traumatic harmony
the pataphysical study of randomized sound
The Gizmos

I’m going to start phase 2 of this blog talking about something that combines many parts of who I am. Anyone who’s been around me for the past couple weeks has heard me do nothing but rave about the Gizmos. They tout themselves as the first punk rock group from Bloomington, Indiana, forming in 1976 and doing their thing until 1981. I’m not entirely sure what it is about their music that makes me weak in the knees, but it sure does.

It starts with their logo, a simple curved block script with the “z” exploding into its own thing. It might be that their from the midwest, the place that will always be home for me even if I live elsewhere. But my love of them basically boils down to the purity of their music. I’m generally not one to talk about musical purity; I’m all for bastardized, mongoloid musical mutts, but when it comes to the Gizmos they take purity to such a degree that you can’t help but take note. The songs all feature fairly basic rock guitar licks that show a heavy surf influence, surprising considering that the nearest ocean is about a thousand miles from Bloomington. Adding to this is that they really only use clean guitar tones (with some mild distortion every now and then); the lack of heavy distortion makes the songs float gently into your welcoming ears. What strikes me the most about the music, though, is the forthrightness of the lyrics. Yeah, they use a lot of the 50s “shoo-bee-do-whop” type thing in choruses, but the verses all have a kind of naïve honesty to them. Whether they’re being honest to a girl (in “Cry Real Tears”), wanting to become famous (“Dead Astronaut”), mourning because the girl they like is a lesbian (“Melinda is a Lesbian”), just missing home (“The Midwest Can be Allright”), they always talk in simple and forward terms which is totally irresistible. They only have a few different distinct songs, but that’s ok; Johnny Thunders, Nikki Sudden, Jonathan Richman and others of their ilk (and I consider the Gizmos to be of their ilk) from that period were about the same.

All of their releases have come out on the generally fantastic Gulcher record label. In their Bloomington period, the Gizmos recorded 6 proper EPs, all of which are fairly jokey with songs like “Muff Diving,” “Amerika First,” “Human Garbage Disposal,” and “Progressive Rock.” In 1980 or so the group moved to New York where they recorded a bunch of demos that show their songwriting at its peak, simultaneously simple and complex. There are three pretty fantastic CD comps of their stuff which Gulcher put out over the past few years that have just about everything they ever did: 1976/77 The Studio Recordings, 1978-81: Never Mind the Gizmos Here’s the Gizmos, and Rock and Roll Don’t Come from New York. I would call them all pretty much essential, if you’re a punk rock fan. That and the amazing Gulcher sampler, Red Snerts - but good like finding the LP, which is crazy hard to find, although Gulcher did reissue it on CD. 
By the way, Mr Science nee Brad Garton of Red Snert's Dow Jones and the Industrials somehow ended up at P-ton by '83 or so, as a grad student in music. He was my TA. Nextly, Yara Cluver, bassist for The Panics, visited P-ton at least a coupla times as did Gulcher honcho Bob Richert himself, mostly to visit one Yuvie Taylor, class of '85 and the direct importer of Gulcher 45's into the PRB 45 stacks in the first place. But Gizmos-wise, there really were two Gizmos, and while I like'em both, they were, other than the exploding-z-ed logo, as different as three chords can get from each other...
Whoa. Crazy. I always wondered how we ended up with Dancing Cigarettes 7"s and such... but as for there being 2 Gizmos, I will grant you that. I do think there's some kind of continuity between the two, though, but I'll have to relisten to the CDs of early stuff to figure out what.
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Location: Durham, NC

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Albums/Things of the Moment

Gal Costa - Gal
X - Los Angeles/Wild Gift
Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians
The Factums - The Sistrum
The Dark Knight
Jay Reatard - Matador 7"s
Sub Pop Singles Club III
Mississippi Records
Byard Lancaster

Radio Waves

lexicon devil
agony shorthand
keeping score at home
something I learned today
deadly tango
her jazz
strange reaction
god and a bottle in me
in case of mishaps
20 jazz funk greats
funky 16 corners
moon sash
mental archipelago
crud crud
just for a day
little hits
everything is fire

Odds and Sods
my old wprb playlists
my reviews on dusted
dusty groove

August 2002 / September 2002 / October 2002 / November 2002 / December 2002 / January 2003 / February 2003 / March 2003 / April 2003 / May 2003 / June 2003 / July 2003 / August 2003 / September 2003 / October 2003 / November 2003 / December 2003 / January 2004 / February 2004 / September 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / July 2008 /
all posts before december 2004 are old wprb playlists. I wish I could say I've been blogging that long, but that's simply not the truth.

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