Philadelphia garage-poppers Nixon's Head wear their influences (Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, XTC, and both Nuggets boxes) on their sleeves, but their new wave-inflected jangle pop stays clear of the slavish revivalism that plagues similar bands. They're not pretending to be the 1976 Flamin' Groovies (who themselves were pretending to be the 1965 Beatles), in other words. Nixon's Head formed in 1985, when high school buddies Andy Rosenau (vocals), Jim Slade (primary songwriter and lead guitarist), Mike Frank (guitar), Michael Fingeroff (bass), and Seth Baer (drums) formed the nonsensically-named group inspired by other Philly post-post-punk indie bands like the Dead Milkmen and the Electric Love Muffin, but retaining an avowed love for '60s pop that set them apart. The group released their first EP, The Doug Factor, in 1986, and its follow-up, Traps, Buckshot and Pelts, in 1988, but the usual difficulties of life on the indie circuit caused the group to splinter. Rosenau was the first to leave, upon which the group temporarily changed its name to Frankenslade and recorded an unreleased psych-pop album akin to XTC's English Settlement period. By the time of the 1991 single "The New World Over," Nixon's Head were no more. Baer joined the Original Sins, while Slade and his wife moved to Hungary.
Normally, that would be that, but unexpectedly, Nixon's Head re-formed in 1997, with Fingeroff replaced by John Popovics and Frank's wife Dorothy Haug joining as organist and second lead singer. 1998's Gourmet was their first full-length release, with the band's new wave and British Invasion-era influences remaining intact. The even better and slightly more '60s-feeling follow-up, Take It!, came out in 2000. ~ Stewart Mason