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.
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-naÃ¯ve 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 â€” too bizarre to be pop, too pop to be avant-garde â€” 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.
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 â€” the album is really good! If you can ignore its derivative raison d’Ãªtre, 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!!“
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 JÃ¶rneryd (percussion, 1980-81), Michael Ã–rtendahl (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 SÃ¶derholm [aka Annika Hausswolff] (vocals, 1984-87), Ola Andersson (guitar, 1984-87), Pontus Lidgaard (guitar, 1984-87), Fredrik Wegraeus (bass, 1986-87).
THE FLYS – “BUNCH OF FIVE” EP (1977)
Trouser Press sez:
“Although they neither dressed the part nor were tied down by its musical clichÃ©s, 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 –