post-punk gems, v. 60 — R.E.M.

With the post-punk gem series, I’m usually looking for something a bit more obscure, but Pandora’s algorithm cued up this gem yesterday, and it reminded me of all the cool sounds of “alt rock” circa 1982, and the imprint of Mitch Easter’s touch on so many tracks of the Americana sound: Let’s Active, Pylon, Marshall Crenshaw and, my perennial favorite, Game Theory.

The Chronic Town EP came out in August 1982 and, as you can imagine, some folks adored it — “This headlong tumble proves them the wittiest and most joyful of the postgarage sound-over-sense bands” (Christgau) — and others didn’t.

Peter Buck’s guitar work still sounds completely fresh. I also recall a TV appearance by R.E.M. shortly after, in which they recounted how many fans were submitting lyric sheets with the hopes of verification. In some cases, R.E.M. liked the fans’ lyrics better than the originals, and started performing them. So charming.

And, on this theme, here’s fun evidence of youtube’s omnivorous character:


post-punk gems, v. 26 — Guadalcanal Diary

Welcome back to radio K-SAT! A day on the train kept me from posting earlier today, but I hope you’ll enjoy this gem from back in the day by Guadalcanal Diary. This combo hailed from Marietta, GA, and benefitted from being associated with the usual suspects of the “Athens scene” (REM, B-52’s, Pylon, et. al.). They embodied the Americana-jangle sound, and put out four LPs for Elektra before things went south for them. I caught them at a gym at UC San Diego in September 1986 when they opened for REM on the Lifes Rich Pageant tour. (That fun show featured REM’s huddling up after each song to decide what to play next, and Michael Stipe throwing a shoe in the general direction of the frat guy who was non-plussed by the show.)

Here’s the track that got G. Diary on the radio, back in 1985:

Have a lovely week, and–for my fellow northern hemisphere dwellers–keep applying your sunscreen!

(post)-punk gems, v. 19 — Pylon, from Athens, GA (our own Liverpool)

Good morning, punk-o-philes! It’s already Wednesday in the states and, with Monday’s holiday-and-all, I’m feeling a bit like Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time. It was Vonnegut, too, who’s smart riff on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and the loss of Armistice Day remains timely.

But on with the music. It’s a warm a.m. west of Pere-Ubu-land, and I’m thinking about summers of yore in Athens, GA, the American “Liverpool of the south,” with The B-52’s blazing the trail, REM mumbling their way up the charts, and the underheralded combos of Guadalcanal Diary and Pylon. Pylon They also emerged out of the U. of Georgia scene, gigging at the 40 Watt Club, and catching the interest of members of The B-52’s, who helped land them a spot at NYC’s Hurrah, which was made famous in part by DJs extraordinaire Meg Griffin and Jane Hamburger of WPIX fame.

You may recall REM’s dustbin-of-history tracks that comprised Dead Letter Office, including the bouncy “Crazy,” which was the b-side of “Driver 8,” and a Pylon track on which Vanessa Briscoe channels a bit of Nina Hagen–check out the odd pronunciation of “fun-knee.” On both tracks below, guitarist Randall Bewley demonstrates his affinity for the guitar sonics that characterized the Americana of modern rock.

I dig the earlier single, too, called “Cool,” which shows a bit more affinity to the vocal style of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson.

Keep your eye on the good beat, and have a fantastic rest of the week!