martes, 31 de enero de 2017

Swell Maps

Noisy and experimental, Britain's Swell Maps experienced little commercial success during the course of their chaotic career, but in hindsight they stand as one of the pivotal acts of the new wave: not only was the group an acknowledged inspiration to the likes of Sonic Youth and Pavement, but their alumni -most notably brothers Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks- continued on as key players in the underground music community. 

Although Sudden (vocals/guitar) and Soundtracks (piano/drums) formed the first incarnation of the Swell Maps (named after the charts used by surfers to gauge wave intensities) as far back as 1972, the group did not begin to truly take shape until 1976, when the siblings enlisted bassist Jowe Head and guitarist Richard Earl. In the spirit of punk's D.I.Y. mentality, they formed their own label, Rather Records, and issued their debut single -the brief, jarring "Read About Seymour"- in the early weeks of 1978. Local media support soon won the Swell Maps a distribution pact with Rough Trade, but they did not resurface until over a year later with the single "Dresden Style." 

In mid-1979, the band released its full-length debut, 'A Trip to Marineville', a crazy quilt of punk energy and Krautrock-influenced clatter. After the release of the speaker-shredding single "Let's Build a Car," the group recorded one final studio LP, 'Jane from Occupied Europe', before breaking up. A series of outtakes and singles collections -1981's 'Whatever Happens Next', 1982's 'Collision Time', and 1987's 'Train Out of It'- followed, while the members followed their own career paths: Sudden formed The Jacobites, Soundtracks joined Crime and the City Solution, and Head played with the Television Personalities. All later enjoyed solo careers as well. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 29 de enero de 2017

Glenn Branca

"I'll sell out anytime anybody wants me to" Glenn Branca once mused, "[but] there are no buyers." This accords with Branca's perennial position on that fringe between the edgier end of art music and the artsier end of rock. An admirer of Young, Glass, and Reich, and a mentor to members of Sonic Youth, Helmet, and the Swans, Branca helped pollinate the downtown New York scene in the 1980s and '90s and infused experimental rock with minimalist ideas. While he earned his reputation with a series of high-volume, microtonal works for multiple electric guitars, his oeuvre also includes works for traditional orchestral forces. In the face of Branca's eclectic output and rather ambiguous aesthetic, the label "crossover" is at once convenient and clumsy. 

Branca was born in 1948 in Harrisburg, PA. He studied theater at Emerson College, and briefly tried playwriting before turning to more musically oriented projects. Upon moving to New York in 1976 he co-founded, with Jeffrey Lohn, the no wave band Theoretical Girls. Branca's subsequent band, The Static, incubated Branca's signature obsession: turning minimalism's hyperattentive ear for microacoustic detail toward the harmonically complex sounds of electric guitars. In 1979 Branca established his namesake ensemble, the varying roster of which included Thurston Moore, Lee Renaldo, Page Hamilton, Ned Sublette, and Branca's wife, Regina Bloor. The works for this group were characterized by intense sound fields shimmering with upper overtones (drawn out through alternative tunings). John Cage famously complained, after attending a performance of 'Indeterminate Activity of Resultant Masses' (1981), that "I found in myself a willingness to connect the music with evil and with power...If it were something political, it would resemble fascism." What Cage heard as oppressive Branca meant as celebratory -an unapologetic indulgence in sustained musical climax; this idea informed works throughout the '80s, including several multi-movement guitar symphonies. In 1989 Branca composed his 'Symphony No. 7', one of several works for traditional orchestra; this marked a change in aesthetic as well as instrumentation, as Branca embraced it as "the most beautiful instrument yet conceived by any orchestra." Rather than renounce his early post-minimalist focus, however, he sensed a complimentarity between these two sounds, and continued composing for both orchestra and guitar ensemble. In June 2001 he presented his most sonically ambitious project of all -at, of all places, the base of the World Trade Center: his 'Symphony No. 13, for 100 electric guitars'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

sábado, 28 de enero de 2017


Swans were born during the heyday of New York's no wave reaction to punk rock, on the Lower East Side. Led by brainchild, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Michael Gira, the group was formed after the demise of his first New York outfit, Circus Mort. Swans' first lineup consisted of Gira, guitarist Sue Hanel, and drummer Jonathan Kane. The trio played with kindred spirits Sonic Youth and did some rudimentary recordings that showcased the abrasive, percussively assaultive sonics Swans were later identified with. These initial sides surfaced on the 'Body to Body, Job to Job' compilation. A different lineup included Kane, guitarist Bob Pezzola, and Daniel Galli-Duani on saxophone; they released a self-titled EP in 1982. The personnel changed again for the band's powerful debut, 'Filth', issued in 1983 on Germany's Zensor imprint. It included Gira, Kane, guitarist Norman Westberg, bassist Harry Crosby, and percussionist/drummer Roli Mosimann

Swans began to garner an audience in Europe. Kane left after 'Filth' was released, and Swans, who were becoming known for their sheer musical brutality as well as Gira's lyrics about violence, extreme sex, power, rage, and the margins of human depravity (sometimes in the same song), began to garner a cult following at home with the release of 1984's 'Cop'. The sound was essentially the same: extreme volume, slower than molasses tempos, detuned guitars, distorted electronics, and overamped drums and percussion, but there were discernible traces of something approaching melody in Gira's compositions and vocalizing. Further evidence of this new "accessibility" was heard on 1985's untitled EP, which featured the provocatively titled "Raping a Slave." It later became the EP's title. Swans' touring was relentless, and while anything even approaching popularity avoided them in the United States, their European audiences grew exponentially. 

The band issued the EP 'Time Is Money (Bastard)' and the full-length 'Greed' at the beginning of 1986 and another album, 'Holy Money', and the 'A Screw' EP later. 'Holy Money' marked a real change in the band's sound, though its tactics were largely the same: the entrance into the band of two new influential presences: vocalist/keyboardist Jarboe and bassist Algis Kizys, who began, albeit subtly at first, to shift the band's attack into something less assaultive sonically yet no less jarring emotionally. Jarboe and Kizys would remain members of Swans until the group's extended hiatus began in 1997. Jarboe, who actually was a member of the band as early as 'Holy Money', would become a settled, foil-like presence for Gira as co-lead vocalist. Her presence signified the addition of a new set of dynamics and textures to the more brutal soundscapes the band put forth in its past. That said, when called upon to do so, she was no less primal or forceful than Gira as a singer. 

In 1987 the band moved to Caroline Records and issued 'Children of God', a double album that marked the real transition between the two parts of the band’s sound. Gira openly embraced the softer aspects being added to Swans' sonic architecture. Further evidence is provided by the beginning of Gira and Jarboe’s new side project, Skin (World of Skin in the United States), whose first album, "Blood, Women, Roses", on which Jarboe was featured on lead vocals, was released. A subsequent album, "Shame, Humility, Revenge", with Gira on lead vocals, was also recorded at the same time, but released a year later. The German-only 'Swans set Real Love', a semi-official bootleg, was issued in 1987. Another double album, 'Feel Good Now', was issued by Rough Trade Records in 1988. Interestingly, despite Swans gaining attention for their own material (they regularly appeared in the pages of the British weeklies and each new release brought more laudatory ink) and even placing albums on the indie charts' lower rungs, it was ironically a single, a cover of Joy Division's immortal "Love Will Tear Us Apart," that climbed the independent charts in June, and nearly topped them. 

