Born in Norman, Oklahoma, a college town whose other ’80s musical export is the astoundingly strange Flaming Lips, Defenestration had an approach to complement their odd name (it means “the throwing out of a person or thing through a window”). Lead singer Tyson Meade was weaned on B-movies, Janis Joplin and the Birthday Party; the rest of the band combined influences from T. Rex and Cheap Trick to the Byrds. Recorded for almost no money and released on a loan from Meade’s mom, Defenestration is quirky and brilliant, a result of being far more ambitious than its means. “Cut Your Soul in Half” has grand ideas and sprawling gothic piano; “Slaughterville” is a showcase for Meade’s Joplinesque shriek; “Heartthrob” is a subtly written and beautifully melodic discourse on the politics of being an outcast.
Mismatched with heavy-metal producer Randy Burns, Defenestration sacrificed some of its originality on Dali Does Windows in favor of enjoyable but less imaginative rock-pop. Traces of the title’s surrealist bent crop up in “Tripping Drag Queens” and “Cars in Trees”; “Bedlam Revisited” is as sad and truthful a love song as anyone could want. “D.Y. Wanna (Bubblegum)” is a friendly mutation of “Bang a Gong (Get It On).”
Guitarist Todd Walker split in 1987 and resurfaced two years later, trailing some other Defenestration defectors, with Thrown Away, a modest collection of country-rock numbers. Upon the original band’s official demise, Meade formed the Chainsaw Kittens.