Monday, December 6, 2010

New Wave for the New Week #108

It's a shame more people haven't heard Sheila Macartney sing.  Landing about midway on the vocal spectrum between Deborah Harry and Siouxsie Sioux, Sheila's voice was confident, commanding and just a bit exotic - and nowadays tucked away in a back corner of the New Wave vault with the rest of her criminally forgotten band, Fay Ray.

Fay Ray was a five-piece ensemble from Bangor, Wales, who first made noise in 1980 with a single, "Family Affair," which was strong enough to get major-label attention.  Elektra Records liked the band's high-energy sound, and in 1982 released Fay Ray's lone album, Contact You.  On the album, Fay Ray comes across as a band with great potential.  A bit obsessed with themes of emotional detachment (the title track, "Modern Lovers") and global thermonuclear war ("Heatwave," "Wargames"), perhaps, but passionate and enthusiastic in their delivery. Theirs was a hook-filled amalgamation of post-punk, rock and pop, with a few surprises turning up here and there (an accordion solo?!?).  In a perfect world, Fay Ray would have been huge.

Alas, the world is imperfect, and Contact You did not connect with an audience.  A second album was recorded, but poor sales for the debut meant that Elektra chose not to release it.  Fay Ray dissolved shortly thereafter.  Contact You has never seen a legitimate CD release, but the album is not difficult to find and well worth digging up.

Sheila (now going by the name Sheila Brook) currently sings for another obscure combo, Turnstone, lending her voice to a somewhat moodier but nonetheless excellent sound.  Poke around their website and you can find a few examples of their music for your enjoyment.

But before you go there, enjoy this week's NW4NW entry, the clip for Fay Ray's shoulda-been hit, "Modern Lovers":

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