Archive for the ‘Post-Punk’ Category

'80s neo-psychedelic post-punk band Crippled PilgrimsMid-eighties Washington D.C. band Crippled Pilgrims were a bit ahead of their time, and this most likely contributed to their lack of commercial success. The best way to describe their music is neo-psychedelic combined with guitar-driven post-punk, which resulted in an indie sound that would come into popularity later in the decade. The band’s debut release was 1984’s EP Head Down-Hand Out. By the time their first full-length album came out, 1985’s Under Water, they had called it quits. The track “Undone” is off the ‘Under Water’ LP.

 

E80's post-punk band Wasted Youthvery once in a while you come across a song with a chorus that gets stuck in your head. Recently, for me that song is “Rebecca’s Room,” by London post-punk band Wasted Youth. I dare you to not be singing along with the chorus by the end of song. The single was produced by the legendary Martin Hannett, and released in 1981. The band had a short life, only active between the years ’79 to ’82, but attained cult status in Europe. Their music was very much on the darker Goth side but they could also knock out more upbeat catchy songs, as evidenced by “Rebecca’s Room.” After the band broke up in 1982, guitarist Rocco Barker moved on to Flesh for Lulu.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

80's postpunk synthpop band Venus in FursEngland’s Venus in Furs began life in the early ‘80s with four band members. By the mid ‘80s, Venus in Furs was comprised only of the solo artist Times. The music isn’t easy to define, moving from experimental, guitar-based post-punk to melodic synthpop. From the 1986 LP Real Moral Fibre, the song “Love Lies” sits on the synthpop side of the spectrum, and falls in line with the melancholy synth/guitar sound of New Order. If that’s your kind of thing, you should definitely give it a listen.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

One of my favorite recent post-punk finds is “Late Night Show” by the short-lived London band The Beautiful Losers. I came across the group while researching UK post-punk bands. Produced by The Sound’s Adrian Borland, their sound was very reminiscent of Joy Division and early post-punk bands of the time. The song was released in 1980, and is one of only a handful recorded by the band, as they soon parted ways. Founding member Philip King would find later success as bassist for the dream pop band Lush.

 

'80s post-punk band Blue In HeavenStrongly championed by U2, Irish band Blue In Heaven never came close to reaching their countrymen’s heights. Starting out as a hard-edge post-punk band in 1983, they soon garnered a cult following and released a couple of singles under U2’s Mother Records. By the time they released their debut album, 1985’s All The Gods’ Men, they had moved to a darker, more atmospheric sound. This is no surprise, as they worked with Joy Division producer Martin Hannett on the LP. They had a few more releases before calling it quits in 1989, only to reform as the Blue Angles in the ‘90s. The song “In Your Eyes” is off the ’85 debut album.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

1980s band The PassionsBritish post-punk/new wave band The Passions are probably most well-known for the 1981 single “I’m In Love With A German Film Star.” This is the song that piqued my interest in the band and prompted me to seek out more from the group. I’m glad I did, since it led to the discovery of the single “The Swimmer.” Released as a single in 1980, it’s a great mix of post-punk and new wave, with a bit of jangly guitar thrown in. The band went on to release a couple more albums and several singles before calling it a day in 1983.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 

If you had the opportunity to play DJ for a night, wouldn’t you take it? That’s exactly what I did for my birthday this weekend. Decided to rent out a local club for a couple of hours and invited friends to dance the night away before opening to the public. The challenge? The playlist had to be limited to two hours. Fortunately, the DJ gave me a bonus hour, as long as I didn’t play any later-in-the-night favorites. So, for hour three, I had to reel it in a bit but still managed to throw in some favorites while trying to appeal to the masses. The music covered many genres and spanned a few decades but, of course, the bulk of the songs were from the ‘80s.

I started off the night with something relaxing and danceable and then moved into some minimal wave favorites. This was followed by some early ‘80s post-punk, gothy material that flowed into new wave and synthpop. Even managed to slip in some LCD Soundsystem without a hitch. The last part of hour two was a mixed bag of glam rock, indie, and punk. Hour three was filled with ‘80s new wave staples, jangle pop, and some indie classics. All in all, tried to get in a little something for everyone. The dance floor moved all night and there is nothing like hearing your favorite songs on the big speakers. Might have to make this an annual event.

Pretending to work the decks.

Playing DJ v2

Here’s the complete playlist:

Torch – Soft Cell (1982)
The Last Song – Trisomie 21 (1986)
Watching Trees  – Eleven Pond (1986)
Romantic Me – Polyrock (1980)
Disorder – Joy Division (1979)
Primary – The Cure (1981)
Last Year’s Wife – Zero Le Creche (1984)
A Day Without Me – U2 (1980)
Everywhere I Go – The Call (1986)
Ahead – Wire (1987)
Nowhere Girl – B-Movie (1982)
The Damned Don’t Cry – Visage (1982)
I Die: You Die – Gary Numan (1980)
Messages – OMD (1980)
Up All Night – Boomtown Rats (1981)
Lawnchairs – Our Daughter’s Wedding (1980)
I Can Change – LCD Soundsystem (2010)
Dreaming of Me – Depeche Mode (1981)
Angst In My Pants – Sparks (1982)
Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four) – Eurythmics (1984)
Why? – Bronski Beat (1984)
The Cutter – Echo & the Bunnymen (1983)
Glamorous Glue – Morrissey (1992)
The Jean Genie – David Bowie (1972)
Candy – Iggy Pop (1990)
Dreaming – Blondie (1979)
Janie Jones – The Clash (1977)
Anything Anything – Dramarama (1985)
Sheena Is a Punk Rocker – The Ramones (1977)
Last Caress – The Misfits (1978)
Eighties – Killing Joke (1984)
Mandinka – Sinead O’Connor (1987)
Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) – Flock of Seagulls (1982)
To Look at You – INXS (1982)
The Ghost In You – Psychedelic Furs (1984)
Blue Savannah – Erasure (1989)
Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole & the Commotions (1984)
Love Is the Law – Suburbs (1984)
Crash – Primitives (1988)
Chamber of Hellos – Wire Train (1983)
She Bangs the Drums – Stone Roses (1989)
Ceremony – New Order (1981)
Inside Out – The Mighty Lemon Drops (1988)
A Million Miles Away – The Plimsouls (1983)
We Are Not Alone – Karla DeVito – (1985)
Masquerade – Berlin (1983)
Mad World – Tears for Fears (1983)

Like many, I was first introduced to The Plimsouls through the 1983 movie Valley Girl. They appeared as a club house band in the film, where three of their songs were featured. (If only I were so lucky to have had them as the house band at my regular haunt back in the day). The group’s dynamic power pop, garage sound was hard to resist. Well-known on the thriving L.A. music scene for their energetic lives shows, they seemed primed for bigger things but it was not meant to be. Unfortunately, the band disbanded in the mid ’80s due to solo career pursuits.

The group was formed by singer/songwriter Peter Case in California in 1978, after toiling around in two previous bands. They quickly became favorites on the early ‘80s L.A. club scene, and Case was gaining critical attention for his songwriting. They released their first EP in 1980, Zero Hour, which showed promise and received heavy airplay on the legendary L.A. KROQ radio station. Their first album, 1981’s The Plimsouls, managed to capture the vitality of their live shows but had poor sales. They would go on to record the 1983 LP Everywhere At Once, before parting ways due to Case’s pursuit of a solo career. They did reunite in the mid ‘90s and released the album Kool Trash but it received little notice. Case found some success as a folk-rock artist and continues to tour to this day.

Featured prominently in Valley Girl, “A Million Miles Away” was the song that propelled the band into the spotlight. With no record contract in place, the band self-funded the single. After the song was selected for the movie soundtrack, and with a new contract with Geffen, they quickly re-recorded and included on the Everywhere At Once LP.

 

The song “Everywhere At Once” is the reason I bought the cassette of the LP, and played it to ruin. It also appears in the Valley Girl film. From the first guitar chords I was hooked. The song then builds to a rousing, almost perfect power pop anthem.

 

I wasn’t a fan of Devo’s in the early ’80s, probably because my older brother would play “Whip It” nonstop. It wasn’t until seeing the video for “Beautiful World” years later that things changed. I’ve since gone back and listened to their early catalog and count them among one of my favorite bands of the ‘80s. Released in 1980, Freedom of Choice was the band’s third and most successful album, reaching #22 on Billboard’s pop album chart. The album is made up of short, polished synth-infused songs. The 12 tracks clock in at just over 32 minutes. Although “Whip It” put the group on the map, I prefer the lesser-known songs off the LP like the electro “Snowball” and “That’s Pep!,” which sounds kind of like a new wave Hand Jive. In my opinion, the album is one of their best and ranks behind only 1978’s Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!.

The video for the title track has the group dressed as aliens singing about how ultimately freedom of choice is not what we want. It also has skateboarders, donuts, and Mark Mothersbaugh in a dog costume.

 

“Girl U Want” has the band performing in front of an audience of 1950s teenyboppers. Just as the video for “Freedom of Choice,” it’s quite a low budget affair and relies heavily on color saturation. I’m pretty sure they used up all their video production money on the video for “Whip It.”

 

As I was looking for cold wave bands of the ‘80s on YouTube, I came across the video for Polyrock’s “Romantic Me.” I gave it a listen and immediately recognized the song, although I couldn’t quite place where I had heard it – probably some early ‘80s new wave cable show. I’m not sure why they were lumped in with cold wave on this particular YouTube channel, as they are more minimal new wave. There wasn’t much information available on the band but I’m sure glad I rediscovered them.

Having come out of the same late ‘70s, NYC music scene, Polyrock was often compared to the Talking Heads. It also didn’t hurt that singer Billy Robertson had a unique vocal delivery, somewhat similar to David Byrne’s. Their sound combined stripped down repetitious rhythms and synth that you could move to, as evidenced on “Romantic Me,” the group’s most notable song. Their minimalist sound was no accident, as composer Philip Glass had a hand in producing their first two albums, and also made an appearance on both. The band released two albums in the early ’80s, their self-titled debut in 1980 and Changing Hearts in 1981. They also released a 5-track EP in 1982, Above the Fruited Plain, before calling it quits later that year.

“Romantic Me” is the first track off the self-titled LP. The repetitious beat along with the mechanical keyboards and synth play nicely against Robertson’s emotional delivery.

 

For “Call of the Wild,” backing vocalist Catherine Oblasney takes the lead. The song is included on the EP Above the Fruited Plain. By this time, the group had already moved to a more pop-oriented, melodic sound.