Monday, October 4, 2010

New Wave for the New Week #86

Put The Specials, R.E.M. and Oingo Boingo in a sonic blender, and the result you get might not be all that different from the sextet known as The Pressure Boys.

Energetically bursting out of Chapel Hill, NC, in the early 1980s, The Pressure Boys began life as a band of high school classmates who fumbled their way through covers of Madness and Specials songs at parties in and around Chapel Hill.  As their musicianship improved, they began widening their scope of musical influences.  Bringing aspects of bands like XTC and the aforementioned Oingo Boingo into the mix, The Pressure Boys soon created a unique sound that was slightly off-kilter, but nonetheless peppy and enjoyable.

They soon came to the attention of the noted southern-alternative-music production team of Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, who produced their first release, Jump! Jump! Jump!, in 1983.  The record's lead cut, "Tina Goes To The Supermarket," encapsulated everything that made the band so popular at home: the somewhat syncopated take on the basic ska beat, the frenetic pace, the audible fun the band was having.  That sonic recipe, given the Easter/Dixon stamp of approval, helped The Pressure Boys break out of the local Chapel Hill scene and land on college radio playlists everywhere.

The following year saw the release of the four-song Rangledoon ep, which included their most ambitious outing to date, "Where The Cowboys Went." Turning the ska down a notch and upping the southern charm, "Cowboys" was clearly a stab at college radio stardom.  Sounding a bit like Green On Red's goofier siblings, "Cowboys" is an excellent song that caught the ear of a major label: Epic Records included the cut on their 1985 compilation Epic Presents: The Unsigned, a collection of (as the title describes) bands that had not yet signed with a major label.

Unfortunately, Epic passed on signing the band, and it was back to the drawing board. 1987 saw the release of Krandlebanum Monumentus, the band's most polished vinyl release. Boasting a sparkling new re-recording of "Tina Goes To The Supermarket," and promoted by a video clip for "Around The World" that got the band introduced to the MTV's 120 Minutes crowd, the record is highly recommended. 

That would turn out to be the last anyone heard of The Pressure Boys until a retrospective CD, The Incomplete Recordings: 1981-1988, appeared in 2008 in conjunction with the band reuniting for a couple of live shows to benefit research for a cure for cystic fibrosis. Containing all of the band's essential material from "Where The Cowboys Went" to "Around The World" (including the re-recording of "Tina Goes To The Supermarket"), it's an excellent starting point for those new to the band.  The CD, like all of The Pressure Boys' releases, has fallen out of print, but can be had as an mp3 download from

Here are two clips for this week's NW4NW entry: first up, the very DIY video for "Where The Cowboys Went;" following that is the band performing a live rendition of "Tina Goes To The Supermarket." Enjoy!

Enhanced by Zemanta

1 comment:

  1. Once upon a time I made a cassette tape from my college radio station, where I used to DJ. (Those were the days of the mixed tape.) I don't remember whose show I recorded, but I clearly recall The Pressure Boys' "Is this Normal?" as a highlight of that tape. Oh so many years later, I still often think of that song...still relate to its message...and still wonder where the heck that worn tape got to...