miércoles, 30 de marzo de 2016

The Wolfgang Press


Enigmatic, moody, and challenging, Britain's Wolfgang Press were one of the most mercurial talents of the post-punk era, restlessly moving from gothic noise to dark balladry to eccentric funk; paradoxically, the group was also the 4AD label's longest tenured artist -even their stylish album packages were all the product of the same designer, Alberto Ricci

Formed in London in 1983, The Wolfgang Press comprised vocalist Michael Allen, guitarist Andrew Gray, and keyboardist Mark Cox. Allen and Cox first teamed in the group Rema Rema, which also featured Adam & the Ants alum Marco Perroni; after reuniting in the short-lived quartet Mass, the duo recruited Gray, and as The Wolfgang Press issued their cacophonous, gloomy debut LP, 'The Burden of Mules', in 1983. An EP trilogy co-produced by Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie followed in quick succession: while 1984's 'Scarecrow' was a lighter, more streamlined affair, 1985's 'Water' spotlighted ominously sparse torch songs, and the same year's 'Sweatbox' explored deconstructionist pop. 


The Wolfgang Press' second full-length effort, 1986's 'Standing Up Straight', incorporated industrial and orchestral influences into the mix, while the 'Big Sex' EP's "God's Number" offered a soulful backing chorus, a harbinger of things to come. Indeed, after 1988's hypnotic 'Bird Wood Cage' and its leadoff single, "King of Soul," introduced strong elements of dub, reggae, and R&B, the trio took the full plunge into the dance arena with 1991's 'Queer', an idiosyncratic outing admittedly inspired by De La Soul's landmark "3 Feet High and Rising"; the first single, a surreal cover of the Randy Newman-penned "Mama Told Me Not to Come," was a minor hit. 1995's 'Funky Little Demons' completed The Wolfgang Press' transition into white funk; prior to its release, however, Cox exited the group's ranks. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 29 de marzo de 2016

The Three Johns


A side group started in 1982 by Mekons co-founder Jon Langford, The Three Johns, originally made up of Langford, John Hyatt, Phillip "John" Brennan, and a drum machine, specialized in abrasive, politically charged, danceable rock. Sounding almost nothing like Langford's main band, the Johns were a silly-serious bunch of political and cultural provocateurs. Recording during the height of Margaret Thatcher's ill-conceived Tory rebellion, the Johns were openly antagonistic to this new, conservative vision of Britain's future. And while their elliptical and epigrammatic lyrics might not offer the sloganeering that would easily identify them as lefties, certainly there were enough hints dropped along the way to remove any doubt. Unlike other rock agit-prop, the Johns played a fairly accessible version of polemical post-punk anti-pop that embraced big, messy arena-rock-sounding guitars and hard, repetitive, quasi-hip-hop dance beats. Perhaps the most subversive thing about the Johns is that, despite Langford's and Hyatt's goofy vocals, they were, in their own weird way, pure pop for now people, especially those who hated Thatcher. With collective tongue planted firmly in cheek, the Johns took on British and American obsession with materialism, the diabolical Reagan-Thatcher lovefest, the machinations of the pop music industry, all of it done with a great sense of humor mixed in with genuine fear and horror. Frequently hard to pin down, the Johns reveled in being slippery, exhibiting a love and loathing for pop music. In some respects, the Johns resembled friends and fellow Leeds, England mates the Gang of Four, but where the Gang of Four was dour and serious (bordering on academic), the Johns were loutish and boisterous, which when combining politics and rock & roll can, ultimately, be a good thing. After the release of 'Eat Your Sons' in 1990, Jon Langford turned his attention full-time to the Mekons, putting The Three Johns on what has turned out to be an indefinite sabbatical. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 28 de marzo de 2016

Shonen Knife


The Japanese trio Shonen Knife have made major fans out of alt-rock's elite (Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and Redd Kross, among others) and built a solid, worldwide cult following with their Ramones meets The Beatles brand of sticky sweet punk-pop. Comprising members Michie Nakatani (vocals, bass), Naoko Yamano (vocals, guitar), and Atsuko Yamano (drums), Shonen Knife originally formed during December of 1981 in their hometown of Osaka, Japan (all three members were working at the time as office clerks), before playing their first real show in March of the following year. Soon after, the group began issuing albums in its native land, including 1982's cassette-only release 'Minna Tanoshiku' (English translation: 'Everybody Happy?'), 1983's 'Burning Farm', 1984's 'Yama No Attchan', and 1986's 'Pretty Little Baka Guy' (the latter of which was reissued with extra tracks four years later, under the title 'Pretty Little Baka Guy/Live in Japan'). Although their records were only available in the U.S. via import, Shonen Knife struck a chord with the underground with a track that appeared on the "Sub Pop 100" compilation in 1986. Also, in 1989, a variety of alternative bands recorded renditions of their favorite Shonen Knife songs for the tribute album "Every Band Has a Shonen Knife Who Loves Them". 

The first Shonen Knife release to be issued outside of Japan, a 1990 self-titled compilation featured the entire 'Burning Farm' and 'Yama No Attchan' albums, as well as three tracks that were only previously available on the obscure Japanese comp Aura Music. Shortly thereafter, the group began touring America on a somewhat regular basis, supporting their 1991 release '712' with some dates opening for Nirvana just prior to the runaway success of Cobain and company's now-classic "Nevermind" album. Now the hip band to name-drop, Shonen Knife signed their first major U.S. recording contract with Capitol, resulting in the release of one of their finest (and best-known) albums, 1992's 'Let's Knife'. A year later, the group switched to the Virgin label, issuing 'Rock Animals', which would spawn a semi-popular MTV video with "Tomato Head" (even landing a spot on the station's popular animated series "Beavis & Butthead"). 


In 1994 the trio performed as part of the traveling alternative rock festival Lollapalooza and contributed a cover of "Top of the World" to The Carpenters tribute album "If I Were a Carpenter", while Virgin issued an 18-track collection of rare tracks, 'Birds & the B-Sides', in 1996. Although they were able to greatly expand their U.S. fan base, Shonen Knife never obtained the breakthrough success that was expected by many, resulting in the group returning to the independents and issuing such further releases as 1997's 'Brand New Knife', 1998's 'Happy Hour', and the 2000 Japan-only release 'Strawberry Sound' (which featured the band's revamped lineup of Atsuko Yamano on bass and Mana Nishiura, who joined Shonen Knife after Nakatani left in 1999, on drums). 

Vocalist Naoko Yamano was the only original member for the mid- to late 2000s, but even after 20-plus years, and difficulties maintaining a consistent lineup, the band showed no signs of slowing. In 2005, Oglio reissued the band's first four albums, and the band released 'Genki Shock' in Japan; late that year, Nishiura was killed in a New Jersey traffic accident while touring with DMBQ. Both Shonen Knife and DMBQ performed at a tribute concert for Nishiura that was held in Kyoto in spring 2006, shortly before the U.S. release of 'Genki Shock'. Shonen Knife continued on with drummer Etsuko Nakanishi and bassist Ritsuko Taneda, releasing a live album and another full-length titled 'Super Group' in 2009. A few months after completing 2010's 'Free Time', drummer Nakanishi parted ways with the band, to be replaced by Emi Morimoto; the Yamano/Taneda/Morimoto lineup released 'Pop Tune' in 2012 and 'Overdrive' in 2014. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 27 de marzo de 2016

Poison Idea


Nihilistic Portland, Oregon hardcore outfit Poison Idea was formed in 1980 by frontman Jerry A., guitarist Tom Roberts, bassist Chris Tense, and drummer Dean Johnson. The group debuted three years later with the EP 'Pick Your King', cramming 13 songs into a 16-minute time frame; the 'Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes' EP followed in 1985, fine-tuning the band's blistering sound and fatalistic worldview. Thanks to their notoriously insatiable diet of drugs, alcohol, and junk food, the members of Poison Idea all ballooned past the 300-pound mark by the time of their 1986 full-length 'Kings of Punk', with Roberts -who then tipped the scales at an impressive 450 pounds- rechristening himself Pig Champion in honor of the occasion. Tense and Johnson were then dismissed from the lineup, although the former returned in time for 1987's 'War All the Time', recorded with second guitarist Eric "Vegetable" Olsen and drummer Steve "Thee Slayer Hippy" Hanford; Tense was then replaced by bassist Mondo for 1988's 'Filthkick' EP. Both the 'Darby Crash Rides Again' and 'Ian MacKaye' EPs followed a year later, along with another period of roster tumult, which made way for the addition of guitarist Kid Cocksman (soon to be replaced by Aldine Striknine) and bassist Myrtle Tickner. Poison Idea returned in 1990 with 'Feel the Darkness', with a series of live releases (the 'Official Bootleg' EP, the 'Live in Vienna' EP, and the 'Dutch Courage' LP) preceding 1992's 'Blank Blackout Vacant'. A collaboration with Jeff Dahl appeared a year later, concurrent with the covers album 'Pajama Party'; however, in the wake of Pig Champion's subsequent departure, Poison Idea disbanded, releasing their June 6, 1993 farewell gig at Portland's La Luna as 'Pig's Last Stand'. The breakup was short-lived, however, and they were back at it by the end of 1999, with Jerry A. and Pig Champion joined by guitarist Matt Brainard, bassist Chris Carey, and drummer Chris Cuthbert. Guitarist Jimmy Taylor replaced Brainard for a European tour in 2003, but ended up staying on as a permanent addition for further touring, as well as the 2005 recording of material that would become their next album, 'Latest Will and Testament'. In January of 2006, Pig Champion passed away at age 47 of undetermined causes. 'Latest Will and Testament' saw release that May, though the band didn't play live again for over a year. They played and recorded intermittently in the time following Pig's death, with more multiple lineup changes and only a little bit of new music seeing release, usually in the form of split 7" singles. On a five-week tour of Europe in 2012, Jerry A. developed a foot infection that medical professionals advised was serious enough to merit the band canceling the tour completely. A. declined, suffering through the infection and completing the tour, with the consequence of having two toes amputated when he finally returned home. In late 2013, the band announced yet another lineup change, with Natalie Lucio joining up as bassist -the first-ever female member of the band. Eric "Vegetable" Olsen returned to the fold around this time as well, ending nearly 25 years of absence since the last time he'd played with Poison Idea. The next few years brought even more touring, with the announcement of new record 'Confuse and Conquer' slated for release on Southern Lord in spring of 2015. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 26 de marzo de 2016

Thee Milkshakes


When his punk band, The Pop Rivets, broke up in 1980, Billy Childish formed a new group with Mickey Hampshire, a Pop Rivets roadie who had been performing in a group called Mickey and the Milkshakes. The two began writing songs together and released their first LP, 'Talkin’ About', in 1981. With Childish on guitar and vocals, Hampshire on guitar and vocals, Bruce Brand on drums, and Russ Wilkins (later replaced by John Agnew) on bass, Thee Milkshakes sound was a primitive blend of British beat groups, like the early Kinks at their toughest, and hard-rocking American guitar instrumentalists, like Link Wray. This sound came to be known as the “Medway sound” and Childish has been playing a variation on it throughout his whole career. Thee Milkshakes were a very prolific group, recording nine records in their six years together. Childish and Hampshire split the lead vocal duties and the band was very much a blend of Childish’s primitive songwriting and Hampshire’s more melodic leanings. The group also masterminded and backed a Medway girl group, The Delmonas. Thee Milkshakes broke up in 1984 and Childish, Brand, and Agnew went on to form Thee Mighty Caesars where Childish’s raw punk-blues could roam untainted by any semblance of professionalism. [SOURCE: DAMAGED GOODS

viernes, 25 de marzo de 2016

Ludus


Ludus are one of the less-known Manchester bands of the post-punk era. Formed in 1978 by former Manicured Noise guitarist Arthur Kadmon, the group initially consisted of former Nosebleeds drummer Philip Tolman, bassist Willie Trotter, and vocalist Linder (Linda Mulvey), a Manchester scenester who designed record sleeves and posters for Buzzcocks and Magazine. She also became a close friend of Morrissey, who was significantly inspired by her. Ludus debuted on Richard Boon's New Hormones label in 1980 with 'The Visit', a 12" single. Another single, 'My Cherry Is in Sherry', followed months later. By the time of 1981's five-song 'Pickpocket' cassette, the band's membership changed to Linder, guitarist/bassist Ian Devine, and drummer Graham Dids. The cassette was followed with the 'Mother's Hour' single and the debut LP 'The Seduction'. 'Danger Came Smiling', the band's sophomore LP, appeared in August of 1982. The confrontational Linder, who wasn't foreign to taking the stage donning a dildo and slices of meat (her menstrual egg timer was given a catalog number by Manchester's infamous Factory label), eventually became less involved with music to be further involved with the visual arts. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 24 de marzo de 2016

Thee Hypnotics


Fusing hard rock muscle with the high-decibel rebellion of Detroit rock trailblazers such as MC5 and The Stooges, Thee Hypnotics' maximum-impact approach came along just as the likeminded grunge explosion was starting to take off, and while the band never quite broke through in the United States, it won its fair share of press and popularity at home in the United Kingdom. Comprised of vocalist James Jones, guitarist Ray Hanson, bassist Will Pepper, and drummer Mark Thompson, Thee Hypnotics came together in their hometown of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, a community not far from London. The group made its recording debut in 1988 with the single "Love in a Different Vein," and the disc made enough of a splash for the band to score a record deal with Situation 2, a subsidiary of the respected British label Beggars Banquet. 


In 1989, Thee Hypnotics scored a minor hit with the epochal single "Justice in Freedom," which they soon followed up with an EP, 'Live'r Than God!', recorded during their first major British tour. 'Live'r Than God!' also became Thee Hypnotics' American debut when Seattle's fabled Sub Pop label picked it up for American release, enriched with a handful of studio tracks. The band was bumped up to the official Beggars label in the U.K. (and RCA in the United States) for its first full-length album, 'Come Down Heavy', a relatively lavish affair that found Mark Thompson replaced by new percussionist Phil Smith, and Phil May and Dick Taylor of legendary British beat reprobates The Pretty Things sitting in. While the album was well-received in England, Thee Hypnotics' American tour (where they opened for The Cult) was derailed by an auto accident, and second guitarist Robert Zyn was added to the lineup to pick up the slack. 

A second album, 'Soul, Glitter & Sin: Tales from the Sonic Underworld', was released in 1991 to less enthusiastic reviews, and after another round of touring Zyn was replaced by former Iggy Pop sideman Craig Pike. Sadly, Pike's short stint with Thee Hypnotics came to a dramatic close when he died of a drug overdose in 1992. In 1994, Thee Hypnotics regrouped with a new record deal (with Rick Rubin's American Recordings) and a new album, 'The Very Crystal Speed Machine', which was produced by The Black Crowes' vocalist Chris Robinson and featured several other members of the Crowes sitting in. The album was well reviewed but sold poorly, and proved to be the group's last hurrah. James Jones later sang with the group Black Moses, while bassist Will Pepper recorded with Epic Soundtracks and Hurricane #1. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 23 de marzo de 2016

Guadalcanal Diary


While frequently lumped in with such Southern alternative pop bands as R.E.M. and Let's Active, Guadalcanal Diary was distinctly different from its peers, with a sound that was at once melodic and rhythmically aggressive, and a decidedly literary and spiritual bent to the group's lyrics. And at a time when Athens, Georgia, was being hailed as the new center of the smart-pop universe, Guadalcanal Diary hailed from Marietta, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb where the band formulated its sound with little input or influence from the local rock scene. 

Guadalcanal Diary was formed in 1981 by guitarist and singer Murray Attaway and lead guitarist Jeff Walls, who'd first met in high school and joined a punk band called Strictly American. Rhett Crowe, who was sharing a house with Attaway at the time and was learning to play bass guitar, joined the new band's lineup, and shortly before the new group's first show, John Poe, a former bassist who has worked with Walls, was recruited to play drums when their original timekeeper quit at the last minute. Attaway's roommate chose the name "Guadalcanal Diary", from a book by Richard Tregaski about the U.S. campaign against Japan during World War II, enamored of the name's surface ambiguities and undertones of patriotism and warfare. 

After developing a reputation on the Georgia music scene thanks to frequent gigging in Atlanta and Athens, Guadalcanal Diary cut its first record, a four-song EP called 'Watusi Rodeo', in 1983 for the Athens-based DB Records label. A year later, DB and the band followed it up with a full-length album, 'Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man', produced by Don Dixon. Filled with rich but moody songs about faith, doubt, and the legacy of life in the Deep South, and driven by thundering drums and the clarion call of electric guitars, 'Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man' quickly won an enthusiastic reception from critics and college radio programmers, and in 1985 Elektra Records signed Guadalcanal Diary and reissued the album. More touring followed, as did a cameo appearance in a best-forgotten youth comedy called "Rockin' Road Trip". 


In 1986, the band released its first album financed by Elektra, 'Jamboree', which was produced by Rodney Mills, best known for his work with the likes of .38 Special and The Atlanta Rhythm Section. While Mills brought a greater polish to Guadalcanal Diary's approach and the band displayed a greater stylistic diversity, it lacked the force and impact of 'Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man' and was not as well received. Guadalcanal Diary returned to the studio with Dixon for 1987's '2x4', which coupled the energy of the first album with 'Jamboree's sense of musical adventure and spawned a minor alternative rock hit, "Litany (Life Goes On)." However, Guadalcanal Diary's busy touring schedule was beginning to take its toll when the group cut 1989's uneven 'Flip-Flop', and by the end of the year, after a long stretch on the road, the bandmembers amicably parted ways. 

Following Guadalcanal Diary's breakup, Murray Attaway signed to Geffen as a solo artist, and released the well-reviewed 'In Thrall' in 1993. Walls played guitar with Hillbilly Frankenstein and Dash Rip Rock, and produced recordings for Southern Culture on the Skids, The Woggles, and Man or Astro-Man? Poe pursued a low-key solo career, and Crowe retired from music after a short spell with Ottoman Empire to raise her children. In 1995, Attaway began recording a second album and decided to invite Walls, Poe, and Crowe to join him on a few songs, and while the album was never released due to a change of management at Geffen, the four were happy enough with the tunes they recorded to play a few reunion gigs in Atlanta. In late 1998, the band self-released a live album, 'At Your Birthday Party', recorded at one of its reunion shows; in 2000, the bandmembers announced they'd gone back on hiatus, but had not ruled out working together again in the future. Continued interest in Guadalcanal Diary has been confirmed by a two-fer compact disc reissue of 'Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man' and 'Jamboree', released by Collectables in 2003, and limited-edition, remastered, and expanded editions of the group's first three albums, issued by the Rhino Handmade imprint in 2003 and 2004. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 22 de marzo de 2016

Flesh For Lulu


Flesh for Lulu was a rock band formed in Brixton, London active between 1982 and 1992. They reformed from 2013 to 2015 with a new lineup. Their music was a mix of The New York Dolls and Rolling Stones, with gothic rock's gloomy atmosphere and aesthetics, while also encompassing shades of punk, pop, country and western, Bolan, Bowie, rockabilly and garage. Nick Marsh (vocals and guitar) and James Mitchell (drums) formed the band and soon recruited Rocco (originally from Wasted Youth, guitar and vocals), and Glen Bishop (bass), taking their name from an American cult movie. After a well received John Peel session, they signed to Polydor Records in 1983, and soon thereafter, bassist Glen Bishop left to join Under Two Flags, and was replaced by Kevin Mills (formerly of Specimen). Their first E.P., 'Roman Candle' did well, but the label dropped them a year later after their eponymous first album failed to find any commercial success.

In 1985, the band signed to Hybrid Records and released a mini LP, 'Blue Sisters Swing', which was produced with Craig Leon. The cover image of two nuns kissing resulted in the album being banned in the United States and Europe. Flesh for Lulu then joined Statik records, who released 'Big Fun City' later that year. The following year, the band signed to Beggars Banquet Records, and their song "I Go Crazy" was featured in "Some Kind of Wonderful" and received some airplay on American college rock radio stations. This allowed Flesh for Lulu to sustain a successful tour of the US. 

In 1989, "Decline and Fall" followed and became a top 15 hit on the new Modern Rock Tracks chart. The next year, "Time and Space" written by newest member Del Strangefish (ex-Peter and the Test Tube Babies guitarist) became their biggest US hit, reaching the top 10 of the Modern Rock chart, but the song failed to chart on any other US chart. After Capitol Records dropped the band, a record deal with Hollywood Records fell through. The band disbanded soon after with singer Nick Marsh stating, "The reason Flesh really split up is because there wasn't a definite...to coin the oldest cliché of them all, there were musical differences. That's true, there were two separate trains of thought." In 2013, Nick Marsh reformed Flesh for Lulu with a new line-up consisting of Marsh (vocals/guitar), Mark Bishop (drums), Keith McAndrew (bass) and Will Crewdson (guitar). Marsh died on 5 June 2015 from cancer. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

lunes, 21 de marzo de 2016

Howard Devoto


Howard Devoto (born Howard Trotter) was on the cutting edge of British post-punk rock during the late '70s and '80s. A founding member of new wave/pop band the Buzzcocks, Devoto went on to form similar-minded bands Magazine and Luxuria. Although he retreated from music during the 1990s, he returned to the studio with former Buzzcocks bandmate Pete Shelley in 2002 as the two record together for the first time in a quarter of a century. 

A native of Manchester, England, Devoto first attracted attention in 1976 when he and Shelley formed the Buzzcocks. Although he co-wrote such tunes as "Boredom," "Breakdown," and "Orgasm Addict," he only played a few gigs with the group and appeared on their debut EP, 'Spiral Scratch', before leaving in early 1977. 

Joining with guitarist/songwriter John McGeoch, bassist Barry Adamson, keyboard player Bob Dickinson, and drummer Martin Jackson, Devoto formed Magazine in April 1977. Emphasizing the neo-spiritual, existential, and philosophical side of their musical persona, the group recorded five memorable albums -'Real Life', 'Secondhand Daylight', 'The Correct Use of Soap', 'Live', and 'Magic, Murder and the Weather'- before Devoto left to pursue a solo career. The group disbanded shortly afterwards. 

