Monday, July 6, 2009

New Wave for the New Week #17

Tuxedomoon - Naima Club, Forlì (FC)Image by zioWoody via Flickr

I recently finished my first read-through of Isabelle Corbisier's exhaustive and wonderful Music for Vagabonds: The Tuxedomoon Chronicles, as thorough a history of the ex-San Franciscan European art rock collective as has been written about any band. I say "first read-through" because this is a book that will take several readings to consume and digest properly. The detailed annotations and footnotes alone form almost a second book within the main work, and the very European writing style Ms. Corbisier employs demands close attention from a Yankee reader such as myself.

This is not merely a recitation of names, dates, places and events, however; this is a diary, compiled of band member reminiscences, comments from contemporary spectators, and real time concert and record reviews, woven seamlessly to tell the story of the evolution of Tuxedomoon from its beginnings in post-Haight San Francisco, to its relocation across the pond in the hopes of finding acceptance, through its collapse and eventual reconstruction. For fans of the band it is a must-read; for those unfamiliar with Tuxedomoon, it will be a fascinating doorway to an often misunderstood and sadly under-appreciated group of musicians and performers.

I discovered Tuxedomoon in high school via my fascination with The Residents, and by extension any band that released material on that band's own label, Ralph Records. The two-record set The Best of Ralph is a highly recommended label compilation from that early '80s era; on it you'll find Tuxedomoon's wonderful "What Use?" and somewhat sinister "Incubus (Blue Suit)." As good an introduction to the band as any, as this is Tuxedomoon at perhaps their most accessible.

The NW4NW entry this week is a recently created video for their first single, 1978's "No Tears." Easily one of my favorites from their catalog, the sound here indicates why they were quickly, and perhaps too hastily, lumped in with the Punk/New Wave scene. Plaintive vocals screamed/sung over a skittish melody create an almost other-worldly sound. This however is not meant as an overall illustration of the band's sound or style; no one song from their catalog could be chosen as a "stereotypically Tuxedomoon" song. Over 30+ years they have explored areas of the musical spectrum that many other musicians have assiduously avoided, but they have also fashioned some very likeable, melodic, almost pop music as well. They are a band well worth your time and effort to get to know.

To start with, though, here is this week's New Wave for the New Week, "No Tears" by Tuxedomoon:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment