Graham Parker (and the Rumour)

A crabby pug whose bark is every bit as ferocious as his talent, Graham Parker comes on like an arrogant bantam with the world’s bone up his butt — and then delivers the musical goods that justify his conceit and erase the ill-will he so enthusiastically spreads. Remote and defensive in one song, Parker can…

Chris Spedding

One of Britain’s top session guitarists of the ’70s (even participating in records by the furry Wombles!), Chris Spedding has had a truly aberrant solo career. A veteran of numerous outfits starting in the ’60s, Spedding made several LPs under his own name before joining Andy Fraser’s post-Free band, Sharks, who made two hard-rocking LPs…

Drongos

A folky rock-pop quartet originally from New Zealand, the Drongos’ eponymous debut (recorded in different sessions between 1981 and 1983) consists of unassuming songs about nebulous topics — nicely energized but a bit dull to make any serious impact. A few show melodic flair, and enthusiastic guitar strumming doesn’t hurt the effort. Small Miracles was…

Man or Astro-Man?

Considering how many garage bands have been formed by those whose heads were shrunk by spending their youth glued to the TV watching monster movies, it stands to reason that trashy science-fiction would have polluted its share of minds as well. Taking a few obvious cues from Devo but going far deeper into the land…

MC Lyte

The sassy Brooklyn rapper waxes funny, moral and toughly self-reliant on her musically inventive and entertaining debut, Lyte as a Rock. Not only is Lyte’s assessment of the sexual battlefield a refreshing change of pace, the chip on her shoulder yields cleverly vicious putdowns. Aided by sharp production, minor appropriations from Ray Charles, Helen Reddy…

Repulsa

Take a wild guess… Merry flower-power pop? Ambient techno? Dancehall skatepunk? Merseybeat? Nope. A testament to honest billing, Repulsa is, in fact, a California rock singer with lusty loins and a major attitude problem. The hard-hitting songs on her Matthew King Kaufman-produced album (S.O.B. actually stands for Son Of Beserkley, a successor to Kaufman’s pioneering…

Peter Gordon

Besides performing on avant-garde records released by adventurous new music labels, New York hornman/synthesist/composer Gordon — formerly the leader of the downtown post-punk art-fusion Love of Life Orchestra — has made solo albums for the CBS megalith. With the assistance of assorted East Coast luminaries, Gordon demonstrates a grasp of both the mainstream and the…

Full Force

The six members of Brooklyn’s Full Force — three brothers and three others — write, play, sing and produce themselves as well as other artists. In a very short time, boundless energy and a positive outlook have turned Paul Anthony, Bowlegged Lou, B-Fine and their three associates into a remarkably successful full-service hit machine and…

Clowns for Progress

The Clowns’ greasepaint gimmick might be necessary for a band with nothing else to show for itself, but the New York club punk/roots quartet has tight, electric chops, a strong, self-assured baritone singer in guitarist Deano and influential pals like Jesse Malin of DGeneration (who contributes vocals to the OK cover of the Who’s “Kids…

Blohole

Mike Scaccia, who played guitar on Ministry’s Psalm 69, is one-third of Blohole, a hoarse combo that reduces the relentless beat and harsh volume of industrial rage to its simple hardcore basis-and winds up sounding mighty lightweight for its troubles. When Leave It to Blohole isn’t being an entirely ordinary generic punk record with no…

Guns n’ Roses

Hard as it may be to believe, Guns n’ Roses was once a cool and somewhat threatening rock band, bringing genuine raunch to a pathetically pouffy era before turning into a real-life Spinal Tap. Formed in 1985 by five Hollywood misfits (two locals, two Indiana refugees and a Seattle scene veteran), the quintet quickly won…

Selecter

The interracial, multinational seven-piece Selecter emerged from the same Coventry scene that gave birth to the Specials; founder Neol Davies was in on the creation of 2- Tone, the label which in turn ignited the entire neo-ska movement in England. The company’s first release was a Specials 45; its flipside was an instrumental credited to…

Suits

“Love is blind and love is cold/Love is hot, love can be cold.” That pretty much sums up the level of ambition and originality aspired to by this lame New York club band whose seven-piece lineup includes saxophone, harmonica, music attorney Ron Bienstock (ex-Another Pretty Face) and real estate tycoon Jay Weiss (ex-Milk ‘n’ Cookies),…

My Sister’s Machine

Seattle singer Nick Pollock can claim genealogical props for membership in an unrecorded version of the nascent Alice in Chains, but that’s not much to build a career on. Not surprisingly, his more recent quartet — formed with the guitarist (Owen Wright) and bassist (Chris Ivanovich) of another local band, Mistrust — skillfully hits many…

Swingers

Leading the three-man Swingers up from Down Under, ex-Split Enz guitarist/composer Phil Judd rejected his earlier, convoluted melodicism for a still-quirky but more compact, abrasive approach, with phenomenal results. Judd’s eccentric mental mixmaster spews out the clichés of mid-’60s Anglo-rock (Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks) wackily updated, unreal and askew. His Dave Davies-as-young-schizo vocals (often abetted…

You and What Army

New York City’s versatile You and What Army plays mild-mannered indie-pop with a smart center. Gentle without getting too cuddly about it, the skilled band proffers enticing casual harmony vocals by guitarist Gary Meister and bassist Ken Weinstein, a mocking lyrical sensibility (“American Car Crash Little Girl,” “Love and Anarchy,” “Turning Blue”) and diverting accents:…

Skinny Puppy

It took Vancouver’s Skinny Puppy several years and just as many albums to evolve a distinct, if limited, voice from a simple reiteration of various pre-industrial archetypes (Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle, Chrome), but the 1986 addition of synthesist/sampler Dwayne Goettel (replacing Wilhelm Schroeder, who — as Bill Leeb — went on to Front Line Assembly)…

Kramer

Mark Kramer stopped using his first name long before Jerry Seinfeld’s not altogether dissimilar, if less musical, neighbor became part of the cultural vernacular. Joining Eugene Chadbourne in the Chadbournes, he played bass and “cheap organ”; with the addition of drummer David Licht, that group became Shockabilly. A rapid, voluminous output resulted before the group…

Marquee Moon

One of Berlin’s top bands, Marquee Moon may once have sounded like Television, from whose classic song they took their name, but they bear no such resemblance now. They’re like Anglo-pop with a posey lead singer and a dash of Dead Boys malevolence (or maybe, as on “Marionette,” the guitar-era Cure meets Love It to…

Aquanettas

It takes a determined mindset to write and perform convincing time-capsule songs like “Beach Party,” but that’s what New York’s girlsapoppin’ Aquanettas do on Love With the Proper Stranger. Without pushing it as a gimmicky signature, singer/guitarist Deborah Schwartz’s mighty voice is redolent of West Coast ’60s folkrockers like the Mamas and the Papas (and,…