You, me, the music, and me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Homestead HMS090-2 (1988)

Along with Sonic Youth and Swans, Live Skull personified the sound of the New York school of alternative guitar rock, class of the 1980's. What set them apart from bands like SY were their standard tunings (Sonic Youth liked to use experimental tunings on their guitars) and their greater sense of economy in their songs, which sounded closer to conventional (punk) rockers than those of their compatriots'. They were still pretty noisy, though: guitarists Mark C and Tom Paine twanged out overdriven riffs that sounded straight out of some imaginary spaghetti western over tribal rhythms from drummer Rich Hutchins and bassist Marnie Greenholz.

LS released a few albums before Dusted, but they didn't really find their sound until the addition of vocalist Thalia Zedek; her melodic range didn't extend much farther than, say, Lou Reed's, but her short, declarative phrasings delivered in a hazy, drugged monotone between bursts of guitars and drums helped set the band apart from its contemporaries (it's fitting that the album closes with a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Pusherman"). There is a deliberate emptiness, almost a hollowness, at the center of Live Skull's music, but that's not meant as a detraction; you just have to be in the right mood to hear it.


At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

gotta say i liked LS better before zedek joined. as much as i loved UZI and her later band come, i don't think her patti smith vocal stylings fit the live skull sound. they did become more of a real rock band with her as a vocalist, though i don't see that as any big deal. they were such an odd stilted (in a good way, if that's possible) sort of band before she joined. even though that 6 song ep they did after "dusted" rocked like crazy i still found myself missing marnie's singing and the much more stylized and original approach they had prior to thalia's joining. the less said about "positraction" the better. yuck, what a rotten album!

At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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