Bronski Beat

Playing only electronic instruments and singing unequivocal gay lyrics in a window-rattling falsetto, this London trio burst full-blown onto a complacent music scene in 1984. Scottish-born Jimmy Somerville (who left the following year to form the Communards) has a piercing voice which he can modulate for greater appeal (as on “Junk”); the band plays a…

Propaganda

Originally called the Passengers, this British quartet (unrelated to the German band of the same name) was deemed by its US label to be an apt representative of the acceptable sound of new wave, so — voilà! — a 10-inch EP containing four tracks of forgettable, mildly humorous rock’n’roll. Whee.

Re-Flex

I can’t tell them apart from the Fixx or INXS or any other like-minded outfit with “x” in their name, but England’s Re-Flex display a knack for penning strong melodies and playing walloping dance grooves, best exemplified on the title track and “Hurt.” The quartet’s debut LP was ably produced by John Punter.

Chainsaw Kittens

Cross-dressing singer Tyson Todd Meade crawled from the wreckage of Norman, Oklahoma’s Defenestration to form Chainsaw Kittens as a low-rent Bowie-cum-New-York-Dolls glam unit. Displaying the rudiments of the quartet’s sound (romping, guitar-goosed melodies, theatrically fey vocals), Violent Religion is a promising first album with some memorable tunes (“Here at the End,” the Syd Barrett-like “Feel…

Plugz

Featuring guitarist/singer Tito Larriva (later in the Cruzados) and drummer Chalo Quintana (most recently of the Havalinas), this early LA new wave band play sharp and punky rock’n’roll with a strong sense of pop structure on the varied Electrify Me. The title track is mildly reggaefied; there’s also a pre-Los Lobos cover (in Spanish) of…

Wygals

Though New York’s Wygals existed in one form or another since the mid-’80s, it took singer/guitarist Janet Wygal and her drummer brother Doug (both ex-Individuals) four years to release an album under the family name. By that time, ex-dB Gene Holder (who had produced both of the Individuals’ releases) had joined as guitarist/producer, helping to…

Dead Boys

Although originally from Cleveland, the Dead Boys earned their lasting international reputation in New York starting in early ’77 by outpunking everyone else on the Bowery circuit. Having absorbed what had already happened in England (the Sex Pistols, Damned) and America (the Stooges), the Dead Boys took it a dozen steps further, uncovering new levels…

World at a Glance

Some people were just born in the wrong place and time: this New York quartet’s first LP reveals a deep desire to be British dance poseurs. As singer David Ilku affects a mild finishing school accent, Michael Lawrence shoots off impressive guitarisms that would sound at home on an Ultravox record; guest keyboardists (including producer…

Traci Lords

Following in the awful tradition of English t&a star Samantha Fox, actress Traci Lords throws her voice into the dance music ring with this album of pumping house beats. Taking able writing/production help from such styling studio gurus as Ben Watkins, Babble, Juno Reactor and Mike Edwards of Jesus Jones, Lords manages to coo and…

Jazzy Jeff

The original Jazzy Jeff offers solid rap action with a strong, clear delivery, significantly cliché-reduced rhymes and a variety of socially responsible concerns on his debut album, On Fire. He warns about “King Heroin (Don’t Mess with Heroin),” shows a real soft spot for “My Mother (Yes I Love Her)” and asks the DJ to…

Simply Red

From the American soul-funk school of Manchester musical thought comes Simply Red, a sextet led by raspy redhead Mick Hucknall (ex-Frantic Elevators) with a rhythm section that had played in Durutti Column and the Mothmen. Mixing original tunes with an eclectic pair of covers, Picture Book sounds like a lot of contemporary UK soul: a…

Comet Gain

The soul bus let off the pop children in Oxford, England, and what sprouted was Comet Gain, a simply appointed and thoroughly enticing bedsit quintet that afflicts the alluring tunefulness of Heavenly with equally mild doses of guitar punk, garage-rock and the impulse that once directed Paul Weller toward the world of Curtis Mayfield. Sarah…

Original Sins

The rocking Bethlehem, Pennsylvania garage that incubated the Original Sins hasn’t had a new coat of paint or even a serious spring cleaning in ages. Led by diminutive howler/guitarist J.T. (John Terlesky), the quartet — which didn’t change, lineup-wise, save for one drummer change, between its 1987 debut and 1996’s Bethlehem — has stayed true…

Propaganda (German)

On their first album, the two men and two women of Germany’s Propaganda play intricate, almost orchestral synth-based rock with little impact. As encouraged by ZTT supremos Trevor Horn and Paul Morley, each track is a huge and divergently stylized production number, but none offers much in the way of listening pleasure. The band’s character…

Dots

This longstanding on-off secret of the NYC scene has been able to pack clubs in certain Eastern US cities and in Germany (not to mention Holland and Yugoslavia), but can barely get a booking in their hometown. Such topsy-turvyness is part and parcel of Dotsongs, underlined by an unclassifiable grab-bag approach. After a very brief…

Cul de Sac

Boston’s long-running instrumental quartet has always flown in the face of the dictionary definition of its name; Cul de Sac possesses a much more expansive and hard to pinpoint structural arrangement. The group delights in the link between sources as seemingly diverse as John Fahey (with whom they recorded) and Can (with whose onetime singer…

Hipsway

This stylish and boring Scottish soul-funk quartet includes ex-Altered Images bassist John McElhone. (His brother, another former Image, manages the band.) Not unlike several other current Scottish bands, Hipsway takes its cues from various black American artists, mixing dance rhythms, percussive guitar and smooth vocals, but winds up mostly sounding like INXS. “The Broken Years”…

Adam Ant

When London art-school escapee Adam (Stuart Goddard) turned up with the Ants on the awful Jubilee movie soundtrack in 1978, you’d never have guessed he’d amount to anything. Like much of the record, his two cuts were just ordinary meatgrinder punk. Nor was the ambitious Dirk Wears White Socks all that encouraging, despite the considerable…

(Tav Falco’s) Panther Burns

For folks who prize unspoiled simplicity in rock’n’roll (and especially in rockabilly), Tav Falco’s Panther Burns may be the ultimate band. On the early records, his voice drenched in echo, Falco goes through a familiar repertoire of Presley-derived whoops, mutters and coos, while an amateurish backing ensemble that often includes Alex Chilton grinds away laboriously…

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…