martes, 25 de octubre de 2016

Moving Targets

Springing from the fertile grounds of Boston's parochial hardcore punk-rock scene, Moving Targets are a little-known but seminal link in a chain that joins hardcore and other early-'80s Boston music strains like collegiate art rock and folk-rock to '90s alternative rock. 

Forming in 1981 around the songwriting, blistering guitar work, and emotive vocals of Kenny Chambers, the original power trio included bassist/vocalist Pat Leonard and the strong-man drumming of Pat Brady. After a few years of trying to scrape together gigs in the competitive early-'80s Boston rock club scene, Moving Targets' first significant exposure came in 1984 via "Bands That Could Be God" (Conflict/Radiobeat), a record of various Massachusetts punk and post-punk bands compiled by Gerard Cosloy, the soon-to-be head of the Homestead and Matador record labels. The LP included three songs recorded with Lou Giordano, one of the founding producers of Boston's legendary Fort Apache studio. Giordano had worked with the influential Minneapolis trio Hüsker Dü, who were clearly a major influence for the Targets. 

Working with Giordano, the band continued to record, eventually finishing a 15-song demo, which led to their signing to the Boston punk label Taang! (which is also responsible for unleashing Lemonheads and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones on the rock world). These demo songs form the basis of the band's explosive debut LP, 'Burning in Water', from 1986. The album is an essential piece of post-punk, combining the band's love of hardcore, '70s progressive rock, and classic rock. It openly showed the influences of seminal art-punk-rock group Mission of Burma -a Boston band also capable of punk anthems- as well as another Burma-influenced group, Hüsker Dü, who released their legendary LP "New Day Rising" the same year as 'Burning in Water'. 

Moving Targets learned a great deal from the 1984 Hüsker Dü record "Zen Arcade" and seem to almost anticipate "New Day Rising", latching onto many of the same ideas on 'Burning in Water': combining the urgent energy and aggression of punk with the understanding and reverence for more traditional forms of music. The Targets do not come off merely as imitators; they are eager students who have digested various influences and end up sounding like none of them specifically. 'Burning in Water' is its own beast, moving punk-rock songcraft into another class. While akin to Hüsker Dü's output, the Targets possessed a distinctive and decidedly Boston flair. The LP announced the arrival of an influential band. Any mid-'80s underground rock & roll band in Massachusetts would have been affected by its release and the LP also resonated overseas, where the band toured to some success. 

Moving Targets were devastating in a live setting. The original lineup was the best and most magical. Chambers shredded the guitar and his vocal cords on highly crafted songs. Brady proved to be an untouchable drummer, fitting fills, rolls, and crashes into impossibly tight corners like a punk-rock Keith Moon or Neil Pert. Bassist/vocalist Leonard showed an unusual melodic sense on the bass, somehow managing to keep up with the incendiary performances of his partners, while never sounding hurried and rarely approaching the bass like a guitar, unlike some power-trio bass players. 

Alas, the volatile lineup was not meant to last, and was soon fractured. The disarray sidetracked the group and Chambers acted as a second guitarist for a few years with one of the first punk metal bands Bullet Lavolta. All the while, Chambers continued to write for Moving Targets. Bassist Chuck Freeman entered the fray as Leonard's replacement, the two sharing the workload for the band's follow-up LP, 'Brave New Noise', released in 1989. The CD version of the record includes 'Burning in Water', making the collection a slam-dunk for fans of intelligent melodic post-punk. 

The sound of 'Fall' is a bit more polished, textured, evenly paced, and varied than 'Burning in Water/Brave Noise', in other words: a somewhat predictable pattern for the band to follow. They parallel Hüsker Dü's development into pop-punk and folk-punk territory, shedding a bit of the more overt Burma influences and displaying some of the more mainstream hard rock guitar work that Chambers had practiced over the intervening years with Bullet Lavolta. But the changes are mostly welcome signs of growth and the songs are rewarding. 

That trend continued with 1993's 'Take This Ride', though this time the lineup had been stripped down to just Chambers as the only remaining founding member. He rounded the group out with Jeff Goddard on bass and Jamie Van Bramer on drums, two members of Boston band Jones Very. The band was simply not the same, missing Brady's pummeling drums in particular. The group now resembled a Chambers solo project, and indeed he did release some solo recordings: 'Double Negative' in 1990 on European label Cityslang (featuring Goddard); 'No Reaction', which was recorded in 1993 and released in 1994; and 1996's 'Sin Cigarros'. He has been relatively quiet since. Goddard went on to play with The Lune and Karate. Leonard continued to play in local bands and Brady was, at last report, a firefighter. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

lunes, 24 de octubre de 2016

Gang Green

Far and away the biggest name to emerge from the Boston hardcore scene, Gang Green was an unabashed party band specializing in beer-soaked, warp-speed three-chord thrash. Obsessed with beer, skateboarding, sex, and more beer, the group slowly added stronger hints of heavy metal as their career wore on, but otherwise followed much the same blueprint both musically and lyrically. Predictable though they may have been, their simple party-hearty philosophy, coupled with their irreverent streak of humor, was not only cultishly adored but influential as well, exerting an undeniable pull on the frat-friendly Orange County punk scene. Lead singer/guitarist Chris Doherty was the lone constant in the lineup, and managed to keep "the King of Bands" (as they were dubbed, from the Budweiser slogan) going off and on for more than two decades. 

Chris Doherty formed the first incarnation of Gang Green in 1982, along with bassist Bill Manley and drummer Mike Dean. This lineup cut seven tracks (none longer than a minute-and-a-half) for the scene-documenting compilation "This Is Boston Not L.A." (on Modern Method), but soon disbanded. One more Gang Green track appeared posthumously on Modern Method's 1983 EP "Unsafe at Any Speed", and the remainder of their studio recordings appeared on a three-song EP for Taang, 'Sold Out', in 1984. (All of this material was later reissued on the CD 'Preschool' in 1997.) In the meantime, Doherty joined another local punk band, Jerry's Kids, and later moved on to Stranglehold and the ska band The Cheapskates (a forerunner of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones). 

Doherty struck out on his own to re-form Gang Green in 1985, along with Jerry's Kids drummer Brian Betzger and the Stilphen brothers, Chuck (guitar) and Glen (bass). This lineup debuted with the 7" single "Skate to Hell"/"Alcohol," the latter of which became a staple of the band's live act (both the song and the substance). The EP 'Drunk and Disorderly, Boston MA' followed in 1986, as did the band's first-ever full-length album, 'Another Wasted Night' (on Taang). Featuring a jokey, attention-grabbing cover of Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry," 'Another Wasted Night' attracted a cult following that grew steadily over the next few years. 

The Stilphen brothers subsequently left to form a metal band called Mallet-Head. After a brief interlude with guitarist Tony Nichols (also of the metal band Meliah Rage), the Stilphens were replaced more permanently by guitarist Fritz Erickson and bassist Joe Gittleman for Gang Green's 1987 Roadrunner debut, 'You Got It' (which was immediately preceded by another EP, 'P.M.R.C. Sucks'). Bucking the dominant Gang Green trend, both Erickson and Gittleman stuck around for awhile, completing the 1988 EP 'I81B4U' (a parody of Van Halen's "OU812") and a second album, 1989's 'Older...Budweiser'. Gittleman then made his exit, later joining The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and was replaced by former D.R.I. bassist Josh Pappe for the 1990 concert set 'Can't Live Without It'. 

Roadrunner subsequently dropped the band, spelling the end of their second and most successful incarnation. Doherty and Betzger formed a Green Day-styled punk-pop outfit called Klover, which released one album on Mercury in 1995 before imploding under label difficulties. Doherty then reconvened Gang Green for a third go-round, this time with drummer Walter Gustafson (ex-Outlets), guitarist Bob Cenci (ex-Jerry's Kids), and bassist Matt Sandonato (also of The Chubs). This lineup recorded an entirely new album, 'Another Case of Brewtality', for Taang in 1997, covering much the same subject matter that Gang Green always had. An EP, 'Back and Gacked', followed in 1998. While the group has been silent on record, they continued to perform live, chiefly around the bars of Boston, on into the new millennium. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 23 de octubre de 2016

Friends Again

While many of their compatriots wrote new wave pop songs propelled by jangling guitars, Glasgow, Scotland's Friends Again distinguished themselves from their peers by combining '60s-influenced rock with funk, R&B, and country. Featuring Chris Thompson (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), James Grant (lead guitar, vocals), Neil Cunningham (bass), Paul McGeechan (keyboards), and Stuart Kerr (drums), Friends Again formed in 1982. The band produced three singles, "Sunkissed," "Honey at the Core," and "State of Art" on Moonbot Records before signing to Mercury Records. The group released a self-titled EP in 1983 and then recorded their debut album, 'Trapped and Unwrapped', in 1984. The LP explored the band's various musical influences, veering from '70s-style funk ("Lullaby No. 2") to soulful balladry ("Old Flame") sung with Thompson's David Bowie-esque croon. However, the LP received mixed reviews, namely for Bob Sargeant's slick production, and it was also a commercial failure. Longing for an outlet for his own songs, Grant left the group in 1984, and Friends Again immediately fell apart. Grant formed Love and Money in 1985, delving deeper in the funk, R&B, and country influences that guided Friends Again. McGeechan, Kerr, and Cunningham followed Grant in Love and Money while Thompson created The Bathers in 1987. [SOURCER: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 22 de octubre de 2016

The Dream Syndicate

The Dream Syndicate are at the foundation (alongside The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, and R.E.M.) of contemporary alternative music simply because at the time when most bands were experimenting with new technology, the Syndicate deigned to bring back the guitar. Fronted by Steve Wynn (b. Feb. 21, 1960) and including Karl Precoda (guitar), Dennis Duck (drums), and Kendra Smith (bass), the band formed in Los Angeles after Smith and Wynn had relocated there from Davis, CA. They debuted with a self-titled, unbelievably Velvet Underground-like EP on Wynn's own Down There label. It was shortly off to Ruby/Slash for 'Days of Wine and Roses', the most lauded record on the college charts that year. The record has been cited as influential from artists as diverse as Kurt Cobain to The Black Crowes' Chris Robinson. Live, they had developed into an assaultive guitar band prone to jamming, which helped earn them the tag as leaders of L.A.'s paisley underground movement. 

Released in 1984, 'Medicine Show' was met with mixed response by the college crowd. By this time, Smith had left the band and was replaced by Dave Provost on bass and Tom Zvoncheck on keyboards. Wynn took his cues from Neil Young & Crazy Horse on the record rather than Lou Reed (who was considered a preferable source at the time), and the rootsier sound caused a backlash with the fan base. As the band label-hopped, a new lineup and falling morale spawned 'Out of the Grey' (Big Time) in 1986 and the Elliot Mazer-produced 'Ghost Stories' (Enigma) in 1988. The band had realigned to include Mark Walton on bass and Paul B. Cutler on guitar. They recorded 'Live at Raji's' in 1989 as their swan song. 

Wynn has since recorded albums as a leader and with Gutterball (featuring the House of Freaks and Silo Bob Rupe) and is continuously collaborating with other musicians. His 1996 solo record had him backed by the Boston band Come. Smith went on to work in Opal with David Roback, a prototype version of his Mazzy Star, and has since recorded solo albums as well. After a long hiatus from music, Karl Precoda reappeared in 1997 fronting The Last Days of May, a neo-psychedelic instrumental trio. Duck continued to work with Wynn as a touring drummer and bassist Mark Walton played with The Continental Drifters. A documentary of Dream Syndicate's last tour, 'Weathered and Torn', has been released on DVD. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 21 de octubre de 2016

Julian Cope

Musician, writer, historian, and cosmic shaman Julian Cope was born in October 1957 in Deri, South Glamorgan, Wales. He was raised in Tamworth, England, and like many a young artist, suffered through academia as a perpetual outsider. In 1976, upon attending college in Liverpool, Cope found himself part of a community of musicians -and kindred souls- including Ian McCulloch, Pete Burns, and Pete Wylie. After various incarnations and not-so-amicable departures (McCulloch went on to fame with Echo & the Bunnymen), The Teardrop Explodes were formed. One of the more influential bands of the late '70s, the group delivered a volatile mix of neo-psychedelic rock and electro-pop. As the band's success grew, so did Cope's reputation for debauchery, resulting in erratic, drug-addled stage behavior that occasionally led to bloodletting. In 1983, after numerous lineup changes and legendary feuds between Cope and Zoo Records figurehead Bill Drummond, the band ceased operations. 

By 1984, Cope's love of hallucinogens -as well as a toy car collection that occupied nearly an entire year of his life- was at an all-time high. Despite his altered state, he released 'World Shut You Mouth', his solo debut on Mercury Records. An elegant collection of chamber pop and Teardrop-fueled electricity, the album divided critics and fans alike, especially upon the release of director David Bailey's macabre video for the first single, "Sunshine Playroom." Not to be deterred, Cope retreated to Cambridge and recorded the follow-up, 'Fried', a chilling chronicle of self-oblivion that included cover art of the artist in a sandbox wearing nothing but a gigantic turtle shell. It was a fitting image, as Cope -despite getting married- spent the following year in utter seclusion, half-heartedly laying down tracks of Syd Barrett-inspired acoustic lunacy for what would eventually become 1989's 'Skellington' LP. 

In 1986 Cope signed with Island Records and released his most successful record to date, 'Saint Julian'. The album's crisp production and modern rock sensibilities brought the artist out of his shell -so to speak- resulting in an exhaustive tour and numerous television appearances, including a memorable gig on The Tonight Show that found the singer becoming quite intimate with his patented jungle-gym mike stand. The disappointing 'My Nation Underground' followed in 1988, resulting in three years of supplemental releases that included a collection of Teardrop Explodes B-sides, the aforementioned 'Skellington', and the highly collectible 'Droolian' -the latter was released in Austin, Texas, as part of a campaign to release Thirteenth Floor Elevator Roky Erickson from jail. 

In 1991 Cope released the ambitious double-LP 'Peggy Suicide'. Inspired by a vision the artist had of Mother Earth throwing herself off a cliff to her death, the record came as a revelation to many. Gone were the slick arrangements of his previous Island releases, replaced here by the brooding funk, soul, folk, and cosmic garage rock that would follow him into the new millennium. His refusal to submit to more than one vocal take, the inclusion of Michael "Moon-Eye" Watts on guitar, and the raw production/organ/bass provided by longtime collaborator Donald Ross Skinner became the bedrock on which his subsequent work depended. Cope's obsessions with Krautrock and pagan history -only briefly hinted at on 'Peggy Suicide'- were brought to the forefront on 1992's 'Jehovahkill', another creative triumph that unfortunately failed to connect with the public at large, resulting in his forced "departure" from the label. 

He released his next two recordings, the angular and cautionary ecological rave-up 'Autogeddon' (1994) and the fatherhood-inspired '20 Mothers' (1995) on the Echo label in the U.K. and on American in the States. Cope spent a great deal of this period purging himself of his seemingly endless creative energy through side projects on his mail-order-only label Ma-Gog, a creative outlet that eventually morphed into the website/community/record label Head Heritage. He released 'Interpreter' in 1996, a return to pop form that saw the self-described "Arch Drude" tackling both environmental and social issues with renewed vigor. He began working on Brain Donor, a four-piece, face-painted, triple double-neck guitar-playing garage rock-punk outfit that released its debut, 'Love, Peace & Fuck' on Head Heritage in 2001, followed by 'Too Freud to Rock 'n' Roll, Too Jung to Die' in 2003. 'Citizen Cain'd' and 'Dark Orgasm', both of which relied on two discs of sonic fury and pop mayhem, were released in 2005, followed by 'You Gotta Problem with Me' (no question mark) in 2007, 'Black Sheep' in 2008, the Che Guevara- and Leila Khaled-dedicated 'Psychedelic Revolution' in 2012, and 'Revolutionary Suicide', his 29th studio album, in 2013. 

Cope had been compiling his memoirs into book form throughout the '90s; "Head On", a chronicle of his life up to the demise of The Teardrop Explodes, was published in 1993, followed by its sequel, "Repossessed", in 2000. His first fiction novel, "One Three One", appeared in 2014. He also trudged all over the country in search of stone circles while researching his exhaustive coffee table book, "The Modern Antiquarian: A Pre-Millennial Odyssey Through Megalithic Britain", and wrote "Krautrock Sampler", a critically acclaimed guide to German space rock. He has spoken at numerous festivals, museums, and universities on both topics. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC