jueves, 30 de junio de 2016

Giant Sand

Giant Sand was the primary outlet for the stylistic curveballs and sun-damaged songcraft of Howe Gelb, a Pennsylvania-born singer/guitarist who formed the four-piece Giant Sandworms after relocating to Tuscon, Arizona in the mid-'70s. After releasing the EP 'Will Wallow and Roam After the Ruin' in 1980, Gelb fired everyone but bassist Scott Gerber (although founding guitarist Rainer Ptacek returned to the fold many times in the future) and started over as simply Giant Sand, essentially a one-man band backed by a revolving cast of players. 

The first Giant Sand LP, 1985's 'Valley of Rain', earned Gelb comparisons to Neil Young for his reedy vocals and country-flavored, grungy guitar aesthetic; like Young, Gelb also proved to be a restless creative spirit, a notice served by 1986's 'Ballad of a Thin Line Man', an acoustic effort that featured the harmony vocals of ex-Go-Go (and Gelb's then-girlfriend) Paula Jean Brown. In 1988, Giant Sand issued a pair of new LPs, the equally diffuse 'Storm' and 'The Love Songs'. 

By 1989's raw, improvisational 'Long Stem Rant', the group consisted only of Gelb and drummer John Convertino, while 1990's 'Swerve' featured guests like Juliana Hatfield and Poi Dog Pondering. 'Ramp' (1991) and 'Center of the Universe' (1992) returned to the ragged desert rock of their earliest material, but with 1994's 'Glum' (the band's first and only effort for major-label Imago), Giant Sand's music turned unexpectedly moody and restrained. 'Backyard Barbecue Broadcast', released in 1995, culled material from a pair of live radio sets. 

In addition to Giant Sand, Gelb occasionally recorded under the guise of The Band of Blacky Ranchette, an outlet for his country leanings; in 1991, he also issued a solo album, 'Dreaded Brown Recluse'. In addition, longtime drummer Convertino moonlighted in the lounge revival group Friends of Dean Martinez, and frequent collaborator Ptacek often performed as a solo artist prior to his cancer-related death on November 12, 1997. 'Chore of Enchantment', the first Giant Sand release on noted indie Thrill Jockey, followed in early 2000. That was followed by the all-covers 'Cover Magazine' in 2002 and a new studio album called 'All Over the Map' in 2004. They made the switch to Yep Roc for 2008's 'Provisions', and marked their 25th anniversary two years later with the album 'Blurry Blue Mountain'. 

Gelb expanded his vision of the band and paid tribute to his adopted home with 'Tucson', a self-described country-rock opera under the moniker Giant Giant Sand, which arrived in July 2012. As Fire Records began an extensive reissue campaign of Giant Sand's back catalog and Gelb released a pair of solo efforts (2013's 'The Coincidentalist' and 2014's 'Radian Verses Howe Gelb'), Giant Sand returned in 2015 with 'Heartbreak Pass', which included guest appearances by Grant-Lee Phillips, Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, and Ilse DeLange of The Common Linnets

In February 2016, Howe Gelb issued a press release in which he announced the upcoming release of a new album from the group, 'The Sun Sets', and a tour of Europe, as well as the surprising news that Giant Sand was breaking up. "30 years seems an adequate number to aptly utter 'I kinda quit,'" Gelb said in his statement. "There’s plenty enough here, more than imaginable." The release did suggest that Gelb would continue to make music as a solo artist, stating, "Piano for now. Songs forever." [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 29 de junio de 2016

400 Blows

Not to be confused with a Californian metal act or an Anglophilic New York band of the same name (or the 1959 Truffaut film that all these groups take their name from), 400 Blows was something of an avant funk band from England that followed in the steps of groups like 23 Skidoo and A Certain Ratio. Like those earlier groups, 400 Blows was rhythmically dense with little concern for melody or basic rock song structures. The song they're best known for is probably "Black and White Mix Up," a 1983 track that features remix work from Mad Professor. Most significantly, the track was featured on Andrew Weatherall's 2000 compilation of mid-'80s underground alternative dance, "Nine O'Clock Drop". [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 28 de junio de 2016

Dinosaur Jr.

Dinosaur Jr. were largely responsible for returning lead guitar to indie rock and, along with their peers the Pixies, they injected late-'80s alternative rock with monumental levels of pure guitar noise. As the group's career progressed, it turned into a vehicle for J Mascis' songwriting and playing, which had the ultimate result of turning Dinosaur's albums into largely similar affairs. Over time, Mascis shed his hardcore punk roots and revealed himself to be a disciple of Neil Young, crafting simple songs that were delivered at a crushing volume and spiked with shards of feedback. Consequently, Dinosaur Jr.'s '90s albums -when the group was essentially a front for Mascis- don't sound particularly revolutionary, even with their subtle sonic innovations, yet their original '80s records for SST were a different matter. On their early records, Dinosaur lurched forward, taking weird detours into free-form noise and melodic soloing before the songs are brought back into relief by Mascis' laconic whine. Dinosaur's SST records laid the foundation for alternative rock's commercial breakthrough in the early '90s, and while the band's profile was raised substantially in the wake of Nirvana's success, they never really became much bigger than highly respected cult figures. 

Mascis (born Joseph D. Mascis; guitar, vocal) formed Dinosaur Jr. in Amherst, MA, after his hardcore punk band Deep Wound broke up in 1983. Hooking up with fellow high-school student Lou Barlow (bass), Mascis initially played drums in Dinosaur, but shortly afterward, former All White Jury drummer Murph (born Emmett "Patrick" Murphy), joined the group and J moved to guitar. Over the next year the group developed a local following, and in 1985 the trio released its debut album, 'Dinosaur', on the Homestead label. The record and the group's crushingly loud concerts developed a cult following over the next year. By the end of 1986, a hippie rock group called Dinosaur -featuring former members of Jefferson Airplane and Country Joe & the Fish- sued the band, which changed its name to Dinosaur Jr

In 1987, Dinosaur Jr. signed to Black Flag's indie label SST and released 'You're Living All Over Me', which became an underground sensation, with groups like Sonic Youth championing Mascis' wild, feedback-drenched guitar. Early in 1988 they released the seminal single "Freak Scene," a song that captured the feeling and tone of the emerging American post-punk underground. "Freak Scene" became a college radio hit, and it led the way for their acclaimed 1988 album 'Bug'. Although the band's popularity continued to grow, tensions were developing between Mascis and Barlow, who rarely talked to each other. In 1989, Mascis told Barlow that the group was breaking up; the following day, he "re-formed" Dinosaur Jr., this time without Barlow, who went on to form Sebadoh.

Without Barlow, Dinosaur Jr. relied on a rotating array of guest bassists, including Don Fleming and the Screaming Trees' Van Connor. In 1989, the group had an underground hit with their non-LP cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven." The following year, they signed with Sire Records. After "Just Like Heaven," Mascis remained quiet for several years as he produced acts like Buffalo Tom and collaborated with friends like Sonic Youth and Fleming's Velvet Monkeys. 'Green Mind', Dinosaur's 1991 major-label debut, was recorded almost entirely alone by Mascis, and its varied, eclectic sound was received poorly in many alternative rock circles. Before the 'Green Mind' tour, former Snakepit member Mike Johnson became the group's full-time bassist. On the subsequent tour, Dinosaur Jr. were supported by Nirvana, whose success with "Nevermind" soon overshadowed Dinosaur's. 

