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A 1980s Garage Rock Revival Binge

One of my favorite sellers on Discogs is a company out of Florida called LaVicie’s Polyester Banana. They have a great (and vast) selection in general, and a slew of obscure releases from the 80s and early 90s garage rock revival.

I’ve placed a few orders from LaVicie, the most recent of which arrived early last week. Figured it was time I let you all in on my latest obsession, and introduce you to some bands you likely have never heard before.

The garage rock of the 80s was the original revival of the genre. It spanned two core correlated elements, both of which originated in the 60s: garage rock and psychedelic rock. Often (but not always) paired together during this time, the movement was quickly dubbed Paisley Underground.

Certainly, not all of the artists fit the description, including some of those below. But, the movement was substantial as Paisley Underground spanned several alternative and underground sub-genres of rock, rooted in both psychedelic and garage but also drawing influence from jangle pop and post-punk.

Today, I’m going to run through my order from LaVicie, which included a binge of 9 LPs. Here’s the data dump, in alphabetical order:

1. The Broken Jug: William (Glitterhouse, 1986)

The Broken Jug is a high energy garage rock band from Hamburg, Germany that formed in, I believe, 1984. They released their first two LPs on Glitterhouse, a label like Voxx that released several garage albums during the 80s and 90s. Like many of their contemporaries, they embody traits and take influence from the heavier side of garage legends like The Stooges.

Others, like several below, side more on the gritty and psychedelic side of garage, pulling inspiration from The Seeds, 13th Floor Elevators and The Yardbirds. You’ll find little of that here, though, as their sound is larger and with a fuller body. This is strong, powerful rock music. And it’s damn good.

Case in point is the track above, “Promised Land”, which kicks off the B-side on William.

2. The Dearly Beloved: The Dearly Beloved (Voxx, 1985)

Though released in the 80s, The Dearly Beloved was truly an original era garage rock band. Active in the mid-60s, they were originally called The Intruders before changing their name to Quinstrels, then finally landing on The Dearly Beloved.

Primarily active between ’63 and ’67, it’s hard to tell who influenced two: a song like “Flight Thirteen” parallels elements that The Seeds pumped into their debut self-titled LP, though The Dearly Beloved has a bit more depth.

Where The Seeds are often dubbed as proto-punk garage rock, The Dearly Beloved clearly have more pop sensibilities. This is clear on tracks like “Merry-Go-Round”:

3. The Overcoat: Three Chords…And A Cloud Of Dust! (Dionysus, 1991)

The Marshmallow Overcoat is, in part, responsible for my recent dive into the 80s garage rock revival and Paisley Underground movements. On their 1991 LP Three Chords…And A Cloud Of Dust!, the band drops “Marshmallow” and is just listed as The Overcoat.

Overcoat Three Chords Cloud Dust

The Marshmallow Overcoat created music that had a quirky sort of darkness to it with songs like “Dia De Los Muertos”, “13 Ghosts” and “The Spell I’m Under”. This held true within The Overcoat as well. You’ll find one of my favorites by the band on this release: “The Mummy”.

Also found within are a pair of covers including Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” and The Balloon Farm’s “A Question of Temperature”. As a whole, I rank A Cloud of Dust at the same level as (if not just above) the band’s second LP, Beverly Pepper.

New favorites include the fuzzed out vibes of “Invisible People” and album closer “Getaway Girl, Getaway World”.

Word has it that frontman Timothy Gassen is also a bit of a hockey fanatic.

4. The Stepford Husbands: New Ways Of Seeing (Cryptovision, 1987)

This one was a bit unexpected, as there aren’t any (that I could find) sample tracks available from this album online. New Ways of Seeing is an interesting blend of pseudo-garage, pseudo-jangle pop. Invariably catchy, songs like “Losin’ Touch” and “Will It Ever End” are super upbeat and fun with possible hints of a The Feelies influence yet plenty of late 60s era references to teenage garage rock.

New Ways of Seeing was The Stepford Husbands‘ only LP, though the band released almost half a dozen singles between 1984 and 1993.

It was their single “Why Aren’t You There!” that originally drew me to the band:

“Why Aren’t You There!” has a much darker overall presence that many of the songs you’ll find on New Ways of Seeing. Still, I’m digging the LP and can see it being clumped both into upcoming jangle and garage rock playlists.

A fairly complete history of the band can be found over at WFMU.

5. The Steppes: Enquire Within (Voxx, 1989)

I touted The Steppes in my recent Radio Show Recap, so I’m not going to go too much into them here. Check out “Master James”, a favorite off the band’s Enquire Within:

6. The Stomachmouths: In Orbit (Got To Hurry, 1987)

The Stomachmouths (sometimes referred to as The Stomach Mouths) were a Swedish garage rock revival band from the 80s that released a handful or LPs and singles between 1985 and 1987. In Orbit was their second official LP. And it was the one that, in my opinion, had the best cover art.

The blue tinted moon and superb font treatment gives the LP a Dark Shadows-esque appeal. And within, you get music that seems like it would fit into the original show’s beloved tavern, The Blue Whale.

Hear for yourself in the A-side closer “Heart of Stone” below:

This records was more of an extended play with just six songs. It was released in 1987 on Got To Hurry Records out of Sweden.

7. The Stomachmouths: Wild Trip (Voxx, 1987)

So, yeah. I’m really digging the fuzzed out sound of The Stomachmouths. I snapped up their 1987 LP Wild Trip as well. This one has some very Chad VanGaalen-like cover art featuring headless green bodies with mouths where their stomachs would be. Makes sense, right?

One of my favorites off this Wild Trip is “Don’t Mess with My Mind”:

What I love about this band, and particularly about the tune above, is the vocals. On one hand, there’s an element of Sky Saxon and on the other hand the dude sings like he’s sticking his tongue out the whole time.

That or Sky Saxon attempting to do a Cartman impression while singing garage rock. It’s pretty damn awesome.

8. The Tell-Tale Hearts: The Tell-Tale Hearts (Voxx, 1984)

One thing I absolutely love about the 80s garage rock resurgence is all the album covers where guys are sporting long hair with bangs. I can imagine there are a handful of modern hair styles that will go the same route; quirky and cool but something that probably shouldn’t come back any time soon.

*Rolls Eyes at the Man Bun*

The Tell-Tale Hearts released one LP, this one, in the mid 1980s on Voxx (a go-to in this era of garage rock). But, aside from a pair of singles around the same time, they appear to have been largely inactive as far as releases go during that decade. Much of this is due to the band splitting in ’86 then partially reforming under the name in the 90s.

Like many of the artists on this list, there’s a distinct influence by more prominent 60s garage bands like The Seeds. “It Came to Me” is no different:

Then, in songs like “Won’t Need Yours”, you can almost find some early psychedelic 13th Floor Elevators references (minus the jug). Hear for yourself:

9. The Untold Fables: Every Mother’s Nightmare (Dionysus, 1985)

The Untold Fables are perhaps both the most gritty of this garage rock bunch as well as the most reminiscent of the original 1960s-era garage rock renaissance. You can hear it quite starkly in tracks like “Let Me Know” and “I’ll Be Gone” off Every Mother’s Nightmare.

But my favorite is “Don’t Need Your Love No More”, the final track on the A-side:

There you have it. A 9-LP binge into the 1980s era garage rock resurgence. This has definitely been my guilty pleasure of late, and given the tracks above I think you can probably see why. You can explore further with some of the records listed below:

hand-picked vinyl recommendations

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