miércoles, 30 de noviembre de 2016

The Bluebells


During their brief time together in the early '80s, The Bluebells (songwriter Robert "Bobby Bluebell" Hodgens [born on June 6, 1959] [guitar], Kenneth McClusky [born on February 8, 1962] [vocals/harmonica], Dave McCluskey [born on January 13, 1964] [drums], Russell Irvin [guitar] [replaced by Craig Gannon (born on July 30, 1966)], and Lawrence Donegan [bass] [replaced by Neil Baldwin]) made a small amount of music -several singles, most of which showed up on one EP- but that is not proportional to the quality of their music. Like fellow Scots Aztec Camera, The Bluebells crafted impeccable, jangly guitar pop, only with better melodies and stronger hooks. Two of their singles ("I'm Falling" and "Young at Heart") hovered around the lower reaches of the U.K. Top Ten in 1984, but they soon broke up, leaving a small, but impressive, body of work. David McCluskey and his brother, Ken, formed a folk duo. Robert Hodgens formed Up. Craig Gannon briefly filled in for bassist Andy Rourke in The Smiths on tour, then stayed as a second live guitarist; he joined Adult Net after being fired from The Smiths in 1986. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 29 de noviembre de 2016

Spacemen 3


Spacemen 3 were psychedelic in the loosest sense of the word; their guitar explorations were colorfully mind-altering, but not in the sense of the acid rock of the '60s. Instead, the band developed its own minimalistic psychedelia, relying on heavily distorted guitars to clash and produce their own harmonic overtones; frequently, they would lead up to walls of distortion with overamplified acoustic guitars and synths. Often the band would jam on one chord or play a series of songs, all in the same tempo and key. Though this approach was challenging, often bordering on the avant-garde, Spacemen 3 nevertheless gained a dedicated cult following. After releasing several albums in the late '80s, the band fell apart after in 1991. 


In 1982, Sonic Boom (guitar, organ, vocals; born Pete Kember on November 19, 1965) and Jason Pierce (guitar, organ, vocals; also born November 19, 1965) formed Spacemen 3 in Rugby, Warwickshire, England. Sonic Boom and Pierce added a rhythm section comprised of Pete Baines and Rosco, and spent the next four years rehearsing and jamming. In 1986, the group released its debut album, 'Sound of Confusion', on Glass Records. At first the band sounded a bit like a punked-up garage rock band, but their music quickly evolved into their signature trance-like neo-psychedelia. Spacemen 3's second album, 1987's 'The Perfect Prescription', was the first to capture the group's distinctive style. 


Following 1989's 'Playing With Fire', Baines and Rosco left the group to form their own band, The Darkside. They were replaced by Will Carruthers and Jon Mattock. Despite the addition of new blood to its lineup, the band was beginning to fray because of in-fighting between Sonic Boom and Pierce, as well as the former's increasing drug dependency. The new lineup struggled through a final album, 1991's 'Recurring', which featured Boom's songs on side one and Pierce's on side two. By the time of the release of 'Recurring', Pierce was performing with Carruthers and Mattock in a new band called Spiritualized. Shortly after the release of 'Recurring', Spacemen 3 split, and Spiritualized became Pierce's full-time band, eventually earning a cult following of its own. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 28 de noviembre de 2016

MX-80 Sound


MX-80 (also known as MX-80 Sound) is an eclectic art-metal-rock band founded in 1974 in Bloomington, Indiana by guitarist Bruce Anderson. Considered “one of the most out of step but prescient bands of its time," MX-80’s signature sound consisted of breakneck metallic guitar combined with atonal chord structure, cross-rhythmic percussion and dispassionate vocals. Notoriously difficult to categorize -the band has been labeled noise rock, post-punk, acid punk, and heavy-metal-, MX-80’s sonic melange set the stage for bands such as Swans, Sonic Youth, Codeine, and Shellac

Originally named MX-80 Sound, MX-80 was formed in 1974 by Bruce Anderson (guitar) and Dale Sophiea (bass). Sophiea and Anderson, former members of Bloomington’s Screaming Gypsy Bandits, shared an interest in modern classical composers as well as in avant rockers like Captain Beefheart and The Hampton Grease Band. They soon added two drummers, Jeff Armour, and Kevin Teare in 1975, and the quartet contributed the instrumental composition, "Spoonfight", to "Bloomington I" (Bar-B-Q records 1976). Rich Stim (vocals, guitar, and sax) and Dave Mahoney (drums), both formerly of Chinaboise, joined MX-80 in 1976 and Teare left the band to pursue a full-time art career. Anderson and Stim emerged as the band's primary songwriters, with occasional lyric writing by Andrea Ross (aka Angel Corpus Christi). 


Unable to obtain gigs in most local music venues, MX-80 performed a regular series of Sunday concerts at the Monroe County public library (tracks of which were later compiled on CD). The band’s first studio release was the EP, 'Big Hits: Hard Pop From The Hoosiers' (Bar-B-Q Records 1976), recorded at Gilfoy Studios, produced by Mark Bingham and engineered by Mark Hood. A review of 'Big Hits' in the British music magazine Sounds by Caroline Coon, spurred Island Records A&R man Howard Thompson to license the band’s second recording, their debut LP, 'Hard Attack' (1977). 

'Hard Attack', also produced by Mark Bingham at Gilfoy Studios in Bloomington, was released only in Europe. Like their late-70’s midwestern compatriots Pere Ubu and Debris, MX-80’s initial recording had little commercial success and critics were unsure what to make of them. Glenn O’Brien writing in Interview said of MX-80’s debut, “[It] should establish MX-80 as either the most Heavy Metal Art Band or the most Arty Heavy Metal Band.” Chuck Eddy called 'Hard Attack' "a distorted free for all that set some eternal noisecore standard." 

MX-80 relocated to San Francisco in 1978, a tumultuous year when the city reverberated from the Dan White shootings and subsequent riots (reflected in the track "White Night") and The Peoples Temple mass suicide (the band performed at the nearby Temple Beautiful soon after the tragedy, overlooking a parking lot filled with the victim’s cars.) MX-80 also performed at prominent punk venues such as the Mabuhay Gardens, Deaf Club, and Savoy Tivoli but the local reception was not enthusiastic and the band was considered out of sync with the punk and new-wave sensibility of groups such as Germs, Dils, and Avengers. Disheartened by the reaction, drummer Jeff Armour soon departed, reducing the band to a quartet. 


In 1979, The Residents signed MX-80 to their label, Ralph Records, and two releases followed. The first Ralph recording, 'Out of the Tunnel' (1980), was recorded at Mobius Music Studios, again with Mark Bingham producing. The album’s back cover art was photographed by Kim Torgerson at San Francisco’s now-buried Ocean Beach tunnels. Ira Robbins, writing in Trouser Press, said "Out of the Tunnel may well be MX-80's high-tide-mark, featuring convoluted breakneck melodies, cross-fed musical genres and Anderson's white hot soloing." 

