Ed Kuepper

Although deservedly a legend in his native Australia, Ed Kuepper is virtually unknown in North America. What little awareness of him there is resulted from the lanky guitarist’s beginnings as a teenager in Brisbane, where he formed the band that would become the Saints in 1973 with singer Chris Bailey and launched an international punk…

Slowdive

Imagine if mid-period Cocteau Twins sang in recognizable English and used more conventional rock structures, with three guitarists so steeped in echo and delay it’s almost dizzying. And add irresistible melodies and male/female harmony cooing. Reading quintet Slowdive never quite earned the respect they deserved—with the exception of some accolades heaped on their first three…

Sound

It’s hard to understand why this London quartet never found commercial success. At their best, the Sound’s excellent neo-pop bears favorable comparison to the Psychedelic Furs and Echo and the Bunnymen. Jeopardy has a stark, beautiful quality, with the material given direct exposure rather than a production bath. Adrian Borland’s vocals are sincere and gripping;…

F-Word

Though considered outsiders, F-Word nevertheless bullied their way into the Los Angeles ’77 punk scene by virtue of a pummeling, primal sound led by guitarist Dim Wanker and a truly remarkable singer, Rick L. Rick. Playing at hyper tempos long before hardcore (only the Dils were as fast), the quartet never captured its flashpaper assault…

Sham 69

The archetypal working class ramalama dole-queue band, deliverers of socio-political bromides over blazing guitars, Sham 69 (the name, and the band, came from Hersham, a town on London’s southern fringes) had a bad case of arrested development. Their populist slogans were ultimately chanted like football cheers and taken seriously only by the enormous British Sham…

High Back Chairs

Despite the first-rate power pop attack led by fine singer/guitarist Peter Hayes, Washington DC’s High Back Chairs is probably best remembered as the final stop in Jeff Nelson’s career as a drummer (besides Minor Threat, the co-owner of Dischord Records spent quality time in Teen Idles, Grand Union, Egg Hunt, 3 and Senator Flux), and…

Chords

The Jam parented a 1979-’81 UK mod revival, as Secret Affair, the Purple Hearts, Merton Parkas, Gas, Lambrettas, Mods and Jolt all scrambled to join the hit parade. Though each left behind credible singles, only the Chords (no relation to the ’50s doo-wop band) had the punk balls that made the Jam more than ’67…

Trash Can Sinatras

Proudly reclaiming the joyous pop sound of such early- ’80s Postcard bands as the Bluebells, Orange Juice and Aztec Camera (in fact, singer Frank Reader’s voice bears an uncanny resemblance to Roddy Frame’s), this young Scottish quintet, from coastal Irvine, parlays a rush of ringing guitars and rich broguish harmonies into an exceptionally good debut…

Mega City Four

Singer/guitarist Darren “Wiz” Brown must have sat around between meals, thinking up rousing choruses. For six studio albums and a dozen non-LP singles and EPs by the Mega City Four, he didn’t run short of them. Though the young quartet from Farnborough, a nowhere English farm town, was too smart to accept any “punk” tag…

House of Love

Between the Smiths/Echo and the Bunnymen and the Britpop resurgence, this London quartet briefly caught England’s late-’80s imagination on the strength of stunning early singles, leader Guy Chadwick’s forceful, smart persona, lead guitarist Terry Bickers’ array of powerful, echoed sounds and the sustained promise of importance and (or) greatness. But the realities of building substantial…

M.I.A./Genocide

Although Las Vegas may be America’s sleazy entertainment capital, its gambling tourists typically prefer Wayne Newton or Bill Cosby to the Sex Pistols. As a result, Vegas’ only great punk band gave up before its career could get off the ground. Were it not for half of a posthumous release, the prematurely titled Last Rites,…

Comsat Angels

Like Joy Division and the Cure, Sheffield’s Comsat Angels mastered the art of atmospherics; only nominally involved in rock’n’roll at the outset, they were actually interested in creating haunting mood music. Firm beats play against melancholy melodies and hushed vocals to create the impression of eavesdropping on someone’s inner turmoil, an approach which is morosely…

T.V. Smith’s Explorers

Tim Smith was the leader of the punk-era Adverts, who clung on long enough to make two albums in the ’70s. After they expired, Smith formed the Explorers — originally a trio, but expanded to a five-piece (including an ex-Doctors of Madness bassist) by the time of the album. A far cry from the Adverts’…

Minor Threat

As the seminal hardcore band of our nation’s capital, Minor Threat played fast, impassioned music that defined the genre while never succumbing to its shortcomings. The quartet had both a sense of melody and a sense of purpose. “Straight Edge” was among the first hardcore songs to call for abstinence from drugs and booze, and…

Squirrel Bait

The only precedent most critics could find for the manic, crackling, power-pop destruction of Louisville, Kentucky’s Squirrel Bait was Hüsker Dü, and that myopic, ignorant comparison may unfortunately be the main way the band’s music is remembered. But singer Peter Searcy’s anguished delivery was like a frightened Paul Westerberg, ten years younger (and twice as…

Bark Psychosis

Having released their first single (“All Different Things”) when the band members’ average age was around seventeen, East London’s Bark Psychosis hardly seemed likely candidates to cause critic Simon Reynolds to identify an entirely new musical sub-genus (“post-rock” found its first mention — at least since pioneering culture writer Ellen Willis used it in 1968!…

Scenic

The cold wind that blows through the East Mojave desert in Arizona and California blows through this whole album. The first new band formed after a long layoff by Savage Republic leader/guitarist Bruce Licher, with bassist James Brenner from the underrated Shiva Burlesque (which mutated into Grant Lee Buffalo) and drummer Brock Wirtz, Scenic plays…

Moving Targets

Moving Targets came blasting out of a Boston scene at a time when most Boston hardcore and punk outfits were going metal. The big guitar detonations were actually closer to Squirrel Bait and, to a lesser extent, Hüsker Dü, with more precise control than those bands ever attempted. Burning in Water is a gaping piece…

Gas

Frequently compared to Elvis Costello, and sometimes even to Graham Parker and the Clash, the Gas were more of the punk-pop-mod school of outfits like the Jam and Chords. Emotional Warfare, a ripping pop LP, shows the trio’s sharp attack and some of the busiest music this side of the Buzzcocks. “Definitely Is a Lie”…

Stiff Little Fingers

Belfast’s Stiff Little Fingers began as four exciting (if narrow-minded) sloganeers, led by raw-voiced singer/guitarist Jake Burns. SLF’s debut (the Rough Trade label’s first LP release) includes such classic protest punk as “Suspect Device,” “Alternative Ulster” and “Wasted Life.” The LP is generally regarded as a classic punk LP; its UK chart success was the…