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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nervus Rex - s/t

Name: Nervus Rex
Album: s/t
Year: 1980
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: B-52's, Devo, A's, Bananarama, Squeeze, Daves
"One-Word" Review: Smooth Wave
Based Out Of: NYC
Label: Dreamland Records, RSO Records, Polygram Distribution
s/t - Cover & Record
s/t - Back & Record

Nervus Rex (1980)
  1. There She Goes 2:45
  2. Go Go Girl 3:35
  3. Spies 2:29
  4. Real Life 3:29
  5. Start from the Start 3:02/
  6. The God Sheila 3:36
  7. Don't Look 4:00
  8. The Incredible Crawling Eye 3:40
  9. Nobody Told Me 3:18
  10. Venus 1:54
Album Rating (1-10): 9.0

Members & Other Bands:Shaun Brighton - Vox, Guitar (the Puppets)
Lauren Agnelli - Vox, Keys, Guitar (writer: Trixie A. Balm, Washington Squares)
Jonathan Lee Gildersleeve - Drums (Ohio Express)
Dianne Athey - Bass, Design (The Riddles)
Commander Mike Chapman - Producer
Doug Schwartz - Engineer
Steve Hall- Mastering
Glenn Ross - Art Direction
Tim Owens - Design
Moshe Brakha - Photography

Unknown-Ness: I’ve never heard of this band, but from the artwork, the brilliant colors, the electricity in the name, and their clothing, I am super excited to review this record, in hopes that this is the type of new wave record I always hope for. I assume it is new wave; hopefully with angsty neurotic (nervous) vocals and angular catchy pop hooks. The name, image and year are spot on.

Album Review: “There She Goes” starts boldly off with a bouncy bass note repeated to give the nervous beat. The vocals are smooth and catchy. The keyboard in the background has a great organ sound to it. The chorus is very catchy with a pounding, urgent feeling. The verse repeats over and over, but it is so catchy that it is quite desirable. This is a great example of new wave music from this era. It even features female vocals in the background.
“Go Go Girl” has an 80’s radio pop guitar sound, and the tempo and rhythm of the song is like the Ramones, where the same tone is carried out at different levels. But the production is much smoother. The chorus has a dark and secretive tone. The title is revisited at the end of the song with a revised melody that loops and goes off like a siren, like the end of Elvis Costello’s “Accident’s Will Happen”
“Spies” a male/female harmonized vocal starts off the song repeating “the spies.” Then the song bounces right off the handle. It is all the great elements of nervous, anxious, and rushed. It drives and is a rollercoaster of pitch, with the chorus driving right down the musical scale. This reminds me of the Daves.
“Real Life” first feels like the B-52’s with a bit of surf guitar. But the melody is disjointed and rollicking along, more like Devo. It is a constantly building melody that never quite reaches the boiling over point. The chorus, once it is reached, simply simmers down, never giving a satisfying delivery. But this song’s vocal production is incredibly smooth, also featuring female vocals in the background.“Start from the Start” features a blip beeping like a heart monitor in the beginning. This offers the tempo. This is a female sung new wave song, not quite as free-natured as a B-52’s song, but in tight mechanical control. This is a song that builds up and resets, also one that does not offer a satisfying delivery. It ends with the same pulsing blip.

“The God Shelia” starts with a familiar set of tones, but is sung in the same style of real life: incredibly smooth. It has one basic stanza that is only elevated in tone to make the chorus. But it is the same couple of rising and falling sections repeated through out. It is a little repetitive and simplistic, but that does not make it a horrible song. The changing tones are fun to follow along with. On a side note, I’ve been watching the League, so I cannot stop picturing their god of praise on the show, Shiva.
“Don't Look” was apparently their big single on an earlier release, re-recorded here. It feels a little less jumpy and neurotic until the bass kicks in and the song reaches the chorus. It uses the creative lyric structure saying “Don’t look at me that way” which evolves into the opposite phrasing of “Look At Me That Way.” The verse is more pub rock than new wave.
“The Incredible Crawling Eye” is by far, the most campy and creative of the tracks. It combines the surf guitar style of many B-Horror Movies with a storyline about going to see a stupid B-Horror-Movie all the while advertising the movie to the listener. The verse is built on a call & response with the female vocals answering or elaborating on the lead vocals commentary. This is a very B-52’s, fun song. In the middle of the song, we actually hear from the Eye itself, via use of vocal manipulation and distortion, including a wacky laugh from the eye.
“Nobody Told Me” also is rooted in oldies rock and roll, with a bit of a surf guitar overlapping a jangly guitar, and a bouncy bass beat. This song builds up with a smooth let down, such is the production style.
“Venus” is a cover of the song, made more popular a few years later by Bananarama. It is pretty true to The Shocking Blue’s original, minus the honky tonk, with a female vocals, a nice organ & surf Guitar enhancement. It sounds like a version that ? & the Mysterians might have done, just a little quicker and tightened up.

Stand Out Track: There She Goes

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