From a genesis as the mascots of New York’s art-hipster scene, this Vassar College-spawned trio built itself a reputation as one of Gotham’s most mercurial bands, able to leap from twee pop tunes to galvanizing skronkadelic constructs in a single bound. Part of that chameleon-like nature derived from the complex creative tension between bassist/singer Rebecca Odes, drummer/guitarist/singer Will Baum and guitarist/singer/drummer Alan Licht, who joined the other two in progress.
Love Child’s debut EP didn’t allow for much in the way of digression; its six songs chug in a palatable (if derivative) early-Velvets manner, with only the amiable “Sofa” making much of an impression. On the follow-up, which actually postdates Okay? and does not involve Baum, Licht and Odes tackle four songs (most provocatively, the droning “All Is Loneliness”) from the repertoire of legendary New York street singer Moondog. Okay?, which reprises several songs from the Trash Flow record, can be seen as an exercise in guileless solipsism — an oxymoron that nevertheless fits the disc’s 21 brief tunes. Odes’ opalescent ditties run the gamut from faux-naïf (“He’s So Sensitive”) to faux-decadent (“Church of Satan”), while Licht uses his center-stage turns mostly as frames for some breathtaking (if abridged) solos. Baum, who wrote and sings over half of Okay?, opted out of Love Child between the album’s recording in February 1990 and its release late the following year. The band’s drum duties were taken over by Brendan O’Malley, freeing Licht to dedicate himself to guitar.
Licht gets a chance to stretch out a bit more on Witchcraft; while his expansive sorties dexterously fuse free-improv atonality and hammer-down rockism, the songs’ connective tissue is a bit too frail to sustain the recurrent tension. Love Child broke up soon after its release. Licht’s solo album betrays his more academic side, with protracted experiments in color and tone taking the place of rock qua rock structure. Fascinating in doses (a taster can be found on the pre-LP single “Calvin Johnson Has Ruined Music for an Entire Generation,” an Olympia-directed salvo dripping with New York-intellectual chutzpah), Sink the Aging Process will fit neatly next to Metal Machine Music in your arsenal of, um, party platters.
The Los Angeles-based 9-Iron is Baum’s dubious attempt to channel the wide-eyed wonder of Jonathan Richman into willfully prosaic indie-pop songs about meeting girls, talking to girls, deflowering girls, etc. The far-too-precious 9-Iron, recorded as a trio with that dog drummer Tony Maxwell (contributing guitar, vocals and bass) and Love Jones drummer Ben Daughtrey (spelled on one song by Walt Mink’s Joey Waronker), has a creepy smug streak that crosses out the songs’ kick-me-hard winsomeness and makes it hard to side with the vocalist of complaints like “The Girl Won’t Listen” and “She Hasn’t Called.” The Make Out King shifts Maxwell to drums and imports bassist John Goldman to little notable effect. “(She’s So) Impatient (With Me),” “Theoretical Mind,” “Trophy Girl” and “Is There Fuchsia in Your Future, Felicia” make 9-Iron seem like a blind date who’s adorable until he goes to say goodnight in the doorway.
Odes recorded the eight-song Me and My Big Mouth with former bandmate O’Malley and Sammy guitarist Jesse Hartman.