Close Lobsters

In a world overrun by samey janglepop, this Scottish quintet has managed to establish a distinctive sound by melding the aggro bounce of Britpunk’s first wave with the mellower melodic strains of such groups as the Church. The band’s four instrumentalists construct a dense wall of guitars and drums on which Andrew Burnett hangs his…

Died Pretty

There aren’t many bands whose names convey their sound as accurately as Australia’s Died Pretty. The coupling of dark and hard-hewn guitar chords with light and lilting jangles make the Sydney quintet’s records both delicately pretty and devastatingly loud (not at the same time). That contrast and the interplay between scream and shiver is what…

Lemonheads

Major-label success found a select number of underground rockers in the early ’90s, and Boston’s Lemonheads certainly benefited from the glasnost that revealed irreverent youth pop to be as commercially viable in the new world as anything the grown-up song factories could generate. But Evan Dando’s real achievement was to demonstrate that a scenester as…

Barry Adamson

Best known for his tenures in Magazine and the Bad Seeds, bassist Adamson proves himself an adept composer and arranger on his own records, which are more orchestral works than conventional solo discs. Beatniky jazz, surf- rock and industrial sturm und drang are just a few of the manifold genres he enters to produce rich…

Charlatans (UK)

Friendly neighbors of the Stone Roses/Happy Mondays rave-pop scene, this young quintet from Northwich (equidistant from Manchester and Liverpool) used Hammond organ, an evocative echo chamber and the neo-psychedelic fad’s maddening drum beat to effectively flavor tuneful ’60s-styled numbers. Not as lame as Inspiral Carpets or as danceably ambitious as Happy Mondays, the Charlatans kept…

New Model Army

A trio vigorously lauded by supporters as the new Clash, New Model Army is long on principle and maintains a fervent, unyielding political stance. Taking primary inspiration from early punk roots (though less abrasive and more melodic), NMA breathes life into the genre, providing a most effective medium for singer/guitarist Slade the Leveller (Justin Sullivan)…

Huxton Creepers

This quartet from Melbourne, Australia plays gritty Stonesish rock and harmony-laden Byrdsy folk-rock on their first American LP, which might easily be mistaken for the work of an American “heartland” band. The Huxton Creepers could use a more mellifluous singer than Rob Craw — gruffness when he strains is a problem — but his guitar…

Soup Dragons

Those old parental fears—matches, alcohol, a rough crowd, drugs—are passé. What seems to send UK (especially Scottish) bands spiraling over the edge of sanity and sanctity now is that demon dancebeat. Two years’ worth of singles and EPs (collected on the Hang-Ten! album) had identified the Soup Dragons as Glasgow’s junior Buzzcocks; that image ended…

Psychedelic Furs

The Psychedelic Furs, whose lineup varied substantially around a core of singer Richard Butler, his bassist brother Tim and guitarist John Ashton, came onto the London scene well after the initial punk explosion, but debuted with an album that mixed a drone-laden wall of noise (two guitars, sax and/or keyboards) and an odd adaptation of…

Compulsion

In a constellation of retro-looking and -sounding bands, London’s Compulsion — three Irishmen and a Dutch drummer — is the great spiky hope for punk-like rock. Combining the best of Nirvana’s quiet-loud dynamics and the Pixies’ axemanship with incredibly forceful presentation (both live and on record), the band has forged a pummeling, absolutely individual sound.…

Bitch Magnet

Although based in North Carolina, Bitch Magnet formed at Oberlin College in Ohio. (For a bit more geographic diversity, Star Booty was recorded at Oberlin, produced in Chicago and one song was captured onstage at CBGB in New York.) The trio — guitarist Jon Fine, bassist-singer Sooyoung Park and drummer Orestes Delatorre — lays out…

A House

Ireland’s A House never reached the stadium status of U2 nor influenced as many bands as the Undertones. But that’s not to say the Dublin quartet’s contribution to the history of shamrock’n’roll has been insubstantial. Singer Dave Couse crafts literate (not to mention wordy) treatises on romance and frustration that should send most rock lyricists…

Dickies

For some reason, the lovable Dickies — a Mad magazine-flavored punk self-parody — never endeared themselves to as large an international cult as the Ramones. Perhaps this mob of San Fernando Valley zanies has always been too unserious and knowing of their own idiocy. Yet right after Green Day sold millions by cannibalizing a sound…

Effigies

The Effigies were the first band from Chicago’s bald’n’booted brigade to gain any out-of-town recognition, and rightfully so. The quartet’s five-song debut EP (later reissued with an extra track as The Effigies EP) showcased their bold, taut, spare punk attack on real songs about adult concerns, with prophetic (for punk) metal guitar lacing through their…

Cud

Dadaistically detached from reality and selfconsciously eclectic, the Leeds-area quartet Cud matches obscure lyrical wit and simple parodic music on its jukebox-blender longplaying debut. The 21-minute title track of When in Rome, Kill Me is a series of seven dry jokes — the Morrissey tweak of “Only (A Prawn in Whitby),” the quirky- pop “Bibi…

Bullet LaVolta

On its initial outing, this Boston five-piece spews up a metallic-hardcore rainbow comprised of equal parts AC/DC and Circle Jerks. Small in stature yet possessing a wail bigger than Moby Dick, Indiana banshee Yukki Gipe makes up for his lack of singing ability with sheer scream pyrotechnics. By no means groundbreaking, the raucous six-song debut…

Darling Buds

This Welsh quartet (whose name comes from a Shakespeare sonnet) emerged in the late ’80s as part of Britain’s resurgent girl-group update. Along with Voice of the Beehive, Transvision Vamp and the very similar Primitives, the Buds looked to the past (not that far: they settled on Blondie) to forge a derivative yet likable sound…

Pop Will Eat Itself

What a wrong, strange trip it’s been. In the grand British tradition of selling a band on self-hype and a look — with the music added on as an afterthought — Pop Will Eat Itself became the guiding lights of England’s “grebo” (slimy-looking lowlifes playing retrograde raunch) movement of 1986-’87, probably because nobody else wanted…

Happy Mondays

Way back in the hazy winter of the late ’80s, the northern English city of Manchester became known as a debauched clubland for the disenfranchised Thatcher generation, famed for baggy rhythms and endless Ecstasy. Coming from a working class universe of soft prospects, hard chemicals and even harder house beats, Happy Mondays became the kingpins…

Heart Throbs

Although fronted by women, Reading’s Heart Throbs were distinct from the so-called “blonde” pop bands of the UK day (Darling Buds, Primitives). Making sweet-girl sounds, the English quintet had a darker, menacing tone that got stronger with each of its albums, all of whose titles are euphemisms for female genitalia. Singer/guitarist Rose Carlotti and bassist…