Monday, February 08, 2010

Athens Georgia on my mind

couple things i'm finding very listenable

The Method Actors, This is Still It: Early Recordings, London 1980-81

From the same scene as B-52s/Pylon, the Method Actors eluded me when I was researching Rip It Up, apart from one single I found which didn't quite live up to the expectations created by a Barney Hoskyns piece in NME circa 1982. But this Acute reissue makes me see why he thought they were such an inventive band. As with the other key Athens, Georgia bands there's a Gang of Four influence but you can also hear Television, Wire, and parallels with the Bunnymen's most pared-down stuff such as "All I Want". Stripping it down to the fundamental grammar of rock, etc etc, but here distinguished/elevated by remarkably vigorous and dynamic rhythm (Method Actors were just a duo, drummer David Gamble and guitarist Vic Varney).

LoneLady, Nerve Up

And then this young woman from Manchester whose debut LP on Warp works on similar principles to Method Actors/B-52s/Pylon--tension, rhythm guitar, a gaunt and bony minimalism, a kind of rockfunk that neither rocks nor is funky exactly but drives--and whose voice rather uncannily sounds like the transgendered reincarnation of the young Michael Stipe. Which was not what I ever imagined I'd want to hear in 2010 but Nerve Up reminded me how good, how original (and how postpunk, for all the Byrdsy/Sixties flavour) the early REM were. LoneLady even have the boxy Eighties drum sound (drum machine I think in their case, one song even has an electro-type clave poingg in it). Hints of Throwing Muses now and then but mostly it's the Athens vibe--Athens harrowed with the chill of Ancoats. Here's a profile of LoneLady a/k/a Julie Campbell by city patriot Paul Morley and her diary of making the record.