Fantastically, Swans were offered -and signed- a contract with major label MCA Records. 'Saved', their first single for the label, was almost mainstream, given the band’s roots. The subsequent album, 'The Burning World', produced by Bill Laswell, featured another cover; this one a gorgeous reading of Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home." The aggressive, savage brutality of the band’s earlier recorded sound had been almost entirely supplanted by a much more somber, elegiac, and acoustic approach to music-making, with lyrics sung (rather than shouted or screamed) in duet between Gira and Jarboe; Westberg played as much acoustic guitar as electric, Jarboe’s keyboards all but floated through the mix, and Kizys employed the upper ranges of his bass as never before. The record didn't sell enough to please MCA, however, and the band was dropped. 

Live performances from Swans were another story. The group continued to play violent music at outrageous volumes that were punishing for audience members, and sometimes displayed shocking and provocative stage antics. Crowds only grew. With critical backlash mounting and the band faced with new listeners, Gira gambled -or reacted, depending on whose point of view one listens to. Instead of following up 'The Burning World' with another album, he formed his own label, Young God, and spent the next few years reissuing earlier Swans material. Gira and Jarboe issued their final World of Skin album, "Ten Songs for Another World", in 1990, but Swans didn’t release another album until the stellar 'White Light from the Mouth of Infinity' appeared in 1991. It was their most commercially viable yet adventurously experimental set to date, with a myriad of textures, dynamics, and sophisticated production techniques. Various forms of electronics were added to the other instruments, creating depth and dimension in the band’s sound. The band toured the album in front of its largest audiences. In 1992 Swans issued the full-length 'Love of Life' and the live set 'Omniscience'.

In 1993 Jarboe released her first solo project, Beautiful People Ltd., in collaboration with keyboardist Lary Seven, offering an entirely different side of her mysterious multi-octave vocal persona in Swans -it was a collection of neo-psychedelic pop songs. Gira, meanwhile, wrote fiction in earnest, resulting in the publication of his first book, "The Consumer and Other Stories", published by Henry Rollins' 2.13.61 Press in 1995. Swans also resurfaced with the lauded 'The Great Annihilator'. Jarboe issued her second solo offering, "Sacrificial Cake", and Gira released his first solo album, "Drainland", to boot. After touring with all the new material, the band reconvened later in the year to begin recording 'Soundtracks for the Blind', which was issued by Young God in 1996. The band did a final tour before Gira announced in early 1997 that Swans were finished. He began a new recording project that focused on his songwriting called The Angels of Light, and continued running Young God, a label that became an innovative force in independent music. Jarboe pursued a successful solo career, often employing former members of Swans as well as collaborating with artists including Tool's Maynard James Keenan and Jesu's Justin Broadrick, to name just two of the dozens. Gira also continued writing and publishing fiction. 

In 2009, news surfaced via the Young God home page that Gira might reconvene Swans for a set of songs he had written. In early 2010 the words "SWANS ARE NOT DEAD" appeared on his MySpace page. The new version of the band consisted of former as well as new members including guitarists Westberg and Christoph Hahn, drummer/percussionist Phil Puleo and drummer Thor Harris, and bassist Chris Pravdica. The band recorded the album 'My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky', which was released in September of 2010 on Young God. The live album 'We Rose from Your Bed with the Sun in Our Head' followed in 2012 (initially released in a handmade limited edition with bonus tracks). In August of that year, Swans released the sprawling double album 'The Seer', an album that Gira claimed was 30 years in the making. Gira and his collaborators were hardly short on ideas by this point, and following another limited release titled 'Not Here/Not Now', they released another double album, 2014's 'To Be Kind', which featured guest vocals from St. Vincent and Cold Specks. The album was an unprecedented success for the band, earning unanimous critical acclaim as well as unexpectedly hitting the Top 40 on both the U.S. and U.K. album charts. After the album's success, Gira announced that the forthcoming Swans tour and album would both be the last by the existing lineup of the group. Following 'The Gate', another limited double-CD of live recordings and demos, Swans released 'The Glowing Man', yet another ambitious double album, in 2016. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 27 de enero de 2017

The Cynics

Formed in 1983 by Get Hip Recordings owner Gregg Kostelich, The Cynics are a Garage-Punk institution. Guitarist/producer/record company head Gregg Kostelich is the frenetic force behind The Cynics. He managed to keep the band afloat in the wake of constant personnel changes, he recorded some of the finest garage tracks ever, and also launched one of the best independent record labels of the 1980s. The Cynics’ style has been clear since their 1983 inception: fuzzed ultra-distorted guitar, screaming, moaning vocals, with a straight-ahead no frills rhythm section. The influences are extreme ‘60s Punk, R&B, and other loud, frantic trash. Gregg has occasionally steered the band into flirtations with folk-rock and little pop, but it’s the grunged-out punkers that have created The Cynics’ reputation. Their first two 45s were released by the Californian Dionysus label, but soon after Gregg had established his own Pittsburgh-based Get Hip Recordings who would release all of The Cynics albums and singles, as well as those by countless great garage, punk-rock and power-pop releases by other bands from around the globe. 

Though Gregg’s guitar is the backbone of the band, vocalist Michael Kastelic’s contribution to The Cynics sound cannot be underestimated. In concert (and on record) he screeches, wails, and moans with great abandon, while his frail, thin body shakes throughout the room. Michael is a truly possessed frontman. 

Since the 2007 recording in Spain of the band’s 7th full-length album, 'Here We Are', The Cynics have been graced with a fantastic and powerful rhythm section of two talented musicians from Asturias (Spain): Angel Kaplan and Pablo Gonzalez. They have been touring relentlessly with the band since and also joined Gregg and Michael in Detroit for the recording of their latest album, 'Spinning Wheel Motel' (2012) under the masterful direction of Jim Diamond

In an interview on March 21, 1986, Gregg Kostelich said “I was maybe 4 or 5 when I started collecting Garage records, and I’ve been listening to that type of music ever since. And I was lucky enough to see a couple of shows I was a little kid…my parents would bring to see bands like The Sonics and The Blue Magoos and The Who, when I was about 7 or 8! I didn’t know what was going on really, but it was really exciting. I was kinda embarrassed in a way because I was with my parents.” When I mentioned that this early exposure to garage music explained The Cynics style, Gregg responded “Yeah, maybe I got brain damage from all the noise!” [SOURCE: GET HIP RECORDINGS

jueves, 26 de enero de 2017


Arty new wave band the BPeople formed in Los Angeles, California, USA, in April 1979. The line-up variously comprised Pat Delaney (synthesizer, saxophone, ex-Deadbeats), Michael Gira (vocals), Alex Gibson (guitar, vocals), Paul Cutler (bass), Fred Nilsen (bass, saxophone, vocals; ex-Doo Doo Ettes) and Tom Recchion (drums, vocals). Originally titled Little Cripples and Strict Ids, they were given wider prominence by the release of then Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra’s "Let Them Eat Jellybeans" compilation album. Before that they had released two EPs for Faulty/IRS Records at the beginning of the 80s. Soon after their inception Gira moved to New York to form Circus Mort then the Swans, while Gibson (who scored Penelope Spheeris’ punk film "Suburbia") also moonlighted with Human Sexual Response. BPeople’s brash experimentation and resolute indifference to prevailing fashions was ultimately refreshing, as witnessed on their sole studio mini-album of 1981, which earned comparisons to Joy Division. Later, interest in Gibson’s solo work and membership of Passionel also produced a BPeople compilation, released on Restless Records in 1986. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 25 de enero de 2017

Sun City Girls

An eclectic mix of every musical style one can think of -demented surf, Indian and Asian improvisation, free-form noise, fractured folk, you name it- with doses of kabuki theater, shadow puppetry, and maverick guerilla stagecraft thrown in, the avant-everything Sun City Girls are a fiercely independent and experimental trio whose only credo seems to be to continually stretch boundaries while remaining amazingly inclusive, a process that has led to a dizzying array of vinyl, cassette, and CD releases in the past 20 years. Forming in Phoenix, AZ, Sun City Girls first performed under that name in 1981, and after morphing into the short-lived Paris 1942 (with former Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker), the group emerged as a trio with brothers Alan Bishop and Richard Bishop and percussionist Charles Gocher in 1982. SCG released their first album, 'Sun City Girls', in 1984 on Placebo Records, going on to release nearly 30 official albums since then, along with countless limited-edition vinyl, cassette, and CD-R projects, making the group's discography almost impossible to completely document. Throughout its history SCG has remained a challenging, unpredictable, and eclectic musical unit, operating outside the commercially driven aspirations of the mainstream recording industry, and the group has become somewhat of a beacon to independent musicians and artists everywhere. Relocating to Seattle in the early '90s, Sun City Girls established their own label, Abduction Records, as well as an archival imprint, Sublime Frequencies. 

They ceased to function as a band when Charles Gocher passed away in 2007, though the Bishop Brothers have remained active -separately and together- issuing recordings under their own and different names. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 24 de enero de 2017

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Formed after the breakup of The Birthday Party in 1983, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds became one of the most original and celebrated bands of the post-punk and alternative rock eras in the '80s and onward. Playing music that meshed with the dark, multi-layered narratives of Cave's lyrics, The Bad Seeds created sounds that were physically and emotionally powerful, but with a sense of dynamics and drama that set them apart from their peers. While plenty of musicians would move in and out of The Bad Seeds' lineup over the years, throughout their history they were always a musical force as powerful as their leader. 

The earliest edition of The Bad Seeds came together in late 1983, as Cave began work on his first post-Birthday Party album, 'From Her to Eternity'. Joining Cave in the studio were Barry Adamson, formerly of Magazine, on guitar and bass; Blixa Bargeld, of German noise ensemble Einstürzende Neubauten, on guitar; and Mick Harvey, who had previously worked with Cave in The Birthday Party and The Boys Next Door, on drums. Jim Thirlwell, best known for his many projects under the moniker Foetus, also played guitar on the sessions, though he never became a formal member. When Cave and The Bad Seeds launched their first tour in December 1983, the lineup featured Adamson, Harvey, guitarist Hugo Race (whose résumé included stints with the bands Dum Dum Fit and Plays with Marionettes), and bassist Tracy Pew, another Birthday Party alumnus. Pew's run with The Bad Seeds was short, and for 1984 and the first half of 1985, the core Bad Seeds lineup was Cave, Adamson, Bargeld, Harvey, and Race. This edition recorded the majority of 'From Her to Eternity' (1984) and its blues-accented follow-up, 'The Firstborn Is Dead' (1985). In mid-1985, Hugo Race dropped out, and Mick Harvey moved from drums to guitar and keyboards; Thomas Wydler, formerly of Die Haut, became The Bad Seeds' new percussionist. This version of The Bad Seeds recorded Cave's all-covers album 'Kicking Against the Pricks' (1986); the same lineup minus Adamson cut the two-LP set 'Your Funeral... My Trial', also issued in 1986. 

As Nick Cave kicked an addiction to heroin and accepted an invitation from filmmaker Wim Wenders to appear in his film "Wings of Desire", The Bad Seeds' lineup continued to evolve. In 1997, Kid Congo Powers, who had worked with The Gun Club and The Cramps, joined the group on guitar, as did Roland Wolf on keyboards. This version of the band appeared on 1988's 'Tender Prey', and the same band minus Wolf accompanied Cave for 1990's 'The Good Son'. By the end of 1990, Kid Congo had left The Bad Seeds, and the group expanded to a six-piece when Conway Savage (keyboards) and Martyn P. Casey (bass) joined Cave, Bargeld, Harvey, and Wydler. This version of the group appeared on the studio albums 'Henry's Dream' (1992) and 'Let Love In' (1994), as well as the live set 'Live Seeds' (1993). In 1994, the group added a second drummer, Jim Sclavunos, who had stints with Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, The Cramps, and Sonic Youth to his credit. With Sclavunos on board, Cave and the Bad Seeds toured as part of the 1994 Lollapalooza Festival; James Johnston of Gallon Drunk tagged along for the tour, contributing on guitar and keys.

After Lollapalooza, Johnston returned to Gallon Drunk, and the seven-piece Bad Seeds recorded 1996's 'Murder Ballads'. In 1997, Cave and the band issued 'The Boatman's Call', which introduced Warren Ellis, formerly of The Dirty Three, on violin, mandolin, and guitar. The same lineup also recorded 'No More Shall We Part' (2001) and 'Nocturama' (2003). March 2003 brought the surprising news that Blixa Bargeld had parted ways with The Bad Seeds; James Johnston rejoined the group in his place, and this version of The Bad Seeds issued a pair of studio albums, 'Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus' (2004) and 'Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!' (2008, without Savage), as well as the concert recording 'Abattoir Blues Tour' (2007). As Cave and The Bad Seeds took to the road to tour in support of 'Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!', Johnston was absent from the touring party, and for a 2009 summer tour, the band was joined on-stage by guitarist Ed Kuepper, formerly of Australian punk legends The Saints

When The Bad Seeds regrouped to record 2013's 'Push the Sky Away', the ensemble featured Cave, Casey, Ellis, Savage, Sclavunos, and Wydler. As the band set out on tour in support, Wydler was sidelined by illness, and for the first leg of live dates, Barry Adamson returned to the group, as did Ed Kuepper. By the time the tour had reached the United States, Kuepper was out, and George Vjestica stepped in on guitar. A stripped-down version of The Bad Seeds, minus Savage and Vjestica, recorded a performance for radio broadcast that was later released as 2014's 'Live from KCRW'. In September 2016, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds returned with a new album, 'Skeleton Tree', which marked the return of Thomas Wydler to the band, joined by Casey, Ellis, Sclavunos, and Vjestica. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 23 de enero de 2017

The Barracudas

The Barracudas are an English surf rock band formed in late 1978. The band's original line-up consisted of Jeremy Gluck (vocals), Robin Wills (guitar and vocals), Starkie Phillips (bass and vocals) and Adam Phillips (drums). Before the band recorded its first single, Starkie and Adam Phillips left the band. They are notable for their 1980 hit single 'Summer Fun' which started with an excerpt from a 1960s spoof advertisement for the Plymouth Barracuda campaign. The song included dialogue where announcers had difficulty pronouncing the word barracuda. The single reached number 37 on the UK Singles Chart.
The beginnings of the band can be traced back to the year of 1978 when Canadian-born Gluck met Wills at a Dead Fingers Talk concert. Here the pair bonded over a shared passion for "60's garage and psychedelic music". They started off calling themselves The R.A.F., but eventually settled on the name of The Barracudas. The name was inspired by a song they both liked by The Standells.

Initially perceived as a novelty surf act due to their first album, subsequent recordings showed them to be a fierce garage rock and roll band in the mold of The 13th Floor Elevators and The Seeds. The band split in 1984, but reformed in 1989 to record 'Wait For Everything', and then again in 2003. In 2005 they recorded the self-titled album on NDN. Throughout their career, their live performances have been energetic and frenetic.

After the first attempt at their second album, the group lost drummer Nick Turner to the upcoming group Lords of the New Church. Afterward, Jeremy Gluck and guitarist Robin Wills assembled a new The Barracudas group, that went on to record their second album 'Mean Time'. The Barracudas disbanded in 1984, after making their third and final album 'Endeavour to Persevere'. However in 2005, there became a growing interest regarding the reissue of their back catalog. This resulted in Gluck and Wills reconnecting, and the two of them began composing again. In 2014, the band reissued their 'Meantime' album as a limited edition picture disc, under reborn Closer French label. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

domingo, 22 de enero de 2017


Arising from the ashes of the Snakes Of Shake, the UK band Summerhill looked to the early Byrds sound for inspiration, their brand of folk rock first heard on 'I Want You' on the Rocket label in 1988. Their prolific live schedule, often as support act, made the team of Seori Burnette (vocals, guitar), Neil Scott (guitar, vocals), Keith Gilles (bass, vocals) and Iain Shedden (drums) a popular live act and a move to Demon Records’ Diablo label came in time for a mini-album, 'Lowdown', later that year. Signed to Polydor Records, it was a year before the partnership was fruitful, during which time Michael Sturgis had replaced Shedden. ‘Here I Am’ was an obvious stab at the mainstream and it was March 1990 before 'West Of Here', was released. From it came 'Don’t Let It Die’ that same month and then a one-off single cover version of The Rolling Stones’ "Wild Horses". Despite some encouraging reviews Summerhill failed to make a sufficient impact on the charts and disbanded later that year. Keith Gilles later joined Sumishta Brahm’s group 13 Frightened Girls, appearing on The Jazz Butcher-produced "Lost At Sea" in 1991. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 21 de enero de 2017

Cuddly Toys

Getting their start as bratty punkers called The Raped, the members of that band wisely went for a name change -after the release of the "Pretty Paedophiles" EP and a follow-up single- to the Cuddly Toys, also revamping their image in the mold of a cross-dressing glam band. A drastic change in sound would also ensue. As The Raped, bookings were hard to come by, so they opted to go with a more pleasant name. The Cuddly Toys are probably best known for releasing a single of "Madman," a song written by David Bowie and Marc Bolan days prior to Bolan's death. Two albums were released prior to their breakup. 'Someone's Crying' (Fresh) was released in 1981, universally panned for being a poor attempt at rehashing the band's '70s influences. They fared no better by adding synths and heading into new wave territory for 1982's 'Trial and Crosses'. Three months after its release, lone mainstay Sean Purcell left his frontman post to join Goat. The remaining members attempted to continue, but nothing of note materialized. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 20 de enero de 2017

Bow Wow Wow

Bow Wow Wow were a quartet organized by U.K. manager Malcolm McLaren (best known as the mastermind behind The Sex Pistols) at the start of the '80s. McLaren matched the trio of musicians who had constituted Adam Ant's Ants -Matthew Ashman (b. 1962, d. 1995) on guitar, Leigh Gorman (b. 1961) on bass, and David Barbarossa (b. 1961) on drums- with teenage singer Annabella Lwin (b. Oct. 31, 1965), retaining the earlier group's African-derived drum sound. In 1983, Lwin quit the group for a solo career, and the remaining three changed their name to the Chiefs of Relief. Both Lwin and the Chiefs issued their own albums. In 1995, Ashman passed away due to diabetes. Headed by Lwin and Gorman, a re-formed Bow Wow Wow resurfaced in 1998 with 'Wild in the U.S.A.', which featured both remixes and concert performances from the reunion tour; guitarist Dave Calhoun and drummer Eshan Khadaroo filled the other slots. Another tour was announced in 2004, with No Doubt drummer Adrian Young and Common Sense guitarist Phil Gough joining Lwin and Gorman; the group toured through 2006, although by September 2005 Devin Beaman had replaced Young. In January of 2007 the first new Bow Wow Wow recording in over two decades -a cover of The Smiths' "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish" recorded the previous year- was made available via digital download as the b-side to an 'I Want Candy' (1982) maxi-single. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 19 de enero de 2017


Although they barely received credit, Suicide (singer Alan Vega and keyboardist Martin Rev) were the source point for virtually every synth pop duo that glutted the pop marketplace (especially in England) in the early '80s. Without the trailblazing Rev and Vega, there would have been no Soft Cell, Erasure, Bronski Beat, Yazoo, you name 'em, and while many would tell you that that's nothing to crow about, the aforementioned synth poppers merely appropriated Suicide's keyboards/singer look and none of Rev and Vega's extremely confrontational performance style and love of dissonance. The few who did (Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire) were considered too extreme for most tastes. 

Suicide had been a part of the performing arts scene in New York City's Lower East Side in the early/mid-'70s New York Dolls era. Their approach to music was simple: Rev would create minimalistic, spooky, hypnotic washes of dissonant keyboards and synthesizers, while Vega sang, ranted, and spat neo-Beat lyrics in a jumpy, disjointed fashion. On-stage, Vega became confrontational, often baiting the crowd into a riotous frenzy that occasionally led to full-blown violence, usually with the crowd attacking Vega. With their reputation as controversial performers solidified, what was lost was that Suicide recorded some amazingly seductive and terrifying music. A relationship with Cars mastermind Ric Ocasek proved successful, bringing their music to a wider audience and developing unlikely fans (Bruce Springsteen went on record as loving Suicide's Vietnam-vet saga "Frankie Teardrop"), but after numerous breakups and reconciliations, Rev and Vega settled for being more influential than commercially successful. 

Ironically, the '90s proved to be a decade of vindication for Suicide with the rise of industrial dance music, Chicago's Wax Trax! label, and the bands associated with it (Revolting Cocks, Ministry, 1000 Homo DJs, etc.). Although not a big part of the scene after the late '90s, the profound influence of Suicide on a generation of younger bands was readily apparent. When Suicide returned in 2002 with 'American Supreme', their first studio release in ten years, much fanfare resulted, no doubt considerably furthered by Vega's presence around this time as a heavily profiled exhibitor of art in New York, where he had presented a show at the Jeffrey Dietch Gallery in New York earlier in the year. Vega also continued to appear on collaborative and solo recordings, including his album "Station", which arrived in 2007, five years after Suicide's 'American Supreme'. Vega died in 2016 in New York City at the age of 78. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 18 de enero de 2017


Cud was formed in Leeds, England in 1987 by Carl Puttnam (b. Ilford, Essex, England; vocals), Mike Dunphy (b. Northumberland, England; guitar), William Potter (b. Derby, England; bass) and Steve ‘The Infamous Drummer From Cud’ Goodwin (b. Croydon, Surrey, England; drums). The quartet sprung into existence when they discovered the remains of a deserted drum kit in a rubbish skip. They debuted on The Wedding Present’s Reception label and spent two years building up a small but fanatical north England following with a comical hybrid of funk and the uglier elements of independent music. Threatened by a not entirely undeserved ‘joker’ tag -helped by Cud’s desire to perform absurd versions of Hot Chocolate and Jethro Tull songs- 1990 brought ‘a new sense of sanity and professionalism’ to the band. Critical acclaim coincided with a more nationwide spread of supporters, and their new-found attitude reaped commercial dividends when the ‘Robinson Crusoe’ single reached number 86 in the UK charts, closely followed by ‘Magic’ peaking at number 80. 

With financial viability suddenly outweighing the band’s odder idiosyncrasies, major labels tussled for their signatures until Cud decided to go with A&M Records in 1991, for the simple reason that the label’s logo ‘had the trumpet’. This move marked the release in the summer of 1992 of 'Asquarius', which earned the band glowing reviews. However, the transition from indie chart to mainstream pop territory was not as easy as this early victory might have suggested. A&M launched the band with a seemingly endless collection of promotional gimmicks (balloons, mobiles, etc.), but failed to reap significant commercial reward. Despite this, the critics were still kind to the follow-up 'Showbiz', wherein Cud provided a less insular pop sound and ‘mature’ lyrics (mature in comparison to previous efforts, but hardly by anyone else’s standards). Potter was replaced by Mick Dale shortly before the band broke up in 1995. Puttnam, Potter and Goodwin reunited in 2006 for a series of live gigs, with new guitarist Felix Frey rounding out the line-up. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 17 de enero de 2017


Of all the artists in Japan's thriving noise-music community, the Boredoms undoubtedly had the most fun. Although their maniacally extreme cacophony was by no means accessible listening, it was underpinned by a gleeful sense of humor that helped them find a limited (but still surprisingly wide) audience among alternative rockers. A typical Boredoms track might feature massively distorted guitars, squealing synths, any number of odd found-object noisemakers, or studio-manipulation effects; conventional song structures are thrown out the window in favor of abrupt, whiplash-inducing changes of direction. With Sonic Youth and Nirvana counting themselves among the Boredoms' fans, the group actually signed major-label deals during the early '90s, both in Japan and the U.S., and played the Lollapalooza main stage. Although the Boredoms' American deal eventually fell through, they continued to record steadily in Japan, progressing into a sort of trance-inducing, psychedelia-tinged experimental rock indebted to the '70s Krautrock movement.

The Boredoms were formed in early 1986 in Osaka, Japan, by vocalist Yamatsuka Eye (who later went by Yamantaka Eye, then Yamataka Eye, and sometimes just eYe). Eye had been a member of the noise-rock band the Hanatarash, as had drummer Taketani; the rest of the original lineup featured guitarist Tabata Mara and bassist Hosoi. It quickly disintegrated; first, Taketani was let go in favor of Yoshikawa Toyohito, then Hosoi was replaced by Hira (sometimes Hilah), and finally Mara -who quit to join Zeni Geva- was replaced by Yamamoto Seiichi (aka Yama-Motor). Thus constituted, the Boredoms recorded their debut three-song EP, 'Anal by Anal', in 1986; their first full-length, 'Osozeran No Stooges Kyo' ("The Stooges Craze in Osozeran"), followed in 1988, with both records later collected on 'Onanie Bomb Meets the Sex Pistols'. Yoshimi Yokota (aka Yoshimi P-WE) became the band's new drummer and first female member in 1988; Yoshikawa switched to percussion and quit the following year, replaced first by Hasegawa Chu and then by ATR. Following Eye's work with John Zorn's avant-garde Naked City ensemble, the Boredoms' second album, 'Soul Discharge', was issued in the U.S. by Shimmy Disc in 1990; though some found them pointlessly abrasive, overall the record's crazed attack made them a hip name to drop in underground circles. The buzz surrounding the Boredoms culminated in major-label deals with Warner Japan and Reprise in the U.S., the first fruits of which were 1993's 'Pop Tatari', for which Yoshikawa returned as co-lead vocalist and synthesizer player. The follow-up 'Chocolate Synthesizer' was released in the U.S. in 1995 (a year later than Japan), and the band supported it by playing a string of main stage dates on that year's Lollapalooza tour. 

Lollapalooza marked the peak of the Boredoms' visibility in America, which began to cool down afterwards. Yoshikawa left again, and the band took some time to release a new LP, instead busying themselves with numerous side projects and issuing a series of EPs, dubbed 'Super Roots', that often appeared only in Japan. Reprise wound up dropping them, at which point the small Birdman label began to pick up some of their releases for domestic distribution. Fortified with a third drummer/percussionist in EDA, 1998 brought the EP 'Super Go!!!!!' and the full-length 'Super Ae', which heralded the group's increasing psychedelic/Krautrock influence. The same year, the band recorded a split single with 77 -the "performing" alias of their manager's infant son. 2000 saw the beginning of a series of remix albums titled 'Rebore'; individual volumes featured U.N.K.L.E., Ken Ishii, DJ Krush, and Eye himself. Eye's increasing interest in electronica was reflected on the band's next official full-length album, the trippy 'Vision Creation Newsun', released in the U.S. on Birdman in 2001. Things were quiet for some time after the release of 'Vision Creation Newsun' and rumors began circulating that the Boredoms had broken up. A smaller version of the group reconvened and played some shows as the Voordoms in 2003, giving further fire to the break up hearsay. In 2005, however, the Boredoms returned with the U.S. release of 'Seadrum/House of Sun'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 16 de enero de 2017

The Sugarcubes

The Sugarcubes were the biggest group ever to emerge from Iceland, which helps explain their off-kilter sense of melody. Their 1988 debut, 'Life's Too Good', attracted terrific reviews and became a college radio hit, but they never were able to recapture that sense of excitement. 

According to group legend, The Sugarcubes formed on June 8, 1986, the day that vocalist Björk (born Björk Gundmundsdottir) gave birth to her son. Prior to that day, the members of the group had been a variety of Icelandic bands. Björk had the longest career out of any of the members. When she was 11 years old, the vocalist had recorded a children's album. In her late teens, she joined the Icelandic post-punk band Tappi Tikarrass, who released two albums before splitting in 1983. Drummer Siggi Baldursson (born Sigtryggur Baldursson, October 2, 1962) was a member of þeyr (aka Theyr), whose most prominent international moment came in 1982, when they recorded with Youth and Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke. At the same time Theyr was popular within Iceland, Einar Benediktsson and Bragi Olafsson formed a punk band called Purrkur Pillnikk, which released records on Benediktsson's own label, Gramm. By 1984, Björk, Benediktsson, and Baldursson had joined forces, forming K.U.K.L. with keyboardist Einar Mellax. K.U.K.L. -which means "witch" in Icelandic- was an noisy, artsy post-punk band that released several singles on the independent British record label Crass. In 1986, K.U.K.L. evolved into The Sugarcubes, adding Björk's then-husband Thor Eldon on guitar and Bragi Olafsson on bass. 

In late 1987, the band signed to One Little Indian in the U.K., Elektra Records in the U.S. The Sugarcubes released their debut album, 'Life's Too Good', in 1988 to critical acclaim in both the U.K. and the U.S. "Birthday," the first single from the album, became an indie hit in Britain and a college radio hit in America. In particular, Björk received a heap of praise, which began tensions between her and Benediktsson. By the time the group recorded its second album, Thor had divorced Björk and married Magga Ornolfsdottir, who became the group's keyboardist after Einar Mellax left. 

'Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!', The Sugarcubes' second album, was released in 1989. The album featured a greater vocal contribution by Einar, which was criticized in many of the record's reviews, which were noticeably weaker than those for 'Life's Too Good'. After the release of 'Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!', the band embarked on a lengthy international tour. At the conclusion of the tour in late 1990, the bandmembers pursued their own individual interests. 'Stick Around for Joy', the band's third album, was released in 1992; before the record appeared, a collection of remixes called 'It's-It' was released in Europe. 'Stick Around for Joy' received better reviews than 'Life's Too Good', but the album failed to yield a hit single. Following its release, The Sugarcubes disbanded. In 1993, Björk launched a critically acclaimed and commercially successful solo career that was based in dance music. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 15 de enero de 2017


Until Nine Inch Nails crossed over to the mainstream, Ministry did more than any other band to popularize industrial dance music, injecting large doses of punky, over-the-top aggression and roaring heavy metal guitar riffs that helped their music find favor with metal and alternative audiences outside of industrial's cult fan base. That's not to say Ministry had a commercial or generally accessible sound: they were unremittingly intense, abrasive, pounding, and repetitive, and not always guitar-oriented (samples, synthesizers, and tape effects were a primary focus just as often as guitars and distorted vocals). However, both live and in the studio, they achieved a huge, crushing sound that put most of their contemporaries in aggressive musical genres to shame; plus, founder and frontman Al Jourgensen gave the group a greater aura of style and theater than other industrial bands, who seemed rather faceless when compared with Jourgensen's leather-clad cowboy/biker look and the edgy shock tactics of such videos as "N.W.O." and "Just One Fix." After 1992's 'Psalm 69', which represented the peak of their popularity, Ministry's recorded output dwindled, partially because of myriad side projects and partially due to heroin abuse within the band, but the band continued to resurface throughout the rest of the decade. 

Ministry were formed in 1981 by Alain Jourgensen (born October 8, 1958, Havana, Cuba); he had moved to the U.S. with his mother while very young and lived in a succession of cities, eventually working as a radio DJ and joining a new wave band called Special Affect (fronted by future My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult leader Frankie Nardiello, aka Groovie Mann). Featuring drummer Stephen George, Ministry debuted with the Wax Trax! single "Cold Life," which -typical of their early output- was more in the synth pop/dance style of new wavers like The Human League or Thompson Twins. The album 'With Sympathy' appeared on the major-label Arista in 1983 and followed a similar musical direction, one that Jourgensen was dissatisfied with; he returned to Wax Trax! and recorded several singles while rethinking the band's style and forming his notorious side project the Revolting Cocks

In 1985, with Jourgensen the only official member of Ministry, the Adrian Sherwood-produced 'Twitch' was released by Sire Records; while not as aggressive as the group's later, more popular material, it found Jourgensen taking definite steps in that direction. Following a 1987 single with Skinny Puppy's Kevin Ogilvie (aka Nivek Ogre) as PTP, Jourgensen once again revamped Ministry with former Blackouts bassist Paul Barker officially joining the lineup to complement Jourgensen's rediscovery of the guitar; fellow ex-Blackouts William Rieflin (drums) and Mike Scaccia (guitar), as well as vocalist Chris Connelly, were heavily showcased as collaborators for the first of several times on 1988's 'The Land of Rape and Honey'. With Jourgensen and Barker credited as Hypo Luxa and Hermes Pan, respectively, this album proved to be Ministry's stylistic breakthrough, a taut, explosive fusion of heavy metal, industrial dance beats and samples, and punk aggression. Released in 1989, 'The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste' built on its predecessor's artistic success, and 'In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up' was recorded on its supporting tour, introducing other frequent Ministry contributors like drummer Martin Atkins (later of Pigface) and guitarist William Tucker (as well as featuring a guest shot from Jello Biafra). Jourgensen next embarked on a flurry of side projects, including the aforementioned Revolting Cocks (with Barker, Barker's brother Roland, Front 242 members Luc Van Acker and Richard 23, and many more), 1000 Homo DJs (with Biafra, Rieflin, and Trent Reznor), Acid Horse, Pailhead (with Ian MacKaye), and Lard (again with Biafra, Paul Barker, Rieflin, and drummer Jeff Ward). 

In late 1991, Ministry issued the single "Jesus Built My Hotrod," a driving rocker featuring manic nonsense vocals by co-writer Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers; its exposure on MTV helped build anticipation for the following year's full-length, 'Psalm 69' (subtitled "The Way to Succeed & the Way to Suck Eggs", although the only title that appears on the album consists of a few Greek letters and symbols). The record reached the Top 30 and went platinum, producing two further MTV hits with "N.W.O." and "Just One Fix," and Ministry consolidated their following with a spot on the inaugural Lollapalooza tour that summer (joined by new guitarist Louis Svitek). However, drug and legal problems sidelined the band in the wake of its newfound popularity, resulting in the clouded 'Filth Pig' being released in 1995, too late to capitalize on their prior success. More problems with drugs and arrests followed, and Jourgensen returned to some of his side projects, recording a new album with Lard, among others. In 1999, the new single "Bad Blood" was featured prominently in the sci-fi special-effects blockbuster film "The Matrix", setting the stage for the release of 'Dark Side of the Spoon' (the title a reference to the band's heroin problems) later that summer. Guitarist William Tucker committed suicide in May 1999. 

Ministry were nominated for a Grammy in 2000 for "Bad Blood," but they lost to Black Sabbath and were dropped from Warner Bros. around the same time. They were also added to the Ozzfest tour, but they were kicked off before it even began because of a management change. To compound their sorrows, Ipecac Records announced three live albums were to be released with material from the 'Psalm 69' tour being the main focus, but they only had a verbal agreement, and when Warner Bros. caught wind of the project, they stamped it out despite already having the CDs ready for printing. In 2001, Ministry filmed a scene for Steven Spielberg's "A.I." and released their contribution to the film on a greatest-hits album, appropriately titled 'Greatest Fits'. The song received a decent amount of promotion, but the single went nowhere and the band signed to Sanctuary Records later in the year. While recording new material, they released the 'Sphinctour' album and DVD in the spring of 2002 to satisfy rabid fans who were disappointed by the Ipecac situation. The next spring, 'Animositisomina' was released, advertised as a return to the 'Psalm 69' style of songwriting and featuring a cover of Magazine's "The Light Pours Out of Me." 'Houses of the Molé' followed in June 2004. 

In September 2005 Ministry celebrated their 25th anniversary with 'Rantology'. Jourgensen remixed such past hits as "Jesus Built My Hotrod" and "N.W.O. for the set; it also included live material, rarities, and the new track "Great Satan." An extensive tour with Revolting Cocks in tow followed. The band then released 'Rio Grande Blood' in May 2006; the second installment in what Jourgensen promised to be a George W. Bush-hating trilogy (which began with 'Houses of the Molé'); the album earned Ministry another Grammy nomination (Best Metal Performance) for "Lies, Lies, Lies." In 2007 the bandmembers announced they would be releasing their "final" album, 'The Last Sucker', by the end of the year. The 2008 compilation 'Cover Up' examined Ministry's long history of destroying other artists' tunes, while the 2009 set 'The Last Dubber' featured 'The Last Sucker' album remixed. Jourgensen would move on to his country project Buck Satan and return to the Cocks over the next few years, but Ministry wouldn't lay dormant for long. In 2012 they returned with the very thrash, very angry studio album 'Relapse' with the ironically titled live album 'Enjoy the Quiet' following in 2013. The studio album 'From Beer to Eternity' also appeared in 2013, honoring longtime Ministry guitarist Mike Scaccia, who had passed away after suffering heart failure while on-stage performing with his other band, Rigor Mortis. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 14 de enero de 2017

The Cuban Heels

After Glasgow punk band Johnny & the Self Abusers broke up, some of the members formed the massively successful Simple Minds. The others formed the more modest Cuban Heels. Within four months of the break, the Heels already had their first single ('Downtown', on Housewive's Choice) in the shops. At the time of its release, the band was bassist Paul Armour, guitarist Laurie Cuffe, vocalist John Milarky, and drummer Dave Duncan. They set up their own label, Cuba Libre, to release the 'Walk on Water' single in 1980. Armour left and was replaced by Nick Clarke in time for the 1981 singles 'Sweet Charity' and 'My Colours Fly'; the LP 'Work Our Way to Heaven' was also out by the end of the year, as well as a single in support of it. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 13 de enero de 2017


As much a performance art troupe as a band, Bongwater was the brainchild of guitarist (Mark) Kramer -chief of the Shimmy-Disc label and a former member of Shockabilly- and actress Ann Magnuson, best known to mainstream audiences for her role in the ABC sitcom "Anything But Love" as well as the feature film "Making Mr. Right". Kramer and Magnuson first met at her downtown New York nightspot Club 57, where he engineered the sound for her performances with the all-female percussion group Pulsalamma; after forming Bongwater in 1985, the duo enlisted avant-garde guitarist Fred Frith to record their 1987 EP debut 'Breaking No New Ground', a crazed neo-psychedelic set typified by Magnuson's surreal narratives, often inspired by her dreams about major celebrities and fellow downtown N.Y.C. denizens. 

After garnering a reputation for their anarchic live sets, Bongwater re-entered Kramer's Noise New York studios with ex-Phantom Tollbooth guitarist Dave Rick and former Shockabilly drummer David Licht to record 1988's sprawling two-LP opus 'Double Bummer', a wildly experimental collection peppered by bizarro-world covers of Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Pt. 2" and Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" (retitled "Dazed and Chinese" and sung in Mandarin) as well as media satires like "Decadent Iranian Country Club" and "David Bowie Wants Ideas." The follow-up, 'Too Much Sleep' -a collection of lo-fi recordings mottled with dialogue fragments, sampled answering machine messages and television soundbites- appeared in 1989. 

With 1991's 'The Power of Pussy', Bongwater parodied sex in all its forms; a European tour with rhythm guitarist Dogbowl in tow followed, but Kramer and Magnuson's complex relationship soon began to unravel, and after one final record, 1992's 'The Big Sell-Out', the duo parted both personally and professionally. The dissolution of the partnership was acrimonious, and resulted in a protracted legal battle that ultimately resulted in Shimmy-Disc's bankruptcy; Magnuson, meanwhile, mounted a solo career, issuing "The Luv Show" on Geffen in 1995. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 12 de enero de 2017

Nikki Sudden

After the post-punk band Swell Maps dissolved in the early '80s, lead singer Nikki Sudden began a diverse and restless solo career, during which he worked with a number of different bands and side projects. Sudden released his first solo record, 'Waiting on Egypt', in 1982, followed closely by 'The Bible Belt' in 1983; both records recalled the music he made with Swell Maps. In 1984, Sudden formed The Jacobites with drummer Epic Soundtracks (his brother, who was also a member of Swell Maps) and guitarist/vocalist Dave Kusworth, who co-wrote the material with Sudden. The band developed a laid-back, wasted, romantic classic rock and pop style with acoustic guitars and a rolling rhythm section. The Jacobites released four albums and three EPs between 1984 and 1986, when Kusworth left the band. Sudden continued using the Jacobites' name, releasing 'Texas' on the Creation label in 1986. During the late '80s, Sudden ditched The Jacobites moniker and began making music that strongly recalled early Rolling Stones, including 'Texas' and 'Dead Men Tell No Tales'. While none of his albums ever attracted a large audience, Sudden remained a cult favorite throughout his career. High-profile guests began appearing on his albums: Wilco's Jeff Tweedy lent a hand on 1999's 'Red Brocade', and The Faces' keyboardist Ian McLagan played on the 2004 release 'Treasure Island'. On March 26, 2006, Sudden passed away after a gig in New York City. He was working on a new album, 'The Truth Doesn't Matter', which was released in October. In the spring of 2011, Easy Action released 'Playing with Fire', a carefully curated compilation of unreleased songs recorded and left off his last two studio albums; the collection featured liner notes by Sudden's bassist and friend, John Barry. A box set that included his first two solo albums, two Jacobites offerings, 'Kiss You Kidnapped Charabanc' with Rowland S. Howard, 'Texas' and 'Dead Men Tell No Tales' -plus a re-press of Sudden's first solo single- packaged in a deluxe slipcase, were released as a strictly limited, Black Friday exclusive in December of 2014. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 11 de enero de 2017


The Melvins were the first post-punk band to revel in the slow, sludgy sounds of Black Sabbath. Their music is oppressively slow and heavy, only without any of the silly mystical lyrics or the indulgent guitar solos; it's just one massive, oozing pile of dark slime. The Melvins' first record was released in 1987; they've released many albums since then, but it wasn't until 1993 that they went to a major label, thanks to their protégé, Kurt Cobain. While some may find the Melvins dull and repetitious, their place in rock history is interesting, even if considered to be just a footnote. 

The band formed in Aberdeen, Washington, the same town that produced Nirvana's Cobain and Krist Novoselic. For Nirvana and many other Seattle-area bands, the Melvins' sludge was inspirational; the younger bands took the Sabbath-styled heaviness of the Melvins, while adding an equally important pop song structure, which the group tended to lack. While all of their disciples became famous after Nirvana broke big in 1991 (including Mudhoney, which featured former Melvins bassist Matt Lukin), the Melvins only expanded their cult slightly. They did earn a major-label contract with Atlantic, but after releasing three records for the label, they were dropped in late 1996 and the group returned to indie status, landing with Amphetamine Reptile for 1998's 'Alive at the F*cker Club'. The late '90s and early 2000s century saw a flurry of releases by the band: 'The Maggot', 'The Bootlicker', 'The Crybaby', 'Electroretard', 'The Colossus of Destiny', 'Hostile Ambient Takeover', 'Pigs of the Roman Empire', and 'Houdini Live 2005: A Live History of Gluttony and Lust', all of which (except for the fourth one) were issued on Mike Patton's Ipecac label. 

In addition to their Melvins activities, singer/guitarist Buzz Osborne joined Patton (and former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn) for the experimental outfit Fantômas, resulting in a number of releases (1999's self-titled debut, 2001's "The Director's Cut", 2002's "Millennium Monsterwork" by The Fantômas Melvins Big Band (recorded live in San Francisco on New Year's Eve 2000 but not released until two years later), 2004's "Delirium Cordia", and 2005's "Suspended Animation"), while the Melvins' latest bassist, Kevin Rutmanis, joined Patton in another side project, Tomahawk. In 2006, Big Business bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis joined the Melvins, appearing on that year's 'Senile Animal' album. The follow-ups, 2008's 'Nude with Boots', 2010's 'The Bride Screamed Murder', and a live album titled 'Sugar Daddy Live', were recorded with the same lineup and released by Ipecac. 

The band returned in 2012 with a stripped-down lineup, dubbed Melvins Lite, for 'Freak Puke', which found Crover and Osborne recording without the boys from Big Business, instead adding standup bassist Dunn to their roster to round out the band's already formidable bottom-end sound. Mixing things up even further, the band teamed up with a host of guests, including the likes of Jello Biafra and J.G. Thirlwell, for 'Everybody Loves Sausages', an album of covers that arrived in 2013. Another new album, 'Tres Cabrones', released in November of that same year, saw them reunited with original drummer Mike Dillard -who had previously appeared only on their early demo tapes- while usual drummer Dale Crover took over on bass duties. Another odd team-up occurred in 2014, as Crover and Osborne joined the Butthole Surfers' J.D. Pinkus and Paul Leary on the eclectic 'Hold It In'. Two unusual releases from the Melvins arrived in 2016. An album the group began recording in 1999 with Mike Kunka of Godheadsilo was finally completed and released as 'Three Men and a Baby', credited to Mike & the Melvins. And in mid-2016 they issued 'Basses Loaded', where the group recruited a handful of favorite bass players to collaborate on songs. The guest artists included Krist Novoselic of Nirvana, Steve McDonald of Redd Kross and OFF!, Jeff Pinkus, Trevor Dunn, and Jared Warren. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

martes, 10 de enero de 2017

Crispy Ambulance

Inspired after witnessing gigs by The Sex Pistols and Magazine, vocalist Alan Hempsall formed Crispy Ambulance with guitarist Robert Davenport, bassist Keith Darbyshire, and drummer Gary Madeley. After several shows, including a support slot for Joy Division, they recorded their first single and contacted labels such as Rough Trade and Factory, only to be turned down. Upset but resourceful, the band released it on their own Aural Assault imprint. Rob Gretton (Joy Division's manager) was soon hired by Factory, and his first priority was signing Crispy Ambulance -ironic since the label had earlier rejected the band. After a couple singles were derided in the press for their resemblance to Joy Division, the band was shifted to Factory's Belgian subsidiary. Their lone proper studio LP, 'The Plateau Phase', was released in 1982 and received more comparisons to their brethren, as well as '70s prog rock. The Crispies broke up later that year, but a number of posthumous releases containing studio extras, live material, and radio sessions saw issue. Most significant were the 1999 reissues of 'The Plateau Phase' and live compilation 'Fin'; the band re-formed in November of that year for a reunion show in Manchester to celebrate the fact. A live documention of the show was issued the following year, and the band opted to continue operating as a fully functioning entity. The Graham Massey-produced 'Scissorgun', a full-length LP for Darla, was released in 2002. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 9 de enero de 2017

Bone Orchard

One of the lesser lights of the UK’s early 80s gothic punk scene, Brighton, Sussex band Bone Orchard were otherwise largely typical of the genre -proffering brooding rock tunes peppered with moribund lyrics and a craven anti-glamour image. They were led by singer Chrissie McGee, backed by Troy Tyro (guitar), Paul Henrickson (bass), Mike Finch (drums; later replaced by ‘Tim’, one of five drummers during the band’s lifetime) and Mark Horse (guitar). As well as two albums and a handful of singles, Bone Orchard were one of the few of their genre favoured by airplay from BBC disc jockey John Peel. Song titles aired on their July 1983 session for the programme, such as "Shall I Carry The Budgie Woman?", at least suggested a degree of imagination outside the usual gothic vocabulary of ghouls and graveyards. Earlier they had performed their first gig in London in April, before the five-track 'Stuffed To The Gills' appeared on Jungle Records in the autumn. This was followed by an appearance at the 1983 Futurama Festival, by which time they were already trying to distance themselves from the gothic movement. Their name, if not always their style of music, which included chugging rhythmic passages and a nod towards high velocity rockabilly, did not help in altering the perception. The release of 'Jack' confirmed a certain musical ability, but they evaporated with the passing of the gothic scene’s popularity. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 8 de enero de 2017

The Stupids

Formed in Ipswich, Suffolk, England, The Stupids merged the post-punk sound of the early to mid-80s UK scene with a hardcore adrenaline rush imported from America. The band were active from 1985 to 1989, though by the latter stages of their career they had relocated to London. Membership was fluid and typically hidden by pseudonyms, but the main contributors were Tommy Stupid (vocals, guitar, drums), Pauly Pizza (bass), Marty Tuff (guitar) and Ed Wenn (bass). The early stage of their career was documented by two albums and a 7-inch EP for Children Of The Revolution Records, by which time their sub-two-minute thrashes and spontaneous humour were familiar to many through the BBC disc jockey John Peel. He aired every track on their first two albums, recording three sessions for the programme over the years. He also wrote extensively about The Stupids’ idiosyncratic appeal in his Observer newspaper column. Greater distribution via Vinyl Solution Records allowed their releases to find international approval, including a split 10-inch EP with Australian band the Hard-Ons. They also appeared on the covers of both the New Musical Express and Sounds, as the most visible and vital band in a new hardcore scene developing principally in the east of England. Later high-profile guitar groups such as The Senseless Things and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin grew up seeing The Stupids. Although they eventually collapsed in 1989, by the time they did so they had produced a significant volume of work, much of it hilarious, toured both the USA and Australia, broken the lower reaches of the national charts and all without ever having the backing of a major record company. Former member Tom Withers later resurfaced in the late 90s as drum‘n’bass act Klute. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC