Devo - Hardcore Volume 2 LP

(Superior Viaduct, 2013)

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"Perversely out of print for over twenty years, Hardcore Devo now gets a CD and LP reissue. (Lamentably, the vinyl reissues arrived in shops the same week that news came down that Myers, deemed "the human metronome" by bandmates during his decade-long tenure in the group, had lost his battle to cancer.) Recorded to four-track at their basement space from 1974-1977, the forty demos presented here reveal Devo to be abrasive, twisted, paranoid, primal, and sexually frustrated, robotic in a way far more disconcerting than  could ever manage. It revealed a band more demented and trenchant than had ever been glimpsed on MTV. On one sleeve, they are beaver-watchers wrapped in rubber, stacked as corpses. In another, they are adorned with rubber tits. Only “Mongoloid” and “Jocko Homo” made it to those Eno sessions at Conny Plank’s recording studio in Germany, as well as covers of the Stones and Allen Toussaint’s “Working in a Coal Mine”

Hardcore comprises a heap of songs too crude, toothed, and cringeworthy for crossover success, so it makes sense so many were composted. But embarrassing as these discarded songs can now be seen in hindsight, the band itself is a glorious thing. They try on disco, garage rock, instrumentals, New Orleans pop, lounge, and lo-fi weirdness, full of modular synth space junk and minimal wave electronic drums, with melodies that veer from radio jingle to white noise to muzak to alien transmissions. And it proves the band to be an outsider art project at its heart, kin to the likes of Bruce Conner (who shot an early video for the group), Destroy All Monsters and LAFMS. Devo became an act that somehow infiltrated and infested mainstream radio like some mutant progeny of Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart, and the Residents. A formidable feat, considering how Mothersbaugh now works on movie soundtracks, video games, and kids' TV show "Yo Gabba Gabba". Hardcore Devo re-asserts the band as the angry punks they once were." - Andy Beta for Pitchfork