Pylon, Chomp More
The second and final album from a hard-grooving and fiercely weird Athens band
Athens, GA, was a big music town in the early '80s, and for a few years the pride of the city was the fiercely weird groove band Pylon. The second and final album by the group's original incarnation, Chomp — expanded here with four alternate mixes, including an unnerving dub version of "Gyrate" — pointed toward a beatwise route that American alternative rock mostly avoided after its 1983 release. The rhythm section of Michael Lachowski and Curtis Crowe generates the kind of imposing post-punk, post-disco lurch that bands in London, Manchester and New York were working out in those days too (if you were a party band in Athens, your audience had to be able to dance); singer Vanessa Ellison wanders wherever her train of thought leads her, spitting out letters and numbers or just whooping and growling; Randy Bewley tugs dissonant sound effects and spindly spaghetti-western melodies out of his guitar, playing for texture as much as for tune. You can hear how Bewley's crabwise guitar parts (and Ellison's willingness to favor her words' sounds over linear meaning) affected R.E.M., another young Athens band who idolized Pylon and recorded a cover of "Crazy." Still, it'd be more than a decade and a half before the kind of brash, brittle low-end bump that's all over Chomp really came back into style in rock.