Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Five Forgotten Pioneers: Part 2

OK, here's part two! (Part one is here.)

R. Stevie Moore

R. Stevie Moore has been making independent underground pop since the 1960's. Recording and releasing most of his music himself, Moore established a DIY aesthetic that would eventually be the hallmark of lo-fi, the dominant movement of American indie pop. Moore's music itself isn't lo-fi, but in his recordings, you can hear the beginnings of the intentionally messy and proudly raw sounds later adopted by the likes of Sebadoh and Pavement. Even the use of basic multitrack recording equipment like Moore's has become a badge of honor among American indie bands from Guided by Voices to the White Stripes.

Moore's releases number in the hundreds if not thousands, so of course, there's a lot of dud songs in there, but the average quality is surprisingly high. The variety among the releases is itself amazing, with genre-crossing composition at times akin to Beck's. Experimental but accessible, his pop music has always been forward-looking, innovative and fun.

NEWS: R. Stevie Moore is playing November 11, 2008 at Cake Shop in NYC. See you there!

Mirrors (a.k.a. the Styrenes)

Of the many groups immediately preceding the punk movement, few have been more forgotten than Mirrors. Part of the Cleveland scene that hatched the Electric Eels, Rocket from the Tombs and Pere Ubu, Mirrors formed in 1973, recorded a small amount of material (the majority of which went unreleased until 2001), then changed names and directions and continued into the 1980's at the Styrenes.

Mirrors play a raw, aggressive proto-punk like the Stooges or the Electric Eels, but with more thoughtful experimentalism than these bands, borrowing from early Pink Floyd as well as the Velvet Underground-inspired Cleveland and Detroit scenes. The intellectual approach of Mirrors to the subversively raw proto-punk of their peers in many ways predicts the post-punk movement, which would add the very same slowed-down thoughtfulness to its punk roots. Intelligent and creative, Mirrors included touches of prog rock and noise in their music, but they never once forgot to rock out.

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