Instead of capitalizing on the commercial breakthrough of alternative rock, Dinosaur released an EP, 'Whatever's Cool With Me', in early 1992 and disappeared to record their next album. Released early in 1993, 'Where You Been' benefited greatly from the commercial breakthrough of alternative rock, and many of the articles surrounding the album's release hailed Mascis as an alternative godfather. It became the first Dinosaur album to chart, peaking at number 50, and it generated the modern rock hit "Start Choppin." That summer, the group played on the third Lollapalooza tour. Mascis recorded the band's next album without Murph, who unceremoniously left the band; he later joined The Lemonheads. Dinosaur Jr. released 'Without a Sound' in 1994 to mixed reviews, but the album was a moderate hit, thanks to the MTV and modern rock hit "Feel the Pain." In the fall of 1995, Mascis launched his first solo acoustic tour, which was captured on his first official solo album, 'Martin & Me', released in the spring of 1996. 

After contributing several Brian Wilson-styled songs to Alison Anders' 1996 film "Grace of My Heart" -he also made an appearance in the movie- Mascis completed Dinosaur's next album on his own, leaving Johnson to his solo career. Upon its spring 1997 release, 'Hand It Over' was hailed as Mascis' best album in years, although it failed to generate a significant hit. By the late '90s, Mascis decided to break up Dinosaur Jr. and launch a solo career, resulting in the release of 'More Light' in 2000 (under the name of J Mascis + the Fog, a group that also featured former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt). The new group's ensuing tour was cut short in June of 2001, however, when their tour bus was involved in a serious accident in Sweden, resulting in Mascis cracking two vertebrae. In the wake of their breakup, a pair of postmortem Dinosaur Jr. collections saw the light of day in the early 21st century: 2000s live-in-the-studio 'BBC Sessions' and 2001's 'Ear-Bleeding Country: The Best Of'. In addition, the history of Dinosaur Jr.'s original lineup was documented in Michael Azerrad's excellent 2001 book of '80s alt-rock pioneers, "Our Band Could Be Your Life". 

In 2005 the first three albums were reissued on Merge and Mascis announced the original band would be reuniting for a short tour. A year later, 'Green Mind' and 'Where You Been' were reissued by Sire with bonus tracks while Rhino released J Mascis 'Live at CBGB's', a recording of an acoustic gig from 1993. To coincide with the 2006 reissues, the reunited band began a world-wide tour and announced plans to work on material for a new album, which surfaced in 2007 in the form of 'Beyond'. The reunion stuck, and the original lineup of Dinosaur Jr. eventually releasing 'Farm' in 2009, followed by 'I Bet on Sky' in 2012. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 26 de junio de 2016

Clock DVA

A product of the mid-'70s England industrial music community that also gave rise to Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA emerged in 1980 from the ashes of Sheffield-area bands including The Studs, Block Opposite, Veer, and They Must Be Russians, as well as The Future, an early incarnation of The Human League. After a series of shifting lineups, a roster comprised of vocalist Adi Newton, bassist Steven Taylor, guitarist Paul Widger, saxophonist Charlie Collins, and drummer Roger Quail recorded Clock DVA's debut, 'White Souls in Black Suits', a cassette-only improvisational release fusing metallic noise with funk designs that was issued on Throbbing Gristle's Industrial label. 

In 1981, the group issued 'Thirst', which abandoned R&B accouterments in favor of edgy, abrasive electronic noise. Following its release, all of Clock DVA except Newton defected to form Box. After assembling a new lineup of saxophonist Paul Browse, future Siouxsie and the Banshees guitarist John Carruthers, bassist Dean Dennis, and drummer Nick Sanderson, Newton wrangled a major-label deal with Polydor, and Clock DVA soon resurfaced with 1983's 'Advantage', an intense montage of dance beats, piercing feedback, and jarring tape manipulations. However, Carruthers and Sanderson both exited following the LP's release. After a brief attempt to carry on as a trio, Clock DVA disbanded in late 1983. 

Newton subsequently turned his focus to the Anti Group, an industrial jazz and visual arts project created in tandem with engineer Robert Baker. After a series of singles, he re-formed Clock DVA with Browse and Dennis, releasing the sample-fueled EPs 'The Hacker' and 'The Act' (both 1988), as well as the full-length 'Buried Dreams' (1989). By 'Transitional Voices' (1990), Newton's Anti Group partner Baker had replaced Browse. After 'Man-Amplified' (1991) and 'Digital Soundtracks' (1992), Dennis departed, leaving the remaining duo to record 'Sign' (1993). As Clock DVA went on an extended hiatus, compilations of previously unreleased material and highlights were released. During the late 2000s, Newton took Clock DVA out of dormancy for performances and new recordings, and he also put together archival packages issued through his Anterior Research label. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 25 de junio de 2016

Big Black

While punk rock was always supposed to be about pushing the envelope, few post-punk bands seemed willing to go quite so far to creatively confront their audience as Big Black. The group's guitars alternately sliced like a machete and ground like a dentist's drill, creating a groundbreaking and monolithic dissonance in the process. Their use of a drum machine, cranked up to ten and sounding a tattoo that pummeled the audience into submission, was a crucial precursor to the coming industrial music scene while creating a sound which was far more challenging and organic than what groups such as Ministry and Nine Inch Nails would achieve with similar ingredients. Big Black's songs, which openly dealt with such topics as mutilation, murder, rape, child molestation, arson, immolation, racism, and misogyny, established them as a group that acknowledged no taboos; and while they didn't seem to be advocating the anti-social or criminal behavior they sang about, there was also a level of familiarity with their subject matter which made more than a few listeners blanch. Big Black was a band that went where few bands dared to go (and where many felt bands shouldn't go), and for good or ill their pervasive influence had a seismic impact on indie rock. At the same time, Big Black was a group who maintained firmly held ideals when it came to doing business; they paid for their own recordings, booked their own shows, handled their own management and publicity, and remained stubbornly independent at a time when many independent bands were eagerly reaching out for the major-label brass ring. 

Big Black was the brainchild of Steve Albini, who spent much of his youth in Missoula, MT. A skinny and unimposing kid with glasses and an intense demeanor, Albini was something of loner in his high school days. After reading about the then-burgeoning punk rock scene in the music press, Albini began hunting down records and developed a taste for Suicide and the Ramones. In his senior year of high school, he began teaching himself to play guitar and bass to keep himself occupied after injuring his leg in a motorcycle accident. In 1980, after graduating from high school, Albini moved to Evanston, IL, not far from Chicago, to study journalism and art at Northwestern University. Not unexpectedly, Albini soon immersed himself in the Chicago punk scene, and became a passionate fan of Naked Raygun. Before long, he became interested in starting a band of his own, and briefly played with a new wave outfit called Stations; the band's most lingering influence was that Albini bought a Roland TR-606 drum machine to handle the band's percussion chores. In 1982, frustrated by his inability to get a group off the ground, Albini decided to start a band all by his lonesome; borrowing a four-track tape machine in exchange for a case of beer, he spent his spring break in his room, recording a six-song EP on which he played all the guitar and bass parts, handled all the vocals, and let "Roland" take care of the drumming. Called 'Lungs', Albini credited the material to the group name Big Black, and a local Chicago label, Ruthless Records, released the record near the end of 1982. Albini also began writing for several fanzines, most notably "Matter", and his cantankerous screeds on a variety of topics (but mostly relating to the low ethical and musical standards of those in the music community) coupled with his lyrical obsessions gained him a reputation as the angriest man in rock & roll. 

