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Monday, Aug. 4, 2008

The Appliances-SFB

3rd & Long (Rockhaus)

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Eighties post-punk added a creative spark to many Madison bands in the Reagan decade. First among them may have been The Appliances-SFB (Shit For Brains added to their original name for legal reasons). The two LPs reissued on CD by a Milwaukee label demonstrate how the group adapted the innovations of its time for its own unique niche. Vocalist-songwriter Tom Laskin (best known lately for his music criticism in Madison’s Isthmus) sounds like a hyper-caffeinated Jello Biafra.

The band went beyond the broad humor and strident politics of Biafra's Dead Kennedys, however. If The Appliances ever broached mere hardcore punk, there was still art school experimentation about it. More often, surf, disco and less predictable rhythms anchor their work. Political anger comes through in story songs and more impressionistic lyrics. Both albums hold up well as artifacts that current indie bands could use for inspiration.


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