Proof of Utah

Originally from Bowling Green, Ohio and now based in Champaign, Illinois, Proof of Utah has no Utah connection at all. The name’s just a phrase co-founder Louie Simon overheard in a conversation — but what kind of conversation was that? The band’s records are left-field in much the same way: musical and lyrical banalities transformed…

Primal Scream

Glasgow’s Primal Scream made its public debut in October ’84, the show at which vocalist/superfan Bobby Gillespie also made his first appearance as the Jesus and Mary Chain’s style-over-competence drummer. The group released a pair of singles on Creation over the next two years, but took a back seat to Gillespie’s other career until he…

Poster Children

Formed in 1987 at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana by guitarist Rick Valentin and bassist Rose Marshack, Poster Children have sifted through almost as many styles of post-punk guitar rock as they have drummers (seven at last count, as Junior Citizen‘s Howie Kantoff left in 2001). Toreador Squat is a raw, basic, set-length cassette…

New Musik

New Musik’s Tony Mansfield (writer, producer, vocalist, keyboardist, guitarist) has never been overly enamored of trendy trappings of music or image, which is why his band, never fashionable, had only minor UK hits. (As a freelance producer, however, Mansfield has had no such trouble.) Nonetheless, in attempting to recast and/or rediscover pop-rock through modern technology,…

Associates

The Associates — Billy Mackenzie (most words and all vocals, eventually everything) and Alan Rankine (most music and all instruments except drums) — once attempted brilliance, but later settled for playing at being clever. The Affectionate Punch boldly tried to stake a claim for some of the no-man’s land between Bowie’s theatrical, tuneful rock and…

Alternative TV

The hipness and success of London punk-explosion photocopy fanzine Sniffin’ Glue was almost entirely due to the irreverent, pugnacious sincerity of its founder/sparkplug Mark P(erry). That Perry should form a band seemed a natural progression; that it was any good at all a surprise; that it maintained a stance utterly disdainful of compromise a small…

Alex Gibson

Alex Gibson (vocals, guitar, main songwriter) led LA’s BPeople for several years around the turn of the decade. Beginning as the Little Cripples, the quartet (with the ubiquitous Paul Cutler on bass) turned into BPeople after singer Michael Gira left for New York (forming Circus Mort and then the Swans). The eponymous 1981 eight-song mini-album…

Kraut

One of New York’s most deserving punk legends, Kraut made their live debut opening for the Clash in 1981 and went on to play a big part in the city’s burgeoning hardcore scene. On its first album, the quartet throws off awesomely dense but distinct slabs of post-Pistols/Clash guitar chords while galloping along at a…

Zones

This offshoot of Midge Ure’s pre-Rich Kids Scottish pop outfit, Slik, had strong players, two of whom — guitarist Willy Gardner and keyboardist Billy McIsaac — wrote good songs and one of whom (Gardner) had an attractive if limited vocal style, like a young hybrid of Mick Ronson and Dave Edmunds. But what to do…

Systematics

This Australian pair seems utterly determined to be outré, but unlike most others with the same goal, they have a talent for the strikingly oddball: synth with all the texture of processed cheese hums a bright little tune while the vocalist rhapsodizes over a female freak (“She’s my little revulsion”), a guitar does nimble abstract-jazz…

Tigers

So what if three of these Tigers were former members of old bands like Juicy Lucy and Van der Graaf Generator? The London fivesome sound as credible as the other ska/reggae bands that cropped up in the Specials’ wake, and more fun than most: tart lyrics delivered with good humor, catchy reggae making distinctive use…

Toxic Reasons

Indianapolis, Indiana’s most prominent punks prefer not to be tagged as such — they have more populist aspirations — but can’t help admitting (in Independence‘s “Noise Boys”) that they were “born to be hardcore.” That’s an accurate description, though: watchspring-tight buzzsaw guitar at high speed. For variety, they toss in a mauled remake of “Shapes…

Godfathers

Remember Dr. Feelgood? How ’bout Eddie and the Hot Rods? Well, if the white-hot pre-punk R&B/rock’n’roll of those two bands means anything to you, chances are you’ll love the early Godfathers — formed by London brothers Peter (vocals) and Chris (bass/vocals) Coyne, initially as the Syd Presley Experience — to death. Not coincidentally, the late…

Zvuki Mu

This Russian band, produced in Moscow by Brian Eno, sparked Western comparisons to Talking Heads and Captain Beefheart. Maybe. But perhaps they were overwhelmed by Eno’s enthusiasm for ambient music; Zvuki Mu is awfully enervating. Translations of the lyrics on the inner don’t improve things, either: “300 minutes of pleasure with oneself” is admittedly an…

Nightingales

Trebly guitar scrubs and busy drumming, both at a hyper pace, support Robert Lloyd’s snide, self-mocking, self- pitying, annoyed, despairing, sarcastically scathing and generally intelligent (if not always intelligible) tirades in the Nightingales. (Dry wit, too.) This boy from Birmingham has a lot of mind to give the world a piece of. The melodies on…

Urban Heroes

These Dutchmen have the ability to make sparks fly from what would otherwise be just homely old R&B-flavored rock’n’roll, adding plenty of poppy touches to the arrangements. But their coarse aggressiveness sometimes overpowers whatever else they have to offer. And they should not have manhandled a great tune like the Equals’ “Baby Come Back.”

Mutts

The Mutts’ 1985 EP introduces a mildly amusing hooks’n’humor guitar band, yet only hints at how good the Los Angeles quintet would get at it. By the ’92 LP, the core of that group — guitarist Kevin Grover and bassist Eddy Sill — had re-emerged as lead singers of an otherwise new quartet, with novice…

Nena

German pop sensation Nena hit it big internationally in 1984 with the nuclear protest of “99 Luftballons.” Boasting the attractive voice of Gabriela “Nena” Kerner and a jolly modern sound, the Berlin group’s catchy songs tend towards bubblegum simplicity, but are undeniably engaging, whether sung in English or German. Nena, the band’s monolingual homeland debut,…

Neighborhoods

This veteran Boston trio’s appeal is immediate: they sound good. Nothing fancy or intricate, just good tunes, good vocals, good rock’n’roll drive and feel. Leader David Minehan (guitars, singing, songs) ain’t exactly a lyrical Einstein, but he’s no stoop either. The group started out playing strong power pop (a 1980 single, “Prettiest Girl,” remains a…

Motörhead

The early pigeonholing of Motörhead as punks may have stemmed from their loud’n’fast playing, their leather jackets, engagements opening for the Damned and their early releases on a UK indie label, but then, as now, the band was engaged in its own hard-rockin’ rebellion — slashing guitar, flailing drums and Lemmy playing bass like a…