While response to 'Lungs' was mixed, Albini at least had a calling card for his new "group," and he was eager to put together a version of Big Black that could play live. In early 1983, Albini persuaded Jeff Pezzati, from his beloved Naked Raygun, to join the new group, and during a practice session in the basement of Pezzati's home, Santiago Durango, who also lived in the building and was a guitarist with Naked Raygun, came down and offered to jam with the group. The son of a doctor from Colombia who came to America to study at the University of Illinois, Durango was, like Albini, an intelligent social misfit who found solace in the abrasive sound of punk rock, joining a band called Silver Abuse in 1979, and the two quickly hit it off. Durango became a permanent member of Big Black, and his muscular guitar sound was the ideal match of Albini's jagged, metallic tone. The band's next record, 1983's 'Bulldozer' EP, was recorded with the band's new lineup, and this time around Albini had access to a 24-track recording studio and a sympathetic engineer and producer, Iain Burgess. The result was a quantum leap over 'Lungs', and the first real recorded manifestation of Big Black's trademark bruising, sinister sound. Initially packaged in a specially fabricated steel sleeve, 'Bulldozer' received significantly greater attention in the independent music press than 'Lungs', and the band's third EP, 1984's 'Racer-X', coupled with increased touring and better distribution thanks to a licensing deal with Homestead Records, began to break their following outside the Midwest.

In late 1984, Jeff Pezzati, bowing to the demands of his day job and Naked Raygun's increasingly busy schedule, amicably parted ways with Big Black. Santiago Durango, meanwhile, opted to leave Naked Raygun and make Big Black his first musical commitment. Dave Riley, a bassist who had done studio work in Detroit before relocating to Chicago and joining the band Savage Beliefs, was tapped as Big Black's new bass player. Not long after Riley signed on, Big Black began work on their first full-length album, and both musically and lyrically, 1985's 'Atomizer' upped the ante on the musical and lyrical ferocity of Big Black's previous body of work, an unrelenting assault of guitar sounds and imagined violence of all sorts. 'Atomizer' made Big Black the new cause célèbre of the indie rock scene; it was a polarizing work that people either loved or hated, but no one seemed neutral about, and enough listeners were taken with the record's sonic assault that it became a significant underground success. (The album also gave Albini the opportunity to launch the first of many salvos against digital recording technology when 'Atomizer' was released on compact disc, along with several tracks from singles and EPs, as a collection called 'The Rich Man's Eight Track Tape'.) However, the group didn't see as much of 'Atomizer's profits as they believed was their fair share, and following the release of Big Black's "El Duce" single, they parted ties with Homestead and entered into a new distribution agreement with Touch & Go Records, whose owner, Corey Rusk, was a trusted friend of Albini and the band. (Years later, Touch & Go would reissue the entire Big Black back catalog.) 

Big Black's first release for Touch & Go was 1987's infamous 'Headache' EP; an early limited-edition release of the record featured an appalling photo of the victim of an auto accident whose head had been split in two (an opaque black-plastic outer bag protected the sensibilities of those shopping for, say, a Smiths import). The music, however, was something of a letdown after 'Atomizer', and the band seemed to know it; the later mass-market release featured a sticker reading "Not as good as 'Atomizer', so don't get your hopes up, cheese!" There were also tensions within the band; Albini and Durango reportedly found Riley difficult to work with, and all three had trouble fitting Big Black's increasingly demanding schedule in along side their personal commitments. Santiago Durango decided to return to law school in the fall of 1987, and the group decided this was a sign to call it quits. Big Black announced their breakup as far in advance as possible, and recorded a final album (half recorded in London, half recorded at Albini's new home studio) and mounted well-received farewell tours of Europe and the United States in the summer of 1987; shortly after the band performed their final show in Seattle on August 11 (where they destroyed their gear at the finale), Touch & Go released 'Songs About Fucking', a scabrous masterpiece that went on to become the group's most successful album. In 1992, after the band's catalog reverted to Touch & Go, 'Pigpile', a live album and video recorded at the London date of the farewell tour, was released.

Following Big Black's breakup, Albini went on to a celebrated career as a producer and engineer, recording sessions for Nirvana, The Breeders, the Pixies, Superchunk, Bush, and Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, along with (by his own word) 1,000 bands no one has ever heard of, and opening his own recording studio in Chicago, Electrical Audio. He also performed in the acerbic and short-lived Rapeman as well as the more experimental and long-running Shellac. Dave Riley was briefly a member of the group Bull; in 1995, he was incapacitated with a stroke which (due to an early misdiagnosis) was incorrectly reported in some quarters to be a suicide attempt. And Santiago Durango for a time worked with the group Arsenal and recorded with Boss Hog, but his career in music has taken a back seat to his practice as a lawyer; his clients include Touch & Go Records and celebrated groupie and artist Cynthia Plaster Caster. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 21 de junio de 2016


One of the more underrated bands on the early-'90s indie rock scene, Antietam is the South's answer to Yo La Tengo, injecting the studied urban coolness of the Hoboken trio with some fiery Southern rock brio, especially in frontwoman Tara Key's impressive guitar work, which at times suggests a post-punk Lynyrd Skynyrd making nice with Neil Young after that whole "Sweet Home Alabama" thing. Like Yo La Tengo, however, this trio did their growing up in public. Key and her bass-playing boyfriend Tim Harris began the 1980s in their native Louisville, KY, as one-half of the Pylon-like post-punkers The Babylon Dance Band. Although extremely locally popular and able to tour throughout the Midwest and eastern seaboard, the foursome only managed to release one single, 1981's "When I'm Home," before splitting in 1983. The following year, Key and Harris formed the less antic quartet Antietam with second bassist Wolf Knapp and drummer Michael Weinert. With Key taking over vocals as well as lead guitar, Antietam had a vaguely folk-rock air in their earliest incarnation, akin to "Chronic Town"-era R.E.M. or "Like This"-era dB's. The band's self-titled 1985 debut, with Harris and Knapp playing twin basses under Key's angular, Roger Miller-style (Mission of Burma, not "King of the Road") guitar, is an odd but accessible piece of mid-'80s indie rock. Weinert, clearly the band's weakest player based on the first album, was replaced by the far more competent Sean Mulhall (the duo's former Babylon Dance Band compadre) in time for the much-improved follow-up, 1986's 'Music From Elba'. Although the R.E.M. comparison no longer holds up, there's a moody, near-psychedelic feel to this quietly intense album that shows a definite similarity between Antietam and the mid-'80s Hoboken bands such as The Feelies and The Individuals. Perhaps sensing this musical kinship, Key and Harris left Louisville in the late '80s to settle in New York. Antietam took a couple of years to settle in their new environment, making the friendship of Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley in the interim. Yo La Tengo covered Antietam's burning "Orange Song" on their 1989 album "President Yo La Tengo", and Kaplan and Hubley produced Antietam's third album, 1990s 'Burgoo'. Although again somewhat hampered by another less-than-stellar drummer, Charles Schultz, Antietam made the transition from quartet to trio (Knapp had stayed in Louisville to return to college) with surprising grace. Key offset the loss of the interesting sonic patterns created by Harris and Knapp's double basses by focusing more on overtones and feedback, and the noisier sound fits the more aggressive songs perfectly. After the closet-cleaning release of a second Babylon Dance Band single, "Someday," in late 1990, Key and Harris hooked up with a steady drummer at last; with Josh Madell on board, Antietam finally had a stable lineup with three similarly gifted players. The improvement on 1991's 'Everywhere Outside' is immediately obvious; Key's guitar playing in particular is outstanding, continuing the aggression of 'Burgoo' while adding more finesse. An absolutely smoking live set recorded at CBGB in July of that year was released as 'Antietam Comes Alive!' in 1992; a selection of songs from the two most recent albums plus two new songs and a rave-up cover of Patti Smith's "Ask the Angels" with guest rhythm guitar by Chris O'Rourke of Sleepyhead, 'Antietam Comes Alive!' is one of the band's better efforts. After that triumph, Key and Harris unexpectedly joined up with Mulhall and singer Chip Nold to temporarily reform the Babylon Dance Band and belatedly release their debut album, 1994's 'Four on One'. Including both tracks from the 1990 single along with new songs recorded by New York noisemaster Wharton Tiers, 'Four On One' has the feel of old friends horsing around in the studio, down to a sloppy Shadows of Knight cover. Quickly regrouping with Madell, Antietam recorded possibly their best album, 1994's 'Rope-a-Dope'. Continuing to develop the musical strengths of the previous two albums, Antietam opened up their sound on this album, creating a more dynamic and varied sound. For the first time, Harris and Madell share in the lead vocals, singing two songs apiece. 

During Antietam's 1993 break, Key recorded her first solo album, the Harris-produced 'Bourbon County', in a pair of sessions, each featuring entirely different players from the other. When the album was released in 1995, it was well enough received that the next year's more focused follow-up, 'Ear and Echo', was also released as a Tara Key solo album although the band consists of Key, Harris, Madell, and, interestingly, former Antietam second bassist Wolf Knapp. A single, "Alibi," was released under the Antietam name in 1996, but the name was retired after that. Key collaborated with Eleventh Dream Day's Rick Rizzo on 2000's 'Dark Edson Tiger', with contributions from Harris, Janet Beveridge Bean of Eleventh Dream Day, and Sue Garner of Run On. Separately, Harris played cello on select tracks for Yo La Tengo's "And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out" (2000) and "Summer Sun" (2003). He also had a brief stint recording and touring with The Special Pillow. Madell added drums to the first two Retsin albums, "Salt Lick" (1995) and "Egg Fusion" (1996). Harris and Key joined Tara Jane O'Neil for The Naysayer's debut, 2000's 'Deathwhisker'. As The Special Pillow prepared to release their self-titled debut in 2004, Antietam had already regrouped for what would be their first album in ten years. With O'Neil joining them at the production board, 'Victory Park' was released in April on Carrot Top. The double-disc 'Opus Mixtum' arrived in early 2008. By contrast, 2011's 'Tenth Life' was one of the band's poppiest efforts. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 20 de junio de 2016

World Domination Enterprises

Rock dance fusion trio who, though passing largely unacknowledged in their own lifetime, have achieved something akin to cult status in their retirement. The band comprised Keith Dobson (guitar, vocals), Steve Jameson (bass) and Digger (drums). Dobson had formerly drummed with hippie monoliths Here And Now, released the album 'Let’s Get Professional' with his previous band 012, and set up his own cassette label, invitingly titled Fuck Off Records. World Domination Enterprises first arrived in 1985, when they played a flurry of gigs around the UK to coincide with the Live Aid phenomenon. This was followed by the release of their debut single, and their signature song, ‘Asbestos Lead Asbestos’. Its gravelly, savage delivery neatly counterpointed Dobson’s environmental concerns with a rumbling, bass-dominated resonance. Contrastingly, other material included ‘Hotsy Girl’, a tribute to their Morris Minor and the art of stock car racing. As the 80s developed the group played at many of the warehouse parties during the early acid house epoch, notably those organized by the Mutoid Waste Company. In the meantime they had released two LPs, but split after returning from a tour of Russia when Digger elected to pledge his faith to the Jehovah’s Witness movement. There was no way back from that, and Dobson split the group and set up home in Spain, though he did return to London in 1993. Jameson joined with Steve Smith (ex-Vapors) in a new outfit, Cut, while Digger continues merrily on his way to this day, imparting the good news via the latest issue of "Watchtower". [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 19 de junio de 2016

Throwing Muses

One of the greatest college bands of the '80s, Throwing Muses was formed in 1983 by guitarist/vocalist Kristin Hersh and her half-sister guitarist/vocalist Tanya Donelly with a few friends from high school. In 1986, the group's debut album was put out by the prestigious British label 4AD; Throwing Muses was the first American band to be released on that label. Throwing Muses' angular, anguished, mercurial sound had much to do with Hersh's mental illness (she suffered from a form of bipolarity that caused her to hallucinate), especially on early albums like 'House Tornado'. Released in 1991, 'The Real Ramona' marked a break from the heaviness of the previous albums, with lots of shimmery pop gems penned both by Hersh and Donelly, who contributed at least one song per album throughout her stay in the band. 

Creative tensions between the two songwriters rose until Donelly left in 1992 to play with The Breeders and ultimately form Belly. That year Hersh re-formed the Muses with drummer David Narcizo and released the band's fourth album, 'Red Heaven'. After that, Hersh released a solo album and toured extensively, leaving fans to wonder about the status of the Muses. In 1995, however, Hersh and the rest of the Muses (Narcizo and bassist Bernard Georges) released 'University', one of the band's most cohesive and accessible efforts. 'University' was followed by Limbo in 1996

The group's dissolution was announced soon after, with Hersh continuing on as a solo artist. 'In a Doghouse', a collection of rare early Muses material, followed in 1998. In spring 2000, the Muses reunited for a special event called the Gut Pageant, which featured a set from Hersh, Narcizo, Bernard Georges, and Robert Rust, as well as a solo performance by Hersh, short films by Narcizo, and a picnic lunch hosted by the group. During three weekends in 2002, the trio got together to record another album; released the same day in 2003 as Hersh's 'The Grotto', 'Throwing Muses' (self-titled, just like their debut) was the group's rawest, loudest album. Donelly provided background vocals on some of the songs. Hersh and Georges subsequently recorded and toured as two-thirds of '50 Foot Wave', and Hersh continued her solo work. In 2011, the Muses assembled 'Anthology', a double-disc compilation of favorites and B-sides, and toured in support of it. Two years later, Hersh reunited with Narcizo and Georges for 'Purgatory/Paradise', a sprawling 32-track album accompanied by a book designed by Narcizo. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 18 de junio de 2016

Siouxsie and The Banshees

Siouxsie and the Banshees were among the longest-lived and most successful acts to emerge from the London punk community; over the course of a career that lasted two decades, they evolved from an abrasive, primitive art punk band into a stylish, sophisticated unit that even notched a left-field Top 40 hit. 

Throughout its numerous lineup changes and textural shifts, the group remained under the leadership of vocalist Siouxsie Sioux, born Susan Dallion on May 27, 1958. She and the Banshees' initial lineup emerged from the Bromley Contingent, a notorious group of rabid Sex Pistols fans; inspired by the growing punk movement, Dallion adopted the name Siouxsie and formed the Banshees in September 1976. In addition to bassist Steven Severin and guitarist Marco Perroni, the band included drummer John Simon Ritchie, who assumed the name Sid Vicious; they debuted later that year at the legendary Punk Festival held at London's 100 Club, where their entire set consisted of a savage, 20-minute rendition of "The Lords Prayer." 

Soon after, Vicious joined The Sex Pistols, while Perroni went on to join Adam & the Ants. The core duo of Sioux and Severin, along with new guitarist John McKay and drummer Kenny Morris, reached the U.K. Top Ten with their 1978 debut single, "Hong Kong Garden"; their grim, dissonant first LP, 'The Scream', followed later in the year. Two days into a tour for their 1979 follow-up, 'Join Hands', both McKay and Morris abruptly departed, and guitarist Robert Smith of The Cure (the tour's opening act) and ex-Slits and Big in Japan drummer Budgie were enlisted to fill the void; although Smith returned to The Cure soon after, Budgie became a permanent member of the group, and remained with the Banshees throughout the duration of their career. 

With ex-Magazine guitarist John McGeoch on board, the band returned to the studio for 1980's 'Kaleidoscope', a subtler and more melodic effort than their prior records; on the strength of the U.K. Top 20 smash "Happy House," the album reached the Top Five. A year later, the Banshees released the psychedelic 'Juju', along with 'Once Upon a Time', a collection of singles; at the same time, Sioux and Budgie formed The Creatures, an ongoing side project. Following 1982's experimental 'A Kiss in the Dreamhouse', McGeoch fell ill, and Smith temporarily rejoined for the group's planned tour; a pair of 1983 performances at London's Royal Albert Hall were recorded and later issued as 'Nocturne'. Also in 1983, Severin and Smith teamed as the one-off project The Glove for the LP 'Blue Sunshine'. 

After his recovery, McGeoch opted not to return, so the Banshees recruited former Clock DVA guitarist John Carruthers after Smith exited following the sessions for 1984's dark, atmospheric 'Hyaena'. With 1986's 'Tinderbox', Siouxsie and the Banshees finally reached the U.S. Top 100 album charts, largely on the strength of the excellent single "Cities in Dust." After 1987's all-covers collection 'Through the Looking Glass', Carruthers took his leave and was replaced by ex-Specimen guitarist Jon Klein and keyboardist Martin McCarrick for 1988's 'Peepshow', a techno-inspired outing that gave the group its first U.S. chart single with "Peek-a-Boo." 

In 1991 -the year in which Sioux and Budgie married- the Banshees performed on the inaugural Lollapalooza tour; their concurrent LP, 'Superstition' was their most commercially successful, spawning their lone U.S. Top 40 hit, "Kiss Them for Me." Another singles collection, 'Twice Upon a Time', followed in 1992 before the group returned after a long absence with 1995's stylish 'The Rapture', produced in part by John Cale. A year later, the nostalgia surrounding the reunion of their former heroes The Sex Pistols prompted Siouxsie and the Banshees to finally call it quits; Siouxsie and Budgie turned to The Creatures as their primary project, while Severin composed the score for the controversial film "Visions of Ecstasy". In 2002 Siouxsie, Severin, Budgie and Chandler reunited for the so-called "Seven Year Itch" tour, eventually leading to a live album, 'Seven Year Itch', and a DVD concert film in 2003. Universal Music began releasing the band's albums remastered with bonus tracks in 2006. 'Voices on the Air: The Peel Sessions', drawn from live recordings made for the John Peel radio show between 1978 and 1986, appeared that same year. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 15 de junio de 2016

Redd Kross

Inspired as much by breakfast cereal and kiddie TV as by rock music, punk-pop cult band Redd Kross were the brainchild of Steve and Jeff McDonald, brothers from the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne (also home of The Beach Boys) who began playing music together before either had hit puberty. Fueled by a series of dubious visits to famed area rock clubs like the Roxy and the Whisky a Go Go, they formed their first band, The Tourists, in 1978; Jeff, then 15, handled vocal duties while Steve, 11, took up the bass. After rounding out the group with schoolmates Greg Hetson on guitar and Ron Reyes on drums, The Tourists played their first gig, opening for Black Flag. Following a name change to Red Cross, they issued their self-titled EP debut in 1980. After the departure of Hetson and Reyes (for the Circle Jerks and Black Flag, respectively), the McDonalds enlisted a revolving lineup of underground musicians for their full-length follow-up, 1981's 'Born Innocent', which found the group's pop culture obsessions bubbling over on tributes like "Linda Blair" and "Charlie" (about Charles Manson, whose "Cease to Exist" they also covered). 

Following the album's release, the band was threatened with a lawsuit from the real International Red Cross; as a result, the group became Redd Kross, and returned in 1984 with 'Teen Babes from Monsanto', a collection of covers of artists ranging from David Bowie to The Rolling Stones and The Shangri-Las. That year, they also appeared in and composed the music for the no-budget film "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls", which included their transcendent cover of The Brady Bunch's "(It's A) Sunshine Day." Complete with new guitarist Robert Hecker and drummer Roy McDonald (no relation), 1987's 'Neurotica', with songs like "Frosted Flake," "The Ballad of Tatum O'Tot and the Fried Vegetables," and "Janus, Jeanie and George Harrison," appeared primed to push Redd Kross out of the underground, but their label, Big Time, folded shortly after the album's release, and legal hassles prevented the band from recording any new material under its own name for three years. 

Instead, as The Tater Totz, the McDonald brothers corralled Three O'Clock member Michael Quercio and former Partridge Family kid Danny Bonaduce for 1989's 'Alien Sleestacks from Brazil', the title a nod to the Sid and Marty Krofft children's series "Land of the Lost". A collection of satiric and surreal covers, the LP included renditions of "Give Peace a Chance," "We Will Rock You," and Yoko Ono's "Don't Worry Kyoko." Prior to another Tater Totz effort, 1989's 'Sgt. Shonen's Exploding Plastic Eastman Band Mono! Stereo' (recorded with ex-Runaway Cherie Currie and future Foo Fighter Pat Smear), the McDonalds detoured into another side project, Anarchy 6, for the 1988 mock punk tribute "Hardcore Lives!" Finally, in 1990 Redd Kross landed a deal with Atlantic, issuing the surprisingly straightforward 'Third Eye'. After an appearance (alongside David Cassidy) in the kitschy 1991 film "Spirit of 76", the band issued a handful of singles before 1993's 'Phaseshifter', augmented by guitarist Eddie Kurdziel, keyboardist Gere Fennelly, and drummer Brian Reitzell. Minus Fennelly, Redd Kross returned in 1997 with 'Show World'. 

The band went on hiatus with an uncertain future following Kurdziel's drug overdose death (at age 38) in 1999. However, in 2006 the McDonald brothers reunited with late-'80s bandmembers guitarist Robert Hecker and drummer Roy McDonald and began making live appearances once again, including individual shows, festival dates, and tours that saw Redd Kross perform across the United States and in Canada, England, and Spain. A January 2007 show in Madrid was documented on the "Got Live If You Must!" DVD, released the following year by Bittersweet Records. In 2012 the band released 'Researching The Blues' with longstanding indie giant Merge Records. Their seventh studio album was also their first collection of new songs in 15 years. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 14 de junio de 2016

The Pop Group

However one might describe their music, The Pop Group most certainly were not a pop group, and while they rose to popularity as the first wave of British punk had yet to break, they weren't really punk either, through their aggressive fusion of funk, noise, dub, free jazz, proto-punk, post-beat poetics, and untold volumes of forbidden knowledge could probably have only coalesced in 1977, a time when the rules of rock and its subgenres seemed to have been temporarily suspended in the U.K. 

The Pop Group were formed in Bristol, a city in Southwest England, in 1977 by Mark Stewart, a young man with eclectic tastes and strong opinions who was impressed by the fierce energy of punk but felt the music was too conventional for his liking. Originally hoping to form a funk band, Stewart teamed with guitarist John Waddington and bassist Simon Underwood, two mates from school who were kindred spirits when it came to music. It soon became clear that the new band wasn't going to be a conventional funk outfit between Stewart's expressive ranting and Waddington's jagged guitar lines, and with the addition of guitarist Gareth Sager and drummer Bruce Smith, they adopted the sarcastic title The Pop Group. The Pop Group's ferocious live shows earned them a powerful reputation, and they landed a deal with Radar Records, releasing their debut single, "She Is Beyond Good and Evil," in March 1979. 

A month later, the group issued its first album, 'Y', produced in collaboration with U.K. dub master Dennis Bovell; the album received enthusiastic reviews but poor sales, and Radar soon severed ties with the band. Undaunted, The Pop Group partnered with the adventurous U.K. indie label Rough Trade; they also welcomed a new bassist, Dan Catsis, replacing Simon Underwood. The Pop Group's first release for Rough Trade, arriving in shops in November 1979, was the single "We Are All Prostitutes," backed with the singularly uncompromising "Amnesty International Report on British Army Torture of Irish Prisoners." The 7" reached number eight on the U.K. indie charts, and March 1980 brought the second full-length LP from The Pop Group, 'For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?'

Almost immediately after the release of the LP, The Pop Group dropped a split single with the all-female punk/dub band The Slits, but internal squabbles and disillusion with the U.K.'s conservative shift after Margaret Thatcher became prime minister led to the collapse of the band in early 1980, shortly after the release of a collection of demos, live recordings, and radio sessions, 'We Are Time'. Mark Stewart would go on to a lively career, releasing many solo projects and working with the groups the New Age Steppers, Mark Stewart + Maffia, and Tackhead, while Waddington recorded with Maximum Joy, Sager joined Rip Rig + Panic, Underwood worked with Pigbag, Smith played drums with African Head Charge, Public Image Ltd., and The The, and Catsis recorded with The Blue Aeroplanes

In 2010, Stewart re-formed The Pop Group for a concert tour, joined by Gareth Sager, Dan Catsis, and Bruce Smith. In the next several years, The Pop Group played occasional live shows and Stewart announced they were working on an album of new material. In 2014, the band reissued 'We Are Time', and assembled another LP of live recordings and studio outtakes, 'Cabinet of Curiosities', in addition to announcing a North American tour. In early 2015, a good 35 years after their last studio album, new record 'Citizen Zombie' was released with production from noted audio engineer Paul Epworth. The band posted the title track online before the release of the album. 'Citizen Zombie' was followed by more reissues of The Pop Group's classic recordings, including new editions of 'For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?' and the "We Are All Prostitutes" single. In mid-2016, The Pop Group released another archival project, a collection of live recordings titled 'The Boys Whose Head Exploded'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 13 de junio de 2016

Bill Nelson

Bill Nelson is both an enigma and a highly public person whose motivations sometimes seem shrouded in complex mysteries, yet whose at-times prodigious output amounts to public development of song ideas and musical experiments. He has been both a guitar hero and the background figure in any number of art installations, exhibitions, and theatrical presentations. While difficult for record company executives to grasp and often obscure to the general public, Nelson has nonetheless built up a strong and loyal fan base around the world. 

Nelson was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the semi-industrial town of Wakefield, showing a talent for art and design and a passion for science fiction. His father, saxophonist Walter Nelson, was the leader of a dance band, and his mother, Jean, had once performed as part of a dance troupe, so music permeated the household -Nelson's brother, Ian, is also a saxophonist, while several close relatives were expert musicians. Even so, Nelson never learned to read music, and was relatively late coming to guitar- he was well into his teens before his father bought him the Gibson ES345 that eventually became his trademark. His early influences included Duane Eddy, as well as the icon of every budding English guitarist of the early '60s, Hank Marvin of The Shadows ("The Passion," included on 'The Two-Fold Aspect of Everything', is a veritable chronicle of Marvin's influence). Later influences included Jimi Hendrix, for whom Nelson wrote "Crying to the Sky," a Be Bop Deluxe song. 

He went through a relatively normal process of education at Wakefield schools, eventually attending the Wakefield College of Art, where he was able to pursue his painting and graphics interests, as well as his fascination with Jean Cocteau. On the musical side of his life, he was involved with several unrecorded bands. The first known Nelson recordings are of a three-piece band called Global Village, who cut three covers for an EP and dissolved in 1968. Nelson also played on sessions at the Holyground recording studio, various tracks of which have surfaced again in recent years, though Nelson is dismissive of his participation. Around this time he married for the first time, becoming a Pentecostal Christian and joining a church group called The Messengers, who later changed their name to Gentle Revolution. The marriage resulted in the 1970 birth of Julia Nelson

Nelson's career began in earnest with the recording and release of a solo album, 'Northern Dream', which was financed by the owner of the Record Bar, a local Wakefield record store. The initial pressing was limited to 250 copies (it has since been reissued several times, much to Nelson's frustration; he has never received royalties from the record), one of which found its way to BBC disc jockey John Peel, whose late-night Radio One shows were a constant influence on British rock music. Peel took an immediate liking to the record, playing cuts from it on a regular basis, with the result that executives from EMI's Harvest label contacted Nelson with the intention of having him record for the label, possibly with a remake of 'Northern Dream'. 

Nelson had different ideas by this point, however, and had assembled the first version of Be Bop Deluxe, featuring fellow Gentle Revolution member Richard Brown (keyboards), Ian Parkin (guitar), Rob Bryan (bass), and Nicholas Chatterton-Dew (drums). Brown left before the band went into the studio. A single, "Teenage Archangel"/"Jets at Dawn," was recorded and sold at concerts just before the EMI deal was finalized. Nelson broke the band up after the recording of 1974's 'Axe Victim', after EMI expressed dissatisfaction with the abilities of the other members. Nelson briefly worked with Paul Jeffreys and Milton Reame-James, formerly of Cockney Rebel, and bringing drummer Simon Fox into the band. Bassist Charles Tumahai was the next addition, with the trio going on to record 'Futurama'. Keyboardist Andy Clark was the final addition to the band, which remained together until the recording of 'Drastic Plastic' in 1978, by which time the mantle of guitar hero was beginning to weigh heavily on Nelson, who was intent on expanding his horizons. The band had quickly developed a reputation for quirky songs and musical pyrotechnics, facets demonstrated both in the studio and in a live context -'Live! In the Air Age' remains a brilliant document of a great live band. During this period Nelson divorced his first wife, Shirley, and married his second, Jan, for whom he wrote a great deal of music; he also used her as a model for much of his art. 

Red Noise was the next phase of Nelson's plan for life, originally intended to begin with 'Drastic Plastic' -never the same thing twice, in either musicians or styles. 'Sound on Sound' was a fluid, expert document that demonstrated Nelson's ability to experiment, though at the cost of jarring both the audience and the record company -EMI, looking for moneymakers and easy understanding, dropped Nelson. A second Red Noise album had been finished, but was never released in its original form. 

Abandoning the Red Noise experiment, Nelson reworked the album and released 'Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam' via Mercury Records. In its original format, the album came with a bonus disc, a full-length album of ambient sketches recorded in his home studio, released as 'Sounding the Ritual Echo' (the album has subsequently been issued by itself). 'Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam' went into the Top Ten in the U.K. This was repeated with 'The Love That Whirls (Diary of a Thinking Heart)', which also included a bonus album (this time 'La Belle et La Bete', a theater soundtrack recording) and the single "Flaming Desire." This period proved to be the commercial peak of Nelson's career, unfortunately; 'Chimera', an EP, failed to generate much interest (it was released with additional cuts in the U.S., under the title of 'Vistamix') and a subsequent deal with CBS/Epic led only to strained relations and a confused release; the U.K. 'Getting the Holy Ghost Across' was altered, resequenced, and released in the U.S. as 'On a Blue Wing'. For Nelson, the main advantage of the deal was that he was able to completely rebuild his home studio, providing him with the facility to experiment more and more, resulting in the release of the first Orchestra Arcana album, which combined synthesized soundscapes with soundbytes and tape loops. The name originated as a result of a clause in Nelson's CBS contract that forbade him to release his experimental material under his own name. 

