jueves, 19 de enero de 2017

Suicide


Although they barely received credit, Suicide (singer Alan Vega and keyboardist Martin Rev) were the source point for virtually every synth pop duo that glutted the pop marketplace (especially in England) in the early '80s. Without the trailblazing Rev and Vega, there would have been no Soft Cell, Erasure, Bronski Beat, Yazoo, you name 'em, and while many would tell you that that's nothing to crow about, the aforementioned synth poppers merely appropriated Suicide's keyboards/singer look and none of Rev and Vega's extremely confrontational performance style and love of dissonance. The few who did (Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire) were considered too extreme for most tastes. 


Suicide had been a part of the performing arts scene in New York City's Lower East Side in the early/mid-'70s New York Dolls era. Their approach to music was simple: Rev would create minimalistic, spooky, hypnotic washes of dissonant keyboards and synthesizers, while Vega sang, ranted, and spat neo-Beat lyrics in a jumpy, disjointed fashion. On-stage, Vega became confrontational, often baiting the crowd into a riotous frenzy that occasionally led to full-blown violence, usually with the crowd attacking Vega. With their reputation as controversial performers solidified, what was lost was that Suicide recorded some amazingly seductive and terrifying music. A relationship with Cars mastermind Ric Ocasek proved successful, bringing their music to a wider audience and developing unlikely fans (Bruce Springsteen went on record as loving Suicide's Vietnam-vet saga "Frankie Teardrop"), but after numerous breakups and reconciliations, Rev and Vega settled for being more influential than commercially successful. 


Ironically, the '90s proved to be a decade of vindication for Suicide with the rise of industrial dance music, Chicago's Wax Trax! label, and the bands associated with it (Revolting Cocks, Ministry, 1000 Homo DJs, etc.). Although not a big part of the scene after the late '90s, the profound influence of Suicide on a generation of younger bands was readily apparent. When Suicide returned in 2002 with 'American Supreme', their first studio release in ten years, much fanfare resulted, no doubt considerably furthered by Vega's presence around this time as a heavily profiled exhibitor of art in New York, where he had presented a show at the Jeffrey Dietch Gallery in New York earlier in the year. Vega also continued to appear on collaborative and solo recordings, including his album "Station", which arrived in 2007, five years after Suicide's 'American Supreme'. Vega died in 2016 in New York City at the age of 78. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 18 de enero de 2017

Cud


Cud was formed in Leeds, England in 1987 by Carl Puttnam (b. Ilford, Essex, England; vocals), Mike Dunphy (b. Northumberland, England; guitar), William Potter (b. Derby, England; bass) and Steve ‘The Infamous Drummer From Cud’ Goodwin (b. Croydon, Surrey, England; drums). The quartet sprung into existence when they discovered the remains of a deserted drum kit in a rubbish skip. They debuted on The Wedding Present’s Reception label and spent two years building up a small but fanatical north England following with a comical hybrid of funk and the uglier elements of independent music. Threatened by a not entirely undeserved ‘joker’ tag -helped by Cud’s desire to perform absurd versions of Hot Chocolate and Jethro Tull songs- 1990 brought ‘a new sense of sanity and professionalism’ to the band. Critical acclaim coincided with a more nationwide spread of supporters, and their new-found attitude reaped commercial dividends when the ‘Robinson Crusoe’ single reached number 86 in the UK charts, closely followed by ‘Magic’ peaking at number 80. 


With financial viability suddenly outweighing the band’s odder idiosyncrasies, major labels tussled for their signatures until Cud decided to go with A&M Records in 1991, for the simple reason that the label’s logo ‘had the trumpet’. This move marked the release in the summer of 1992 of 'Asquarius', which earned the band glowing reviews. However, the transition from indie chart to mainstream pop territory was not as easy as this early victory might have suggested. A&M launched the band with a seemingly endless collection of promotional gimmicks (balloons, mobiles, etc.), but failed to reap significant commercial reward. Despite this, the critics were still kind to the follow-up 'Showbiz', wherein Cud provided a less insular pop sound and ‘mature’ lyrics (mature in comparison to previous efforts, but hardly by anyone else’s standards). Potter was replaced by Mick Dale shortly before the band broke up in 1995. Puttnam, Potter and Goodwin reunited in 2006 for a series of live gigs, with new guitarist Felix Frey rounding out the line-up. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 17 de enero de 2017

Boredoms


Of all the artists in Japan's thriving noise-music community, the Boredoms undoubtedly had the most fun. Although their maniacally extreme cacophony was by no means accessible listening, it was underpinned by a gleeful sense of humor that helped them find a limited (but still surprisingly wide) audience among alternative rockers. A typical Boredoms track might feature massively distorted guitars, squealing synths, any number of odd found-object noisemakers, or studio-manipulation effects; conventional song structures are thrown out the window in favor of abrupt, whiplash-inducing changes of direction. With Sonic Youth and Nirvana counting themselves among the Boredoms' fans, the group actually signed major-label deals during the early '90s, both in Japan and the U.S., and played the Lollapalooza main stage. Although the Boredoms' American deal eventually fell through, they continued to record steadily in Japan, progressing into a sort of trance-inducing, psychedelia-tinged experimental rock indebted to the '70s Krautrock movement. 


The Boredoms were formed in early 1986 in Osaka, Japan, by vocalist Yamatsuka Eye (who later went by Yamantaka Eye, then Yamataka Eye, and sometimes just eYe). Eye had been a member of the noise-rock band the Hanatarash, as had drummer Taketani; the rest of the original lineup featured guitarist Tabata Mara and bassist Hosoi. It quickly disintegrated; first, Taketani was let go in favor of Yoshikawa Toyohito, then Hosoi was replaced by Hira (sometimes Hilah), and finally Mara -who quit to join Zeni Geva- was replaced by Yamamoto Seiichi (aka Yama-Motor). Thus constituted, the Boredoms recorded their debut three-song EP, 'Anal by Anal', in 1986; their first full-length, 'Osozeran No Stooges Kyo' ("The Stooges Craze in Osozeran"), followed in 1988, with both records later collected on 'Onanie Bomb Meets the Sex Pistols'. Yoshimi Yokota (aka Yoshimi P-WE) became the band's new drummer and first female member in 1988; Yoshikawa switched to percussion and quit the following year, replaced first by Hasegawa Chu and then by ATR. Following Eye's work with John Zorn's avant-garde Naked City ensemble, the Boredoms' second album, 'Soul Discharge', was issued in the U.S. by Shimmy Disc in 1990; though some found them pointlessly abrasive, overall the record's crazed attack made them a hip name to drop in underground circles. The buzz surrounding the Boredoms culminated in major-label deals with Warner Japan and Reprise in the U.S., the first fruits of which were 1993's 'Pop Tatari', for which Yoshikawa returned as co-lead vocalist and synthesizer player. The follow-up 'Chocolate Synthesizer' was released in the U.S. in 1995 (a year later than Japan), and the band supported it by playing a string of main stage dates on that year's Lollapalooza tour. 

Lollapalooza marked the peak of the Boredoms' visibility in America, which began to cool down afterwards. Yoshikawa left again, and the band took some time to release a new LP, instead busying themselves with numerous side projects and issuing a series of EPs, dubbed 'Super Roots', that often appeared only in Japan. Reprise wound up dropping them, at which point the small Birdman label began to pick up some of their releases for domestic distribution. Fortified with a third drummer/percussionist in EDA, 1998 brought the EP 'Super Go!!!!!' and the full-length 'Super Ae', which heralded the group's increasing psychedelic/Krautrock influence. The same year, the band recorded a split single with 77 -the "performing" alias of their manager's infant son. 2000 saw the beginning of a series of remix albums titled 'Rebore'; individual volumes featured U.N.K.L.E., Ken Ishii, DJ Krush, and Eye himself. Eye's increasing interest in electronica was reflected on the band's next official full-length album, the trippy 'Vision Creation Newsun', released in the U.S. on Birdman in 2001. Things were quiet for some time after the release of 'Vision Creation Newsun' and rumors began circulating that the Boredoms had broken up. A smaller version of the group reconvened and played some shows as the Voordoms in 2003, giving further fire to the break up hearsay. In 2005, however, the Boredoms returned with the U.S. release of 'Seadrum/House of Sun'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 16 de enero de 2017

The Sugarcubes


The Sugarcubes were the biggest group ever to emerge from Iceland, which helps explain their off-kilter sense of melody. Their 1988 debut, 'Life's Too Good', attracted terrific reviews and became a college radio hit, but they never were able to recapture that sense of excitement. 

According to group legend, The Sugarcubes formed on June 8, 1986, the day that vocalist Björk (born Björk Gundmundsdottir) gave birth to her son. Prior to that day, the members of the group had been a variety of Icelandic bands. Björk had the longest career out of any of the members. When she was 11 years old, the vocalist had recorded a children's album. In her late teens, she joined the Icelandic post-punk band Tappi Tikarrass, who released two albums before splitting in 1983. Drummer Siggi Baldursson (born Sigtryggur Baldursson, October 2, 1962) was a member of þeyr (aka Theyr), whose most prominent international moment came in 1982, when they recorded with Youth and Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke. At the same time Theyr was popular within Iceland, Einar Benediktsson and Bragi Olafsson formed a punk band called Purrkur Pillnikk, which released records on Benediktsson's own label, Gramm. By 1984, Björk, Benediktsson, and Baldursson had joined forces, forming K.U.K.L. with keyboardist Einar Mellax. K.U.K.L. -which means "witch" in Icelandic- was an noisy, artsy post-punk band that released several singles on the independent British record label Crass. In 1986, K.U.K.L. evolved into The Sugarcubes, adding Björk's then-husband Thor Eldon on guitar and Bragi Olafsson on bass. 


In late 1987, the band signed to One Little Indian in the U.K., Elektra Records in the U.S. The Sugarcubes released their debut album, 'Life's Too Good', in 1988 to critical acclaim in both the U.K. and the U.S. "Birthday," the first single from the album, became an indie hit in Britain and a college radio hit in America. In particular, Björk received a heap of praise, which began tensions between her and Benediktsson. By the time the group recorded its second album, Thor had divorced Björk and married Magga Ornolfsdottir, who became the group's keyboardist after Einar Mellax left. 

'Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!', The Sugarcubes' second album, was released in 1989. The album featured a greater vocal contribution by Einar, which was criticized in many of the record's reviews, which were noticeably weaker than those for 'Life's Too Good'. After the release of 'Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!', the band embarked on a lengthy international tour. At the conclusion of the tour in late 1990, the bandmembers pursued their own individual interests. 'Stick Around for Joy', the band's third album, was released in 1992; before the record appeared, a collection of remixes called 'It's-It' was released in Europe. 'Stick Around for Joy' received better reviews than 'Life's Too Good', but the album failed to yield a hit single. Following its release, The Sugarcubes disbanded. In 1993, Björk launched a critically acclaimed and commercially successful solo career that was based in dance music. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 15 de enero de 2017

Ministry


Until Nine Inch Nails crossed over to the mainstream, Ministry did more than any other band to popularize industrial dance music, injecting large doses of punky, over-the-top aggression and roaring heavy metal guitar riffs that helped their music find favor with metal and alternative audiences outside of industrial's cult fan base. That's not to say Ministry had a commercial or generally accessible sound: they were unremittingly intense, abrasive, pounding, and repetitive, and not always guitar-oriented (samples, synthesizers, and tape effects were a primary focus just as often as guitars and distorted vocals). However, both live and in the studio, they achieved a huge, crushing sound that put most of their contemporaries in aggressive musical genres to shame; plus, founder and frontman Al Jourgensen gave the group a greater aura of style and theater than other industrial bands, who seemed rather faceless when compared with Jourgensen's leather-clad cowboy/biker look and the edgy shock tactics of such videos as "N.W.O." and "Just One Fix." After 1992's 'Psalm 69', which represented the peak of their popularity, Ministry's recorded output dwindled, partially because of myriad side projects and partially due to heroin abuse within the band, but the band continued to resurface throughout the rest of the decade. 

Ministry were formed in 1981 by Alain Jourgensen (born October 8, 1958, Havana, Cuba); he had moved to the U.S. with his mother while very young and lived in a succession of cities, eventually working as a radio DJ and joining a new wave band called Special Affect (fronted by future My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult leader Frankie Nardiello, aka Groovie Mann). Featuring drummer Stephen George, Ministry debuted with the Wax Trax! single "Cold Life," which -typical of their early output- was more in the synth pop/dance style of new wavers like The Human League or Thompson Twins. The album 'With Sympathy' appeared on the major-label Arista in 1983 and followed a similar musical direction, one that Jourgensen was dissatisfied with; he returned to Wax Trax! and recorded several singles while rethinking the band's style and forming his notorious side project the Revolting Cocks


In 1985, with Jourgensen the only official member of Ministry, the Adrian Sherwood-produced 'Twitch' was released by Sire Records; while not as aggressive as the group's later, more popular material, it found Jourgensen taking definite steps in that direction. Following a 1987 single with Skinny Puppy's Kevin Ogilvie (aka Nivek Ogre) as PTP, Jourgensen once again revamped Ministry with former Blackouts bassist Paul Barker officially joining the lineup to complement Jourgensen's rediscovery of the guitar; fellow ex-Blackouts William Rieflin (drums) and Mike Scaccia (guitar), as well as vocalist Chris Connelly, were heavily showcased as collaborators for the first of several times on 1988's 'The Land of Rape and Honey'. With Jourgensen and Barker credited as Hypo Luxa and Hermes Pan, respectively, this album proved to be Ministry's stylistic breakthrough, a taut, explosive fusion of heavy metal, industrial dance beats and samples, and punk aggression. Released in 1989, 'The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste' built on its predecessor's artistic success, and 'In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up' was recorded on its supporting tour, introducing other frequent Ministry contributors like drummer Martin Atkins (later of Pigface) and guitarist William Tucker (as well as featuring a guest shot from Jello Biafra). Jourgensen next embarked on a flurry of side projects, including the aforementioned Revolting Cocks (with Barker, Barker's brother Roland, Front 242 members Luc Van Acker and Richard 23, and many more), 1000 Homo DJs (with Biafra, Rieflin, and Trent Reznor), Acid Horse, Pailhead (with Ian MacKaye), and Lard (again with Biafra, Paul Barker, Rieflin, and drummer Jeff Ward). 

In late 1991, Ministry issued the single "Jesus Built My Hotrod," a driving rocker featuring manic nonsense vocals by co-writer Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers; its exposure on MTV helped build anticipation for the following year's full-length, 'Psalm 69' (subtitled "The Way to Succeed & the Way to Suck Eggs", although the only title that appears on the album consists of a few Greek letters and symbols). The record reached the Top 30 and went platinum, producing two further MTV hits with "N.W.O." and "Just One Fix," and Ministry consolidated their following with a spot on the inaugural Lollapalooza tour that summer (joined by new guitarist Louis Svitek). However, drug and legal problems sidelined the band in the wake of its newfound popularity, resulting in the clouded 'Filth Pig' being released in 1995, too late to capitalize on their prior success. More problems with drugs and arrests followed, and Jourgensen returned to some of his side projects, recording a new album with Lard, among others. In 1999, the new single "Bad Blood" was featured prominently in the sci-fi special-effects blockbuster film "The Matrix", setting the stage for the release of 'Dark Side of the Spoon' (the title a reference to the band's heroin problems) later that summer. Guitarist William Tucker committed suicide in May 1999. 


Ministry were nominated for a Grammy in 2000 for "Bad Blood," but they lost to Black Sabbath and were dropped from Warner Bros. around the same time. They were also added to the Ozzfest tour, but they were kicked off before it even began because of a management change. To compound their sorrows, Ipecac Records announced three live albums were to be released with material from the 'Psalm 69' tour being the main focus, but they only had a verbal agreement, and when Warner Bros. caught wind of the project, they stamped it out despite already having the CDs ready for printing. In 2001, Ministry filmed a scene for Steven Spielberg's "A.I." and released their contribution to the film on a greatest-hits album, appropriately titled 'Greatest Fits'. The song received a decent amount of promotion, but the single went nowhere and the band signed to Sanctuary Records later in the year. While recording new material, they released the 'Sphinctour' album and DVD in the spring of 2002 to satisfy rabid fans who were disappointed by the Ipecac situation. The next spring, 'Animositisomina' was released, advertised as a return to the 'Psalm 69' style of songwriting and featuring a cover of Magazine's "The Light Pours Out of Me." 'Houses of the Molé' followed in June 2004. 

In September 2005 Ministry celebrated their 25th anniversary with 'Rantology'. Jourgensen remixed such past hits as "Jesus Built My Hotrod" and "N.W.O. for the set; it also included live material, rarities, and the new track "Great Satan." An extensive tour with Revolting Cocks in tow followed. The band then released 'Rio Grande Blood' in May 2006; the second installment in what Jourgensen promised to be a George W. Bush-hating trilogy (which began with 'Houses of the Molé'); the album earned Ministry another Grammy nomination (Best Metal Performance) for "Lies, Lies, Lies." In 2007 the bandmembers announced they would be releasing their "final" album, 'The Last Sucker', by the end of the year. The 2008 compilation 'Cover Up' examined Ministry's long history of destroying other artists' tunes, while the 2009 set 'The Last Dubber' featured 'The Last Sucker' album remixed. Jourgensen would move on to his country project Buck Satan and return to the Cocks over the next few years, but Ministry wouldn't lay dormant for long. In 2012 they returned with the very thrash, very angry studio album 'Relapse' with the ironically titled live album 'Enjoy the Quiet' following in 2013. The studio album 'From Beer to Eternity' also appeared in 2013, honoring longtime Ministry guitarist Mike Scaccia, who had passed away after suffering heart failure while on-stage performing with his other band, Rigor Mortis. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC