Last Exit

Last Exit, a four-piece avant-garde jazz supergroup, brought to their improvisations a fondness for volume and violence that makes most rock bands sound tame. In the late Sonny Sharrock, Last Exit boasted a guitar pioneer whose volcanic work in the ’60s New York free-jazz scene remains a profound influence on virtually every rock soloist who…

A.R.Kane

A.R.Kane, the London duo of Alex (Ayuli) and Rudy (Tambala), helped usher in two significant musical movements in England. The 12-inch dance single “Pump Up the Volume,” a 1987 collaboration with members of Colourbox in the ad hoc group M/A/R/R/S, introduced the scratching and sampling aesthetic of American hip-hop and house music to the British…

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult

Longtime Chicago disco scenester Frank Nardiello had dabbled in various art-punk bands when in 1987 he met kindred spirit Marston Daley, who had just moved to Chicago from Boston. Nardiello and Daley rechristened themselves Groovie Mann and Buzz McCoy, and enlisted keyboardist Thomas “Buck Ryder” Lockyear, “go-go butt” dancer Jacky Blacque and an ever-changing array…

Morphine

“She told me things about her life / She never told me she was someone’s wife,” sings Mark Sandman on the first song on Treat Her Right’s first album. The “low guitar”- player’s pulp-fiction narratives, with appropriately sinister and smoky musical accompaniment, would later flourish with Morphine, but in Treat Her Right he had to…

Björk

Iceland’s Björk Gudmundsdóttir sings with the nonlinear abandon of a jazz vocalist, squeals like a gradeschooler on Christmas morning and purrs with the feral lustiness of a big cat in pursuit of a meal. The spaced-out kewpie-doll vocal mannerisms can be wearying, but Björk’s devotion to quirkiness has led to some of the most forward-looking…

Mekons

Punk’s reigning contrarians, the Mekons, were formed in Leeds, England, in 1977 by art students Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh. Their first single, “Never Been in a Riot,” took dead aim at one of punk’s sacred cows, the Clash’s “White Riot,” and the Mekons have gladly been outsiders ever since. The group has survived countless…

Iris DeMent

You could scan the contemporary music horizon for a week and still not hear anything quite like Iris DeMent’s voice, a full-bodied soprano that bursts with yearning and knowing, while suggesting Loretta Lynn’s no-nonsense conviction and Mother Maybelle Carter’s purity. DeMent’s albums have a pre-rock feel, built on drummer-less string-band arrangements, but her songs avoid…

Th Faith Healers (UK)

The first group signed to England’s Too Pure label (PJ Harvey, Moonshake, Stereolab), Th Faith Healers stirred up an early buzz by playing entire concerts consisting of three songs and just about as many fuzz-drenched chords. The cream of the London quartet’s early non-album work is collected on the seven-song L’, in which trance steamroller…

Poster Children

Formed in 1987 at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana by guitarist Rick Valentin and bassist Rose Marshack, Poster Children have sifted through almost as many styles of post-punk guitar rock as they have drummers (seven at last count, as Junior Citizen‘s Howie Kantoff left in 2001). Toreador Squat is a raw, basic, set-length cassette…

Tar

After a brief fling as Blatent Dissent, a fairly conventional mid-’80s punk band at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, the members of Tar moved to Chicago and adopted a thicker, harder, more textured sound. A number of the band’s discs were engineered by Steve Albini or Iain Burgess, sonic architects of the Chicago post-punk fringe,…

Sonic Youth

Latter-day rock’n’roll revolutionaries have shown a marked tendency towards swift burnout. They reveal their raw vision to the world, but the world, being the philistine place that it is, turns away; the musicians move on. Sonic Youth, unlike so many of the noise bands that formed in New York at the beginning of the ’80s,…

Cypress Hill

To the increasingly outlandish pathology of West Coast gangsta rap, Cypress Hill brings an element of sarcasm and casual, pot-stoked serendipity, embodied by the cartoonish high-sinus drawl of B-Real. At once comical and fierce, Cypress Hill talks about two primary ‘hood ornaments — Glocks and blunts — and suggests that the second is a necessity…

Pegboy

Pegboy is a throwback to the golden age of Chicago’s punk scene, and with good reason. Founding guitarist John Haggerty was a key member of Naked Raygun, whose brawny, brainy sound defined the city’s underground for the better part of the 1980s. Like Raygun, Pegboy has little patience for anything but terse, crunchy melodies that…

Cowboy Junkies

Toronto’s Cowboy Junkies consists of three siblings — Margo, Michael and Peter Timmins — and a friend, Alan Anton, attracted to rural blues and honkytonk. They began by blending a rudimentary production aesthetic, gauzy vocals, exquisite taste in covers and subtle group dynamics into a soft-focus sound that, depending on one’s viewpoint, is either catatonic…

Girls Against Boys

Girls Against Boys, aka GVSB, began as a studio lark for keyboardist Eli Janney (now also a busy record producer) and Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, both regulars on the Washington DC punk scene. They were joined by Scott McCloud, singer/guitarist in the city’s Soulside, for the industrial disco that would make up the “Eighties” portion…

Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Long before such capitals of alternarock chic as Athens, Seattle, Chicago, Raleigh and San Diego were anointed in the ’80s and ’90s, Lubbock, Texas, was home to some of the strangest records and most idiosyncratic individualists in music. Exhibit A is The Flatlanders, a collaboration of Lubbock’s Holy Trinity — Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely…

Coctails

The Coctails made their debut in Kansas City, wearing matching yellow tuxes with burgundy bowties, quietly butchering a Miles Davis song at an art-gallery opening for the bass player’s girlfriend. The quartet’s initial albums exploited this sense of nerdy, nervy cool, blending the hygienic graphics and sparse black-and-white cover art of ’50s jazz releases with…

Jody Grind

With the potent, pliant vocals of Kelly Hogan leaping over slap bass, brush-stick drumming and acoustic guitar, the Jody Grind brought rocked-up energy and attitude to a pre-rock era sound. The Atlanta trio’s debut, One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure, is steeped in a be-bop, swing and jump blues vibe, with credible interpretations of…

Contributors

These folks either wrote reviews that appear on the site or wrote for Trouser Press magazine. If anyone listed below cares to E-mail us with a link you’d like added, just let us know. And ditto if anyone is AWOL from this list. Grant AldenDavid AntrobusJem AswadTroy J. AugustoMichael AzerradCary BakerMichael BakerEmily BeckerJohn BergstromArt BlackJohn…