Exposé Online banner

Sweet Madness — Made in Spokane 1978-1981, Volume 2
(Light in the Attic SMLP0009, 1981/2015, LP)

by Jon Davis, Published 2015-05-29

Made in Spokane 1978-1981, Volume 2 Cover art

In my review of Made in Spokane I mentioned the unlikeliness of its mere existence, and now that defiance of odds is compounded by the release of Volume 2, 15 more tracks from this hyperactive Northwest band. As with the previous collection, the recordings date from 1978-1981, and several of the songs later showed up in the repertoire of successor bands Next Exit and Variant Cause. As someone who saw Variant Cause dozens of times in Seattle during their existence, it’s both disorienting and nostalgic to hear “Sleeping without You” and the others in this embryonic form, though maybe “embryonic” isn’t the right word. The compositions are complete, with lyrics, melodies, and all ready for prime time, it’s the youth of the band and somewhat primitive recording quality that marks the Sweet Madness versions. Certainly by the standards of modern recording (even of the home studio variety), these tracks are lacking, but there are so many positives that outweigh those negatives. Certainly anyone who remembers the band from its brief lifespan (admittedly a small audience), or those who encountered Next Exit or Variant Cause (a slightly larger group) should be thrilled to hear this. The question is: how does it work for everyone else? I’d say anyone interested in the art-punk of the early 80s should find something to like here. The early years of Devo, Talking Heads, and XTC are good reference points, and even something like Cardiacs (though Sweet Madness is not as audaciously loopy) provides an indication of the general area. Intelligent, quirky New Wave with touches of surf music and cynical (dare I say “ironic”) futurism. Smart kids with big ideas and no sense of limitations from others — a recipe for something interesting that has stood the test of time.


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases, 1981 recordings

Related artist(s): Sweet Madness / Next Exit

Latest news

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

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Torn Curtain - Torn Curtain – Torn Curtain is the debut effort by former Mauve Sideshow keyboard wizard Dusty Lee and his new vocalist Sheila. Consisting of the four songs "Daymare," "Creatures," "Twilite," and "Dawn," their self...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues