Exposé Online banner

Sweet Madness — Made in Spokane 1978-1981
(Light in the Attic SMLP008, 1981/2013, LP)

by Jon Davis, Published 2014-02-25

Made in Spokane 1978-1981 Cover artAt the end of the 70s, as the importance, popularity, and artistic viability of ambitious progressive rock waned and stripped-down punk and electronic styles started capturing interest and commercial success, it seems natural that talented musicians (those capable of playing more than three chords) would find ways to apply artistic creativity to the new music. So we have XTC, Devo, Talking Heads, and others, sometimes referred to as "art-punk." Sweet Madness hailed from Spokane, Washington, a city 300 miles east of Seattle that often seems like it's in a totally different world, sitting between vast areas of farmland and the sparsely populated forests of the Inland Northwest. Somehow this group of kids came up with a frenetic artistic brew full of driving rhythms, futuristic angst, and weird chord progressions, all mashed up into something that superficially resembles early New Wave. Early Devo and XTC are probably the best comparisons. Made in Spokane is full of surprises: first, that it exists at all is strange; second, that it sounds as good as it does considering the age of the recordings; third, that the music is so inventive. Even on the earliest of these tunes, the aesthetic is established, with titles like "I Need Electricity," "Assembly Line," and "Mechanical Things" giving a clue to the themes of alienation and commodification that recur. Within the confines of short tracks, most of which are quite energetic, there's a lot of quirky invention. Bits of surf guitar, 60s combo organ, chaotic bursts of noise, taped voices, unexpected chord changes, and more lift Sweet Madness out of the morass of dumber-than-thou thrashing that typified many bands of the time, especially in smaller markets outside the main cultural centers. Some of the members of Sweet Madness eventually became a band called Next Exit and relocated to Seattle, where they went through a variety of personnel and name permutations (Variant Cause, Koo Dot Tah), always one of the quirkiest and most artistic bands on the scene, no matter what they called themselves. This collection is a treasure trove for music historians, but beyond that it's just a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.

Filed under: New releases, 2013 releases, 1981 recordings

Related artist(s): Sweet Madness / Next Exit

More info
http://lightintheattic.net/artists/594-sweet-madness

Latest news

2021-04-01
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

2021-03-25
Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

2021-03-14
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

2021-03-11
RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Pineapple Thief - Variations on a Dream – I hope I don’t turn anyone off by saying Pineapple Thief has as much in common with Radiohead, Coldplay, and Smashing Pumpkins as they do with anyone in the prog community. In my book,...  (2004) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues