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

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Tim Song Jones - The Plural of Hear – Could this be the musical interpretation of fractals, recursion, and random number generation ? This is highly original music, created using mostly DX-7 and Wavestation, E-Bow guitar, digital drums,...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues