Odyshape (1981) by The Raincoats

Categories: 1981 and Music.

I loved the debut, a seemingly perfect combination of naive rock and punk energy. But this is another thing entirely – shockingly different. To call this music post punk is to admit that we don’t know what to call it. It’s not post punk in any sense, except that, once upon a time, maybe The Raincoats were a punk band, and they put this out later. The world music influence here is on the magnitude of Eno/Talking Heads, but the approach is so far from that you’d be forgiven for thinking that a crazy comparison. This is, for the most Read More

The Return of the Durutti Column (1980)

Categories: 1980 and Music.

This is a really unique take on Post Punk, if it can even be called that, featuring expressive guitar playing over some pretty minimalist bass and drums (sometimes not even that). In fact, it’s more the era it was made in and the legendary post punk producer who supervised it that mark it out as post punk; I’m not sure it really qualifies, But regardless of what it is, the music is lovely and really stands out from the other British bands of the era, though the production is kind of dated. Pretty interesting. 8/10 Read More

Red Mecca (1981) by Cabaret Voltaire

Categories: 1981 and Music.

I guess this is what happens when an Industrial band makes minimal concessions to accessibility. I can’t say I know these guys (or know Industrial well at all) but this feels much more accessible than the little Industrial I know; there are actual melodies rather than just rhythms and the whole thing feels “tight” for lack of a better word. My guess is that it’s a good entry point for people who are interested in the genre but can’t handle the harsher sounds from the more experimental Industrial bands (or, perhaps, Cabaret Voltaire at an earlier date). 7/10 Read More

God (1981) by Rip Rig and Panic

Categories: 1981 and Music.

It’s no secret the influence American funk had on post punk. But Rip Rig + Panic take that influence to extremes not seen in the rest of the movement.And the influence isn’t limited to funk, but extends to many different forms of African American music, including jazz, which should come as no surprise given that the band is named after a Roland Kirk album. The result is certainly the funkiest post punk record I’ve ever heard, as well as the most soulful. It’s also far and away the most jazz oriented, even more so than a band like The Birthday Read More

Kicking Against the Pricks (1986) by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Categories: 1986 and Music.

This is a diverse album of covers, from blues songs to folk and country songs to more mainstream pop songs to a Velvet Underground cover. And the performances are equally diverse, including some really out there versions of some of these songs (see “Hey Joe.” for instance) The problem for me is that sometimes they really alter the song and sometimes they do a fairly faithful version. It feels schizophrenic to my ears and I wish they had committed to radical versions of all of the songs, not just some of them. This is the least essential Bad Seeds album Read More

Signals, Calls, and Marches (1981) by Mission of Burma

Categories: 1981 and Music.

The missing link between post punk and alternative rock. I don’t say that lightly. When I first heard their debut album, I was underwhelmed – too much hype. But this EP (along with their debut single, included here) is pretty much the blueprint for a lot of American alternative rock in the ’80s (minus the roots element). I hear echoes of so many later bands in this music.But it still retains enough of what you might call “American post punk” that it is still recognizable as post punk. I need to listen to their debut album again. 10/10 Read More

Waiting for a Miracle (1980) by The Comsat Angels

Categories: 1980 and Music.

To my ears, the debut of The Comsat Angels marks the point where post punk tried to reconcile itself with more conventional rock music. Though there are still hallmarks of the post punk sound, there’s also much more of a focus on conventional songwriting. It helps that the songs are mostly excellent and so it doesn’t sound like the sound has been watered down for commercial viability or other ideas of accessibility. One thing, though: listening to the expanded edition I cannot help but like the demos a little more than the finished products. It sounds, at least a little Read More

3rd From the Sun (1982) by Chrome

Categories: 1982 and Music.

My first exposure to Chrome; I’m surprised how melodic it is, as I was expecting a lot more of the noise side of things (though I guess that’s a different era of the band). There’s a strong krautrock influence filtered through an almost gothic sensibility (others have said “doomy,” which also feels appropriate). A number of the instruments are a little too treated for me, and I think that’s the barrier I find between seeing this as interesting music and classic. If the production had dated better, I might be a little more into it than I am. I don’t Read More

Buy (1979) by James Chance and the Contortions

Categories: 1979 and Music.

Take English post punk, add some free jazz, some Pere Ubu and some Magic Band (specifically the slide guitar) and you get this record. New to No Wave (it seems), this is totally not what I thought this was going to sound like. I thought it was going to be Branca-eque detuned guitar industrial noise. The surprise is a pleasant one. This is some energetic stuff that combines the confrontational nature of the most extreme punk of the day, with all that makes English post punk good, with a whole ton of other things I like. It’s pretty wonderful stuff Read More

White Light From the Mouth of Infinity (1991) by Swans

Categories: 1991 and Music.

I have only ever heard one Swans album previously, and I have seen them live once. The cumulative result of that was that I think I can say that they are a band that is an acquired taste and that is more impressive (if not likable) live. This record completely changed my mind. I respect Children of God but I don’t know that I like it…yet. I also respect a band that can be so loud that I wanted earplugs over 100m from the stage while I was outdoors (!). But I don’t know that I like that either. (They Read More

Only a Lad (1981) by Oingo Boingo

Categories: 1981 and Music.

Oingo Boingo’s debut is like Devo if the music were written by someone who went to music school, and who missed the memo that punk bands have to be left wing (it’s new wave but it’s reactionary new wave…if he’s being sincere…) The music is more musically inventive than your average new wave and there’s a distinct “classical” influence at times (especially on some of the breaks and bridges). Its’ clear Elfman is a talented guy. The only thing that keeps me from rating it higher is the sheer Devo-ness of the record. I mean, yes, Devo influenced most American Read More

Juju (1981) by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Categories: 1981 and Music.

I quite liked Kaleidoscope but this record takes that sound to its logical conclusion, creating something that is simultaneously dark and post-punky and also bright and shimmering. They really found a unique spin on British post punk that no other band (that I’m aware of) really had. Of the records I’ve heard of theirs, this is the best, I think it’s pretty clear – consistent songs and an impressive display of a signature sound. As an aside: it’s kind of a crime that The Edge is utterly adored the world over for his okay guitar playing and obsession with effects Read More

Destination Love: Live! At Cold Rice (1996) by The Make Up

Categories: 1996 and Music.

When I first listened to this faux-live album I thought “Holy MC5 Batman.” At least initially, this band sounded like they were just MC5 worshipers, albeit in the best of ways. But that’s a really superficial reading of this music and also a misunderstanding of both this band and the MC5, who may be inspired by some of the same things. On closer listening, this is much more than just the Garage Rock revival it appears to be. It’s right for them to call their style gospel, as this is firmly influenced by the same gospel tradition that influenced the Read More

Tinderbox (1986) by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Categories: 1986 and Music.

The Banshees strike this weird balance where they pair a (relatively) bright sound with lyrics that wouldn’t necessarily fit with that sound. It’s not that the sound is particularly bright, it’s just bright for the genre, and I always find it a little disorienting when I first hear one of their records. The songs are pretty good and the sound is appealing dense (even though, if you listen closely, there aren’t that many overdubs, it just feels like there are). I guess the only thing that’s keeping me from liking this more is a sense of deja vu, that it’s Read More

Faith (1981) by The Cure

Categories: 1981 and Music.

Like many, I came to The Cure through their singles. I got their excellent compilations of their first decades and…I stopped. For some reason, I haven’t dug deeper, as I have with nearly every other band I discovered when I was younger. I don’t know why. I guess I sort of assumed they were a singles band, whether or not that’s true. Listening to this album, it sure sounds like they are a singles band. The only memorable songs are the singles. There are a couple indistinguishable instrumentals. Smith sure hasn’t provided a lot of memorable music. But just as Read More

Solid Gold (1981) by Gang of Four

Categories: 1981 and Music.

Gang of Four’s debut is everything I think people would imagine it to be: sterile, punky funk music married to lyrics full of political statements and social comment. To me, that’s what Gang of Four conjures up. It’s a seminal sound which was arguably the most prevalent of influences when New New Wave / Post Post Punk was a thing at the beginning of this century. I find myself pleasantly surprised with their second record, as it sounds to me that they have (relatively) expanded their sound. There’s a greater artiness here (to my ears) that makes this record feel Read More

Sound Affects (1980) by The Jam

Categories: 1980 and Music.

