in history to release a three-record box set as its debut album; '1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts' collected some of their earlier home recordings, while throwing in barely recognizable covers (The Temptations, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan) and sound experiments cobbled together from guitar noise, electronics, and odd effects. Yet their primary influences were clearly the minimalism of the Velvet Underground and the innocence of Jonathan Richman, with some Iggy Pop angst at times. Over the years, '1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts' became something of a cult legend (helped out by its scarcity), and foreshadowed the lo-fi movement of early-'90s indie rock. 

A second album for Armageddon, the aptly titled 'Loud', followed in 1981; it matched the brothers' atonal squall and stream-of-consciousness compositions with a supporting cast of free jazz musicians. 'The Horrible' EP -a collection of songs paying tribute to horror movies- followed on Press in 1983. Around that time, Jad Fair began a concurrent and equally prolific solo career, releasing records under his own name, and in collaborative side projects well into the '90s. Moving to the Iridescence label, Half Japanese took a musical step forward on 1984's 'Our Solar System', which flitted between rock and improvised chamber jazz while using different musicians in different contexts. Some of those musicians -multi-instrumentalist John Dreyfuss, guitarist Don Fleming (also of B.A.L.L., The Velvet Monkeys, and Gumball), bassist/guitarist Mark Jickling, and drummer Jay Spiegel among them- would continue to work with Half Japanese in the years to come. Featuring many of the same musicians, the follow-up, 1984's 'Sing No Evil', was an even greater concession to accessibility (relatively speaking, of course) with its improved sense of songwriting and structure; it's still acclaimed by many as one of the band's best works. 

Iridescence subsequently went under, and the band revived its 50 Skidillion Watts imprint with help from an avowed fan, magician Penn Jillette. In 1987, David Fair took a temporary leave of absence to attend to his family; for the remainder of the band's existence, he would come and go as time permitted. Recording without his brother for the first time (as Half Japanese), Jad Fair worked with Shimmy Disc label honcho Kramer on 1987's 'Music to Strip By', which spun off the single "U.S. Teens Are Spoiled Bums" and continued the trend toward greater musicality. David Fair returned for 1988's upbeat 'Charmed Life', which earned some of the strongest reviews of Half Japanese's career. He had departed once again by the time of the more experimental follow-up, 1989's 'The Band That Would Be King', which found Jad Fair backed by Kramer and free improvisation gurus John Zorn and Fred Frith, along with several semi-regular bandmembers. The loose, spontaneous vibe carried over to the next album, 1990's uneven 'We Are They Who Ache With Amorous Love', which appeared on the New Jersey label T.E.C. Tones. It featured a large cast of Half Japanese cohorts past and present, including the musicians who would anchor the '90s lineup: guitarist John Sluggett, Swiss-born drummer Gilles-Vincent Rieder, guitarist/bassist Mick Hobbs, and bassist Jason Willett, plus longtime supporter Mark Jickling. 

The year 1993 brought Half Japanese the greatest visibility of their career. Longtime fan Kurt Cobain -a champion of innocent, amateurish indie rock acts like The Vaselines and The Raincoats- invited Half Japanese to open the East Coast leg of Nirvana's 'In Utero' tour. A documentary film on Half Japanese, titled "The Band That Would Be King", after their recent album, was released to art-house theaters by director Jeff Feuerzeig, and T.E.C. Tones also reissued '1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts' as a two-CD set. In the meantime, Half Japanese released a new album, 'Fire in the Sky', on the Safe House label. One of the most straightforward rock records in their catalog, it boasted a guest appearance from onetime Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker, who sometimes used Half Japanese as a touring band, and frequently welcomed Jad Fair as a guest on her own records. Released in 1995, 'Hot' continued the rock-oriented approach of its predecessor; the same year, Safe House released a double-disc, career-spanning retrospective, the ironically titled 'Greatest Hits'. 

The following year, Jad and David reunited under their own names to record the album 'Best Friends'. The year 1997 brought 'Heaven Sent', which appeared on drummer Gilles Vincent's own Kitty Kitty label; its title track -the product of a session for Amsterdam radio- was over an hour long, and was believed to be the longest "song" ever released. The same year, Half Japanese signed with Alternative Tentacles and issued 'Bone Head'. In the years that followed, the band's flood of recorded material finally began to slow to a trickle, although Jad Fair stayed busy as a solo artist and continued his work in the visual arts (his paintings were exhibited periodically in Europe). After a four-year absence, Half Japanese finally returned in 2001 with their second album for Alternative Tentacles, 'Hello'. The group stayed quiet after that, but in 2014, Fire Records launched a Half Japanese catalog reissue program with a new pressing of '1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts', followed by 'Volume 1: 1981-1985', a collection that included the albums 'Loud', 'Our Solar System', and 'Sing No Evil'. In late 2013, Jad and David Fair announced that they had returned to the studio, with Deerhoof's John Dieterich as producer, to record Half Japanese's follow-up to 'Hello'. Titled 'Overjoyed', the album was released by Joyful Noise on September 2, 2014. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC