SHADOWY MEN ON A SHADOWY PLANET – “Sport Fishin’: The Lure of the Bait, rubella The Luck of the Hook” (1993)
Every single nerd outside the confines of Toronto knows Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet from their perpetual ethereal theme song and bumper musics from “The Kids In The Hall” — those jangly, and reverb-drenched guitar lines, dosage those steady beats, those briefest of melodies. Turns out they were the Guided By Voices of Canadian instrumental surf-tinged neo-twang! Trouser Press sez:
Filed a couple of discs down from the Shadows and a little closer to the Residents than might be safe for small children, Toronto’s Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet did the instrumental guitar combo thing in a somewhat different kitchen from Britain’s four-decades-young Fender twangers.
The trio of Brian Connelly (guitar), Don Pyle (drums) and Reid Diamond (bass), who died of cancer in February 2001, began cranking out cagey and catchy pieces of twisted reverb-splat invention with delightfully lurid pop culture titles in 1985, although most of the group’s fame owes to its day job, making the soundtrack noises for TV’s Kids in the Hall. That zesty little mock-Western piece that runs under the show’s credits is “Having an Average Weekend,” a track from the Shadowy Men’s first single…
…the Steve Albini-engineered “Sport Fishin’” boasts such catches as the pluckin’/chanted “Fortune Tellin’ Chicken,” the economical “They Don’t Call Them Chihuahuas Anymore,” the properly noirish “Spy School” and the scrabbly funk of “We’re Not a Fucking Surf Band.”
Shadowy Men mixed their music (mostly original, but with a cover here and there) around enough to defy easy pigeonholing: just when the salt air threatened to become a scenery fixture, they trotted out something from an inland clime, or stepped on the gas for a decidedly non-retro spot of acceleration. Unfailingly enjoyable, gummily consistent and as atmospheric as two weeks in a submarine, Shadowy Men are (were) truly the instrumental kings of the Great White North.