Pylon Gyrate

[DB; 1980]

Styles: post-punk, new wave, geek rock
Others: B52’s, REM, Talking Heads, Slits

Before Michael Stipe sat on his throne at the 40 Watt in Athens, Georgia, peering out onto the masses and making bad hair choices, Pylon was turning the harder-edged American punk of Black Flag, the Wipers, and the Ramones inside out to create post punk as jangly as it was jagged.

Drawing on the nervous energy of the Talking Heads and the exclamations of Gang of Four that preceded them by a mere two years, the quartet's debut LP Gyrate is a barn-burning post-punk offering that heralded the new wave underneath the already shallow radars of the time.

Gyrate is full of bouncing grooves and disconnected lyrics, but Randy Bewley's ringing guitar carries each lyrical motif throughout, giving the album a smooth consistency that would inform R.E.M's work on Reckoning. In spots the album is almost too cohesive, with little bridge from one guitar line to the other.

This is rarely a problem, though, because of the virulent scowl of Vanessa Briscoe. She can yelp and growl on even par with the Raincoats and the Slits, though the subject matter may not be as intense. Like most of the post-punk bands emerging at the time, it was the juxtaposition of introspective tenacity and sweet, energetic melody that produced such fun, off-kilter songs.

Pylon was also unique for their sense of the whimsical. The songs on Gyrate aren't as openly goofy as any "Private Idaho," but they are packed with a witty sense of the obvious on many dorky counts. Their homage to intellect, "Read a Book," is perhaps the funniest example. At the end of the track Briscoe is in full-fledged scream saying, "Turn off the TV/You can learn more/try to do without it." There are few better moments to emerge from the new wave.

Though Pylon will probably be judged by history for their influences on R.E.M., the B52s, and, along with Gang of Four, the since-finished 'dance-punk' craze, Gyrate is one of the most complete offerings of its time, showing just how deep the new wave did indeed reach.

1. Volume
2. Feast On My Heart
3. Precaution
4. Weather Radio
5. The Human Body
6. Read A Book
7. Driving School
8. Gravity
9. Danger
10. Working Is No Problem
11. Stop It