Pianosaurus

High concept on a low budget: New York-region trio Pianosaurus plays Alex Garvin’s charmingly lighthearted pop songs entirely on toy instruments for a tikki-takki effect that only adds to their winsome adorability. Plinking away on itsy-bitsy pianos, cheapie organs, kiddie guitars, baby drum kits and plastic horns with sincerity and enthusiasm, Pianosaurus proves that big-people…

Peter Blegvad

Peter Blegvad’s work contains some of the most oblique and poetic wordplay ever to make its way to song. An affecting singer and a fine guitarist, Blegvad has an uncanny knack for creating literate lyrics — a golden triangle of emotion, intellect and humor — and combining them with enduring melodies. A restless spirit that…

Kate Bush

Kate Bush’s literate, masterful, enchanting records have won her enormous popularity, even if she can be overbearingly coy and preciously self-indulgent. Over the years, she has become increasingly — if far less frequently — ambitious, turning what might have been a career dominated by others into a fascinating singleminded pursuit of her own muse. From…

Victoria Williams

Had it not been for the misfortune of illness (multiple sclerosis, diagnosed in 1992) and the generosity of friends, the uplifting magic of Victoria Williams’ warbly jazz-country voice and unique musical observations might never have spread much beyond the tiny cult that had been attracted by her first two albums. A classic case of extravagant…

Boogie Down Productions

In the matter of New York’s KRS-One, it’s difficult to separate the man from the myth. Raised in poverty by a single mother, Lawrence Krsna (Chris) Parker left home at a young age. The library-loving autodidact wound up living at a Bronx homeless shelter where he met social worker Scott Sterling. Taking the names Blastmaster…

Everything but the Girl

Whether you consider them innovative anti-rockists or middle-of-the-road fuddyduddies, it’s hard not to have a certain admiration for Everything but the Girl. As prime movers in the lite-jazz demi-movement that once included Swing Out Sister, Weekend, Sade and the Style Council (whose first album featured them on one song), Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn have…

Glass Eye

From the very first bars of its six-song debut, Austin’s Glass Eye staked out an utterly distinct spot on the cusp of pop and the avant-garde. With edgy vocals over herky-jerky rhythms and, slithering under it all, Brian Beattie’s groaning, jazzy fretless bass lines, the quartet’s music is sparse, angular and seemingly immune to genre…

Julee Cruise

In 1985, Iowa native Julee Cruise was a talent scout for soundtrack composer Angelo Badalamenti when he began working with David Lynch on Blue Velvet. She fit the spacey-baby-doll sound the director wanted, and wound up recording “Mysteries of Love” — lyrics by Lynch and music by Badalamenti — for the movie. The song set…

Miracle Room

Jazzy, rocky improv groups with homemade instruments were a dime a dozen in New York in 1988, but Miracle Room muscled most of the others aside with refreshing energy, wit, melody and try-anything attitude. The group’s cassette debut, recorded live in both its birthplace (Austin) and adopted home (New York) was quite a revelation, as…

Hugo Largo

Responding to the predominance of noisemongers on the New York downtown hipster scene, hardcore-booster-DJ-rock critic-turned-Glenn Branca sideman Tim Sommer took a turn for the ethereally haunting and formed Hugo Largo: two bassists, an electric violinist and indescribable vocalist Mimi Goese. Drum, a sublime seven-song mini-album produced in part by Michael Stipe, builds a remarkable bridge…

Miracle Legion

Criticized for their uncanny resemblance to R.E.M., Connecticut’s Miracle Legion cannot be so easily dismissed as rote imitators. There’s no denying the obvious similarities (vocals and guitar); thanks to musical creativity, however, Miracle Legion manages to stake out their own territory. Savvy production techniques and aggressive playing make The Backyard a landmark. Mark Mulcahy’s vocals…

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…

Thin White Rope

If David Lynch were to assemble a hard rock band from scratch, chances are he’d come up with something that sounds a lot like Thin White Rope. The Davis, California-bred group defined its high-lonesome desert-rock with enough metallic edge to get the pulse pounding — and enough ominous surrealism to make the blood run cold.…

Marianne Faithfull

Resuming her recording career after a gap of several years, erstwhile ’60s pop singer Marianne Faithfull presents a whole new persona on these intensely individual and powerful albums. Armed with a life-roughened voice filled with suffering and rage, and backed by brilliantly original electro-rock, she grapples with mostly political subjects on Broken English and even…

Lucinda Williams

On her first two albums, which went largely unnoticed at the time but were reissued in light of her first leap in notoriety, Louisiana-born Lucinda Williams sings poignant songs in a rich, world-weary voice, drawing on blues, folk, country and rock, but resisting all pigeonholes. Ramblin’on My Mind is a warm, lively album of covers,…

Cocteau Twins

On their first album, Scotland’s Cocteau Twins add a borrowed drum synthesizer to vocals, bass and heavily treated guitar, producing atmospheric dirges with rich textures and little structure. Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals are essentially tuneless, and the backing goes nowhere, but it’s all artily agreeable enough for those with the patience to wade through the murk…

Two Nice Girls

Two Nice Girls began in 1985 as the duo of Gretchen Phillips (vocals/guitar) and Laurie Freelove (vocals/guitar). Joined by Kathy Korniloff (vocals/bass/guitar), they won Austin’s “Sweet Jane” contest with a gorgeous, meditative version that interpolated Joan Armatrading’s “Love and Affection” into the Lou Reed classic. That medley appears on the trio’s delightful debut album, along…

22-Pistepirkko

Debuting with a 1985 single, this trio from Finland (“22- ladybug”) took American country, blues and psychedelia as leaping-off points to much stranger experimentation. The first album is mostly infectious garage pop powered by a roller-rink Farfisa organ, except for “Don’t Try to Tease Me,” which re-imagines Hank Williams with a weird accent and bizarre…

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…