Monday, February 7, 2011

New Wave for the New Week #110

"Lawnchairs are everywhere
They're everywhere
And my mind describes them to me..."

That particular bit of paranoid nonsense is the chorus of one of the most wonderful one-hit New Wave obscurities in the genre's history, the 1980 single "Lawnchairs" by Our Daughters Wedding.  ODW was among that early batch of synthesizer bands who had not succumbed to the Europop glossiness of the New Romantics, but instead were plinking away robotically and winking ironically at those listening to their off-kilter lyrics and skittish melodies.

Keith Silva, Layne Rico and Scott Simon started playing together in San Francisco in the late seventies, trying their hand at guitar-based Punk, but found little success.  By 1979 the three had reunited in New York City and agreed to get the band back together, but this time they replaced the guitars and drums with synths and rhythm machines.  They built a following among fans of like-minded bands such as Mi-Sex, The Units and Silicon Teens, and in 1980 had their first two singles out on the independent Design label; first "Nightlife," then their cult favorite, "Lawnchairs."

In 1981 they were picked up by the EMI label and released an ep, Digital Cowboys, which, in typical major-label fashion, contained a re-recorded version of "Lawnchairs." This new, far more polished and far less appealing version of their "hit" was quickly issued as a single to replace the earlier version.  EMI was moving the band toward a more commercial sound, smoothing the rough edges and making their music more accessible to the MOR crowd. The track "Target For Life" showed promise, though.

ODW's first and only full-length album, Moving Windows, soon followed, showing even more potential.  They found themselves on tour with Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark, The Psychedelic Furs, and other such MTV-approved New Wave bands, and they might have found similar success had they not had a severe falling out with the bigwigs at EMI.  The label pulled support for the record, which quickly sank into obscurity, and that was the end of Our Daughters Wedding

All of ODW's records fell out of print, but in 2006 very nearly all of their recordings, including both versions of "Lawnchairs," were collected for a CD release, Nightlife: The Collection.  Missing only one album track and a few b-sides and obscurities, it is as complete a discography of ODW as you could hope for.  Unfortunately it, too, is now out of print and fetches high dollars if you can find it.  You'll have better luck tracking down the vinyl - just be sure when you find the "Lawnchairs" single you have the 1980 Design records version, not the EMI re-release from a year later!

There is no video clip for "Lawnchairs," just the audio-only clip below. Enjoy this obscure New Wave gem!

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