METHOD ACTORS / WAZMO NARIZ / SCOTT WILK + THE WALLS / CORTEX / THE FLYS

METHOD ACTORS – “DANCING UNDERNEATH” EP (1981)

The Method Actors were fun Athens, neuropathologist GA, contemporaries of Pylon, the B-52′s and R.E.M., and were also an early example of the loud two-piece outfit idea later done halfway-to-death by such great newer groups as Lightning Bolt, U.S.A Is A Monster, Hella (the early version), Pink & Brown and Orthrelm. These newer duos espouse virtuosity and heavy-osity above all, but the Method Actors favored scratchy, high-pitched vocals a la Tom Verlaine, and dry, off-kilter funkiness. “Dancing Underneath”, released by Athens’ DB Records (home to Love Tractor, Pylon and the “Rock Lobster” B-52′s single), is 17 minutes of throat-scratching rhythm, and it combines four tracks from their previous EP “Rhythms of You” released by the Armageddon label in the UK, along with one newer track. This record dropped only some months before their double-LP “Little Figures”, also for Armageddon.

Method Actors – “Dancing Underneath” EP (ZIP file)

WAZMO NARIZ – “THINGS AREN’T RIGHT” LP (1979)

Wazmo Nariz, aka Larry Grennan, provided an unsettling and squelchy view of the world on his first of two LPs, “Things Aren’t Right”. Trouser Press sez:

[Nariz] mixes witty double entendres and a semi-jaundiced, semi-naïve view of the mysteries of sex with solid songwriting and unusual vocal gyrations, backed by an excellent band. The result is offbeat Midwestern pop; [d]espite a wealth of talent and wild humor, Nariz fell between niches — too bizarre to be pop, too pop to be avant-garde — and the band dissolved amid financial worries and critical apathy.

The first thing you’ll notice is the aforementioned Nariz warble: a karaoke-friendly smoothness punctuated by a wildly out-of-place falsetto. The next thing you’ll find, if you pay attention, is a pervasive creepiness which may or may not be intentional. A female friend of mine whom I listened to this record with said, upon hearing the song “Deeply”: “I think I like this music, but you’re going to have to turn this off.” Ultimately, whether you like this record depends on whether or not you find musicians trying to be funny to actually be funny. When it comes to Zappa trying too hard to be funny, it’s groan time, but here, I just can’t tell what Nariz’s motivations are. One listen to “Luncheonette Lovers”, I think, will give you a taste of his refreshing unhinged-ness.

Wazmo Nariz – “Things Aren’t Right” LP (ZIP file)

SCOTT WILK + THE WALLS – s/t LP (1980)

Here’s a strange acquisition that I’m happy I found; it was sent to me by a very conscientious reader of the old Post-Punk Junk blog. Trouser Press sez:

Encountering the line between artistic influence and stylistic plagiarism, Scott Wilk grabbed a copy of Elvis Costello’s ‘Armed Forces’ and blithely pushed ahead. Parts of his record are uncannily accurate impressions; the cover design and group photo do nothing to reduce the Costello/Attractions allusion. Funny thing, though — the album is really good! If you can ignore its derivative raison d’être, you’ll find powerful, well-crafted songs, impressive playing and production and an overriding sense of cohesion. An unexpected but disconcerting thrill.

Be prepared for an out-of-body experience with this one; it’s as if this is the “lost” Attractions album from the late ’70s, particularly focusing on the sound of “This Year’s Model” (rather than the Trouser Press allusion to its followup from around the same time, “Armed Forces”.) The songwriting itself verges into somewhat more generic “power pop” territory that was so popular at the time, but the vocals are unmistakably wrenched in the head-tilted style of the great EC.

The PPJ reader who I received this album from said:

A few years ago, right after I transferred the Scott Wilk record to CD, I was reading some New Wave messageboard and someone brought up Scott Wilk. I registered and posted that I thought it was a great lost album. A week later, I got a private message from Scott Wilk himself, asking if he might be able to get a copy of the burn I did of his record!! He didn’t even own a copy!!

Scott Wilk + The Walls – s/t LP (ZIP file)

CORTEX – “SPINAL INJURIES” LP (1983)

Cortex were a Swedish band whose first album, “Spinal Injuries”, was recorded in ’81, but was released two years later in ’83 (I’m not exactly sure why). Info on this band is scarce, but I think this album is a bunch of fun, and you should take the plunge. The songs on it run the gamut from Christian Death-sounding doom and gloom to Weimer-style cabaret nonsense.

Cortex were active for most of the ’80s, and seems to have been the brainchild of Freddie Wadling, who took care of vocal duties and sometimes played bass. It seems that the band’s lineup was constantly shifting; you know a band has had a checkered history when a memberography (courtesy of rateyourmusic.com) looks like this:

Freddie Wadling (vocals, bass), Uno Wall (drums, 1980-81, 1984-87), Gerth Svensson (guitar, 1980-81), Conny Jörneryd (percussion, 1980-81), Michael Örtendahl (synth, 1980-81), Jean-Louis Huhta (synth, percussion, 1982-84), Peter Strauss (drums, 1982-83), Peter Ivarss (guitar, bass, 1982-83), Mikael Vestergren (guitar, bass, 1983), Annika Blennerhed (guitar, 1984), Anna-Lena Karlsson (cello, vocals, 1984-87), Annika Söderholm [aka Annika Hausswolff] (vocals, 1984-87), Ola Andersson (guitar, 1984-87), Pontus Lidgaard (guitar, 1984-87), Fredrik Wegraeus (bass, 1986-87).

Cortex – “Spinal Injuries” LP (ZIP file)

THE FLYS – “BUNCH OF FIVE” EP (1977)

Trouser Press sez:

Although they neither dressed the part nor were tied down by its musical clichés, Coventry’s Flys (not to be confused with a subsequent Boston outfit) used the feel of mod-era bands like the Who and Creation as a jumping-off point for the highly individual songs of guitarist/singer Neil O’Connor, perhaps best exemplified by the single ‘Love and a Molotov Cocktail.’

And, The ModPopPunk Archives sez:

This Coventry, based band, were originally called Midnight Circus(their image was slightly hippy). Singer and guitarist Neil O’Connor (brother of Hazel O’Connor ) met school kids David Freeman (guitar, vocals) and Joe Hughes (bass, vocals) in the mid-70s, and recruiting Pete King on drums. After a name change to The Flys The band recorded a demo in 1977 that failed to attract much attention from record companies, so they formed their own Lama label and put out an EP, Bunch of Five, around the end of the year. That caught the fancy of EMI, which signed them up in a hurry and put out the EP’s ‘Love and a Molotov Cocktail’ as a single.

The winner here for me is the leadoff track, “Can I Crash Here”. Very catchy. I haven’t yet heard the Flys’ best-known record, the ‘78 LP “Waikiki Beach Refugees”, but it appears to be well-received elsewhere on the web –

The Flys – “Bunch Of Five” EP (ZIP file)

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968 Responses to METHOD ACTORS / WAZMO NARIZ / SCOTT WILK + THE WALLS / CORTEX / THE FLYS

  1. chris says:

    I was lucky enough to see The Flys during ’79 (or 80) supporting someone like The Ruts. They were tight, completely not what I expected and should have gone onto bigger and brighter things.

  2. ib says:

    Got this on vinyl still; sold “Waikiki Beach Refugees” years ago to help fund a Saturday night out… Am i the only one who refers to the label as “Zama”, or is it just a case of bad font or typo on both sleeve and label print ? Whatever, i dearly liked this ep at the time, although they were clearly never destined to be serious contenders – signing to EMI in 1978, with all the commercial pressures that implied, was a misguided move. The subsequent album suffered from stilted production and truly awful art direction. Have a look at the jacket if you don’t believe me.

  3. dave p says:

    Zama it was, ib, set up by drummer Pete’s brother Chris. I saw them in April 78 and they were definitely serious contenders then – about the hottest I’ve ever seen – but as you say, signing to EMI didn’t do them any favours. Another great band hobbled by big-label factory drudgery.

    The one to hear’s the magnificent first Peel session from March 1978, featuring four of the tracks later committed less excitingly to vinyl: it seems to have all but disappeared, and there seems no likelihood of release – somebody out there must have a decent copy, surely??

  4. Rob C says:

    Oh Man, the Method Actors–their first single–with “Do the Method”, What was it called–”Can’t Act/Bleeding” I can’t remember. One of the all time great indie singles and from Athens GA to boot! Quite a Wall of Sound when they wanted to be-just perfect quirky edgy guitar post punk weird beauty…

  5. Rick D says:

    Thanks for posting the Scott Wilk + The Walls album! I bought it back when it came out after hearing a couple of tracks on our local college radio station. The whole album is great, I highly recommend it to any fans of early Elvis Costello/Joe Jackson/Graham Parker.

  6. Valentine Michael Smith says:

    Is there more Cortex you can share? It is really super good.

  7. Roberto says:

    After reading your post,i’ve been to my favourite record store just to find a used&cheap copy of Scott Wilk+the Walls LP.Really a good record,a lovable gift to my brother who’s a huge Costello’s fan.He will be amazed! Thanks.

  8. Bruce says:

    I saw Wazmo two times – once for each tie. Once downtown, and once in a barn in Barrington. Lost his albums and EPs during some move. If you could find “Tell Me How to Live” – that would be awesome. While Checking Out the Checkout Girl is classic, you really need to listen to Wacker Drive. Thanks.

  9. Thought you’d find this interesting — I just published an article called “Almost Famous: How unsung singer Scott Wilk made the greatest lost album of the ’80s.”

    The piece features interviews with every member of Scott Wilk + The Walls, as well as those who have worked with them through the years.

  10. Chris says:

    Anybody know where I can get a copy of Wazmo’s Yahoo Eeee? I was a DJ at my college radio station in 1986 and played the heck out of it.

    Chris
    chrisverrill@yahoo.com

  11. Stephanie B says:

    Since downloading this, “Dancing Underneath” gets stuck in my head for days at a time.

  12. Greg says:

    MANY years ago … a girlfriend’s brother had a friend in a music store who got this album from his mate. It was a demo from the music company. It was never released to my knowledge in my country. I have never ever seen another copy in any new or used music store. I have spent the last 30 years looking for a copy of this album. So I tried again tonight and wow, there it is. It’s just turned 5 minutes into Xmas Day for me 2010. So .. Dude … Thanks so much for having the good sense to RIP this and put it up. It is now and forever enshrined in digital MP3 on my PC and my Player, and I shall revel in the glory of having checked something off the Life List. A Million thanks to you.

  13. Greg says:

    Scott Wilk – Lives !!!!!

  14. Daniel says:

    Hi there, I don’t suppose you happen to have the Little Figures LP by Method Actors? I would love to hear it. Thanks for the share, as ancient as this post is.
    Anyway, it would be greatly appreciated.

  15. Daniel says:

    Sorry, me again.
    I actually meant to ask for the Live In A Room LP, not Little Figures.

  16. jehouse says:

    The MAs just re-released This Is It, I’m pretty sure. Look around for it.