Their second Ralph release, 'Crowd Control' (1981), was recorded at New York’s Celebration Studios and was their final collaboration with producer Mark Bingham. Though 'Crowd Control' contained two love songs –"Obsessive Devotion" and "Promise of Love"– compared to 'Out of the Tunnel', it was considered “a darker album, from a much darker year”, and in general, “found the quartet simplifying some of the arrangements without losing the sense of crackling intensity and playful-while-being-serious performing of earlier efforts”.

After their relationship with Ralph Records ended, MX-80 dropped the "Sound" from its moniker and was allegedly plagued by legal problems (the details of which were never made clear). In 1984, the band returned with a two-drummer format with the addition of Marc Weinstein (ex-Mutants). The following year guitarist Jim Hrabetin (also ex-Mutants) joined. In 1986, the band released a cassette recording, 'Existential Lover (Quadruped)'. In 1990, the band combined previously released TV and movie themes with "furiously thrashed original material," for the album, 'Das Love Boat' (a&R/ENT), perhaps the only instrumental recording to get a Parental Advisory).

In 1994, the band performed at Steve Albini’s baseball-themed ’PineTar .406’ concert in Chicago and the following year, MX-80 released their gloomiest recording, 'I’ve Seen Enough' (Atavistic). Produced by and featuring David Immerglück (Camper Van Beethoven / Monks of Doom / Counting Crows), the album was dismissed by critics as “dull, slow shit … like some bland off-brand ginger ale.” It was followed by a live recording of a Chicago concert, 'Always Leave ‘Em Wanting Less' (Atavistic, 1997). In 2002, the band unearthed some live tapes from the 1970s resulting in the Gulcher release, 'Live at the Library'. 

In 2005, the band recorded and released 'We’re an American Band' (Family Vineyard), featuring an oblique take on the Grand Funk Railroad title track. Forced Exposure called the album “both hilariously depressing and morosely upbeat … a masterwork that mixes Satan, Howard Hughes and current theories on brain transplants.” In 2006, long-time drummer Dave Mahoney died. MX-80 continues to reside and record in the San Francisco Bay Area. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

domingo, 27 de noviembre de 2016

The Fuzztones


This New York City-based psychedelic/garage rock combo played a large role in the mostly underground '60s revival during the 1980s. Led by the enigmatic Rudi Protrudi, The Fuzztones were one of the major "successes" (particularly in Europe) of the revival that flourished in 1984 and that also boasted The Chesterfield Kings, The Cynics, The Miracle Workers, and Plasticland. Their debut studio LP, 'Lysergic Emanations', was released in 1985. Thanks to praise from Ian Astbury of The Cult, the newly refitted Los Angeles-based Fuzztones were one of the few to get a major-label deal, and a second album, 'In Heat', was released by Beggars Banquet in 1989. Due to the album's lackluster sales performance, The Fuzztones went back to the indies. That might have been the end of the story, but it wasn't. Thanks to a hugely successful tour of Europe in 1985, the group built a loyal and dedicated fan base there, and one version or another of The Fuzztones has toured there regularly ever since. Their over three-decade career has yielded at least a dozen or more albums, countless singles, and several videos, and 'Lysergic Emanations' has been re-released by at least three different labels over the years. In 2011, to celebrate their 30th anniversary, the band released a new studio album, 'Preaching to the Perverted', on Stag-O-Lee/Cleopatra. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 26 de noviembre de 2016

The Durruti Column


The Durutti Column was primarily the vehicle of Vini Reilly, a guitarist born in Manchester, England, in 1953. As a child, Reilly first took up the piano, drawing inspiration from greats like Art Tatum and Fats Waller, before learning to play guitar at the age of ten. Despite an early affection for folk and jazz, Reilly ultimately became swept up by the punk movement, and in 1977 he joined the group Ed Banger & the Nosebleeds. In 1978, Factory Records founder Tony Wilson invited Reilly to join a group dubbed The Durutti Column, the name inspired by the Spanish Civil War anarchist Buenaventura Durruti and a Situationists Internationale comic strip of the 1960s. Along with Reilly, the nascent band included guitarist Dave Rowbotham, drummer Chris Joyce, vocalist Phil Rainford, and bassist Tony Bowers; following a handful of performances, Rainford was fired, and after recording a pair of tracks for the EP "A Factory Sampler", Rowbotham, Joyce, and Bowers broke off to form The Mothmen, leaving The Durutti Column the sole province of Vini Reilly. (Joyce and Bowers would later join the more popular Simply Red.) 


Recorded with the aid of a few session musicians and released in a sandpaper sleeve, the debut 'The Return of the Durutti Column', a collection of atmospheric instrumentals, appeared in 1980. With 1981's pastoral 'LC', recorded with drummer Bruce Mitchell (who remained a frequent collaborator), Reilly attempted vocals on a few tracks, and continued expanding his palette with a pair of explorations of chamber music, 1982's 'Another Setting' and 1984's 'Without Mercy'. Electronic rhythms, meanwhile, emerged as the pivotal element of 1985's 'Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say'. After 1985's live effort 'Domo Arigato', 'Circuses and Bread' marked a return to the densely constructed guitar textures of previous works, while 1987's eclectic 'The Guitar and Other Machines' ranked among The Durutti Column's most ambitious works to date. In 1988, Reilly backed Morrissey (also an alumnus of The Nosebleeds) on his solo debut, "Viva Hate", before returning to The Durutti Column for the release of a 1989 LP titled 'Vini Reilly', another diverse affair that incorporated vocal samples from Otis Redding, Annie Lennox, Tracy Chapman, and opera star Joan Sutherland

Released in 1990, the aggressive 'Obey the Time' preceded 1991's 'Lips That Would Kiss Form Prayers to Broken Stone', a collection of singles, rarities, and unreleased material. After a long layoff (during which Rowbotham happened to be slain by an axe murderer, inspiring the Happy Mondays' "Cowboy Dave"), The Durutti Column returned in 1995 with 'Sex and Death', followed a year later by 'Fidelity', which fused dance beats with Reilly's guitar lines. Reilly issued several albums throughout the 2000s, from archival concert recordings to such studio efforts as 'Treatise on the Steppenwolf', a soundtrack augmenting the experimental theater production of the same name, as well as 2009's heart-wrenching effort 'Love in the Time of Recession'. The instrumental suite 'Paean to Wilson', composed in 2009, was some of Reilly's most personal work, written for his late friend and most passionate supporter, the late Tony Wilson. Initially scheduled for limited release in 2009, it was granted wider distribution early the following year. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 25 de noviembre de 2016

Crass


The brittlest and most hard-line radical of the first wave of British punk bands, Crass issued a blitz of records that were ruthless in both their unrelenting sociopolitical screeds and their amelodic crash of noise. The horrors of war, the arbitrary nature of legal justice, sexism, media imagery, organized religion, the flaws of the punk movement itself -all were subjected to harsh critique. Like few other rock bands before or since, Crass took rock-as-agent-of-social-and-political-change seriously, and not just in their music. In addition to putting out their own fiercely independent records (though the majors were certainly not knocking at their door), they also formed an anarchist commune that worked with other artists and labels, and on the behalf of various political causes. But they were also afflicted by considerable tension between the medium and its message -not more than a few thousand people were exposed to Crass' very broad social concerns, and their musical inflexibility guaranteed that the band would be preaching to the converted almost exclusively. 

In keeping with early punk ethos, Crass assumed obviously fake stage names. The membership changed a bit over the years, but the group's mainstays were vocalists Steve Ignorant, Eve Libertine, and Joy de Vivre. Drummer Penny Rimbaud and G. Sus, who did tape collages and provided the distinctively bleak black and white artwork on the fold-out posters that usually enclosed their LPs, were also important contributors. Their late-'70s recordings may sound like just so much hardcore punk decades later. But at the time they were indeed shocking assaults of noisy guitars and relentless drumming, backed by throaty, angry rants that were made incomprehensible to many ears by the heavy British accents and the sheer speed of delivery. 


They were the definitive uncompromising punk band, which guaranteed them a cult following of very disaffected youth, and also ensured that they would never come remotely close to mainstream exposure, or even to many new wave playlists. An undiluted lyrical message was far more important to Crass than commercial considerations, and until 1984 they cranked out anarchist-leaning recordings without much variation in their attack. Occasional experimental cuts were promising variations on their format, particularly when they branched into tape collage, or spoken poetry. Those were largely the exception rather than the rule, though Crass weren't without the occasional moment of humor. 

Crass always intended to disband in 1984, and true to their ideals as always, they did exactly that when that year came around. Even for those with no taste for the band's brand of confrontational punk, they deserve recognition as one of the relatively few acts in the music who attempted to live their values, and not just sing about them. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 24 de noviembre de 2016

Blue Orchids


When Una Baines (keyboards, vocals) and Martin Bramah (guitar, vocals) quit The Fall in the late ‘70s, some of that group's irreverent, punk-injected spirit continued to flow through their veins when they formed the Blue Orchids in Manchester, England in 1979. With the addition of Rick Goldstar (guitar), Steve Toyne (bass), and Joe Kin (drums), Baines and Bramah reaped critical acclaim with their brainchild. The Blue Orchids signed with Rough Trade in 1980 and their first single, "The Flood/Disney Boys", drew comparisons to The Velvet Underground's psychedelic weirdness. Ironically, the Blue Orchids became the supporting band for former Velvets chanteuse Nico during her tour of Europe a year later. The group's debut LP, 'The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain)', was released in 1981 to excellent reviews. The Blue Orchids' uncompromising sound –half-sung or spoken lyrics, drugged-out keyboards, jagged guitars– made them favorites on the U.K. independent charts. In 1982, after recording the EP 'Agents of Change', the band split up. Baines and Bramah revived the Blue Orchids in 1984 with new members. The resurrected Blue Orchids began performing in clubs again and released a 12" single in 1985. The group landed gigs in Austria and Germany before disbanding once more. Baines then joined The Fates while Bramah collaborated with ex-Fall drummer Karl Burns in Thirst. Bramah collected another set of musicians to record as the Blue Orchids in 1991, releasing the 12" single 'Diamond Age'. Although somewhat overshadowed by other Manchester acts such as Joy Division, New Order, and The Smiths, the Blue Orchids' influence lived on in the Hammond organ-powered grooves of Inspiral Carpets; moreover, Aztec Camera covered "Bad Education" from 'The Greatest Hit (Money Mountain)'. In 2002, Cherry Red Records compiled 'A Darker Bloom: The Blue Orchids Collection', a retrospective of their work from 1980 to the early ‘90s. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 23 de noviembre de 2016

Talking Heads


At the start of their career, Talking Heads were all nervous energy, detached emotion, and subdued minimalism. When they released their last album about 12 years later, the band had recorded everything from art-funk to polyrhythmic worldbeat explorations and simple, melodic guitar pop. Between their first album in 1977 and their last in 1988, Talking Heads became one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the '80s, while managing to earn several pop hits. While some of their music can seem too self-consciously experimental, clever, and intellectual for its own good, at their best Talking Heads represent everything good about art-school punks. 

And they were literally art-school punks. Guitarist/vocalist David Byrne, drummer Chris Frantz, and bassist Tina Weymouth met at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early '70s; they decided to move to New York in 1974 to concentrate on making music. The next year, the band won a spot opening for the Ramones at the seminal New York punk club CBGB. In 1976, keyboardist Jerry Harrison, a former member of Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers, was added to the lineup. By 1977, the band had signed to Sire Records and released its first album, 'Talking Heads: 77'. It received a considerable amount of acclaim for its stripped-down rock & roll, particularly Byrne's geeky, overly intellectual lyrics and uncomfortable, jerky vocals.

For their next album, 1978's 'More Songs About Buildings and Food', the band worked with producer Brian Eno, recording a set of carefully constructed, arty pop songs, distinguished by extensive experimenting with combined acoustic and electronic instruments, as well as touches of surprisingly credible funk. On their next album, the Eno-produced 'Fear of Music', Talking Heads began to rely heavily on their rhythm section, adding flourishes of African-styled polyrhythms. This approach came to a full fruition with 1980's 'Remain in Light', which was again produced by Eno. Talking Heads added several sidemen, including a horn section, leaving them free to explore their dense amalgam of African percussion, funk bass and keyboards, pop songs, and electronics. 

After a long tour, the band concentrated on solo projects for a couple of years. By the time of 1983's 'Speaking in Tongues', the band had severed its ties with Eno; the result was an album that still relied on the rhythmic innovations of 'Remain in Light', except within a more rigid pop-song structure. After its release, Talking Heads embarked on another extensive tour, which was captured on the Jonathan Demme-directed concert film 'Stop Making Sense'. After releasing the straightforward pop album 'Little Creatures' in 1985, Byrne directed his first movie, "True Stories", the following year; the band's next album featured songs from the film. Two years later, Talking Heads released 'Naked', which marked a return to their worldbeat explorations, although it sometimes suffered from Byrne's lyrical pretensions. 

After its release, Talking Heads were put on "hiatus"; Byrne pursued some solo projects, as did Harrison, and Frantz and Weymouth continued with their side project, Tom Tom Club. In 1991, the band issued an announcement that they had broken up. Shortly thereafter, Harrison's production took off with successful albums by Live and Crash Test Dummies. In 1996, the original lineup minus Byrne reunited for the album 'No Talking Just Head'; Byrne sued Frantz, Weymouth, and Harrison for attempting to record and perform as Talking Heads, so the trio went by The Heads. In 1999, all four worked together to promote a 15th-anniversary edition of 'Stop Making Sense', and they also performed at the 2002 induction ceremony for their entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Through the 2010s, Byrne released a number of solo and collaborative projects. Tom Tom Club continued to tour, while Harrison produced albums for the likes of No Doubt, The Von Bondies, and Hockey. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 22 de noviembre de 2016

The Sound


The Sound's inability to break through to the type of '80s post-punk prominence reserved for the likes of Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen, the two bands The Sound fell in between sound-wise, isn't all that easy to explain away. When a deserving band fails at to become something of a household name, the easy targets -the industry, the press, the drug problems, the coke-head producer who mangled what was supposed to be the "Big Record"- are normally fingered. But none of those targets truly apply here in the strictest sense. While most of The Sound's records weren't released in the U.S., no American record executive can take any blame; they can simply point to the fact that The Sound were merely respectable unit shifters -a prototypical cult act- in their homeland of England, so they wouldn't have fared well across the pond. The press was generally supportive, especially early on; collectively they gave the band more positive reviews than most others, which makes perfect sense because none of The Sound's five studio LPs suffered from uneven characteristics. Each one made progress from the previous and each one ranged from good to spectacular. Their songs had hooks and emotional impact without bombast, with lyrics that often confronted the problems of young adulthood without simply moping and falling into escapist chutes. The members themselves weren't cute teen idol types (though they were far from being tough on the eye), and they didn't have big personalities or say big things during interviews, but that's obviously no fault of their own. They were able to cultivate large followings in Germany and Holland, but aside from those countries and a couple other European territories, indifference and history has made them all but invisible. 

The Sound formed in South London in 1979, shortly after a band called The Outsiders dissolved. It isn't a very well-distributed fact, but The Outsiders' 1977 LP "Calling on Youth" was the first self-released British punk LP, issued roughly four months after Buzzcocks' infamous "Spiral Scratch" 7". Guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Adrian Borland led The Outsiders though a couple of other releases, but the band sputtered out three years after their 1976 formation. Bassist Graham Bailey (aka Graham Green), who had joined the band in time for their final recordings, followed Borland into the new group with a drummer named Michael Dudley and a saxophonist/clarinetist/keyboardist named Bi Marshall


Fittingly enough, Borland's motivation to cut ties to the punk movement mirrored that of original Buzzcocks member Howard Devoto, who left his own band after "Spiral Scratch". Like Devoto, who had gone on to pioneer yet another field called post-punk with Magazine, Borland looked around, saw all the bands who played straight-ahead chug-chug-chug rock & roll, and decided that the tired blueprint was in need of a little more depth and variation; atmospheres, tensions, and unfamiliar twists on the interplay between the instruments would be needed. Lyrics were another thing. Not content with simply railing against the government or grunting and yelping about trivial matters to merely keep a song moving, Borland became one of the few post-punk songwriters whose lyric sheets were truly worth ingesting and analyzing. Former Outsider Adrian Janes aided the cause, remaining involved with Borland in a behind-the-scenes manner, writing some of the band's lyrics with his former bandmate. 

The Sound made their first recordings in the living room of the Borland family home, with Adrian's supportive father Bob acting as recording engineer. As demonstrated on 'Propaganda', a posthumous release from 1999 that collects these sessions, the band was gradually -not so drastically and suddenly- leaving The Stooges/Velvets axis and applying touches that would be developed into something all their own. They received their first break of sorts from Stephen Budd, an early supporter since The Outsiders days, who had recorded and released some material by Bailey and Borland's electronically inclined side project, Second Layer. Budd's label, Tortch-R, made a small profit from a Second Layer release, so he opted to put it right back into The Sound's first release. Budd also became the band's manager, booking studio time for them with Nick Robbins in Elephant Studios and finding places for the band to gig. 


The first release made a humble impression. 'Physical World' was reviewed positively in the NME by Paul Morley, and DJ John Peel took minor interest, playing it a couple times during his influential BBC program. Though The Sound hadn't the will to pine for a major label deal, the WEA-affiliated Korova label (home of Echo & the Bunnymen) came knocking when they found out the band was going back into the studio to make a full album. Korova heard the rough mixes of the album and a deal was made. Regardless of the label's involvement, 'Jeopardy' was recorded cheaply, and upon its release was reviewed extremely favorably by all the important outlets. Reviews in the NME, Sounds, and Melody Maker gave it five stars. Rightfully likened to the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, and Joy Division in those reviews, one only needs to hear the weakest song from the record to realize that The Sound -from the very beginning- belonged in that high class.

Bi Marshall left the band and was replaced by Max Mayers (aka Colvin Mayers) before The Sound went in to work with master producer Hugh Jones, who had previously worked with the Teardrops and the Bunnymen, for the follow-up. 'From the Lion's Mouth' took full advantage of the band's atmospheric, mind-bending capabilities by coating their songs -accessible and economical as ever- with richly layered productions that didn't hide the rock-solid foundation the songs were built on. Another round of positive reviews and another round of general indifference from the public ensued, though a cult following was festering. Korova became a little anxious with the band and wanted some hits. Surely, the next one would break them. 


It wouldn't happen. Working again with Nick Robbins, the band was pressured by the label to compromise and play the pop game. Not only that, but the band was shifted to WEA proper, a move that probably had more to do with taxes than music. The heat from the label and the climate it spawned resulted in 'All Fall Down', one of those historically troubled third albums (i.e., the one that super-diehard fans defend to their grave). The Sound responded to the situation with their least penetrable record by a couple brick walls. And WEA responded to the response with no promotion. Criticized for being too willfully distant, for cannibalizing the back catalog, and for lacking immediacy (i.e., "tunes"), the record still has much to give the listener. Although it's not the band's best moment by a long shot, it's hardly something the band would feel ashamed of later on. To little surprise, the band wound up without a label and decided to reconsider their direction. 

The period of dormancy involved a collective realization that the enthusiasm for making music and playing it, despite being a little drained from their experiences with WEA, had never really waned. Several major labels expressed interest in signing them, but in the end Statik won out; the band decided it would be better to go with the small independent. (Surprisingly enough, the band worked out a short-term deal with A&M to release material in the States, but it was pretty pointless.) 'Shock of Daylight', a six-song EP, was released in 1984. The time off served them well, resulting in some of the band's most fiery and uplifting material. This carried through to the following year's glassy/classy 'Heads and Hearts', the band's fourth studio album. Two dates at the Marquee during August were recorded for the double live album 'In the Hothouse', which was released in 1986. 


For their final album, 1987's 'Thunder Up' (released on Play It Again Sam in Belgium and Nettwerk in Canada), the band allowed the darkness from 'All Fall Down' and the shivering, plaintive desolation of 'Shock of Daylight's "Winter" to creep back in. Few were still paying attention, but The Sound released a swan song that most of the members considered to be their finest work, with plenty of variety that hangs together. Nearly a decade of empty wallets and minor personality clashes had eroded the band's resilience, so the band decided to stop shortly after its release. 