Devoto's success began to wane after leaving Magazine. Although he released a solo album, 'Jerky Versions of the Dream', in 1983, it failed to sell. He next surfaced five years later when he and guitarist Noko formed Luxuria. Although they recorded two albums -'Unanswerable Lust' in 1988 and 'Beast Box'- neither reached sales expectations and the group disbanded. Frustrated by his inability to interest record-buyers in his recordings, Devoto left music in 1990 and took a full-time job as a photo librarian for a photography agency. He remained focused on the position until returning to the recording studio 12 years later. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 20 de marzo de 2016

The Church


One of the most successful and enduring Australian bands of the post-punk era, The Church began their career with music that paid explicit homage to psychedelia and 1960s folk rock, and with the passage of time they refined their own unique sound, fusing pop, art rock, progressive rock, and other flavors. The Church were formed in Sydney, Australia in 1980 by Steve Kilbey (bass, vocals), Peter Koppes (guitar), and Nick Ward (drums). Kilbey, a former member of The Tactics, had previously played with Koppes in a glam rock band called Precious Little in the mid-'70s, but both were eager to do something different when they teamed up with Ward. Originally calling themselves Limosine, the new group solidified their approach while recording demos in Kilbey's home studio, and when guitarist Marty Willson-Piper joined the lineup, their signature style began to fall into place. Adopting the name The Church, the group began earning a reputation on Sydney's club circuit, and by the end of 1980 they had scored a record deal with EMI's re-activated Parlophone label. The debut album from The Church, 1981's 'Of Skins and Heart', became a commercial success in Australia after the single "The Unguarded Moment" hit the pop charts. Around the time of the album's release, the band parted ways with drummer Ward, and Richard Ploog became their new percussionist. The Church promptly went into the studio with Ploog to cut an EP, 'Too Fast for You', and material from the EP and 'Of Skins and Heart' was compiled into an album simply called 'The Church' that was released in the U.K. and the United States. 


In the spring of 1982, The Church issued their second full-length album, 'The Blurred Crusade', which was a success at home and fared well in England, but Capitol Records, their label in the United States, was not impressed with its lush, neo-psychedelic sound, and they opted to drop the band rather than release it stateside. The Church's more atmospheric and innovative side continued to take the forefront on their third album, 1983's 'Séance', which rose to number 18 on the Australian charts, but was little heard elsewhere. In 1984, The Church released a pair of EPs, 'Persia' and 'Remote Luxury', and the two short-form releases were compiled into an album entitled 'Remote Luxury', which landed the group a new U.S. record deal with Warner Bros. After a long run of international touring in support of the records (including an only moderately successful trip to the United States), The Church took a brief sabbatical before returning to the studio to record 1986's 'Heyday', which became a major Australian hit, and helped solidify the band's international audience after earning enthusiastic reviews in the United States and Great Britain. That same year, Steve Kilbey began work on his first solo effort, 'Unearthed', which was released in 1987, and Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes quickly followed suit with solo sets of their own; all three would pursue solo careers during downtime from the group. 

In 1988, The Church reconvened with new business partners -Arista Records in the United States, and Mushroom Records in Australia- and a new album, 'Starfish', which was recorded in Los Angeles with producers Waddy Wachtel and Greg Ladanyi, both longtime veterans of the L.A. studio scene. The album was a solid international success and featured the hit single "Under the Milky Way," but the experience was bittersweet; the members of the group didn't enjoy working in Los Angeles and often argued with Wachtel, and the album's success prompted Arista to urge The Church to re-team with Wachtel for the follow-up, 1990's 'Gold Afternoon Fix', though the band had hoped to work with former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. 'Gold Afternoon Fix' didn't match the commercial success of 'Starfish', and for 1992's 'Priest = Aura', the band produced themselves; they also worked with a new drummer, former Patti Smith Group timekeeper Jay Dee Daugherty, after Ploog left the group. The album became a favorite with fans, but its long, ambitiously structured tracks didn't connect with listeners who discovered The Church via "Under the Milky Way," and Koppes opted to leave the group, as did Jay Dee Daugherty. 1994's 'Sometime Anywhere' found Kilbey and Willson-Piper joined by producer and drummer Tim Powles and a handful of session musicians; the album was adventurous and musically satisfying, and Kilbey and Willson-Piper staged an acoustic tour in support, but it was a commercial disappointment, and 'Sometime Anywhere' would prove to be The Church's final major-label album in the United States. 


The Church partnered with the independent White Records label for their next album, 1996's 'Magician Among the Spirits'; the album fared poorly in America after its distributor abruptly went bankrupt, but it was a solid set that was embraced by fans, and featured a guest appearance by Peter Koppes, who also appeared on their subsequent concert tour. Koppes then joined Kilbey and Powles in the studio for sessions that produced the album 'Pharmakoi/Distance-Crunching Honchos with Echo Unit', released in 1997 under the group name The Refo:mation; Koppes rejoined The Church in time to work on the 1998 album 'Hologram of Baal', and took part in a subsequent international tour. (The initial release of 'Hologram of Baal' included a bonus album, 'Bastard Universe', a 79-minute collection of improvised material from the quartet.) 'Hologram of Baal' was followed by 1999's 'A Box of Birds', a collection of covers in which the band interpreted the likes of The Beatles, Neil Young, Hawkwind, Television, Iggy Pop, and The Monkees

For the next three years, the members of The Church busied themselves with other projects, but the first decade of the new millennium would prove to be a prolific time for them: beginning with 2002's 'After Everything Now This', The Church released nine full-length albums between 2002 and 2009, including a set of songs created with science fiction author Jeff VanderMeer to accompany his novel "Shriek", and a set of acoustic reinventions from The Church's back catalog. In 2011, The Church set out on an ambitious U.S. tour in which they performed three of their albums in full on-stage -'Starfish', 'Priest = Aura', and 2009's 'Untitled #23'- before sold-out crowds in nine cities. 'Untitled #23' was released in the United States by the independent Second Motion Records label. In 2014, the band issued its 21st studio long-player, 'Further/Deeper', which featured former Powderfinger guitar player Ian Haug taking over for Wilson-Piper, who had relocated to Sweden to pursue other projects. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 19 de marzo de 2016

Heidi Berry


Heidi Berry cut a stark contrast to the prevailing musical mentality of the early '90s -despite releasing records on both Creation and 4AD, together the leading lights of the shoegazing and dream pop movements, her haunting, luminous folk-inspired sound instead harked back to the work of Sandy Denny and Nick Drake, complete with an earnestness and raw honesty far removed from her irony drenched times. Berry was born in 1958 and raised in Boston, MA, the child of an American actor father and a French-Canadian jazz-singing mother. In 1973, her mother remarried and the family relocated to London, where Berry began writing songs in the mold of heroines like Marianne Faithfull and Chrissie Hynde; in 1985, while studying painting and printmaking at Middlesex Polytechnic, she recorded a private demo tape that then-boyfriend Pete Astor (later of The Loft, Weather Prophets, and Wisdom of Harry fame) suggested she shop around. Berry declined the offer, but a copy of the tape still made its way to Creation honcho Alan McGee, who tracked her down and offered a record deal. She accepted, and issued her six-song debut 'Firefly' in 1987; owing far more to Linda Thompson than Creation labelmates like The Jesus & Mary Chain, it was followed two years later by 'Below the Waves', a stark, poignant effort highlighted by the fan favorite "North Shore Train." Berry's relationship with Creation grew strained, however, and while opening for Felt and Lush, she was spotted by 4AD founder Ivo Watts-Russell, who asked her to record a cover of Emmylou Harris' "'Til I Gain Control Again" for 1991's 'Blood', the third LP by his rotating musical collective This Mortal Coil. Berry signed to 4AD to release her next solo effort, 1991's 'Love', recorded with producer Pete Walsh and an ace backing group including Levitation guitarist Terry Bickers and bassist Laurence O'Keefe, in addition to avant-garde saxophonist Lol Coxhill. Her self-titled masterpiece followed in 1993, notching a minor hit with the lovely "The Sun and the Moon" and yielding an American tour alongside fellow 4AD act Red House Painters. However, despite continued critical acclaim, 1995's 'Miracle' failed to make waves behind Berry's cult audience and she was released from her contract. With the exception of the 1999 single "Needle's Eye" -recorded with former Kitchens of Distinction frontman Patrick Fitzgerald under the name Lost Girls- she remained silent in the years to follow. The compilation 'Pomegranate' appeared on 4AD in 2000. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 18 de marzo de 2016

American Music Club


Although chosen for its deliberately nondescript qualities, in retrospect the name American Music Club was the perfect moniker for the lauded San Francisco-based band led by singer/songwriter Mark Eitzel: over the course of nine acclaimed albums, the group tied together the disparate strands of the American musical fabric -rock, folk, country, punk, even lounge schmaltz- into a remarkably distinct and riveting whole, creating a brilliant and cohesive body of work dappled by moments of haunting beauty and impenetrable darkness. 

Although born in California, Eitzel spent his formative years in Great Britain and Ohio before returning to the Bay Area in 1980 with the punk band The Naked Skinnies. After the band's breakup, he founded American Music Club in 1983 with guitarist Vudi (born Mark Pankler), bassist Dan Pearson, keyboardist Brad Johnson, and drummer Matt Norelli. Despite the skill and diversity of the other members, Eitzel quickly became the group's focal point: an evocative vocalist and gutter poet capable of composing songs of disquieting honesty and intensity, he was also frequently the band's worst enemy -a heavy drinker since the age of 16, AMC shows often disintegrated into surreal backdrops for Eitzel's alcoholic rants and self-destructive showmanship, and throughout the group's tumultuous career, his erratic behavior led him to briefly exit their ranks on numerous occasions. 


Still, Eitzel quelled his demons long enough for AMC to record their 1985 debut, 'The Restless Stranger'; later disowned by the group, the album does offer a rough outline of their increasingly eclectic sound, and firmly established Eitzel's world view, a harrowing vision of life as seen through the bottom of a shot glass. 1987's 'Engine' honed the formula: the addition of producer Tom Mallon as a full-time member expanded the group's sonic palette, while Eitzel's songs achieved new levels of intimacy as compositions like "Outside This Bar" and "Gary's Song" grappled with the realities of the drinking life. 

While American Music Club languished in obscurity in their native country, they earned a solid European cult following on the strength of 1988's 'California', a frequently brilliant collection highlighted by the shimmering country and folk accouterments which couched fractured love songs like "Firefly" and "Western Sky"; "Blue and Grey Shirt," Eitzel's most heartfelt and powerful composition to date, was the first in a series of devastating chronicles of friends lost to the AIDS epidemic. Still, the album garnered little notice, and their next LP, 1989's 'United Kingdom', appeared only in the nation which lent the record its name: another superb collection drawing on leftover material and live tracks, it featured "The Hula Maiden," the first recorded fruits of Eitzel's growing fascination with lounge crooning. 


After a solo acoustic Eitzel release, 1991's 'Songs of Love', American Music Club emerged with its masterpiece, 'Everclear', a remarkable song cycle released to phenomenal critical acclaim (and the usual negligible commercial interest). Still, the lavish praise heaped on 'Everclear' (named in honor of a vicious, 180-proof transparent liquor) finally made the major labels take notice, and a bidding war ensued. After months of negotiations, AMC -now consisting of Eitzel, Vudi, Pearson, multi-instrumentalist Bruce Kaphan, and drummer Tim Mooney- signed with Reprise in the U.S. and Virgin throughout the rest of the world, and entered the studio with acclaimed producer Mitchell Froom. 

The result, 1993's 'Mercury', was a typically iconoclastic effort featuring unwieldy song titles like "What Godzilla Said to God When His Name Wasn't Found in the Book of Life" and "The Hopes and Dreams of Heaven's 10,000 Whores" resting uneasily against lush, obtuse gems like "If I Had a Hammer," "Apology for an Accident," and "Johnny Mathis' Feet." Despite glowing reviews, 'Mercury' fared poorly on the charts, and earned virtually no recognition from radio or MTV. In 1994, AMC issued 'San Francisco', an erratic collection which precariously balanced stark, moving confessions like "Fearless" and "The Thorn in My Side Is Gone" alongside slick pop constructs such as "Wish the World Away" and "Can You Help Me." When 'San Francisco' failed to connect, American Music Club finally dissolved; in 1996, Eitzel issued his proper solo debut, '60 Watt Silver Lining', a collection of torch songs. At the end of the year, he and producer Peter Buck of R.E.M. returned to the studio to record 1997's West. In 2003, Eitzel and Vudi announced that American Music Club were reuniting, and following short tours of Europe and the United States, the group's new album, 'Love Songs for Patriots', was released in the fall of 2004, with more live shows scheduled in support. The group then relocated to Los Angeles, although Pearson and Mooney opted to stay behind in San Francisco. L.A. locals Sean Hoffman (bass) and Steve Didelo (drums) were enlisted to replace the two departing members, and the revised lineup set to work on 'The Golden Age', which was released in February 2008. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 16 de marzo de 2016

Wire


Wire emerged out of the British punk explosion but, from the outset, maintained a distance from that scene and resisted easy categorization. While punk rapidly became a caricature of itself, Wire's musical identity -focused on experimentation and process- was constantly metamorphosing. Their first three albums alone attest to a startling evolution as the band repeatedly reinvented itself between 1977 and 1979. That capacity for self-reinvention, coupled with a willingness to stop recording indefinitely when ideas weren't forthcoming, has been crucial to Wire's longevity and continued relevance. 

By the time of punk, British art schools had long been a hotbed of musical activity, spawning some of the nation's most innovative rock acts from the '60s onward. Like many punk contemporaries, Wire had roots in the art school tradition. At Watford Art College in 1976, guitarists Colin Newman and George Gill formed Overload with audiovisual technician Bruce Gilbert (also on guitar). Subsequently, the three recruited bassist Graham Lewis and drummer Robert Gotobed (aka Robert Grey), and the first Wire lineup was in place. 

Wire began playing dates in London and, having ousted Gill, started from scratch, writing new material and taking a more pared-down, experimental approach. A gig at the Roxy in early 1977 proved auspicious. Wire met EMI's Mike Thorne, who was recording groups for a live punk album, "The Roxy, London WC2". Thorne included two Wire tracks and was then instrumental in bringing the band to EMI in September. By then, with Newman writing most of the music, they were eager to record before they lost interest in material, abandoned it, and moved on; a pattern that would define the group. 


Produced by Thorne, 1977's amphetamine-paced 'Pink Flag' found Wire taking punk to extremes while also keeping an ironic distance from it by introducing elements of tension and abstraction. 'Pink Flag''s 21 highly original tracks (each averaging just over a minute and a half) compressed and twisted rock into often jagged, taut shapes. The album met with critical acclaim and a follow-up was recorded in spring 1978. 

'Chairs Missing' was a radical departure. Although the phrase "early Pink Floyd" was uttered dismissively in some quarters, it was well-received. With Thorne playing keyboards and producing, this was a more complex, multi-dimensional record that supplemented 'Pink Flag''s harsh minimalism with dense, occasionally unsettling atmospherics. Wire albums usually feature one near-perfect pop song and 'Chairs Missing''s "Outdoor Miner" almost became a hit, until it was scuppered by a payola scandal at EMI. 

This was an enormously creative phase. Songs were being written and jettisoned at a considerable rate and the band was gigging relentlessly. In summer 1978, Wire played in the U.S. for the first time and, in March 1979, toured Europe with Roxy Music. Although 'Chairs Missing' had been released only months before, live sets included a significant amount of material that would appear on '154'. Indeed, Wire often tended to bewilder live audiences by playing new, unrecorded tracks rather than the numbers people expected to hear. 


If 'Chairs Missing' saw Wire exploring the possibilities offered by the recording studio, on '154' they took fuller advantage of that environment. With Lewis emerging as a vocalist alongside Newman, the result was an expansive, textured album with a more pronounced melodic orientation. '154' was Wire's most accomplished statement to date and the group seemed poised for success. The opposite happened. Wire's relationship with EMI unraveled and they were soon label-less. In February 1980 at London's Electric Ballroom, the band played an infamously chaotic show (captured on 'Document and Eyewitness') that was more like performance art than a rock performance. A five-year hiatus ensued. 

Following a period of intense activity away from Wire, the members regrouped in 1985, referring to their new incarnation as a "beat combo" -a no-nonsense, stripped-down unit. The 1986 "comeback" EP, 'Snakedrill', begat "Drill," a track built on a paradigmatic Wire rhythm, which bridged the gap between the group's past and its present. "Drill" would stand as an evolving metaphor for the band's shifting identity. It mutated through multiple versions, changing from performance to performance. (In 1991, Wire would release 'The Drill', an album composed entirely of versions of the track.) 

The bandmembers' solo endeavors during the early '80s proved crucial to Wire's new direction: the avant pop sensibility developed by Newman on his albums and the experimental inclinations of Lewis and Gilbert were channeled into the nascent digital context in which the band was now working. 'The Ideal Copy' (1987), the first full-length example of Wire's new approach to the processes of composition and recording with sequencing technology, found the group's smart, state-of-the-art grooves skirting the dancefloor. While first-generation fans were glad to have Wire back, their new sound drew a new audience in the U.S. and an American tour followed. They continued in an electronically oriented direction with the more homogeneous 'A Bell Is a Cup...Until It Is Struck' (1988), whose combination of hypnotic, melodic patterns and impenetrable yet catchy lyrics made for surreal, brainy pop. 

Wire had already made one of rock's more unorthodox live records but they further deconstructed the cliché of the "live album" for 1989's 'It's Beginning to & Back Again'. Performance recordings were stripped down in the studio, sometimes to a drumbeat or a baseline, which was then used as the starting point for rebuilding the track. Wire continued to experiment with ways of letting studio technologies affect their creative process on 'Manscape' (1990), which forayed deeper into computer-based electronics and programming. Drummer Robert Gotobed was less enthusiastic about changing his role in the developing digital version of Wire and left the band just before a 1990 tour. Dropping the "e" from the group's name, Gilbert, Lewis, and Newman carried on as Wir, releasing 'The First Letter'. In 1991, another hiatus began and the three returned to their diverse solo ventures. 


In the '80s, American bands like R.E.M. and Big Black had covered Wire songs. By the mid-'90s, Wire's influence started to manifest itself among a younger generation of Brit-pop artists, most notoriously Elastica, whose appropriation of 'Pink Flag''s "Three Girl Rhumba" resulted in a settlement between the groups' respective music publishing companies. Having briefly resurfaced with Robert Gotobed in 1996 for a performance of "Drill" to celebrate Bruce Gilbert's 50th birthday, Wire remained silent until 1999, when they began rehearsing again. In 2000, the band played live in the U.K. (including an event at London's Royal Festival Hall) and completed a U.S. tour; unpredictable as ever, Wire performed almost exclusively old numbers. 

Although reworkings of older tracks taped during 1999 rehearsals appeared on 'The Third Day' (2000), Wire soon initiated their next phase. Completely new material appeared in the form of 2002's 'Read & Burn 01', the first in a projected series of releases to be developed at Newman's Swim studios. While the fast, loud menace of 'Read & Burn 01' harked back to 'Pink Flag', Wire sounded more like they were stomping all over their roots than nostalgically returning to them. A second 'Read & Burn' was out by the end of the year; 'Send', a full-length containing brand-new songs and 'Read & Burn' material, was released in May of 2003. Three years later, a number of Wire's early albums were re-released; in 2007, the group's seminal 'Pink Flag' album hit shelves once again, as well as a third 'Read & Burn' EP. 'Object 47', an album of new material, was released in 2008 and was the band's first release without Gilbert. 'Red Barked Tree' came in early 2011, tailed by a live recording of songs, primarily from that album, titled 'Black Session: Paris'. Inspired by the energy of those live dates, the band headed back into the studio with former touring guitarist Matt Simms to work on some previously unrecorded songs from 1979 and 1980. The results, 'Change Becomes Us', arrived in early 2013. Wire returned with their first new material since 'Red Barked Tree' in 2015 with a self-titled set that featured elliptical pop with '60s-inspired melodies. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 15 de marzo de 2016

This Mortal Coil


The gothic dream pop collective This Mortal Coil was one of the most representative bands on the 4AD label, not least because they were run by 4AD president and co-founder Ivo Watts-Russell. Whether they played covers (of Watts-Russell's favorite artists) or originals, their material epitomized the haunting, ethereal sound that came to be associated with the label. Lush, swirling arrangements drenched in echo, reverb, and other effects were the project's stock-in-trade, often approaching ambient music. A rotating cast of vocalists and musicians supplied the sounds heard on record, all overseen by Watts-Russell and co-producer John Fryer. A studio entity only, the group started out as something of a 4AD all-star unit, but evolved into a way for Watts-Russell to collaborate with up-and-comers and other artists not signed to his label. Whoever was performing, the music was united by its gentle surges of melancholy and by Watts-Russell's highly influential aesthetic. 

Watts-Russell grew up in England's Northamptonshire area, more than an hour's drive north of London. In lieu of college, he worked in record stores, eventually hooking up with the Beggars Banquet retail chain, which had formed its own label. He and colleague Peter Kent co-founded 4AD in 1980 with financial support from Beggars Banquet, and initially signed post-punk acts like Modern English and The Birthday Party. Kent departed after a few years, and Watts-Russell took the label in a more atmospheric direction, making signature signings in Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance. The idea for This Mortal Coil germinated around that time; having been unsuccessful in convincing Modern English to record a covers medley that closed their concerts, Watts-Russell decided to do it himself. Gordon Sharp (of Cindytalk) and Liz Fraser supplied vocals on it and the intended B-side, a lovely cover of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren." 


From there the project snowballed, and Watts-Russell eventually assembled enough material for an album. Released in 1984, 'It'll End in Tears' featured musical efforts from 4AD staples like Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins), Steven and Martyn Young (Colourbox), Brendan Perry (Dead Can Dance), and Mark Cox (Wolfgang Press), among others, with vocals from Lisa Gerrard, Sharp, Modern English's Robbie Grey, and Howard Devoto (Buzzcocks / Magazine). Watts-Russell and Fryer handled any additional instruments or programmed loops as needed. The track listing featured two songs from Big Star's 'Third/Sister Lovers', plus numbers by Roy Harper and Wire's Colin Newman, in addition to band originals. 'It'll End in Tears' helped crystallize 4AD's emerging signature sound, and helped win a wider audience for their stable of artists. 

Fryer and Watts-Russell put together a follow-up album, 'Filigree & Shadow', which was released in 1986. A sprawling and more varied collection, 'Filigree & Shadow' covered songs by Tim Buckley, Colin Newman, Talking Heads, Pearls Before Swine, Gene Clark, Judy Collins, and Van Morrison in between the original compositions. The Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde was still a significant presence, and string player/arranger Martin McCarrick took a bigger role this time around; Steven Young and Mark Cox both returned, and members of Dif Juz were also prominent. Most vocals were by Dominic Appleton (also of Breathless), Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski, and a pre-dance diva Alison Limerick

Much of the same core cast -Watts-Russell, Fryer, McCarrick, Appleton, Limerick, and the Rutkowskis- was on hand for the third and final This Mortal Coil album, the tighter 'Blood', issued in 1991. New guest vocalists included Caroline Crawley of Shelleyan Orphan, Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly of The Breeders, and Heidi Berry. Covers this time out included two by Big Star's Chris Bell, Rain Parade, Spirit, Syd Barrett, and Rodney Crowell, among others. Watts-Russell had announced that he would retire the This Mortal Coil name following 'Blood', and remained true to his word. In 1993, he issued a limited-edition CD box set, '1983-1991', which packaged all three of the group's albums, plus a bonus disc featuring original versions of many of their covers. In 1998, Watts-Russell formed a similar but somewhat sparser project dubbed The Hope Blister. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 14 de marzo de 2016

Shockabilly


Formed in 1982 by guitarist Eugene Chadbourne, bass player Mark Kramer and drummer David Licht, Shockabilly produced music that sounded like an unholy combination of The Electric Prunes and Karlheinz Stockhausen. They specialized in outrageous cover versions -‘Psychotic Reaction’, ‘19th Nervous Breakdown’, ‘Day Tripper’, ‘Purple Haze’- and also more obscure items by John Lee Hooker, John Fogerty and Syd Barrett. When the song seems to be familiar, it gives the listener a thread on which to hang the power trio-chaos in which they liked to indulge. Chadbourne’s background was in rock, blues, late 60s free jazz and free improvisation -he put it all into Shockabilly with an energy and spleen that gained a response from the more adventurous post-punk audiences. After they folded in 1985 Chadbourne, an inspired songwriter, pursued a solo career while Kramer, as well as playing in B.A.L.L. and Bongwater, set up Shimmy-Disc, one of the great radical rock labels of the 80s and 90s. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 13 de marzo de 2016

Poison Girls


A British punk unit whose thoughtful explorations of issues of sexuality and gender conflicts presaged the riot grrrl movement of the 1990s, Poison Girls were actually a male backing band formed around a singer and guitar player calling herself Vi Subversa. Released in 1979, the Girls' debut, 'Hex', was produced by Crass drummer Penny Rimbaud, as was the following year's 'Chappaquiddick Bridge'. While the guitar-based music on both records was fairly subtle, Subversa's lyrics were anything but, tackling issues of politics, normalcy, romance, and feminism with fury and intelligence. 

After releasing 'Total Exposure', a stopgap live album recorded in Scotland in mid-1981, Poison Girls returned in 1982 with a newly skilled and sophisticated sound on 'Where's the Pleasure', which found Subversa streamlining her material to focus solely on the subject of sex. By the 1983 EP 'I'm Not a Real Woman', the band had virtually abandoned its punk roots in favor of Celtic folk singing and cabaret-styled pop; 1985's 'Songs of Praise' even found elements of funk creeping into the mix.

In the late '80s, Poison Girls called it quits. A four-CD retrospective, 'Statement: The Complete Recordings 1977-1989', was issued in 1996. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 12 de marzo de 2016

Mighty Mighty


The British band Mighty Mighty developed a larger following in Japan than they did in their native country. However, the group's Japanese fan base evolved posthumously; the band was actually only active for a few years. Mighty Mighty was formed in Birmingham, England, in 1986 by Hugh Harkin (vocals, harmonica), Mick Geoghegan (guitar), Peter Geoghegan (organ, guitar), Russell Burton (bass), and David Hennessey (drums). They made their debut at the NME/ICA Rock Week concerts and were even included on a C-86 cassette compilation. Mighty Mighty released their first single, "Everybody Knows the Monkey," in 1986. Often compared to Orange Juice, Mighty Mighty only recorded one LP, 1988's 'Sharks', before splitting up. The band's jangly singles and B-sides were collected on 'The Girlie Years', the title referring to the name of the group's own label. Vinyl Japan also released Mighty Mighty's BBC sessions in 2001. The band's popularity in Japan resulted from a keen interest in U.K. guitar pop among indie collectors. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 11 de marzo de 2016

Love And Rockets


Love and Rockets comprised guitarist/vocalist Daniel Ash, bassist/vocalist David J, and drummer Kevin Haskins, all former members of the pioneering goth band Bauhaus. However, the group didn't sound very similar to its first incarnation. Instead, Love and Rockets emphasized the strains of psychedelia and glam rock that appeared underneath Bauhaus' gloomy drone, adding elements of pop songcraft, folk, and R&B, as well as cryptic, self-important lyrics. For most of the late '80s, the group had a devoted cult following, resulting in a surprise Top Ten hit single, "So Alive," in 1989. During the early '90s, the group's audience steadily declined, although they still retained a number of loyal fans. 

After Bauhaus broke up in 1983, David J recorded a solo album and collaborated with The Jazz Butcher, while Daniel Ash concentrated on a side project, Tones on Tail. Haskins soon joined Tones on Tail, but the group folded in 1984. Haskins and Ash then attempted to reunite Bauhaus. David J agreed to the project, but the band's lead vocalist, Peter Murphy, refused. Instead of pursuing an incomplete Bauhaus reunion, Ash, J, and Haskins formed Love and Rockets, taking their name from the underground comic book created by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. 


Love and Rockets released their first album, 'Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven', in 1985; it received mixed reviews but it began to build their following. 'Express', released the following year, was more successful, charting in both the U.S. and the U.K. On 'Earth Sun Moon' (1987) the band retreated to more atmospheric musical territory, with the notable exception of the alternative/college radio hit "No New Tale to Tell," which helped increase the group's fan base. 'Love and Rockets', released in 1989, broke the band into the mainstream, thanks to the T. Rex-inspired Top Ten single "So Alive." The album was nearly as successful, breaking into the Top 20 and going gold. 

After the success of 'Love and Rockets', the members of the band concentrated on solo projects for nearly a half-decade. Love and Rockets returned to recording in 1994 with 'Hot Trip to Heaven', which failed to make any inroads on the pop or alternative charts. In 1996, they returned again with 'Sweet F.A.', and 'Lift' followed two years later. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 9 de marzo de 2016

Hüsker Dü


Hüsker Dü and R.E.M. were the two American post-punk bands of the '80s that changed the direction of rock & roll. R.E.M. became a superstar band; Hüsker Dü never was more than a cult favorite. Nevertheless, their albums between 1981 and 1987 have proven remarkably influential; they provided the sonic blueprint for the roaring punk-pop hybrid that crossed over into the mainstream in the early '90s. Not only did they shape the sound of the music, they shaped the way independent bands made the transition to the major labels; they showed other bands that it was possible to record uncompromising music on a major label without losing any integrity or creative control. From The Replacements to NirvanaPixies to Superchunk, nearly every major and minor band that appeared in the alternative underground in the late '80s and '90s owed a major debt to Hüsker Dü, whether they were aware of it or not. 

The band's two songwriters, guitarist Bob Mould and drummer Grant Hart, both had a knack for writing songs that essentially followed conventional pop structures, complete with memorable melodies, but were still punk songs. Hüsker Dü took The Buzzcocks' pioneering punk-pop and made it harder, both musically and lyrically. Throughout their career, Hüsker Dü never lost their edge, never turned down their amplifiers, never compromised their music. While Hart and bassist Greg Norton were an unfailingly strong rhythm section, Mould would prove to be one of the most influential guitarists of the decade. With his slashing rhythms, distorted strumming, and blazing leads, he set the stage for the alternative guitar heroes of the late '80s and the '90s. 


Hüsker Dü formed in Minneapolis, MN, in 1979. Guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould was studying at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, and working at a record store, which is where he met drummer/vocalist Grant Hart and bassist Greg Norton. The three musicians had diverse tastes, but all shared a love for hardcore punk rock. Naming themselves Hüsker Dü after a '50s Danish board game (the name means "do you remember"), the trio began rehearsing in Norton's basement. 

