Agony Shorthand

Thursday, April 01, 2004
THE COMPLEAT DOW JONES & THE INDUSTRIALS….After a beggarly entreaty to my handful of readers last year, I was kindly rewarded by a good American with the “compleat works” of 1979-81 Indiana synth punks DOW JONES & THE INDUSTRIALS. All 12 songs! My curiosity ran amok after detailed listening and worship of two fantastic compilation tracks by DJ&TI, the roaring “Can’t Stand The Midwest” and the wonderful Jetsons-like robotics of “Ladies With Appliances” (which I can’t say enough about – it’s everything you’d want in a head-on collision of DEVO and LA’s DEADBEATS). It would appear that the wad, as it were, was shot on those two crazed numbers – but the rest of their recorded works still manage to leave a good-time feel. They kicked out one three-song 7”EP (“Can’t Stand The Midwest” + 2), eight tracks on their side of a split LP with their pals THE GIZMOS (whom I’ve come to regard as a bit, um, overrated), and the aforementioned “Ladies With Appliances” on the “Red Snerts” compilation LP. It’s all one big drunken new wave frat party that mashes up 70s hard rock, raw American punk, and cheap DIY waver electronics. You can hear these guys painfully testing the limits of what they can do with their new synths (“Malfunction”, essentially one big fart-around), while they put them to utilitarian rock and roll use in the next song (the revved-up cut-up “Dude In The Direction Field”). Only a couple of the previously unheard tracks really fall short of a mark set by already-high expectations, while nothing really reaches out and screams essential. Someone’s sure to cobble together a CD one of these days just to get those two big whoppers out to the hoi polloi, where they belong.