Wild Flowers

A guitar band from the English Midlands, the Wild Flowers mate the Ramones’ breakneck speed and Television’s guitar interplay with Echo & the Bunnymen’s intensity and attack on The Joy of It All. Poorly recorded for a tiny label, the album disappeared quickly as, so it seemed, did the band when founding guitarist-songwriter Dave Newton…

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions

Lloyd Cole is a pretentious twit — in the nicest possible sense. Which is to say the English (Buxton, in the north) singer/songwriter is highly literate and ultra-sensitive. Always has been, ever since he first turned up, after forming a band while attending college in Glasgow, with 1984’s Rattlesnakes. Coming on like a typical new…

Flys

Although they neither dressed the part nor were tied down by its musical clichés, Coventry’s Flys (not to be confused with a subsequent Boston outfit) used the feel of mod-era bands like the Who and Creation as a jumping-off point for the highly individual songs of guitarist/singer Neil O’Connor, perhaps best exemplified by the single…

Marc Almond

Listeners who acknowledge Marc Almond only as the voice behind Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” do the English singer a great disservice. Since that electro-pop landmark in 1981, Almond has steadfastly devoted his career to exploring the art of the song. As an interpreter, he has successfully taken on Jacques Brel (on Jacques), ’60s obscurities (on…

Kursaal Flyers

This seminal pub-rock outfit is more of interest for what the individuals did after the group split than for the band’s own recordings. Drummer Will Birch went on to found the Records (with guitarist John Wicks, briefly a Kursaal at the end of the band’s first go-round) and produce records for various people. Graeme Douglas,…

Dambuilders

The Dambuilders’ records chronicle the progress of a band that, for better or worse, finally seems to have found an identifiable sonic niche in the mid-’90s. Singer/bassist Dave Derby and guitarist Eric Masunaga evolved the group from the Exactones, the name under which they released several homemade cassettes in their native Hawaii. A Young Person’s…

Megadeth

A founding member of Metallica, Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine hails from a generation of headbangers unafraid to list the Sex Pistols and the Dead Boys as influences alongside Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. When he was booted out of Metallica — over power struggles and a growing (but since overcome) drug problem — the singer/guitarist…

Dalek I

Following several different lineups during 1977 and 1978, Dalek I Love You’s name was shortened to Dalek I and the band reduced to a duo by the time their first album was recorded. Alan Gill and Dave Hughes (the former was subsequently guitarist in The Teardrop Explodes, the latter drummer on OMD’s first album) play…

Count Bishops

Although they never attained major popularity, hits or even a US release, the Count Bishops played a small but important role in the development of British punk. First, they provided a stylistic and chronological link between the raw R&B revivalism of Dr. Feelgood and early demi-punk flailings by Eddie and the Hot Rods. Second, the…

World Party

With Private Revolution, one-man-pop-orchestra Karl Wallinger proved that his post-Waterboys soirée was a place to be. He recorded the album at home, singing playing guitar and using samples to create a refreshingly unique musical backdrop that probably owes more to the psychedelic-era Beatles than any one other source, yet never actually sounds like them. The…

Cindy Lee Berryhill

First emerging as a witty, self-aware West Coast delegate to the mid-’80s fast folk movement, Cindy Lee Berryhill always bore a broader agenda than what could be achieved with a single guitar. Not that she wasn’t perfectly able to put over clever original songs with simple apparatus (as she did on her first two albums),…

Mighty Lemon Drops

It took the Mighty Lemon Drops (initially the Sherbert Monsters) three albums to fully outgrow its original fixation on Echo and the Bunnymen. While hardly a disqualifying attribute in itself, the sonic resemblance initially made it hard to take the enjoyable young quartet from Wolverhampton seriously. Happy Head offers the neo-psychedelia of early Echo played…

Code Blue

Los Angeles’ Code Blue may be best remembered for the fact that its first album was released encased in a blue plastic bag; the group, which actually had talent, fell victim to the post-Knack backlash against Angelino power pop. The brainchild of original Motels guitarist Dean Chamberlain, Code Blue came together after the first version…

Comateens

This New York trio played a bouncy brand of dance rock rooted in chintzy ’60s Farfisa organ pop and spooky horror- movie soundtrack music. The group first gained recognition in 1979 with a homemade single that featured a stripped- down version of Bowie’s “TVC 15,” which they re-recorded for their first LP. After a number…

House of Freaks

The creative leap that brought House of Freaks to life in Richmond, Virginia as a duo of guitar/vocals (Bryan Harvey) and drums (Johnny Hott) has become an article of faith for the group. Intelligence, urgency and creative use of guest musicians far outweigh any structural doubt about what properly constitutes a rock combo. (So much…

Bethnal

On the strength of live performances during 1976, this multi-ethnic London band was considered one of the most promising new groups in Britain. Admittedly different from the pack, lead singer George Csapo played keyboards and violin — instruments not then in vogue among new wavers. Unfortunately, Bethnal was never able to properly translate its hard-driving…

Adrian Belew

The guitarist aging art-rockers turn to for a sublime and stirring mixture of solid chops and wild-eyed invention, Adrian Belew (born in Kentucky, raised in Ohio) has played a crucial long-term role in the careers of David Bowie and King Crimson, while also making important contributions to Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, the Tom Tom Club…

Christians

Brothers Garry and Russell Christian (formerly an a cappella soul trio with Roger, another sibling) and ex-Yachts helmsman Henry Priestman (who left It’s Immaterial to join them) comprise the core of this Liverpool group. (Roger Christian appeared on the group’s earliest singles, but quit prior to the first Christians album and eventually surfaced as a…

OK Jive

These expatriate South Africans managed to come up with a unique sound on their album, despite having borrowed an awful lot of it from African and Caribbean pop. Characterized by tight, choppy ultra-rhythmic interplay between two guitarists and a female lead singer’s initially charming (but ultimately monotonous) voice, the group’s perky ethnic dance music lacks…

Cavedogs

The Cavedogs know their psyche-power-pop and, on Joyrides for Shut-Ins, they turn up with multi-tracked Rickenbackers blazing. Producer Ed Stasium (and others who worked on the previously released singles included here) gives the trio a BIG sound; while quotes from summer-of-love sources (Move, Floyd, Beatles and Monkees to name but a few) abound you’ll also…