Friday, October 20, 2017
Dragon was a band from New Zealand who were fairly successful in their homeland and Australia in the mid-1970s. They broke up at the end of that decade but resurfaced a few years later with a more polished sound. They had a fairly big hit in 1984 with "Rain" and subsequently had their 1987 album released internationally under the name Hunter. They never really caught on in the US, but they are now in the Australian RNR Hall of Fame. Some of their 80s stuff reminds me of The Call. There's some real gems here.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
I always thought the Smithereens were the East Coast's blue collar rock band of the '80s. The Replacements represented the Upper Midwest. Social Distortion represented Cali. I don't know if that makes any sense, but they had some of the '80s best rock songs, regardless.
Monday, October 2, 2017
Monday, September 25, 2017
Saturday, August 5, 2017
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
The '90s was such a great time for electro/industrial music, especially for those of us who never got into the grunge or Britpop that dominated radio. Cubanate was essentially Marc Heal, spewing high-energy aggression out like no one else. This album treads a fine line between noisy electronic music and pure white noise, but it's just on the right side of that line.
Monday, July 10, 2017
Friday, July 7, 2017
Saturday, July 1, 2017
Beyond the silly clothes and hair and videos of their early years, Gene Loves Jezebel became a solid band by the time of 1987's "House of Dolls" album and continued until their last, 1999's "VII" - and then suddenly reappearing 18 years later for 2017's Dance Underwater.
Friday, June 30, 2017
I could see how Tears For Fears might be on a lot of people's "overplayed" list, as they produced songs so tied to the '80s they've almost certainly gotten more airplay since that decade ended than during. But that shouldn't stop "Songs From The Big Chair" being heard as the masterpiece it is.
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Imagine naming your band after a country in this Internet age... but nonetheless, David Sylvian, Mick Karn and Co. made pretty original sounding music. After starting as a very punky group, they quickly morphed into something which clearly owed more than a small debt to Roxy Music, but with Karn's fretless bass playing and often quirky rhythms, they became a far more unique entity.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Hugo Race was in Nick Cave's Bad Seeds for 1/2 a minute in the early years. As he continued on a solo career, he initially mined the same territory as early Bad Seeds' records. His most recent stuff is actually how I envisioned Nick Cave would sound at this point in his career and, personally, I find Hugo Race's music much more satisfying.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Thursday, June 1, 2017
When I first heard the Cranberries, it was the song "Linger" and I kept getting it confused with that Sundays' song around the same time. I still think the first album sounds like Sinead O'Connor fronting the Smiths... but I don't think that's a bad thing.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
The The is the musical project of Matt Johnson. To listen to the first album, one would never guess he'd become an excellent songwriter, sign to a major label, get radio airplay and be in MTV rotation. Nor would anyone have guessed he'd record a fairly straight album of Hank Williams tunes.
Monday, May 29, 2017
Friday, May 26, 2017
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Monday, May 22, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Shirley Manson started out in the band Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie in the '80s, supplying backing vox and keyboards. When that band failed to break into the US market, they refashioned themselves as '90s chick rock band Angelfish, with Manson taking the lead role. They only lasted 1 album, but it's pretty decent.
Friday, May 19, 2017
Blondie is the band. Deborah [Debbie] Harry is the singer. She's had a strange career considering they have a few gigantic hits. They've had an on again/off again relationship, with Harry going off to spotty solo ventures and acting in B-movies.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Monday, May 15, 2017
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
What more needs to be said about REM? They made 2 of my favorite albums of the '80s - Reckoning and Document - and emerged from their first decade second only to U2 in critical and commercial stature. The '90s boosted them to mainstream pop star status. Their output in the new century, though, was pretty lackluster and they called it quits in 2011.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
People never believe me when I tell them that Thompson Twins' first two albums are full of some pretty good, edgy post-punk tunes. That's probably because they went from that to mainstream crossover success with a handful of New Wave anthems, and all the way to has-been, out of step adult contemporary within a mere 9 years.
And that's not even mentioning their Live Aid performance which was... bizarre? Look it up online if you've never seen it. But beware... why anyone thought it would be a good idea to invite Madonna to sing for their cover of the Beatles' Revolution... whew.
