11 Apr 2012

Big In Japan

Big In Japan – Cindy and the Barbi Dolls (1978)

“It was more performance art than rock and roll. But it gave me a healthy disregard for musicianship. It's ideas that are important, not proficiency.” Ian Broudie

7 Apr 2012

Elegant Doormats / ST 37

“Elegant Doormats were the trio of long time ST 37 bassist / vocalist Scott Telles, Leigh Newsom on guitar and original ST 37 drummer John Foxworth, plus guests on synths, guitar and electric cello. A lot of this reminds me of Elliott Sharp’s mid-80s band Mofungo, with it’s avant punky song style, quirky ever-shifting rhythms and always interesting guitar work. Though of course as this was released in 1986 it’s entirely possible that Sharp heard Elegant Doormats and then formed Mofungo. Ya never know! In any event, the band produced some really good songs that were accessible, often humorous, and backed by thoughtfully arranged and well played music. ‘Ninety-Two’ is one of my favorites and definitely a track with the synth, cello and extra guitar guests. The style is similar to the previous tracks but it’s got a much better and fuller sound, with lots of cool freaky guitar bits and efx embellishments. In fact, the subsequent tracks all seem to have the better recorded sound. I could actually come up with a load of 1980s analogies that Elegant Doormats sound like, though the Doormat have most of them beat in terms of having played more imaginative instrumental arrangements. The closing track, ‘Cryph (Last Pale Mammoth)’ is a bit different from the rest, sounding like a 7 minute heavy psych, no-wave instrumental. It rocks hard and freaks out! Diehard ST 37 who want some history should check this out, as should anyone into the 1980s avant-rock underground. Crazy songs for silly souls.” Jerry Kranitz

“[Scott] Telles formed the Elegant Doormats in spring 1982 with original ST 37 drummer John Foxworth (who later joined Tulum). The group endured for five years, playing with bands like the Butthole Surfers and the Reivers, and recording with legendary God of Hellfire Arthur Brown.” ST 37

Elegant Doormats Consistent Inconsistency (1982–86) Cassette (SPASMS, 1987)
“ST 37 was formed in January 1987 as a merger of sorts between Austin cult bands Tulum and the Elegant Doormats. Bassist SL Telles has been active in the Texas music underground since singing with Houston teen punkers Vast Majority in 1979–80, releasing a single on Wild Dog Records that has since been reissued several times, including outtakes.” ST 37

ST 37 flyer, late 80s
“After recruiting Jon Torn (son of Rip; from the band Thanatopsis Throne) on keyboards, ST 37 began playing out in April of 1987 at the Cave Club with the Def MFs (still called Def MCs at that point). The stage was set right away when Telles informed the crowd that if they didn’t like it they could leave. The band released the cassette EP Billygoat Nothinghead late in the year, and thus began a string of cassette only releases. ST 37 made their vinyl debut in 1990 on the Noiseville Records sampler, From Twisted Minds Come…, and the 7" single, Look at yr Chair, followed soon afterward. Lance Farley replaced Foxworth on the drum throne at this point and Shane Shelton took over from Torn on the keyboard duties. Live shows continued unabated, with ST 37 organizing the Noisefests at Waterloo Park featuring bands like Ed Hall, Seemen, Crust, Liquid Mice, Pocket FishRmen, Coz the Shroom, Squat Thrust, etc.” ST 37

Not the Elegant Doormats but ST 37, in 1987. Scott Telles in the far right.
Almost a decade ago, I was lucky (and happy!) to keep up correspondance with Scott Telles a few times. Having been a huge fan of Vast Majority, got really interested in any project Scott had done afterwards. So this is how he introduced me not only to the sounds of Elegant Doormats and ST 37 – but also to the ones by the Grinning Souls, the Critics, Men In Coats and a long etcetera. Always interesting and challenging music!

Elegant Doormats Yesterday Box Cassette (SPASMS, 1986)
[Remastered by Scott Telles & Bryan Nelson at Sweatbox Studios, 2002]

Elegant Doormats – Grey Area

Elegant Doormats – Rusty Purple Boogaloo

Elegant Doormats – Pain (from the What Do You Want to Be CD)

ST 37 Billygoat Nothinghead Cassette EP (SPASMS, 1987)
[from ST 37 Vicarious Billygoat CD]

ST 37 – Funky Gumby

ST 37 Feature Silica Vicarious Cassette LP (SPASMS, 1988)
[from ST 37 Vicarious Billygoat CD]

 ST 37 – Barbed Wire

ST 37 – Grey Area

More info here and here.

El Sob

“The name El Sob is short for El Sobrante, a California city, which is Spanish for ‘leftovers’ (as noted on the band’s web site). If this band is leftovers, I’d eat this music every night instead of warmed-up spaghetti (which everyone knows tastes better the next night anyway). With echoes of the Bunnymen, El Sob revives all that was cool about the 80s into a garagey, folksy, post-punky sound all their own. Comprised of Earl Grinstead, Bruce Rayburn (formerly of the band Yo), and Sally Englefried (also formerly of Yo), the band takes its listeners through hard life lyrical lessons using laughter as its catalyst. These serious musicians know how to make listeners keep the CD on repeat. No sad, sappy whiners in this bunch. No way. With electrified sound, and vocals with an edge of Michael Stipe-ness, this band has both attitude and talent. This is an album that says, in the words of the humble Jeff Spicoli, ‘Hey, Bud, let’s party.’ I’m so totally there.” Erin West

El Sob: Earl Grinstead, Sally Engelfried, Bruce Rayburn. Pic by Michael Miro
Few years ago I was lucky to get in touch with Bruce Rayburn (formerly of the great bands Xmas Eve / Yo), and could not resist to ask him about his latest music project, El Sob. He was very kind and sent me the two albums they had recorded in the past years – as usual, they sounded terrific.

El Sob Life in Antarctica CD (Abominable Records, 1996)

El Sob – Cold

El Sob Welcome to El Sob CD (Abominable Records, 2003)

El Sob – Albatross