From the opening bass line of “Pretty Green” the shift in The Jam’s sound is obvious. Yes, there are still Mod traces and Weller’s songs are still recognizable as Weller songs, but it’s clear that the UK post punk obsession with reggae, funk and David Bowie has found its way to The Jam. On the one hand, that’s a good thing: One thing I don’t love about The Jam is how relatively indistinguishable each of the first four records is from one another. (That’s not to say some aren’t better than others…) With Sound Affects this ends. But This feels Read More

Atomizer (1986) by Big Black

Categories: 1986 and Music.

It may seem like a weird topic to bring up, given what Big Black does and sounds like, but I find their first album to be a little less impressive than Songs About Fucking. It feels, to me, as if there are stronger songs on Songs, even though that’s an odd thing to say about a band whose sole reason for existence is to pummel/offend. I guess I feel like the second album is the more “mature” statement (an odd thing to say, I know). But this is still unrelentingly aggressive and metallic (for the time) and I think we Read More

3-Way Tie (for Last) (1986) by Minutemen

Categories: 1985 and Music.

I have come to the Minutemen completely backwards. I have been a fIREHOSE fan for quite some time but am only now getting to the point of listening to these guys and of course I listen to their last album… Anyway, this is a set of rock songs (and song fragments) that varies from righteous anger about US politics to reflections on the nature of story-telling, with a bunch of covers (from literally all over the place). The music is pretty typical post-hardcore with the kind of silly, mild experimentation that makes so much American ’80s alternative music great. Though Read More

Kaleidoscope (1980) by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Categories: 1980 and Music.

I have no idea what kind of departure this record was for the band, as its the first Banshees record I’ve heard. So even though I read that this was a big departure, I don’t have any idea, What I hear is well-executed UK post punk with “brighter” arrangements (for lack of a better word) than normal, and certainly that should not be a surprise, given the presence of a member of Magazine. Siouxsie Sioux has been incredibly influential on female vocalists, especially in the world of Indie Rock. That’s readily apparent here. And I figure that should be acknowledge. Read More

The Firstborn is Dead (1985) by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Categories: 1985 and Music.

The Bad Seeds’ blues album, which was a big surprise to me. They take both old blues tunes and a not so old country tune (I think it’s country) and turn it into a demented re-imagining of the Blues that sounds much more like the early Bad Seeds (and even, at times, the Birthday Party) than it does the blues being made by most contemporary American artists at the time and, especially, British artists. As noted elsewhere on RYM, this is about as good as foreign approximations of the Blues get, in the ’80s anyway. If you’ve never heard the Read More

The Correct Use of Soap (1980) by Magazine

Categories: 1980 and Music.

Even though Devoto wasn’t in the Buzzcocks for very long, the association isn’t surprising once you hear Magazine. Though one of the original post punk bands (perhaps, because of this), they are considerably more accessible than the other post-punk bands. And at least on this album, considerably closer to punk. They sort of strike me as more American-style New Wave than their British Post Punk contemporaries. And that’s why I don’t think this is quite as amazing as I want it to be. I mean, I like the songs a lot – they do a lot better job of writing Read More

Talking Heads at the Capitol Theatre November 4, 1980

Categories: 1980 and Music.

This is an incredible show which is very illustrative of the the “eras” bands go through. The band in Stop Making Sense is a great band, but they are utter professionals. They are having a great time, and they backed by a unique stage show that ads to the experience, but they are polished and utterly professional. They have done this before. The band in this performance is still hungry, even though they were already very established by this point. They are rawer, but more importantly, they are weirder. So many of the songs are radically different from the originals so Read More

Stop Making Sense (1984) by Talking Heads

Categories: 1984 and Music.

I love the film. I got a copy of it not that long after I saw it (in a theatre! though with only about 6 people in it) and it’s become one of only  a few staple rock concert films I have. But half the appeal of this movie is that it’s a movie. The Heads’ show is unique and is literally half the fun. Divorced from the film the performances are alright, but most Heads fans agree that the earlier official live album is better. And I can personally attest that there are better performances available on Youtube. This Read More