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Gyrate Plus

Pylon

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Album Review

Pylon's first album, although it doesn't contain masterworks on the level of the first single "Dub" or the later single "Crazy," is considerably more consistent than the comparatively spotty Pylon!! and Chomp. This is Pylon at their purest, mixing the spartan angularity of Gang of Four with a playfulness missing from similar U.K. bands like the Au Pairs or the early Mekons (or indeed from Gang of Four themselves) as well as the irresistible danceability of their Athens, GA, compatriots the B-52's. Yet Pylon never quite sounded like anyone except Pylon; their naïve instrumental style — guitarist Randy Bewley claimed that he didn't even know the names of any notes or chords — and singer Vanessa Briscoe's inimitable voice (moving from a flirtatious coo to a Meredith Monk shriek in the space of a line) and inscrutable lyrics are so idiosyncratic that they probably couldn't sound like anyone else any more than another band could tackle a Pylon song. (Remember the botch R.E.M. made of "Crazy"?) Highlights here include the spirited opener "Volume," the evocative instrumental "Weather Radio" (probably the prettiest song on the record), and Briscoe's impassioned "Feast on My Heart." Later pressings of this album replace the first track on side two, "Driving School," with "Recent Title." Both tracks are available on the 1989 compilation Hits. [DFA's 2007 remastered edition adds both sides of the band's first single ("Cool"/"Dub"), a B-side from the Cool 12" ("Danger!!) and a previously unreleased demo ("Functionality").]

Biography

Formed: 1978 in Athens, GA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Despite failing to equal the commercial success or cross-cultural impact of their Athens, GA, compatriots R.E.M. and the B-52's, Pylon's influence on the city's legendary music scene proved just as pronounced — the group's propulsive, angular jangle pop sound resonated not only through the Athens creative community but throughout the American pop underground of the 1980s, and though more heard-of than actually heard, their role as elder statesmen of the alternative rock explosion is unassailable....
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Gyrate Plus, Pylon
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