Algebra Suicide: True Romance at the Worlds Fair EP (Buzzarama Records, 1982)

Spare and kinda arch/arty. Lydia Tomkiw dispassionately and semi-rhythmically declaims her free-verse lyrics — nice abstractions about social norms, gender roles, etc. — over hubby Don Hedeker’s ultra-rudimentary, new-wavish electric-guitar-and-drum-machine backing. It’s oddly catchy, despite the tunelessness, and there’s something about her delivery (maybe partly due to her thick Chicago accent) that really draws me in. Standout track: “Recalling the Last Encounter.”

A.M.P.: Studio EP (Colorful Clouds for Acoustics, 1997)

A.M.P. (also just Amp) came out of the same Bristol scene as Flying Saucer Attack and Third Eye Foundation; a common thread is the use of sounds that seem to evoke/embody industrial decay. The two instrumental tracks on this EP plod along nicely, with drones ’n’ drums ’n’ delay ’n’ other relentless noises combining into walls of gleaming darkness (or something). Very somber and very good.

Arab on Radar: “Kangaroo”/“Pig Roast” (Heparin, 1996)

Early release by the Providence neo-no-wave icons. Shrill twin-slide-guitar mini-motives over sludgy bass and basic drums lay the groundwork for paranoid/acerbic ranting by Mr. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One of those bands about whom ambivalence is impossible — you either absolutely hate ‘em or totally love ‘em, and I’m in the latter camp. These two tunes aren’t quite as over-the-top as what came next (about which more in a future post), but they’re close.

Bardo Pond: “Testing for New Swords”/“Good Friday” (Siltbreeze, 1996)

Nice little appetizer from the stalwart Philly psych-rock titans. “Testing for New Swords” is a slow burner in the classic Bardo mold, with bass and drums creeping around loosely under waves of echoing guitar and infrequent vocal turns by chanteuse Isobel Sollenberger. “Good Friday” is a pretty-OK unaccompanied showcase for the Gibbons brothers’ spacy twin-guitar explorations. I prefer this band in the LP setting (or live, where, good lord), where they have more room to sprawl, but this is a fine warmup.

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