Nelson started Cocteau Records in 1981, partnering with his then-manager, Mark Rye. The original intention, soon lost, had been for the label to release Nelson's instrumental and experimental work, as well as a variety of interesting artists. Of the people Nelson worked with, only A Flock of Seagulls amounted to much more than a footnote. In the end, the focus remained squarely on the release of Nelson's material across the board -a sometimes bewildering array of titles, including the four-LP box set 'Trial by Intimacy (The Book of Splendours)'. Nelson also worked with many others, including Gary Numan, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and Harold Budd

Following the expiration of the CBS deal, Nelson signed to Enigma Records in the U.S., resulting in the American release of just about everything in his catalog bar 'Northern Dream' and the CBS titles, with new titles including the two-LP-plus-one-7"-EP set 'Chance Encounters in the Garden of Lights', and a highly entertaining outing under the Orchestra Arcana name, 'Optimism'. Enigma, however, was in the process of sinking from sight, with the result that most of the titles received poor distribution and one, 'Simplex', never received an official release (at one point, Nelson's ex-manager was selling copies by mail order). Between 1988 and 1991, Nelson's life fell apart spectacularly -he was hit with tax bills, a separation and, eventually, a divorce, the collapse of Enigma, and a protracted battle with his ex-manager over the rights to his back catalog. 

While the various wrangles somewhat derailed Nelson personally, nothing seemed to slow him down when it came to productivity; in fact, it appears that stress improves his output. The separation from his second wife resulted in the four-disc 'Demonstrations of Affection', as well as a backlog of recorded material that is still being released piecemeal on such sets as 'My Secret Studio' and Confessions of a 'Hyperdreamer'. Nelson had continued refining his writing and recording process, coming to the point that entire songs could be composed and recorded in a two-hour session, a speed of production that rivals that of Steve Allen. In the course of wooing of his third wife, Emiko, Nelson wrote and produced between 100 and 150 new songs in the space of a year, sending them to her on cassette. 

Working as hard as ever into the '90s, Nelson continued to produce and collaborate with other artists, facilitated by new management. His solo output became somewhat sporadic, with 'Luminous' appearing in 1991 and several other albums, each on different labels, appearing in the years afterwards, though he has recently returned to normal with the limited-edition releases of 'My Secret Studio' and 'Confessions of a Hyperdreamer', totaling six full CDs of songs, instrumentals, and sonic experiments. 'Practically Wired...Or How I Became Guitarboy' is his first guitar instrumental album, while 'After the Satellite Sings' both experiments with the new territory of drum'n'bass and reflects the kind of styles Nelson had eschewed as being too evocative of Be Bop Deluxe and his guitar hero days. 

He has worked on film, television, and video scores, directed a variety of videos, toured as part of Heroes de Lumiere with his brother Ian, worked with Roger Eno, Laraaji, and Kate St. John under the Channel Light Vessel name, formed a new Be Bop Deluxe (only to dissolve again when financial backing evaporated), performed as part of the Japanese group Culturemix, married for the third time, to Emiko Takahashi, became a big name in Japan, and recovered the majority of his work from former manager Mark Rye

Nelson created a new label, Populuxe, which has set up distribution arrangements with Robert Fripp's Discipline Global Mobile (DGM) operation. A planned reissue program should see the majority of Nelson's solo material available worldwide in revised editions, with new material interspersed with the reissues. Phenomenally busy, driven by his muse, and an active magician, Nelson continues to delight and confound, issuing 'Atom Shop' in 1998. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 12 de junio de 2016

Mission Of Burma

Of all the punk-inspired bands that came out of Boston in the early '80s, none were better than Mission of Burma. Arty without being too pretentious, capable of writing gripping songs and playing with ferocious intensity, guitarist Roger Miller, bassist Clint Conley, drummer Peter Prescott, and tape head Martin Swope galvanized the city's alternative rock scene, and despite a too-short existence, set a standard for excellence that has rarely been equalled -a standard the band upheld when they unexpectedly reunited in 2002. 

Burma's music is vintage early-'80s post-punk: jittery rhythms, odd shifts in time, declamatory vocals, an aural assault similarly employed by bands such as Gang of Four, Mekons, and Pere Ubu -Burma's peers as well as their influences. Also conspicuously present in the mix was the proto-punk of The Stooges and Velvet Underground (with just a dash of Led Zeppelin and Roxy Music), bands that inspired Burma's darker songwriting impulses and tendencies toward longish, repetitive jams capable of boring holes into your skull. What Burma added was a sonic texture through the use of extreme volume. Roger Miller's guitar enveloped the band in thick, distorted, cascading chords, erupting into squealing solos and (intentional) squalls of feedback. With Prescott and Conley furiously bashing in support, the band's sound was extremely physical (ask anyone who saw them live) to the point of leaving the audience feeling slightly bruised and battered, but extremely happy. 

After releasing an explosive single ("Academy Fight Song," still one of punk rock's greatest songs) on Boston's then-hippest indie label, Ace of Hearts, Burma released two excellent records in just over a year: the 'Signals, Calls and Marches' EP and their only full-length studio album, 'Vs.' The former was poppier, but in a breathtakingly intense way; the latter dark and ominous, lacking in riff-heavy punch, but still delivering a wicked blast of aural chaos. Unbeknown to fans, this was the beginning of the end. The massive volume, a key element in Burma's sound, had taken its toll on the bandmembers, especially Miller, who developed a severe case of tinnitus that hastened the band's demise. (Always the trooper, Miller played the band's final tour wearing a protective headset used on shooting ranges to prevent his ears from absorbing more punishment.) After a bittersweet farewell tour in 1983, the shows were released as a live LP entitled 'The Horrible Truth About Burma', an occasionally thrilling example of their considerable stage prowess. Miller went on to a career as a solo artist with his non-touring band Birdsongs of the Mesozoic. Prescott formed the wonderful Volcano Suns, who released a half-dozen records all worth checking out, before starting Kustomized with ex-Bullet Lavolta singer Yukki Gipe. Clint Conley produced the first Yo La Tengo record and then left the music business. He went on to work as a producer at Boston television station WCVB. 

In 2001, Prescott's short-lived band The Peer Group played a show opening for reunited British art punks Wire, and Miller and Conley tagged along to play an encore with Prescott, marking the first time the three had appeared on-stage together since 1983. Later that year, Mission of Burma was featured prominently in Michael Azerrad's book on the indie rock scene of the '80s, "Our Band Could Be Your Life", and Conley began writing and performing music again with the band Consonant. After The Peer Group folded, the three performing members of Mission of Burma decided to stage a pair of reunion shows in early 2002. (Martin Swope opted not to participate; live sound and tape loops were instead handled by Shellac's Bob Weston, formerly of Volcano Suns.) One concert in New York became two sold-out nights at the Irving Plaza, and a single night in Boston became four shows at three venues (including an "open rehearsal" under the name Myanmar); the group also joined the lineup for the 2002 All Tomorrow's Parties festival in England, followed by short tours of the West Coast and Midwest. Along with playing a handful of live dates in 2003 (including the American edition of All Tomorrow's Parties), Mission of Burma returned to the studio for their first recording project since 'Vs.': 'Onoffon' (along with the greatest-hits collection 'Gun to the Head: A Selection from the Ace of Hearts Era') was released by Matador Records in the spring of 2004. In a press release the label said of the album, "This isn't just a hot new release, it's a goddamn cultural event." The band's third studio album, 'The Obliterati', arrived in 2006, followed by 'The Sound the Speed the Light' (2009), and 'Unsound' (2012). [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

sábado, 11 de junio de 2016

The Lemonheads

The Lemonheads' evolution from post-Hüsker Dü hardcore punk rockers to teenage heartthrobs is one of the strangest sagas in alternative music. Initially, the group was a punk-pop trio formed by three teenage Boston suburbanites, but over the years, the band became a vehicle for Evan Dando. Blessed with good looks and a warm, sweet voice, Dando became a teen idol in the early '90s, when Nirvana's success made alternative bands commercially viable. While his simple, catchy songs were instantly accessible, they tended to hide the more subversive nature of his lyrics, as well as his gift for offbeat covers and his devotion to country-rock father Gram Parsons. After developing his signature blend of pop, punk, and country-rock on several independent records in the late '80s, Dando moved The Lemonheads to Atlantic Records in 1990. Two years later, 'It's a Shame About Ray' made the group into media sensations, as Dando's face appeared on music and teen magazines across America and Britain. Though The Lemonheads were poised to become superstars, the band never quite found the right breakthrough single, and their popularity peaked in the early '90s. Around the same time, Dando descended into severe drug abuse that he curbed by the 1996 release of 'Car Button Cloth'. However, he had missed his chance at stardom -though the group retained their cult, much of their audience had already slipped away. 

The son of a Boston attorney and a fashion model, Evan Dando (vocals, guitar, drums) formed The Lemonheads with his high-school classmates Ben Deily (vocals, guitar, drums) and Jesse Peretz (bass). Initially, the group was called The Whelps, but by the time the band made their debut EP, 'Laughing All the Way to the Cleaners', they had changed their name to The Lemonheads. Recorded the day after their high-school graduation, 'Laughing All the Way to the Cleaners' was released on the group's own label, Huh-Bag. The EP gained the attention of the Boston-based indie label Taang!, which signed the band later that same year. By the beginning of 1987, Doug Trachten had become the band's full-time drummer, leaving Dando and Deily to share guitar and vocal duties. 'Hate Your Friends', a speedy hardcore LP that fell halfway between Hüsker Dü and The Replacements, was released in 1987. Trachten left after the record's release, and the band made 1988's 'Creator' with Blake Babies drummer John Strohm

Released in 1989, 'Lick' expanded The Lemonheads' cult, thanks to a loud power pop cover of Suzanne Vega's "Luka." Following the release of 'Lick', Deily split and eventually formed The Pods and then Varsity Drag. Dando briefly played with The Blake Babies before forming a new version of The Lemonheads with drummer David Ryan. The Lemonheads signed with Atlantic Records in 1990, releasing 'Lovey', their most accomplished, melodic, and eclectic record to date, later that year. Dando's interest in the band began to wander the following year, as he recorded the solo EP 'Favorite Spanish Dishes'. In 1992, he recorded 'It's a Shame About Ray', which featured Blake Baby Juliana Hatfield on bass and harmony vocals. 

'It's a Shame About Ray' would prove to be The Lemonheads' breakthrough album, but it didn't become a hit until a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" was added to the album several months after its initial release. By the end of 1992, the record had gained momentum, and Dando was being touted as the next alternative star. By the fall release of 1993's 'Come on Feel the Lemonheads', Dando had become a minor celebrity, appearing in gossip columns frequently and hanging out with fellow Gen-X icons, including actors like Johnny Depp and musicians like Hole's Courtney Love. His fame was large enough to spark the creation of an anti-Dando fanzine, "I Hate Evan Dando". Recorded with the band's new bassist Nic Dalton, 'Come on Feel' was hyped as the album that would make the band superstars, but Dando's antics received more press than the record received airplay, even though "Into Your Arms" nearly scraped the pop charts. During the press junket to promote the album, he confessed to heavy use of hard drugs, including an escapade where he smoked enough crack to ruin his voice for several weeks. His addiction deepened throughout 1994, and he was frequently seen in a drug-induced haze on Oasis' fall tour of Britain. Early in 1995, he launched a solo tour of the U.S. with Epic Soundtracks, after which he played the Glastonbury Festival, where he was booed for appearing several hours late. 

Dando sobered up during the remaining months of 1995, though he hadn't completely stopped drinking by the time he recorded 'Car Button Cloth' with a new lineup of The Lemonheads featuring former Dinosaur Jr. drummer Murph, guitarist John Strohm, and bassist Bill Gibson. The album was greeted with mixed reviews upon its fall 1996 release and failed to generate a hit single; furthermore, Dando launched no full-scale tour to support the album. Late the following year, The Lemonheads and Atlantic Records parted ways; Atlantic retained the rights for a greatest-hits album, which was released in mid-1998. 

With The Lemonheads essentially broken-up, Dando kept a fairly low-profile in the years directly following the split from Atlantic. He reappeared for a solo tour in 2001 and then released the lowkey solo album 'Baby I'm Bored' in 2003. Three years later, Dando had reunited The Lemonheads and in 2006 the band released a self-titled album that, while not a revelation, certainly sounded like a worthy follow-up to 'It's a Shame About Ray' and 'Car Button Cloth'. In 2009, inspired by years of mixtapes given to Dando by his friend and Butthole Surfers-leader Gibby Haynes, The Lemonheads released the covers album 'Varshons'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

jueves, 9 de junio de 2016

Steve Kilbey

The lead singer and bassist for Australian psychedelic pop/rockers The Church, Steve Kilbey began a solo career with the 1986 Australian release of 'Unearthed'. Initially, his solo work was more experimental and textured than The Church's relatively straightforward pop. As he continued to record sporadically as a solo artist throughout the '90s and early 2000s -including 1990's 'Remindlessness', 1997's 'Narcosis Plus', 2003's 'Freaky Conclusions', and 2008's 'Painkiller'- he continued to release albums with The Church. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 8 de junio de 2016

The Jesus Lizard

Willfully abrasive and atonal, The Jesus Lizard emerged in the early '90s as a leading noise rock band in the American independent underground. During the first part of the decade, the band turned out a series of independent records filled with scathing, disembowelling, guitar-driven pseudo-industrial noise, all of which received positive reviews in underground music publications and heavy college-radio play. By the mid-'90s, the group's following had grown large enough to convince a major label, Capitol Records, to sign the band. 

The Jesus Lizard was formed by Duane Denison (guitar), David Yow (vocals), and David Sims (bass), the latter two being former members of the Austin-based post-hardcore noise group Scratch Acid. After Scratch Acid disbanded, Sims joined Rapeman, an abrasive indie rock group led by Steve Albini. The recording and performing schedule of Rapeman was rather erratic, so Sims formed The Jesus Lizard with Yow and Denison in 1987. Originally, the group performed with a drum machine, much like Albini's previous band, Big Black. Albini produced the group's debut EP, 'Pure', which was released on Touch & Go in 1989; the producer would work on every Jesus Lizard release on Touch & Go. 

The Jesus Lizard added a human drummer, Mac McNeilly, in late 1989 and he appeared on the band's first full-length album, 1990's 'Head'. The following year, the group released its second album, 'Goat', which received positive reviews from mainstream music publications such as Spin. By the time of the release of 'Goat', the band had cultivated a large cult following among the American indie rock underground, based on both their records and their notoriously reckless, occasionally violent and vulgar, live performances. 

In 1992, The Jesus Lizard released a split single with Nirvana ("Puss"/"Oh the Guilt"), who had just broken into the rock & roll mainstream with their second album, "Nevermind". That same year, the band released its third album, 'Liar'. In 1993, the group was relatively quiet, releasing only the "Lash" single. 

Early in 1994, The Jesus Lizard released a one-shot album on Giant Records called 'Show', their first appearance on a major label. The fact that The Jesus Lizard released a record on a major label caused tension between the band and their longtime producer, Steve Albini, who was notorious for his indie-centric beliefs. Although he produced 'Down', the group's final Touch & Go album, he severed ties with the band by the time the record was released in the fall of 1994. 

In 1995, The Jesus Lizard signed with Capitol Records and the band toured with Lollapalooza 1995. At one of the shows on the tour, David Yow was arrested for exposing himself on-stage. Later in 1995, the group recorded their major-label debut. The resulting album, 'Shot', was released on Capitol in the spring of 1996. 'Blue' followed in 1998; in mid-1999, The Jesus Lizard disbanded. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC