It’s become apparent that the future-shock boots-shaking all those umpteen “neo-new wave” bands have been squawking about (man into machine, earth as overconsumption junk heap) is less warning than self-fulfilling prophecy. The CD piles from today’s quarter-assed Devo-dredgers would bloat your local landfill.
Indie label In the Red, though, is ahead of the compost. They’ve made their mark by releasing some of the best, non-trend trash rock (Bassholes, Dirtbombs, Reigning Sound, Cheater Slicks) and have been respectfully aware of retaining some semblance of forward peeping. Hence their recent signings (Piranhas, Clone Defects, Volt) have veered toward analog synth-abetted scrunch punk much more abrasive than the usual asymmetrical haircut and pointy pumps Bananaramalama ding-dongs.
Still, In the Red must’ve been cooling its heels as Lost Sounds were releasing six albums and some singles since 1999, until the label snatched them up in 2004. Recent live shows suggest the band may have already passed a prime. The palpable fuming between singer Jay Jay and guitarist-keyboardist Alicja Trout that once fueled their vicious sets has subsided because they had to go and break up and “become friends” or whatever. So now they’re merely becoming one of the best rock bands in the country. To their old punk chums (Lost Sounds rose from the piss puddle of late-’90s drunk punks, the Reatards) who would brand Lost Sounds’ latest CD too “together,” well, that used to be called artistic development. From constant touring, the band has stripped away drab prog tendencies, and tightened their metallic-tinged Devolutions into what out grandkids will deride as just pop.
Their secret weapon—beyond Jay’s Six Million Dollar Teen screech and a slamming drummer (nearly nonexistent in most current post-punk)—is the synth soundbite melodies gripping their three-minute tempests. If you’re not yet wrinkled enough to recall circa-’81 sports highlight reel theme songs, these sharp hooks just might hit you like a ton of virtual bricks.
Lost Sounds have been the center of a Memphis, Tennessee, scene of spacey spunk (Mouse Rocket, Final Solutions) with an insular interest in mining the early ’80s in a manner far removed from the two coasts’ pouty, trendy takes. But they may finally be ready to crawl up out of their cult cocoon. And in some crevice of In the Red’s craw, they’re probably hoping Lost Sounds is a bit of a breakout “hit.” If so, they’ll have to plow through a swelling heap.