In the early '80s, Hüsker Dü developed a strong local following; nearly every local band, from The Replacements to Soul Asylum, sounded like the Hüskers. Both Mould and Hart wrote songs and sang lead. In 1981, they released their first single, "Statues," on the local label Reflex, which was quickly followed by their debut album, 'Land Speed Record', which was released on New Alliance Records. Recorded live, 'Land Speed Record' boasted 17 songs that lasted a full 26 minutes. Later that year, they released an equally fast and hard EP, 'In a Free Land'. 

In 1982, they moved backed to Reflex, where they released 'Everything Falls Apart', their first album recorded in a studio. By this time, Hüsker Dü had begun touring the United States relentlessly, traveling across the country in a van and playing small clubs. Along with Minutemen, R.E.M., Black Flag, Meat Puppets, and The Replacements, Hüsker Dü formed the core of a group of independent rock & roll bands that carved out a reputation for touring ceaselessly and getting their records played through college radio stations; they formed the core of the American rock underground in the mid-'80s. Hüsker Dü concerts were a nonstop barrage; the band rarely spoke to the audience and each song segued directly into the next, without interruption. In addition to touring constantly, Hüsker Dü was recording quickly, turning out the 'Metal Circus' EP in 1983. 

After 'Metal Circus', Hüsker Dü developed musically at a rapid pace, with Mould and Hart coming into their own as songwriters on 1984's 'Zen Arcade', their first album for SST Records and their critical breakthrough. 'Zen Arcade' was a double album -something that was completely unheard of in the underground- that showed the band stretching out musically, writing sharper pop songs as well as lengthy abrasive instrumentals. Critics embraced the record, as did independent rock fans. At the end of 1984, they released "Eight Miles High," a cover of The Byrds song; it was only available as a single. 

Hüsker Dü continued to record and tour at a blindingly fast speed throughout 1984 and 1985. Mould and Hart were beginning to develop an unspoken rivalry as well as a dependency on alcohol and speed. Nevertheless, the group was at its peak in 1985, turning out two albums. The first, 'New Day Rising', was released in the spring and showed the band moving closer to concise pop songwriting while accentuating their fierce sonic barrage. 'Flip Your Wig', released late in 1985, featured their cleanest, most accessible production, without making any concessions to mainstream rock. Both albums received excellent reviews, both in fanzines and some mainstream rock publications. 

Following the release of 'Flip Your Wig', Hüsker Dü became the first of the mid-'80s independent post-punk bands to sign a contract with a major label, as they closed a deal with Warner Bros. 'Candy Apple Grey', the band's first major-label album, appeared in 1986. During that year, tensions between Mould and Hart escalated. Mould began to clean up and Hart continued to sink further into drug and alcohol addiction. Nevertheless, they managed to write and record another double album, 'Warehouse: Songs and Stories'. Although Warner didn't want the band to release another double record, Warehouse was released in the spring of 1987, to uniformly positive reviews. 


Hüsker Dü was preparing to launch a series of concerts to support Warehouse when their manager, David Savoy, committed suicide the night before the start of the tour. Hüsker played the tour anyway -they ran through the new album in order every night, without interruption- but Savoy's suicide helped the inner-band turmoil reach a peak. Hart showed no signs of sobering -he was developing a heroin addiction- while Mould was clean. Following the Warehouse tour, the band played no more concerts for the rest of the year, which caused speculation that the group was breaking up. Those rumors were confirmed during the winter of 1987-1988, when Hart was fired and the band broke up. 

Hart released a solo EP, '2541', on SST later that year, followed by a full-length album called 'Intolerance' a year later. After its release, Hart shook loose his addictions and formed a new band, Nova Mob. Nova Mob released their debut album, 'The Last Days of Pompeii', in 1991; a self-titled second album appeared in 1994. Norton became a chef in Red Wing. Immediately after the breakup of Hüsker Dü, Mould embarked on a solo career. After releasing two solo albums -'Workbook' (1989) and 'Black Sheets of Rain' (1990)- he formed a trio called Sugar in 1992. Between 1992 and 1994, Sugar released two albums: 'Copper Blue' (1992) and 'File Under: Easy Listening' (1994). Mould broke up the band in 1995 and returned to a solo career the following year. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

martes, 8 de marzo de 2016

Green River


Green River were arguably the first grunge band, forming around the same time as the rest of Seattle's first wave (The Melvins, Soundgarden, and Malfunkshun). In 1985, they became the first grunge band to release a record, kickstarting the Seattle music scene and later helping to establish the Sub Pop label. However, Green River are even more famous for the bands that sprang from their breakup: Mudhoney and Mother Love Bone, the latter of which also contained the roots of Pearl Jam. That lineage somewhat overshadows Green River's actual music, which helped lay out the blueprint for grunge but didn't necessarily rank among its most transcendent expressions. Green River specialized in a dirty, sludgy, gleefully ugly hybrid of punk, heavy metal, and bluesy hard rock, drawing from bands like The Stooges and Aerosmith in addition to the hardcore punk outfits where many of the members first cut their teeth. Its appeal tends to depend upon the depth of the listener's interest in grunge, but regardless, the seeds of a revolution are certainly audible. 


Green River were formed in Seattle in 1984, taking their name from the area's notorious, then-recent serial killer (who wasn't brought to justice until around two decades later). Lead vocalist/guitarist Mark Arm and guitarist Steve Turner had previously played together in the local hardcore bands Mr. Epp and The Limp Richerds, while drummer Alex Vincent (aka Alex Shumway) came from Spluii Numa and bassist Jeff Ament from Deranged Diction. Late in the year, second guitarist Stone Gossard -Turner's onetime bandmate in The Ducky Boys- came onboard, allowing Arm to concentrate exclusively on singing. Green River started playing local clubs, and in 1985 they recorded two tracks for the compilation album "Deep Six", the inaugural release on local indie C/Z Records (it also featured early tracks by Soundgarden, The Melvins, Malfunkshun, and Skin Yard). Later in 1985, Green River went to New York to record their debut EP, 'Come On Down', for the Homestead label. 

Following the release of 'Come On Down', Steve Turner left the band (reportedly over his distaste for its metal influences) and was replaced by Bruce Fairweather, who had played with Ament in Deranged Diction. In the summer of 1986, the group recorded another EP, 'Dry as a Bone', in Seattle with producer Jack Endino; it was issued by Bruce Pavitt's fledgling Sub Pop label in July 1987. Green River subsequently began work on an eight-song mini-album for Sub Pop, which was released in early 1988 under the title 'Rehab Doll'. By the time it appeared, though, intra-band tensions were tearing Green River apart. The central issue was commercialism: Gossard and Ament wanted to pursue a major-label deal, while Arm preferred to remain independent and record for Sub Pop. The final straw apparently stemmed from a gig in Los Angeles; Arm wanted to give his friends backstage passes, but found that Ament had reserved them all for A&R reps who never showed up. Not long after 'Rehab Doll' appeared, Green River officially disbanded. 

Arm reunited with Turner to form the punkier Mudhoney, while Gossard, Ament, and Fairweather joined up with ex-Malfunkshun singer Andrew Wood in the glammier Mother Love Bone. Following Wood's death from a heroin overdose, Gossard and Ament moved on to found the hugely successful Pearl Jam with vocalist Eddie Vedder. Fairweather, meanwhile, moved on to Love Battery. In late 1993, during a Pearl Jam encore in Las Vegas, Arm and Turner joined Gossard and Ament on-stage for a one-time-only Green River reunion. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC