A trip to your neighborhood CD store can be a disheartening experience, especially when the bestseller racks are filled with imitations ('N Sync) of imitations (the Backstreet Boys) of imitations (New Kids on the Block) of imitations (the Osmonds) of imitations (I could go on, but is that really necessary?). Despite the appearance that there are only about three record labels left in the world, however, there remain imprints (some run by music fans, others by performers themselves) dedicated to putting out the music of artists whose names probably wouldn't appear in Billboard magazine even if they stormed its offices and ordered staffers to print them at gunpoint. The following, all marketed by New York-based Triage (accessible at triagemusic.com), are enjoyable cases in point.
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l'age d'or (The Golden Age)
Formed in 1988, l'age d'or is one of Germany's most influential indie outlets, and l'age d'or (The Golden Age) offers outsiders a primer on a scene that clearly looks west for much of its inspiration. Included in the mix are Stella ("Tomorrow I'll Be Perfect"), a sort of Teutonic Bis; Die Sterne ("Was Hat Dich Bloss So Ruinert"), which calls to mind Sniff 'n' the Tears, of all acts; the drama rock of Jonas ("Grubby"); Workshop ("I Wish I Had You"), a quizzical keyboard act; and Revoxrevue, who give the electro treatment to, believe it or don't, the Jam's "That's Entertainment." A lot of this stuff sounds clunky today, but there's something undeniably intriguing about hearing an entire period of our musical history with a German accent. It's the revenge of Falco.
A Night of Serious Drinking
One After Another
A Night of Serious Drinking is something else entirely -- a San Francisco trio that, on One After Another, makes introspective twilight music ideal for the moments immediately preceding last call. Anthony Bonet, Bennett Green and Mark Yahnke don't go in for splashy effects; songs like "Terminal," "Long" and "Round and Down" seem to be whispered as much as played, and even more theatrical efforts such as "Half-Lit" and "Little Black Buzzer" (in which someone sitting on top of the world sends out a message that reads, "Dit-dit-dit-dit-dit, da-dit-dit-dit-dit") don't exactly grab a listener's lapels and shout for attention. Subtlety has its charms, though, and on Another, they're present in abundance.
New Wave as the Next Guy: The Moses CarryOut and Twisted Shouts Years 1978-1981
For his part, Ron House of Columbus, Ohio, couldn't be less restrained if he tried. He's known (if he's known at all) for Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, an act whose punky abandon and serrating lyrical approach is neatly encapsulated by the groovy "RnR Hall of Fame," which attacks Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with lines like "Blow it up before Johnny Rotten gets in!/Blow it up before Paul Westerberg gets in!/Blow it up before Steve Albini makes a speech!" New Wave as the Next Guy brings together lost recordings by two early House bands, the Twisted Shouts and Moses CarryOut, and they're every bit as raw and uninhibited as a Slave Apartments fan might wish. "Cause w/o the Rebel," "20 or 30 People" and "Chuck Berry's Orphan" are throwbacks to an era when nothing was more insulting than being called "slick."
Seems like a thousand years ago, doesn't it?