Maybe its the bitter cold, the shorter days, the salty slushed out ice crowding every inch of New York, but no wave music clattered really unapolegtically into my winter. No wave seems to come from the same stark origins: a cold New York and a stripped down sound. Tying the loose strings of jazz, punk, and the avant-garde into experimental pieces, no wave surfaced by the late-70s as a a response to the often gaudy new wave scene and glammed out rock n’ roll. Most bands were experimenting artists, not trained musicians and played art galleries as much as they did punk venues like CBGBs. Thurston Moore put it well, “no wave was responding to the high art of punk rock”.
Y Pants, a trio of women with both art and film backgrounds, came onto the scene quickly, and by their first year were opening for visionary Glenn Branca. “Verge” Piersol led in percussion with “a Mickey Mouse kit with paper heads, combined with a regular tom-tom” punctuated by Barbara Ess, later of The Static and Theoretical Girls, tinkering on the thumb drum and a baritone Ukelele. Gail Vaschon wove in a toy grand piano she found on the street. Together their warped out collages are endearingly clunky but smart, and it’s hard not to swoon over songs quoting Emily Dickinson, flatly delivered odes to their favourite sweaters and laments about high voltage humans. (In “Magnetic Attraction”-a sunnier ode to love).
In celebration of Valentine’s Day I give you Y Pants’ cover of Lesley Gore’s “That’s The Way Boys Are” .