Borland continued in music throughout the next two decades, producing other acts and releasing another batch of under-appreciated records as a solo artist and as a member of a couple side projects (The Honolulu Mountain Daffodils, White Rose Transmission). Bailey, Dudley, and Mayers left music for the most part. Mayers passed away in the early '90s, a victim of AIDS. And on April 26, 1999, Borland took his own life. Thanks to the Renascent label's reissuing program in the late '90s and early 2000s, The Sound's discography has been restored and revitalized. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

sábado, 19 de noviembre de 2016

Jeffrey Lee Pierce


Jeffrey Lee Pierce is best remembered as the hard-living guitarist/singer who fronted The Gun Club, a band that fused the fury of punk with the melodic structures and lyrical obsessions of the blues. Born on June 27, 1958, and raised in El Monte, California, Pierce discovered punk rock during his teenage years while working at Bomp Records, writing for such L.A.-based punk magazines as Slash, and serving as the head of Blondie's fan club. By 1979, he was ready to front his own band. First called Creeping Ritual, the group soon changed its name to The Gun Club (supposedly at the request of Circle Jerks' frontman Keith Morris). Merging the energy of hardcore punk with the soul of country blues and adding traces of rockabilly and country, The Gun Club became a primal influence on what would come to be known as psychobilly, though the bands that followed generally ignored the blues influences and the doomstruck poetry of Pierce's lyrics. The band survived countless lineup changes (Pierce being the sole constant member throughout) and issued several standout releases during the early '80s for a variety of record labels, including their classic 1981 debut 'Fire of Love', 1982's 'Miami', and 1984's 'The Las Vegas Story'. The Gun Club continued to issue albums off and on throughout the '80s, but Pierce's health would wane from time to time due to his overindulgence of drink and drugs. Pierce also managed to issue a pair of solo releases in addition to his Gun Club duties, 1985's 'Wildweed' and 1992's 'Ramblin' Jeffrey Lee' (the latter also credited to Ramblin' Jeffrey Lee), but the singer/guitarist would ultimately return to his full-time gig. 


Pierce appeared to have returned to form with such strong early-'90s Gun Club releases as 1992's 'In Exile' and 1994's 'Lucky Jim', while he also considered creating a new musical form, "Rapanese" (which would have combined rap with the Japanese language). But on March 31, 1996, Pierce's life was cut short at the age of 37, when he died from a brain hemorrhage. Pierce's music continued to command a cult following after his death, and more than a decade after his passing, a number of talented fans and friends gathered to record new interpretations of Pierce's songs, many never recorded by The Gun Club. The first album from The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project, 'We Are Only Riders', appeared in 2009 and featured performances by Nick Cave, Deborah Harry, Mark Lanegan, Isobel Campbell, and Dave Alvin. A second volume, 'The Journey Is Long', was released in 2012 and included many of the same participants as well as Steve Wynn, Mick Harvey, and Tav Falco. A third Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project release, 'Axels & Sockets', arrived in 2014, with a cast that included Iggy Pop, Thurston Moore, Primal Scream, and Lydia Lunch. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 17 de noviembre de 2016

New Order


Rising from the ashes of the legendary British post-punk unit Joy Division, the enigmatic New Order triumphed over tragedy to emerge as one of the most influential and acclaimed bands of the 1980s; embracing the electronic textures and disco rhythms of the underground club culture many years in advance of its contemporaries, the group's pioneering fusion of new wave aesthetics and dance music successfully bridged the gap between the two worlds, creating a distinctively thoughtful and oblique brand of synth pop appealing equally to the mind, body, and soul. New Order's origins officially date back to mid-1976, when guitarist Bernard Sumner (formerly Albrecht) and bassist Peter Hook -inspired by a recent Sex Pistols performance- announced their intentions to form a band of their own. Recruiting singer Ian Curtis and drummer Stephen Morris, they eventually settled on the name Joy Division, and in 1979 issued their landmark debut LP, "Unknown Pleasures". 

After completing sessions for Joy Division's sophomore effort, "Closer", Curtis hanged himself on May 18, 1980; devastated, the remaining trio immediately disbanded, only to re-form soon after as New Order with the addition of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert. With Sumner assuming vocal duties, the new group debuted in March 1981 with the single "Ceremony," a darkly melodic effort originally composed for use by Joy Division. The LP 'Movement' followed a few months later, and when it too mined territory similar to New Order's previous incarnation, many observers were quick to dismiss the band for reliving former glories. However, with its next single, "Everything's Gone Green," the quartet first began adorning its sound with synthesizers and sequencers, inspired by the music of Kraftwerk as well as the electro beats coming up from the New York underground; 1982's "Temptation" continued the trend, and like its predecessor was a major favorite among clubgoers. 


After a yearlong hiatus, New Order resurfaced in 1983 with their breakthrough hit "Blue Monday"; packaged in a provocative sleeve designed to recall a computer disc, with virtually no information about the band itself -a hallmark of their mysterious, distant image- it perfectly married Sumner's plaintive yet cold vocals and abstract lyrics with cutting-edge drum-machine rhythms ideal for club consumption. "Blue Monday" went on to become the best-selling 12" release of all time, moving over three million copies worldwide. After releasing their brilliant 1983 sophomore album, 'Power, Corruption and Lies', New Order teamed with the then-unknown producer Arthur Baker to record "Confusion," another state-of-the-art dance classic, which even scraped into the American R&B charts. The group's success soon won them a stateside contract with Quincy Jones' Qwest label; however, apart from a pair of singles, "Thieves Like Us" and "Murder," they remained out of the spotlight throughout 1984. 

Heralded by the superb single "The Perfect Kiss," New Order resurfaced in 1985 with 'Low-life', their most fully realized effort to date; breaking with long-standing tradition, it actually included photos of the individual members, suggesting an increasing proximity with their growing audience. 'Brotherhood' followed in 1986, with the single "Bizarre Love Triangle" making significant inroads among mainstream pop audiences. A year later the group issued 'Substance', a much-needed collection of singles and remixes; it was New Order's American breakthrough, cracking the Top 40 on the strength of the newly recorded single "True Faith," which itself reached number 32 on the U.S. pop charts. The remixed "Blue Monday 1988" followed, and in 1989 -inspired by the ecstasy-fueled house music that their work had clearly predated and influenced- New Order issued 'Technique'; their most club-focused outing to date, it launched the hits "Fine Time" and "Round and Round." 


After recording the 1990 English World Cup Soccer anthem "World in Motion," New Order went on an extended hiatus to pursue solo projects; Hook formed the band Revenge, longtime companions Morris and Gilbert recorded as The Other Two, and, most notably, Sumner teamed with ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and Pet Shop Boys frontman Neil Tennant in Electronic, which scored a Top 40 hit with the single "Getting Away with It." New Order reconvened in 1993 for their biggest hit to date, 'Republic', which earned the band its highest charting American single ("Regret") and fell just shy of the U.S. Top Ten, despite charges from longtime fans that the band had lost its edge. A major tour followed, although rumors of escalating creative conflicts plagued the group; refusing to either confirm or deny word of a breakup, New Order simply spent the mid-'90s in a state of limbo, with Sumner eventually recording a long-awaited second Electronic LP and Hook mounting another new project, Monaco. "Brutal," the first new effort from New Order in a number of years, was featured on the soundtrack of the 2000 film "The Beach", and the full-length 'Get Ready' followed one year later. By this time, Gillian Gilbert had left the band to care for her and Stephen Morris' children, and Marion guitarist Phil Cunningham had been added to bolster the lineup. Dedicated touring followed the release of 'Get Ready', and New Order recorded a follow-up for release in 2005, 'Waiting for the Sirens' Call'. 


In 2006, after a succession of one-off dates, New Order decided to call it quits for a second time after bassist Hook suggested that they should quit touring for good. With Sumner announcing that they wouldn't record as New Order anymore, he started Bad Lieutenant with Cunningham in 2009. After a two-year break, New Order announced they would play a handful of live dates, with Gilbert now back in the band after a ten-year time-out. Also, Peter Hook was out of the lineup for the first time since New Order's founding, replaced by Bad Lieutenant bassist Tom Chapman. Hook stayed busy, however, recording and touring with his band The Light and writing a book of his time in Joy Division, "Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division". 

