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DEFENESTRATION (Buy CDs by this artist)
Defenestration EP (Slow Iguana) 1986
Dali Does Windows (Relativity) 1987
TODD WALKER
Thrown Away EP (Owl House) 1989
CHAINSAW KITTENS
Violent Religion (Mammoth) 1990

Born in Norman, Oklahoma, a college town whose other '80s musical export is the astoundingly strange Flaming Lips, Defenestration had an approach to complement their odd name (it means "the throwing out of a person or thing through a window"). Lead singer Tyson Meade was weaned on B-movies, Janis Joplin and the Birthday Party; the rest of the band combined influences from T. Rex and Cheap Trick to the Byrds. Recorded for almost no money and released on a loan from Meade's mom, Defenestration is quirky and brilliant, a result of being far more ambitious than its means. "Cut Your Soul in Half" has grand ideas and sprawling gothic piano; "Slaughterville" is a showcase for Meade's Joplinesque shriek; "Heartthrob" is a subtly written and beautifully melodic discourse on the politics of being an outcast.

Mismatched with heavy-metal producer Randy Burns, Defenestration sacrificed some of its originality on Dali Does Windows in favor of enjoyable but less imaginative rock-pop. Traces of the title's surrealist bent crop up in "Tripping Drag Queens" and "Cars in Trees"; "Bedlam Revisited" is as sad and truthful a love song as anyone could want. "D.Y. Wanna (Bubblegum)" is a friendly mutation of "Bang a Gong (Get It On)."

Guitarist Todd Walker split in 1987 and resurfaced two years later, trailing some other Defenestration defectors, with Thrown Away, a modest collection of country-rock numbers. Upon the original band's official demise, Meade formed the Chainsaw Kittens.

[Karen Schoemer]