Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In the Beginning there was Rhythm

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If you've read here before it's no surprise that I like to remind people of the early work of bands who's success and fame have resulted in a generally singular idea or notion of said band at the expense of other facets. A perfect example, and one of my favorite bands (often a shock to people who know my tastes), is R.E.M., mostly their early work, especially their first album Murmur.

Before mainstream success, R.E.M. was THE bridge between punk/post-punk and alternative. Along with bands like the B-52's and Pylon they spawned a whole scene of early-80's Athens art-rock that helpfed fertilize alternative movements throughout the country. Taking the minimal rhythms of post-punk and adding lots of pretty guitar work and simple and unexpected melodies, Murmur is a far cry from R.E.M. as most people know them. If you recoil at the thought of "Everybody Hurts" balladry, give this a listen and allow me to prove myself right - this early shit is good.

R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe
R.E.M. - Pilgrimage
R.E.M. - Laughing
R.E.M. - Moral Kiosk

Thursday, September 07, 2006

These waters once were clean

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I recently saw Urgh! A Music War at the Egyptian, thanks to a heads up from Bret over at post-punk junk, and man was it fantastic. Klaus Nomi, thirty feet tall? Yes please. I highly recommend seeing it larger than life, but screenings don't appear to happen all that often, so do what you need to do to see it (your local indie video store maybe?). In honor of Urgh! here are some of the finer new-wave moments from the film, alongside the studio versions of said moments for comparison and contrastison.

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After The Police's intro (Stewart Copeland's brother Miles produced Urgh!), Wall of Voodoo kick things off with crazy eyes and flesh-crawling blurbling bass and synths on "Back in Flesh."

Wall of Voodoo - Back in Flesh
Wall of Voodoo - Back in Flesh (URGH!)

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Later on is Oingo Boingo doing "Ain't this the Life," a song so intricate and well-crafted it's no surprise it's the product of someone who aspired to more erudite forms of composition.

Oingo Boingo - Ain't this the Life
Oingo Boingo - Ain't this the Life (URGH!)

Bonerus - Gary Numan's performance of "Down in the Park" in Urgh! is a futuretastic neon-deco eye-feast that will change your life.

Gary Numan - Down in the Park

You can see most of the Urgh! performances on YouTube, but the quality is awful so beware, you might be underwhelmed. Once you've seen it big there's no turning back.