Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Saucers - What We Did

Another amazing event from the Gizmos weekend was the chance to play shows with one of the
members of Rocket From the Tombs, bassist Craig Bell, in his new band, Deezen. I am a huge RFTT fan (I can't believe that I haven't written about the record of theirs that I have) and, of course, their famous spin-off bands, Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys. But, Craig had his own great combo after the break-up of Rocket and his relocation to New Haven, CT.: the Saucers. To make this world even smaller, it turns out that their first gig was with the Survivors, with my old pal Mike Czekaj, from the Fuzztones and Alter Egos!

This CD is made up of songs taken from three separate recording sessions, each with slightly different line-ups as people came and went around Craig and drummer Mark Mulcahy - and there's a nice booklet with the CD that explains all of the details. All are cool and I wouldn't say that any were necessarily better than the other, but all have good songs and sharp playing.

Craig was the primary (but not only) songwriter in the band and the CD opens with a great cut of his, "Muckraker", with the original line-up consisting of keyboardist Malcolm Doak and guitarist Malcolm Marsden fleshing out Craig and Mark's rhythm section. When advertising for members for the band, Bell cited the Velvets, Kinks and Eno as influences ad they all make their mark on this tune, with its quirky, new-wave-y keyboard parts, incessant beat and angular, noisy guitar lines - not dissimilar from early Voidoids and pretty damn great. There's some obvious 60's garage influences in Marsden's "Orpheus", without being retro, while "Annie" is damn near poppy!

"Frustration" is a bass-driven instrumental, kinda reminiscent of RFTT, and has some nice synth-noise and "Slow Down" is quite Velvet-y - almost a cross between "Femme Fatale" and the organ-dominated "Ocean", with some clever twists and turns. The final cut from the first session is a new take on the fantastic epic, "Final Solution", made famous by Pere Ubu, but done justice here with a drivin' rhythm and plenty of keyboard and guitar dissonance.

When they got back to the studio a year later Doak had left and was replaced with a 2nd guitar player, Seth Tiven. "Roadmaster" is quite rockin', filled with energy and some RFTT-ish chords, catchy vocals and lots o punk-punch. There's an update on "Muckraker" with some raw, two-guitar attack, another take on "Frustration" and then the manic "I Didn't Get It". Marsden provides the title track - a new-wave-y singalong with a wacky breakdown, as well as "Take a Chance", a snappy number epitomizing late 70's punk.

From the 1980 session - with Katherine Cormack joining on keys and guitar after the departure of Marsden - we get the pure 60's pop of "A Certain Kind of Shy" and a damn great anthem "She's Alright" that throws in garage, new-wave, punk and pop elements so that there's something for everyone and still manages to make a superior tune. There's Who-like chords and catchy riffs highlighting "Mirrors" (theme song for the band?) and the bouncy bubblegum of "Quiet Boy" before the high energy garage romps of "Hypnotized" and "I Need Drugs". The proceedings close with a live cut from their practice loft, the terrific "Why Me" - powerful and memorable - making it all that much more of a shame that they split while writing such good tunes.

A very cool example of early punk/new-wave coolness that was happening in all kinds of odd parts of the country, like New Have, Connecticut! Fine, fine stuff!