The multifarious Ian North (singer, guitarist, synthesist, producer and songwriter) was the leader of Long Island’s finest contribution to wimp rock, Milk ‘n’ Cookies, who were playing dingy New York bars in their cute baseball uniforms when a visiting tycoon took them to England in hopes of making them a hit machine in the Anglo-pop sweepstakes. The band’s sole LP — recorded in 1975 but released two years later — is full of catchy melodies, twee lyrics and energetic fizz-pop guitar hooks. Awfully early for the power pop revival, it never was very popular; however, fans of bands like Shoes and Sparks might appreciate its preciously naïve charms.
North’s subsequent solo career has taken several turns. Living in England for a while, he led a new wave band called Neo which collapsed after recording an unreleased album. He salvaged and revised various studio efforts (with two different lineups) to piece together Neo, which is actually a good record. The overall timbre is modern rock with melody and bitterness; some of the songs are excellent. The problem is North’s pretentiously unnatural deep voice.
Returning to New York, he began recording by himself, producing two discs at home on simple equipment, using synthesizers as a major sonic component (the only one on Rape of Orchids). Girlfriend’s Dead contains some good songs played dully; Rape of Orchids, a four-song 12-inch, is sub-Gary Numan tedium.