Carsickness: 1979-1982 (Rave Up Records, 2015/reissued by Get Hip, 2017)

May 24, 2017 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Carsickness: 1979-1982

Excellent anthology of a Pittsburgh band called Carsickness who played a strange, arty (but not quite in a downtown New York way) sort of post-punk for a few years during the late ’70s and early ’80s. The vocals sound a lot like Mission of Burma (or occasionally a bit like Joe Strummer), and the songs sometimes have a punk attitude, but they aren’t quite as nihilistic as most of the other punk bands from that time. They don’t seem like they were safety pin/mohawk punks, but they weren’t quite skinny tie new wavers either. Also, there’s strange time signatures and arrangements, and sometimes horns or keyboards. The songs themselves are usually short, but tightly packed and complex. Some of it almost seems like weirder, angrier power-pop, and some of it is like a tighter, midwestern version of no wave, in some ways. The first song “Bill Wilkinson” immediately caught my attention; it started out and I was like “ok, power pop but slightly distorted, got it”, but then it turns out to be a song angrily addressed at the grand wizard of the KKK, featuring copious shouts of “KKK fuck you!”, and I am entirely down with that. A lot of the songs are short (some less than a minute) but packed with ideas. While most of them have somewhat skewed poppy song structures, there’s also weirder experiments like the drum solo and sax/screaming of “Hearts in Traction”. “Crazy Thing” is a frantic number incorporating synths, saxes, and honking car horns, along with manic speech and radio announcements. “For You” sounds like they’d been listening to the Psychedelic Furs, but wanted to make something slightly more upbeat. The album ends with an acoustic, string-laden version of “Bill Wilkinson” which is actually angrier and more expletive-heavy than the original. Carsickness released 2 albums and EPs and appeared on an early Sub Pop cassette compilation once, but they seem to have remained obscure. I’m a little surprised this band hasn’t received more recognition, beyond a few tracks included on Hyped To Death compilations, but that’s just how it goes. Excellent collection, excellent band. Stream right now over at Bandcamp.

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