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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Human Sexual Response = Fig. 14

Name: Human Sexual Response
Album Fig. 14
Year: 1980
Style: New Wave, Jangle Pop
Similar Bands: Devo, Blotto, Television, Tom Verlaine, Squeeze
One Word Review: Urgent, Menacing Jangles
Based Out Of: Boston 
Label: Passport Records, EAT Records, Jem Records
 Fig. 14 - Cover, Liner Notes, Record
 Fig. 14 - Back, Liner Notes, Record
Fig 14. Credits Close-up
Fig. 14 (1980)
  1. Guardian Angel 3:48
  2. Dick & Jane 4:13
  3. Jackie Onassis 3:48
  4. Cool Jerk 2:35
  5. Dolls 4:57/
  6. What Does Sex Mean to Me? 4:47
  7. Marone Moan 3:42
  8. Unba Unba 2:53
  9. Anne Frank Story 6:24
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Larry Bangor - Vox (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds, Sugar, Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins)
Casey Cameron - Vox (Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins) 
Windle Davis - Vox (Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins)
Dini Lamon - Vox, Tambourine (Kazoondheit, Honey Bea & the Mellow Muffins, Musty Chiffon)
Rich Gilbert - Guitars (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds, Concussion Ensemble, Tanya Donelly, Frank Black, Uncle Tupelo, Steve Wynn. Throwing Muses, Lemonheads, Steve Westfield, The Family Cat, Crown Electric Company, Condo Pygmies, Country Bumpkins, CLOWN, The United States, The Coronet Premiers, Blackstone Valley Sinners, Eileen Rose & The Holy Wreck, Thad Cockerell)
Chris Maclachlan - Bass (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds)
Malcolm Travis - Drums (The Zulus, Wild Kingdom, Screaming Mimis, Gospel Birds, Sugar, Concussion Ensemble)
John Doelp - Producer
Don Roze - Executive Producer
Eddie Ciletti - Recording
J.D. - Recording
Ben Wisch - Mixing Engineer
Hipgnosis - Cover
Paul Maxon - Cover
Richard Manning - Photo Coloring
Colin Chambers - Line Drawing
BC Kagan - Back Cover Photo

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of this band…looks like it may be calculated, yet fun. Retro, random artwork of children juxtaposed against the band name and album title, seems to illustrate a contradictory, yet clever, say hipsterry theme. I imagine new wave since it is from 1980, but to what degree, and how much nervousness, is yet to be found.

Album Review: So the guitarist, Rich Gilbert, has gone on to play with some of the most popular and big artists from the Boston area, namely Tanya Donelly and Frank Black. He has also worked on many a Bob Mould-Sugar album. They are still playing one-off reunion shows, even up to this year, 2017. But they never received much nationwide success, despite being played on KROQ in LA.
 “Guardian Angel” kicks in with a drum beat, and enters jangley pop territory. The vocals are jittery, and nervous, much like Tom Verlaine, with backing harmonized vocals for key phrases in the verse. There is some good energy to the song, but it is pretty non-threatening, and like a sloppier early-mid era Talking Heads
“Dick & Jane” is a little darker, with a fuzzy feedback guitar punctuating the verse, which is delivered in a cold and broken in structure. Verse two takes the guitar up a couple of octaves, but still is screeching with feedback. The chorus is just a chant of the chorus. The song is a little tedious, as it does not expand over the segmented and stumbling tempo, perhaps chanting a little like Devo.
“Jackie Onassis” was their “big hit.” It starts off with a cymbal, and sleepily and jangley begins, as if part of a dream. It charges ahead with a confident stomp with some prog-guitar flourishes, mixing in dreamy oh-yeahs in time. The song ends with call and response oh yeahs between the singer and backing chorus.
“Cool Jerk” begins with a bouncy and Squeeze-like bass line…the song jitters along anxiously, and would be a fun song to dance to during a live set. It is repetitive, but in a fun, catchy and building way. There are breaks in the song, that still pound forward with a pulsing drum beat. The song is just a Isley Brother’s “Shout” or Checker’s “Twist,” requesting to do the popular dance along with the band as a soundtrack.
“Dolls” also feels like an early Chris Difford/Squeeze song, with some wonky sound effects, and methodical, Devo-ish singing. The song refers to dolls coming to life. It builds and grows, but stays along a very narrow path of musical diversity. The song feels like it wears out its welcome, looping alarm-like vocals that build in intensity, but doesn’t really evolve or capitalize.

“What Does Sex Mean to Me?” starts with a basic rhythm setting the tempo…this is filled with some classic lines like “Virgins Die Horny” and “I put my fingers to my tongue / I taste vagina” Really the song juxtaposes how other societies view sex versus how we/the singer view sex, with some quite political/moral topics amongst the reactionary lyrics. The song, with its anxious, jittery vocals, and repetitive chorus fits cleanly on the album, but it feels like, aside from the instrumental, complex music is traded in for a clear, intelligible platform.
“Marone Moan” starts out quietly, with a less neurotic vocal. It feels a little renaissance like, lofty world and roots music at first. Then it gets a little progressive as the vocals harmonize into a wind-swept cadence. The urgency grows with the pulsing guitar and ethereal “AAhhhhhh” and then it just…ends.
“Unba Unba” begins with a dark guitar line, and a steady drum beat, which creates a bit of a menacing back ally atmosphere. Unba is the stuttering start in the chorus for the work unbelievable. Before the final urgent verse, the vocals swirl into a whirlpool of syllables and notes. And the song, also repeating like an alarm, winds itself up to a sudden stop.
“Anne Frank Story” is their sad, slow ballad. It too, has a bit of a mysterious menacing tone, but the sullen mood is felt as the calm vocals sadly croon and shutter about the Anne Frank Museum. The drums are bombastic and striking. After 2 minutes, the song changes direction a bit, picking up a driving progressive pace to reset the scene, back to the sad reflective verse. It has a bit of a similar feel to the Hooter’s “All You Zombies” which came out 5 years later. The lyric that is repeated the most is perhaps “Time Warp At The Anne Frank Museum.” And the song seems to build and exit just as quietly as it began.

Stand Out Track: Cool Jerk

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