The album 'Live at the London Troxy', released at the end of 2011, documented the band's successful return to the live arena. Continuing to tour throughout 2012, the band joined Blur and The Specials at London's Hyde Park to help close the London 2012 Summer Olympics, and at the end of the year announced the release of 'Lost Sirens'. The album, which featured songs that were recorded at the time of 2005's 'Waiting for the Sirens' Call', was released in January 2013. One year later, the group signed with Mute Records, and 2015 saw them release 'Music Complete' on the label. Produced by the band, along with Tom Rowlands (of The Chemical Brothers) and Stuart Price on a handful of cuts, the album featured guest appearances from Brandon Flowers, La Roux, and Iggy Pop. The album was released in a variety of formats, including a deluxe vinyl box set that featured extended versions of all the songs. These versions were released separately in May of the next year under the title 'Complete Music'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

miércoles, 16 de noviembre de 2016

Pauline Murray and The Invisible Girls


Following the demise of Penetration, Murray (b. 8 March 1958, Durham, England) departed, with bass guitarist Robert Blamire, to form a new group. Producers Martin Hannett and Steve Hopkins were claimed to be the ‘Invisible’ members, while the actual line-up comprised John Maher (ex-Buzzcocks), Dave Rowbotham and Dave Hassell. The Invisible Girls would also act as studio and road band for John Cooper Clarke, and included among its ranks Pete Shelley, Karl Burns (The Fall), Bill Nelson, Vini Reilly (Durutti Column) and numerous others. A self-titled album and single, ‘Dream Sequence’, announced the arrival of Pauline Murray And The Invisible Girls in 1980, and gained strong critical support. The album featured guest appearances from Wayne Hussey (ex-Dead Or Alive, Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission) in addition to the previously mentioned Invisible luminaries. Despite this fine collection, the band split after two subsequent single releases from it: ‘Searching For Heaven’ and ‘Mr. X’. Blamire went into production work while Murray took two years away from the music industry: ‘I just... retreated from music really, just backed right out and decided what I wanted to do. Which took about a year to two years... I think Penetration to the Invisible Girls was such a vast leap that it lost everyone. It lost us as well’. Blamire and Murray reunited in the similarly short-lived Pauline Murray And The Storm, before retiring from the music business at the start of the following decade. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 15 de noviembre de 2016

Furniture


The British pop band Furniture was founded in London in 1981 by vocalist Jim Irvin, guitarist/pianist Tim Whelan and drummer Hamilton Lee. A 1983 self-financed EP, 'The Boom Was On', won the trio a contract with the Survival label, and after swelling to a five-piece with the additions of bassist Sally Still and keyboardist Maya Gilder, they began issuing a string of singles, later collected as the LP 'The Lovemongers'. After jumping to Stiff Records in 1986, Furniture released "Brilliant Mind," which reached the Top 25 on the UK singles chart. The group's future appeared bright, but within weeks of issuing the follow-up, "Love Your Shoes," Stiff went into liquidation; Furniture's 1986 album 'The Wrong People' was picked up by ZTT, but after only 30,000 copies were pressed the record was abruptly deleted. After a three-year court battle, the band was finally able to remove themselves from ZTT's grip; signing to Arista, they resurfaced with 1989's 'Food, Sex and Paranoia', but the long hiatus destroyed any chart momentum they had accrued, and the record quickly vanished. Furniture dissolved in 1991. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 14 de noviembre de 2016

The Dukes Of Stratosphear


In 1985, the British pop band XTC recorded an EP of affectionate parodies of '60s psychedelia and guitar pop called '25 O'Clock'. Instead of releasing the EP under their own name, they released the record under a new moniker: The Dukes of Stratosphear. Working with producer John Leckie, all three members of the group adopted pseudonyms -Andy Partridge was Sir John Johns, Colin Moulding was The Red Curtain, and David Gregory was Lord Cornelius Plum. For this one project, Gregory's brother Ian joined the band under the name E.I.E.I. Owen. The EP was released without mention of XTC's name anywhere on the record, and the group members claimed they had nothing to do with the project. 


Two years after the appearance of '25 O'Clock', The Dukes of Stratosphear released a full album, 'Psonic Psunspot'. By the time 'Psonic Psunspot' appeared in 1987, XTC had begun to admit in interviews that they were indeed The Dukes of Stratosphear. Later in 1987, both the EP and album were released on a single compact disc, 'Chips from the Chocolate Fireball'. XTC then resumed working under their regular name, issuing new material throughout the 1990s and early 2000s before splitting up in 2005. Four years later, expanded versions of 'Psonic Psunspot' and '25 O'Clock' appeared via Partridge's own label, Ape House Records. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 13 de noviembre de 2016

Cranes


Cranes were one of the major trance-pop/shoegaze groups of the early '90s, combining ethereal vocals and melodies with loud, droning guitars. Cranes were formed by brother and sister Jim (drums) and Alison Shaw (vocals) in Portsmouth, England; guitarist Mark Francombe and bassist Matt Cope joined the band two years later. The group independently released its first album, 'Fuse', on cassette in 1986; a small local label released 'Self-Non-Self' in 1989 to good reviews. Both sets of music led to a record contract with Dedicated, an English record label. Later that year, they released their first EP for the label, 'Inescapable', which earned them a lot of attention, including a Melody Maker cover story; a second EP, 'Espero', also earned positive reviews, including a Melody Maker Single of the Week. The following year, the band released its first album on Dedicated, 'Wings of Joy', which received favorable reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as earning the band a sizable cult following, including The Cure's Robert Smith; Smith picked Cranes to open for The Cure on their 1992 world tour, which earned them a larger audience. 'Forever', the group's second album, was released in 1993. It expanded their cult slightly, yet 1994's 'Loved' found the band in a holding pattern commercially. After releasing the limited-edition 'Tragedy of Orestes and Electra' in late 1996, Cranes returned with 'Population 4', which was greeted with mixed reviews and found the group's cult shrinking. A reissue of 'Self-Non-Self' followed the next year, but a new studio album didn't arrive until 2001 with 'Future Songs' -a relatively straightforward departure from their former material, with Alison Shaw's vocals higher in the mix than before. 'Particles & Waves' (2004) and 'Cranes' (2008) incorporated electronics with sparse arrangements to good effect. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 12 de noviembre de 2016

