Liquor Giants

After playing mutant swamp-blues-rockabilly guitar with the Gun Club in the early ’80s, Ward Dotson embarked on a less contrived musical course as guitarist, main writer and de facto leader of the Pontiac Brothers, a quartet of unlikely heroes whose Stonesy tunes — even their record company described the Orange County, California band as Stones-influenced,…

Minus 5

With the Young Fresh Fellows on hold in the early ’90s, Seattle singer-guitarist (and Trouser Press contributor) Scott McCaughey launched the Minus 5 with Peter Buck of R.E.M. (for whom McCaughey has been a concert sideman since 1995). The free-floating aggregation has variously involved members of NRBQ, Wilco, the Posies and Walkabouts (not to mention…

Young Fresh Fellows

Seattle’s Young Fresh Fellows combine punk-derived recklessness and a bubbly garage-pop sensibility with an absurdist lyrical wit and a bittersweet vulnerable streak that has grown increasingly resonant as the band confronts the inconvenient realities of adult life. From the back cover of Fabulous Sounds: “A collector’s disc of the sounds that we in the Pacific…

Tiny Lights

Tiny Lights were a perfectly lovely jumble of plaintive pop, Close to the Edge-style epics, jazzy forays and neo-hippie lullabies that, if not for a procession of label failures, might have found an audience as broad as its tastes. While the quintet’s brand of fragile, childlike folk-pop has led many a sincere young combo down…

Jimmy Silva

Seattle singer/songwriter Jimmy Silva’s death at the age of 42, two days before Christmas 1994, deprived the pop underground of one of its finest unheralded tunesmiths, one whose wryly inventive, offhandedly insightful lyrics were brilliantly balanced by jangly, hook-intensive melodies. After a stint in Vietnam, Silva played around the Bay Area with his band the…

Silos

Conceived in Cuba, born in New York, raised in Florida and variously resident in Los Angeles, Brooklyn and thousands of road miles in between, singer/guitarist Walter Salas-Humara is a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, absorbing and spreading musical influences across the land, planting and nurturing bands and styles in various locales and returning occasionally on his endless…

Walkabouts

Seattle’s Walkabouts play a quirkily personalized brand of updated folk-rock, distinguished by a darkly layered sound and the yin/yang vocals of founders Chris Eckman and Carla Torgerson. The early releases on Necessity and PopLlama are a bit tentative and unformed but contain enough flashes of inspiration to encourage further attention. Cataract and the six-song Rag…

Zantees

As proprietors of the reliably terrific Norton label (home of Hasil Adkins and countless Link Wray reissues) and the estimable if infrequent Kicks fanzine, Brooklyn’s Billy Miller and (onetime Cramps skin-beater) Miriam Linna have built their deep-rooted affinity for trashy, primitive rock’n’roll and R&B into a mini-empire. As frontman and drummer, respectively, of New York’s…

My Dad Is Dead

Actually the work of a person rather than a band, My Dad Is Dead’s voluminous output has plainly explored the troubled waters of the soul, both personal and philosophical. Under his open-to-misinterpretation nom de disc, Cleveland (later transplanted to North Carolina) singer-writer-one-man-band Mark Edwards makes music whose appeal lies largely in its matter-of-fact handling of…

Gibson Bros

The Gibson Bros came howling out of Columbus, Ohio with a reckless, feckless brand of semi-competent minimalist American roots revisionism, twisting blues, hillbilly and gospel gems — as well as their own already bent tunes — dementedly passionate, loosely played music that never stooped to gimmicks or camp. The quartet, which included rock-critic-turned-drummer-turned-guitarist-and- singer Don…

Roy Loney and the Phantom Movers

Singer/guitarist Roy Loney, who was the frontman for the Flamin Groovies during that band’s original rockabilly/R&B-inspired incarnation, continued in a similar vein in his solo career, rock’n’rolling with the devotion of a true believer. After leaving the Groovies in 1975, Loney assembled the Phantom Movers and maintained the rootsy spirit he had brought to the…

Alex Chilton

The unmistakable footprints of a legend do traipse indolently through 19 Years; what you get in the workaday worlds of Alex Chilton’s individual albums, however, is a lot more mortal. So much faith has been invested in this man who has never claimed to be anything more than what he is — an unhappy, standoffish…

Chills

Perhaps the most widely known and beloved combo of New Zealand’s ’80s indie-pop boom, Dunedin’s Chills — led by singer/writer/guitarist Martin Phillipps — made clean, understated, catchy music whose consistent taste and subtlety conspired to keep the band from having real commercial success in this country. At its best, the Chills’ work boasted an undercurrent…

dB’s

It’s difficult to understand why the dB’s’ first two albums — both well conceived and entirely accessible — had such a hard time getting released in the band’s own country. Formed in New York by four musicians who had moved up from North Carolina, they drew inspiration from ’60s pop psychedelia (and ’70s pop disciples…

Teengenerate

Initially known as the American Soul Spiders, this Tokyo foursome (Fink, Fifi, Sammy and Suck, later replaced by Shoe) named after a Dictators song filters a love for traditional garage-punk through the lo-fi fast-and-hard aesthetic with exciting results. It’s significant that the band attacks songs by the Queers (“Kicked Out of the Webelos”) and Bill…

Moodists

Originally from Australia, the Moodists are graduates of the thump’n’grind school of gothic punk. Combining dense metallic bass and razor-sharp guitar riffs with singer Dave Graney’s demonic growl, the band is capable of a most unholy din. Although dark and ominous, the music can at times be surprisingly melodic. The seven-song Engine Shudder is not…

Blackbird

After leading the leftist agit-punk Dils and cowpunk-pioneering Rank and File, California brothers Chip and Tony Kinman (originally of the punk Dils) reinvented themselves as BlackBird, a brooding duo whose clattery low-tech electro-garage sound and dystopic lyrical attitude presaged some of what would come to be known as industrial music. But, while most such combos…

Dave Edmunds

Can traditional rock’n’roll survive in the modern world? As long as Dave Edmunds is around, the answer will be yes. A rousing singer, superlative guitarist and wizard producer, the Welsh native has preserved the simplicity and directness of ’50s rock without ever sounding like a slavish revivalist. Along the way, he’s also performed tricks with…

Flaming Lips

Loud, wild and funny, the Flaming Lips play in the same pen of cartoon-psychedelia imagery used by others, but these disenfranchised Oklahomans, led by songwriter/guitarist/singer Wayne Coyne, possess wit and ingenuity most of the acid-addled competition lacks. From its uniquely disgusting front cover to the brilliant alienation anthem “My Own Planet,” The Flaming Lips (originally…

Age of Chance

Age of Chance dresses up harsh British beatbox-metal-pop with colorful, vaguely apocalyptic sloganeering. Despite all the shouting, the Leeds quartet’s biggest problem is the lack of a cohesive identity to match their records’ careening sonic stew. The six-track Crush Collision is generally shrill and undistinguished, but it does include a pretty decent cover of Prince’s…