Monday, May 8, 2017
Sunday, May 7, 2017
The Dream Syndicate were an LA band in the 1980s. Despite critical accolades and getting the opening slot on tours for both U2 and REM, they never found commercial success. Too punk for country, too country for New Wave, too AOR for Alternative, too edgy for AOR.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Friday, May 5, 2017
Led by singer/songwriter Kevin Kinney, Atlanta's Drivin' N' Cryin' first found success on college radio in the mid-80s before finding themselves on heavy rotation with 1990's Fly Me Courageous. They were another casualty of the grunge era, their AOR roots rock deemed untrendy and were totally forgotten about by 1993's follow-up.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Tito Larriva has been a staple of the L.A. music scene since the late '70s. First, he led The Plugz, often cited as the first Hispanic punk band. Then he moved on to roots rock with Cruzados. And for over a decade, he played bluesy rock with Tito & Tarantula.
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Ending my Bryan Ferry triptych with a trio of albums he did with a jazz orchestra. Unlike almost every other rock/pop singer who has reached back into the classics songbook, Ferry and band come off very authentically. This is not one of those cases where an aging pop star goes for the adult contemporary throat.
Monday, May 1, 2017
Bryan Ferry started his solo career while Roxy Music was still active. When Roxy finally petered out in the early-80s, Ferry just continued doing what he does. Is he an edgy crooner or a suave rocker? I'm not sure, but he has been able to carve out his own identifiable sound. Viva!
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Roxy Music came onto the scene with weird costumes, pathos, and screeching synth sounds (thanks to Brian Eno). They evolved into a refined, danceable, stylish pop act. Probably no other band had as much influence on 1980's New Wave and pop music.
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Going from 1981 to 2004, that makes up 36 singles, which is a heck of a lot of songs.
If you're wondering about the exact tracklisting, the record collector's resource is Discogs
Friday, April 28, 2017
Brian Setzer actually made an attempt at contemporary rock (albeit still rootsy) with Knife Feels Like Justice in 1986, and Live Nude Guitars in 1988. Neither one was very successful in the US and it wasn't long before he returned to rockabilly.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are another New Wave band that if you've only heard their mainstream hits (or the iconic scene in Pretty In Pink) you may be surprised upon hearing their first couple albums. That might have helped The Best Of OMD become a classic. That and it plays like a great album, more than just a collection of their hit songs.
Monday, April 24, 2017
Spandau Ballet were known for their international smash "True," but also derided as a caricature of New Wave's soft image. Actually, their first few albums were fairly experimental, sounding not too different from early Human League, OMD, etc.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
Simple Minds have been releasing albums since 1979. Their early years contain a lot of really inventive music, a moody kind of new wave influenced by Krautrock. Then they moved into some edgy, still moody rock albums before finding mainstream success. They're still at it, too, putting out consistently high quality stuff.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
House of Freaks was the duo of Bryan Harvey and Johnny Hott. They had a minor hit in '88 with "40 Years," but sadly, their second album, though being better than their debut, failed to achieve success. They managed 2 more albums before backing Steve Wynn in the short-lived band Gutterball.
Friday, April 21, 2017
Speaking of terminally un-hip artists... many people may be surprised to learn Corey Hart is one of the best-selling Canadian songwriters. Known internationally for his early '80s hits "Sunglasses at Night" and "Never Surrender," a deeper look into his work does reveal many gems along the way.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
John Cougar... John Cougar Mellencamp... John Mellencamp. Another artist who was, in my teen years, terminally un-hip. Only as an adult have I grown to appreciate him as a very consistent tunesmith, instead of unjustly seeing him as a 3rd-rate Springsteen.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Following the singer-songwriter thread, you cannot forget this guy. As an anecdote about how absurd the music industry is - in 1985, Fogerty was sued for sounding too much like... CCR, the band he founded as its singer, songwriter, guitar player, arranger, producer. So, he was essentially sued for sounding too much like himself. It's no wonder there have been two decade-long gaps in his recording career.