The Blue Nile


The Scottish folk-ambient band The Blue Nile has enjoyed a mystique contrived by its inaccessibility and the infrequency of its recordings, but it has also made a series of critically acclaimed discs. The group was formed by three Glasgow natives who had graduated from university there: singer/songwriter/guitarist Paul Buchanan, bassist Robert Bell, and keyboardist Paul Joseph Moore. (Engineer Callum Malcolm and drummer Nigel Thomas have worked with the trio consistently, to the point of being considered secondary bandmembers.) ("The Blue Nile" is the title of Alan Moorehead's 1962 sequel to "The White Nile", the two books making up a history of the Nile River.) They recorded their own single, "I Love This Life," which was distributed by Robert Stigwood's RSO Records just before the company closed its doors. They were then signed by Linn Products, which released their debut album, 'A Walk Across the Rooftops', in 1984. (A&M handled it in the U.S.) Since the company was small and the band did not tour, the album took some time to find its audience, though it briefly reached the U.K. charts and led to high expectations for a second album. This came in 1989 with 'Hats', which reached the British Top 20, throwing off three chart singles, "The Downtown Lights," "Headlights on the Parade," and "Saturday Night." The album also made the lower reaches of the American charts as The Blue Nile embarked on its first tour, a 30-date journey taking place in the British Isles and the U.S. In the ensuing years, the band members switched record labels, signing to Warner Bros., and contributed to recordings by Robbie Robertson and Julian Lennon. They finally emerged with their third album, 'Peace at Last', in June 1996. Another critically acclaimed release, it placed in the U.K. Top 20, but failed to chart in the U.S. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 11 de noviembre de 2016

Adolescents


One of Southern California's best-loved hardcore bands, the Adolescents helped establish the blueprint for Orange County punk, along with Agent Orange and Social Distortion. Although their music was the most standard-issue of the three, the Adolescents' blazing energy and quintessential teenage snottiness gave them an instant connection with their audience, and defied their upbringing in California's bastion of staid conservatism. Their original lineup was only together briefly, and the majority of their limited discography was actually recorded during a late-'80s reunion. Nonetheless, their impact was an enduring one, as countless followers borrowed from their attitude and covered their best-known songs. 

The Adolescents were formed in 1980 in the Los Angeles suburb of Fullerton, at the border of Orange County. Lead vocalist Tony Cadena (aka Tony Montana, aka Tony Adolescent) joined up with bassist Steve Soto, who'd just left Agent Orange. They first recruited guitarist Frank Agnew (who'd just left the charter lineup of Mike Ness's Social Distortion), guitarist John O'Donovan, and drummer Peter Pan. This lineup splintered quickly, however, and the latter two were replaced by guitarist Rikk Agnew (Frank's brother) and drummer Casey Royer; both had been playing in The Detours, and both had also been original members of Social Distortion. Later that year, the group issued the classic hardcore single "Amoeba" on Posh Boy Records; the track also appeared on the inaugural "Rodney on the ROQ" compilation, assembled by legendary L.A. punk DJ Rodney Bingenheimer


The Adolescents' self-titled debut album was released on Frontier Records in 1981, and quickly became one of the best-selling California hardcore albums behind the Dead Kennedys' "Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables". Despite its relative success, Rikk Agnew left the band by the end of the year; he recorded a solo LP for Frontier, "All by Myself", on which he played all the instruments, and also joined Christian Death, playing on their seminal goth-rock debut, "Only Theatre of Pain", in 1982. He was replaced very briefly by ex-Germs guitarist Pat Smear, then by Royer's roommate Steve Roberts. With Roberts, the quintet recorded a three-song EP, 'Welcome to Reality'; however, deprived of their chief instrumental weapon, the group had already disbanded by the time it was released in the fall of 1982. Royer concentrated on fronting the fairly successful D.I., which expanded to include Rikk Agnew once his stint in Christian Death had ended. Soto and Frank Agnew both joined Legal Weapon, while Cadena formed a new group called The Abandoned

In 1986, the version of the Adolescents that had recorded the group's lone album reunited for a series of shows around Los Angeles. They soon began working on new material, but before long, Royer returned to D.I., and Frank Agnew departed as well. They were replaced by Sandy Hansen on drums and the Agnews' younger brother Alfie on guitar. This lineup recorded the comeback album 'Brats in Battalions', which was eventually released in 1987 on the band's own label; by that time, Alfie Agnew had departed for college, to be replaced by Dan Colburn. After touring for most of 1987, both Colburn and lead singer Cadena tired of the band and left as well. 

Rikk Agnew and Steve Soto decided to share lead vocal duties and keep the band going. They recruited new guitarist Paul Casey, who left after a few months of touring; he was replaced by a returning Frank Agnew. This lineup signed with Triple X and recorded 1988's 'Balboa Fun*Zone', which deviated from the group's trademark style but won some praise nonetheless. Uncertain of what musical path to follow, the Adolescents broke up in April 1989, this time -for all intents and purposes- for good. Triple X issued the split LP 'Live 1981 and 1986' as a capstone. Soto, Hansen, and Frank Agnew formed Joyride, which released two albums in the early '90s, though Agnew left almost immediately. Rikk Agnew resumed his solo career and also toured with Christian Death's reunited original lineup. Also in the early '90s, Cadena, Royer, and Rikk Agnew started performing together as ADZ, releasing an album together in 1995; Cadena was the only one who stayed on, but kept ADZ going into the new millennium, eventually with help from Frank Agnew. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 10 de noviembre de 2016

28th Day


Even though this San Francisco based neo-psych band garnered plaudits and acclaim, 28th Day would eventually become more well known for being the first band to call Barbara Manning a member. Manning, who would later find success as a member of the World of Pooh and S.F. Seals, as well as becoming a sort of indie/underground legend, played bass in 28th Day alongside Cole Marquis on vocals and guitar, and Mike Cloward on drums. Although Manning would grow into a force as a songwriter in subsequent projects, the majority of 28th Day's work was written by Marquis. Their debut EP, released on Enigma in 1985, would be the only studio work from the band, which was to split a short time later. That collection would be expanded in 1992, and then again in 2004, to much acclaim on each occasion. Manning would go on to many other projects, including the aforementioned World of Pooh, S.F. Seals, and The Go-Luckys!, while Marquis would go on to form The Downsiders. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 9 de noviembre de 2016

Sonic Youth


Sonic Youth were one of the most unlikely success stories of underground American rock in the '80s. Where contemporaries R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü were fairly conventional in terms of song structure and melody, Sonic Youth began their career by abandoning any pretense of traditional rock & roll conventions. Borrowing heavily from the free-form noise experimentalism of The Velvet Underground and The Stooges, and melding it with a performance art aesthetic borrowed from the New York post-punk avant-garde, Sonic Youth redefined what noise meant within rock & roll. Sonic Youth rarely rocked, though they were inspired directly by hardcore punk, post-punk, and no wave. Instead, their dissonance, feedback, and alternate tunings created a new sonic landscape, one that redefined what rock guitar could do. 

The band's trio of independent late-'80s records -'EVOL', 'Sister', 'Daydream Nation'- became touchstones for a generation of indie rockers who either replicated the noise or reinterpreted it in a more palatable setting. As their career progressed, Sonic Youth grew more palatable as well, as their more free-form songs began to feel like compositions and their shorter works began to rock harder. During the '90s, most American indie bands, and many British underground bands, displayed a heavy debt to Sonic Youth, and the group itself had become a popular cult band, with each of its albums charting in the Top 100.


Such success was unthinkable when guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo formed Sonic Youth with bassist Kim Gordon in 1981. Moore had spent his childhood in Bethel, Connecticut; Ranaldo was from Long Island. Both guitarists arrived in Manhattan during the height of the New York-based post-punk no wave movement, and began performing with the avant-garde composer Glenn Branca, whose dissonant, guitar-based music provided the basis for much of Sonic Youth's early music. Moore's girlfriend Gordon had been active in the avant and no wave scenes for some time, and the pair helped stage the Noise Festival, in which the band made its live debut during the summer of 1981. At the time, Sonic Youth also featured keyboardist Anne DeMarinis and drummer Richard Edson. DeMarinis left the band shortly afterward, and the quartet recorded its eponymous debut EP, which was released on Branca's Neutral Records the following year. During 1983, Edson left the band to pursue an acting career and he was replaced by Bob Bert, who drummed on the group's debut album, 'Confusion Is Sex' (1983). The band supported the album with its first European tour. Later that year, the group released the EP 'Kill Yr Idols' on the German Zensor label. 

Early in 1984, Moore attempted to land the band a contract with the British indie label Doublevision, but the label rejected the demos. Paul Smith, one of the owners of Doublevision, decided to form Blast First Records in order to release Sonic Youth records. Soon, he received a distribution deal from the hip U.K. indie label Rough Trade, and the band had its first label with strong distribution. During all these record label negotiations in 1984, the cassette-only live album 'Sonic Death: Sonic Youth Live' was released on Ecstatic Peace. 'Bad Moon Rising', the group's first album for Blast First, was released in 1985 to strong reviews throughout the underground music press. The album was markedly different from their earlier releases -it was the first record they made that incorporated their dissonant, feedback-drenched experimentations within relatively straightforward pop song structures. Following the release of the 'Death Valley '69' EP, Bert was replaced by Steve Shelley, who became the group's permanent drummer. 


'Bad Moon Rising' had attracted significant attention throughout the American underground, including some offers from major labels. Instead, Sonic Youth decided to sign with SST, home of Hüsker Dü and Black Flag, releasing 'EVOL' in 1986. With 'EVOL', the group became a fixture on college radio, and its status grew significantly with 1987's 'Sister', which was heavily praised by mainstream publications like Rolling Stone. The group's profile increased further with the 1988 Ciccone Youth side project 'The Whitey Album', which was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Madonna and other parts of mainstream pop culture. 

The band's true breakthrough came later in 1988 with the double album 'Daydream Nation'. Released on Enigma Records, it was a tour de force that was hailed as a masterpiece upon its fall release, and it generated a college radio hit with "Teenage Riot." Though the album was widely praised, Enigma suffered from poor distribution and eventually bankruptcy, which meant the album occasionally wasn't available in stores. These factors contributed heavily to the band's decision to move to the major label DGC in 1990. 


Signing a contract that gave them complete creative control, as well as letting them function as pseudo-A&R reps for the label, Sonic Youth established a precedent for alternative bands moving to majors during the '90s, proving that it was possible to preserve indie credibility on a major label. Released in the fall of 1990, 'Goo', the band's first major-label album, boasted a more focused sound, yet it didn't abandon the group's noise aesthetics. The result was a college radio hit, and the group's first album to crack the Top 100. Neil Young invited Sonic Youth to open for him on his arena tour for "Ragged Glory", and though they failed to win over much of the rocker's audience, it represented their first major incursion into the mainstream; it also helped make Young a cult figure within the alternative circles during the '90s. 

For their second major-label album, 'Dirty', Sonic Youth attempted to replicate the sloppy, straightforward sound of grunge rockers Mudhoney and Nirvana. The band had been supporting those two Seattle-based groups for several years (and had released a split single with Mudhoney and brought Nirvana to DGC Records), and while the songs on 'Dirty' were hardly grunge, it was more pop-oriented and accessible than earlier Sonic Youth records. Produced by Butch Vig, who also produced Nirvana's "Nevermind", 'Dirty' became an alternative hit upon its summer 1992 release, generating the modern rock hits "100%," "Youth Against Fascism," and "Sugar Kane." Sonic Youth quickly became hailed as one of the godfathers of the alternative rock that had become the most popular form of rock music in the U.S., and 'Dirty' became a hit along with the exposure, eventually going gold. 


Sonic Youth again worked with Vig for 1994's 'Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star', which entered the U.S. charts at number 34 and the U.K. charts at number ten, making it their highest-charting album ever. The high chart position was proof of their popularity during the previous two years, as it received decidedly mixed reviews and quickly fell down the charts. Later in 1994, Moore and Gordon -who had married several years before- had their first child, a daughter named Coco Haley. Sonic Youth agreed to headline 1995's American Lollapalooza package tour, using the earnings to build a new studio. Following the completion of the tour, Sonic Youth released 'Washing Machine', which received their strongest reviews since 'Daydream Nation'. After a series of experimental EPs issued on their own SYR label, they resurfaced in 1998 with the full-length 'A Thousand Leaves'. 'NYC Ghosts & Flowers', which featured Jim O'Rourke as a producer and musician, followed in the spring of 2000. O'Rourke became a full member of the group, touring with the band and appearing on and producing 2002's 'Murray Street'. 

The five-piece Sonic Youth returned in 2004 with 'Sonic Nurse'; one year later, however, O'Rourke departed the band to pursue a career as a film director. Late in 2005, the remaining bandmates issued 'SYR 6', a recording of a benefit concert for the Anthology Film Archives that Sonic Youth had played alongside percussionist Tim Barnes. 'Rather Ripped', a fusion of the mellow, sprawling feel of the band's previous two albums with a more stripped-down sound, was released in 2006. In 2008, the band resurrected the SYR series: 'J'Accuse Ted Hughes' arrived that spring as a vinyl-only release, while 'Andre Sider Af Sonic Youth' chronicled an improvised performance at 2005's Roskilde Festival. They also assembled a compilation album for Starbucks, 'Hits Are for Squares', featuring the previously unreleased track "Slow Revolution." Before the busy year concluded, Sonic Youth made additional headlines by leaving the Geffen label and signing with Matador, which prepared to issue the band's 16th album, 'The Eternal', during the following spring. The year 2010 was relatively quiet for the band, with members concentrating on individual projects like Shelley's Vampire Blues label; they also recorded the soundtrack to French director Fabrice Gobert's film 'Simon Werner a Disparu', which was released early in 2011. 

Moore and Gordon announced their impending divorce in the fall of 2011, creating doubt about the band's future past their year-end South American tour. Sonic Youth's São Paulo date that November ended up being their final concert before an indefinite hiatus. The band's members remained busy: among their other projects, Gordon worked with experimental guitarist Bill Nace as Body/Head, and with Tomorrows Tulips' Alex Knost as Glitterbust; she also published her memoir, "Girl in a Band". Moore toured and recorded with new act Chelsea Light Moving and continued his solo career. Ranaldo recorded as a solo artist and with a new band, The Dust, which featured Shelley as well as O'Rourke and guitarist Alan Licht. In addition, Shelley played with Hallogallo 2010, Disappears, and Sun Kil Moon. He also ran Sonic Youth's labels SYR and Goofin', the latter of which released the live album 'Smart Bar: Chicago 1985' and 'Spinhead Sessions', a set of 1986 rehearsals for the band's 'Made in USA' soundtrack. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC