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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The Modern Dance

Pere Ubu

1978

Buy At Rough Trade
The Modern Dance
Album Summary

The Modern Dance is the debut album by American rock band Pere Ubu. It was released in January 1978 by record label Blank. The Modern Dance has been critically acclaimed. Reviewing for The Village Voice in 1978, Robert Christgau wrote that "even though there's too much Radio Ethiopia and not enough 'Redondo Beach,'" he would be "listening through the failed stuff—the highs are worth it." In Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), he reaffirmed that "the highs are worth it, and the failed stuff ain't bad" in his revised review. Ken Tucker, writing in Rolling Stone, called it vivid and exhilarating, even if "harsh and willfully ugly". NME named The Modern Dance the 11th best album of 1978. Fact placed the record at number 31 on its list of the 100 best albums of the 1970s.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.48

Votes

9886

Genres

  • Rock
  • Post Punk

Reviews

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Thu Jul 27 2023
2

If I wanted to listen to random noises I would listen to my butt cheeks.

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Thu Jan 04 2024
1

Didn’t even get through the first song. If your album opens with tinnitus then go fuck yourself

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Wed Aug 02 2023
5

This sounds like a cross between Hawkwind and Television, albeit some rather twisted, scary versions of both bands. Does that sound like the perfect blend to you? It does to me

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Thu Jul 27 2023
1

One guy on Rate Your Music said this is his favorite album ever. I disavow that.

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Sun Nov 05 2023
1

Summery: One of the rare albums that's genuinely hard to listen to. Solid bass and drum playing throughout (including some undeniably good bass riffs), but the vocals are consistently garbled and grating. It gets even worse when the vocal harmonies join in. Additionally, the sound effects are really, really annoying. I can see these songs being used to extract information from foreign espionage agents. Non-Alignment Pact: Punk, for sure. Very high drone in the right channel is annoying and unnecessary. Fantastic bassline begins to make itself known, and around 1:30 we get some really solid reduction in texture. The right channel is almost completely unlistenable - like the end of Queen's Sheer Heart Attack (the 1977 song), but for more than 3 minutes. Too irritating for my taste. Modern Dance: The right-channel noise has been replaced by literal static noise (a bit like the sound lava makes in Minecraft when it turns into obsidian), and it's a welcome relief. The song would be much stronger without it, though. Fun vocal back-and-forths, and an overall fast-paced groove. Unfortunately, though, Pere Ubu adds these really unappealing sound effects that make these songs go directly from 3-4 stars to 2 or less. Laughing: I sat through 125 seconds of painful, off-tune intro, before an equally out-of-tune shouting harmony ensued. At 2:50, the thinning of texture was again a welcome relief. Great bassline and decent drumming, but everything else is... not good... At least the ending was tolerable. Street Waves: Easily the best track so far, because it lacks the incredibly grating sound effects that dominates the earlier songs. Another solid bassline that steals the show, and a garbled, technically unsound vocal that brings the song up several notches as soon as it ceases. Chinese Radiation: It's alright until the loud-crowd section, which is bad. Strange piano-based section at the end that I can't really comment on. Life Stinks: The singing is actually pretty funny here. However, whatever's happening at around 0:55 is unacceptable. Real World: Pretty good, actually. Fairly nondescript. The singing is very weak. Over My Head: Floyd-esque whale noises, but the comparison ends there. The singing is okay, particularly the backup vocals (they're especially okay). Nice and chill. Sentimental Journey: The breaking glass probably means something. I wonder if it's a result of the vocal performance. Lots of nonsensical noises here, again reminding me of some early experimental rock piece by Pink Floyd (think Several Species from Ummagumma) or possibly Revolution 9. Not fun. Humor Me: At this point, you'd have to give me a Bohemian Rhapsody or Stairway to Heaven to bring this album up from 1 star to 2 stars, and this song wasn't either of those. It was pretty good though, especially the bassline. Good guitar playing, but whatever effect was used on it doesn't fit the song well (too much distortion). A decent ending to an indecent album.

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Mon Nov 13 2023
5

why do i have the best time with the weird albums

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Wed Oct 11 2023
5

Really dug this. It's got a raw, punk rock vibe to it.

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Fri Oct 13 2023
1

40 minutes of goofy caterwauling

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Mon May 13 2024
1

Sounds like a bunch of children were let loose with instruments and a sound effect machine. And to top it off you have the mumbling and random shouting which sounds like someone on a drug binge. Couldn't distinguish any of the songs from eachother. 36 mins of assault to my ears Don't listen with headphones - save yourself from the offensive screeches. The worst song for me was "Sentimental Journey" - what I imagine the inside of a microwave sounds like. Also includes birds/clown horn and bottles being smashed repeatedly. Lyrics include - " Table. Chairs. TV. Books. Other stuff". To the 5 (!!!) writers who wrote those lyrics - I hope you didn't give up the day job Terrible 1 ⭐️ but wish I could give it less

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Mon May 13 2024
1

An absolute assault on the senses! My ears feel like they’re bleeding. Pure trash, throw it in the bin! Zero stars - dont rizz me, dont come by ohio, we’re done!!

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Wed Aug 02 2023
5

I've got no language for Pere Ubu's early genus. No positive language, at least, which made the trip from second to first release a search for flaws. I suppose there are plenty: It's a rough album, deliberately spiky at all kinds of levels. But breaking glass fills the brain-space prepared for it more than perfectly. I'm no dancer, so even the title is appropriate. Glad there are several more hours of this somewhere out there.

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Fri Nov 03 2023
4

Ground zero for postpunk. The avant garage. The beauty of Cleveland pressed into vinyl... A band I'd probably have never got into, except for reading Rip It Up and Start Again, Simon Reynolds amazing book on postpunk 78-84. I hear it very differently now. Not a perfect album, but the highs are totally exhilarating. 4.5*

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Fri Feb 02 2024
3

I really wanted to like this, as I know the "hits"; unfortunately it starts with two absolute bangers and then - nothing much else happens. My eldest thinks Thomas sings like Peter Griffin. Was hoping for more Gang-of-Four-like action and less obtuse weirdness. Gotta appreciate the history, however

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Fri Aug 11 2023
2

Best Song: Life Stinks. The one song that was appreciably punk. Worst Song: Non-Alignment. Who decides to kick off an album with such an insufferable noise? "Hey, you know how we should start the album? How about a metro train screeching into the station, but worse?" Overall: Not every obnoxious art project is accidentally great art. This is mostly just directionless, uninspired nonsense. I bet they had fun making the album, and I love that for them, but it sure isn't fun to listen to.

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Wed Sep 27 2023
2

Wow! The album started out with a long annoying sound and managed to sustain that thru several tracks. Points of brilliance but nothing I will need to endure again

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Sun Nov 05 2023
5

This is SO weird, but I LOVE IT.

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Thu Oct 19 2023
4

Discarding all sense of musical conventions reminds me of both the fall and the minutemen but with less of an effort to make musical sense. Anti music Don’t take the brown acid, man. It’s “challenge music.” Side effects may include writer’s block, delusions of postmodernism, man’s inhumanity to man, and improper comparisons to abstract art.

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Mon Jul 31 2023
3

3.5 stars. Started off great for being pretty out there. But second half faded and got too harsh. Standout is "Non-Alignment Pact".

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Fri Feb 02 2024
3

I hear a lot of fantastic later bands in this record, and the best parts have this sublime controlled hysteria to them, but I have owned this record for over ten years and never feel like putting it on. A great three out of five record!

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Tue Oct 10 2023
5

10/10 Pere Ubu has quickly become one of my favorite post-punk bands their stuff is incredible

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Thu Nov 09 2023
5

A really great record! I never listened to it before but it is flawless in my opinion.

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Fri Nov 10 2023
5

Avant- garde punk. Some songs are great and hit hard. Others I wouldn’t listen to unless I were in the mood for experimental sounds. Classic album though.

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Wed Nov 22 2023
5

Ahh my old pal/nemesis Pere Ubu - my first experience of what can only be described as headache inducing euphoric psychosis was back at the start of this project. This is slightly more accessible but still fucking way out there man. It's made me surprisingly tempted to go back and listen to Dub Housing again (a task I swore I would never willingly subject myself to after my first listen) to understand where the differences between the two lay. I think the accessibility of this one comes from the fact that although it's still rife with seemingly non-sensical horn and synth key bashing, each track ultimately opens up into pretty strong, pretty funky post punkesque riffs - something which I seem to remember Dub Housing definitely not doing. Okie dokie have just got to Life Stinks and they are back to their old tricks again and I love it. They are definitely going down as one of the most interesting finds within 1001 and I am super glad they snuck two albums in, have really enjoyed the point of comparison. I've mentioned before that Post Punk is my favourite genre and I think it could be argued that these guys (along with Talking Heads, Devo etc) are probably responsible for the genre as we know it. ALL HAIL PERE UBU

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Fri Dec 15 2023
5

Unfiltered master piece. A collection of great punk songs that became legendary. Great album!

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Fri Dec 15 2023
5

This album was released the same year as 'Dub Housing,' and album I have already reviewed. Much of what I said for that album applies here. If any band deserves to be called art punk, it's this one. This album is dynamically varied, and utilizes noise well. Despite its chaos, it is very carefully constructed and skillfully executed.

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Thu Dec 28 2023
5

woah. pere ubu is a name i've always seen at record stores but i've never listened to them before. i had no idea what to expect. holy shit does this stuff rock. i'm kind of floored. it's very noisy, a bit unconventional in that sense, a lot of atypical instrumental choices (noise, an instrument i am learning is called the 'musette') but juxtaposed with that is some killer rock. really really cool stuff!

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Wed Jan 10 2024
5

Ooh, this is great - a bit more accessible than "Dub Housing", I think, but, you know, still not _that_ accessible. I was entertained, while listening, by trying to come up with similes for what I was hearing. "They're like The B-52's on a bad batch of meth!" "It's like the Pixies, but they fucking hate you!" I was thinking 4 stars, but I wanted to play it again immediately after after my second play through finished, so that, plus the broken glass sound effects rounds it up to 5! Fave tracks - any of the first 3 tracks, "Real World", "Sentimental Journey", I like the lot!

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Wed Feb 28 2024
5

A very potent, angry sound; almost a sonic cross between the romantic instrumentation of Roxy Music and the bombast and nasal tone of the Jello-led Dead Kennedys. Musically it reminds one of the frustration of the excess of the disco era, music about the reality of hip, disaffected young people away from the gloss of pop. Magnificent.

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Wed May 15 2024
5

A FAVORITE OF MINE! Been a huge Pere Ubu fan even before starting this, so was absolutely THRILLED to see their debut pop up here! One of my favorite underappreciated “weird” bands of all time, and their debut is still one of their best to this day. Noisy punk crossed with abstract experimentation all rolled up into an album of absolute perfection. Long live Pere Ubu!!

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Tue Aug 22 2023
4

Rating: 7/10 Best songs: Modern dance

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Wed Aug 23 2023
4

very good...kind of niche rock and jazz fusion.

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Fri Sep 01 2023
4

More cranky, hanky stuff like Dub Housing, but it feels slightly more like organised chaos here. In some senses, that's great, this album has ten actual songs, but on the other hand, I quite liked the terrifying unpredictability of the former. In short, both are great, the people low balling this just want everything in varying shades of grey and beige.

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Tue Sep 05 2023
4

There's a lot to digest here. Not the most listenable album, but definitely worth listening to for the ideas and imagery it spontaneously generates.

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Tue Sep 12 2023
4

Never heard of these guys before this project. Great stuff - the more I hear it the better it gets! Standouts: The Modern Dance, Real World, Humor Me, Non-Alignment Pact, Laughing, Life Stinks, Over My Head, Sentimental Journey. 4/5

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Wed Oct 11 2023
4

Really like this. I love the "avant-garage" description, I think that captures what they are doing. Their sound is solidly punk in some ways, but they are also freely experimenting, and the concoction is irresistable. Occasionally it got annoying, like that track with all the bottle smashing, but besides that I think I have a new band to dig into.

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Sat Oct 14 2023
4

Lost me a bit towards the end but overall boundary pushing and solid

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Sun Oct 15 2023
4

I LOVE POST PUNK!!!@ this is a good album, a bit too weird for me but I like the title track and a few others. very niceee

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Thu Oct 26 2023
4

It's good. I never heard of these guys before this book project. Now I know two of their albums. Great sound, interesting. I'd definitely keep listening. Standouts: Non-Alignment Pact, Real World 4/5

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View Author
Mon Oct 30 2023
4

I don't know if my tastes have evolved, but this sounds more accessible and melodic than Dub Housing. There are several catchy dance tracks, skewed toward the first half. The sparser, creepier tracks remind me of the post-rock band Slint. The Byrne-esque vocals are very dramatic and excessive, but just adds to the extremity of how hard music can be while still retaining some form and structure. The samples are a cool addition that add to the atmosphere. Bass is strong, which is also a standout to me in post-punk. There were several unsatisfying parts, but I had a fun time.

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Mon Nov 06 2023
4

"Modern Dance" has white noise that honestly made me think my headphones were faulty. :P

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Thu Nov 09 2023
4

Holy fucking shit, this album kicks balls. I was originally going to give it 5 stars, but I’m torn because “Sentimental Journey” was the only low point that I thought didn’t come together. Everything else about the sound of the album is fantastic.

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Sun Nov 12 2023
4

post-punk. Me ha sorprendido para bien.

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Fri Nov 17 2023
4

I loved this album when it first came out. So jarring. It still holds up.

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Wed Nov 29 2023
4

I really liked how weird this album was, but sometimes it got too shrill for me. "Sentimental Journey" is basically unlistenable. But, I ended up listening to it 3 times and would definitely listen again.

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Mon Dec 18 2023
4

post-punk. Me ha sorprendido para bien.

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Thu Dec 21 2023
4

it was pretty cool i think, but that's about it. 7.7/10

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Mon Jan 01 2024
4

Så bra skiva... fräschaste post punk bandet

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Mon Jan 01 2024
4

Post-punk classic! Even within the varied field of post-punk they manage to stand out without resorting noise. Great record from a great band

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Mon Jan 01 2024
4

Doesn't sound as dated as I expected; very confident for a debut album; a clear influence on loads of bands I love, but falls just short of a fifth star - only just though!

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Mon Jan 01 2024
4

Not really what I needed to be listening to with an enormous hangover, but even through the discomfort of the often quite dissonant instrumentals, you can tell there's reason to the rhyme.

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Wed Jan 10 2024
4

I quite liked this but found it hard to understand the lyrics so I just pretended it was in a different language. I really enjoyed Modern Dance and Sentinmental Journey -- I will defintely give this anohter listen sometime.

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Thu Jan 18 2024
4

With a punk energy, explosive inventiveness, and a natural sounding chaos, it has everything I love about experimental rock.

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Fri Jan 19 2024
4

This is pretty weird but wonderful!

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Sat Jan 27 2024
4

My first opportunity to hear Pere Ubu was months and months ago in this project when I made the acquaintance of their second album, Dub Housing. I was surprised to find this is their first album, also released in 1978. What reasons for offering two albums up on this list when they were created so close together? As expected, this was an off-the-wall, wacky affair that started with an alarm clock beeping then some very weird music that was supposed to include Sentimental Journey but I couldn’t make it out. I kind of enjoyed this in some weird way.

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Sat Jan 27 2024
4

Wow! Didn't expect to enjoy so much of this. For the first half, I thought it was gonna be a 5. Actually sounded like music for several of the tracks. Eventually, it sounded like a lunatic locked themselves in the recording studio but I actually want to hear a lot of this again. Nice surprise!

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Tue Jan 30 2024
4

meni dobar album, zadovoljan sam, ima dobrih stvari kojima bi se mogao vraćati

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Wed Feb 07 2024
4

Inventive and progressive sounding art punk. 7.5/10

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Wed Feb 07 2024
4

Really interesting. Really cool. I had no idea what to expect from this and was pleasantly surprised when this turned out to be a rowdy, avant-garde take on punk. I will listen to more from this band.

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Fri Feb 09 2024
4

Artist not available to stream on Spotify, but songs I was able to locate on Youtube are quite good

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Sun Feb 11 2024
4

I always associated this band with a pretentious hipster douche that I knew. This was one of his "you just wouldn't get it. It's just too intelligent for people who aren't me" bands. Well "HA!" because I do dig this. It isn't as deep as ass hat claimed it to be, but it definitely isn't going for the mainstream. I liked it but I didn't want to because of the association. I also hate that band name; it enrages me for no reason. I'm still slappin' a 4 on it

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Sun Feb 11 2024
4

Was waiting to hear this one... I love On the Surface and knew this was their classic. Love this weirdos, solid 4

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Mon Feb 12 2024
4

An angular album uncompromising in its abstract chaos and unquestionable in its importance for the development of post punk and art rock.

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Tue Feb 13 2024
4

Pere Ubu have always been underrated and under appreciated. An incredible art punk experimental band from Cleveland. Very stoked this is on the list.

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Fri Feb 16 2024
4

Образующим событием в моей музыкальной одиссее стала книжка "Rip it up and start again", автор которой по всей видимости эту группу, и этот альбом в частности, очень ценит. И-и-и я слышу, почему. Это звучит как пост-музыка сейчас, а в 78-ом? Вишенкой на торте является еще и то, что когда музыка группы Pere Ubu заканчивается, спотифай генерирует лучший саундтрек конца света с группами вроде Swell Maps, Young Marble Giants и Wire. Лучшая песня - Laughing.

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Mon Feb 19 2024
4

A very good album that becomes even better when you hear David Thomas’ vocals and your broken brain transports you to a world where the entire album is being performed by Muppets. Four stars.

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Thu Feb 22 2024
4

Not an album I should love as much as I do, but it's never uninspired, always exciting and never feels cheap, even though it is definitely inconsistent.

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Sun Feb 25 2024
4

Vreemd. Heel vreemd. Doet soms ronduit pijn aan mijn oren, maar toch wel vet. En de basgitaar is fantastisch.

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Mon Feb 26 2024
4

I like this one way more than Dub Housing. It feels more consistent and Pixies-like. Not sure if my taste is changing or what, but I appreciate Sentimental Journey way more than I probably would have a year ago.

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Fri Mar 01 2024
4

This reminded me of a a weirder harsher and uglier version Television? Oh boy sign me up. Not a perfect album (like Marquee Moon) but one I’ll be coming back to.

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Wed Mar 20 2024
4

Listened 3/19/24. Always an interesting listen from these guys

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Thu Mar 28 2024
4

I liked this album, cultured rock from the 70s, something a little different.

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Thu Mar 28 2024
4

Bias because I have this album cover in my room…yes I am judging an album by its cover, what about it?

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Fri Apr 05 2024
4

An album I always enjoy returning to.

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Fri Apr 05 2024
4

This is what punk should always sounds like.

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Fri Apr 05 2024
4

very unique band. punky and experimental. solid debut album

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Thu Apr 11 2024
4

Personally I love that records like this make this list. The band has 30k monthly listeners on spotify which means that a lot of their listeners are probably from this 1001 albums project. It's nice to get something weird. This record feels intentionally weird and harsh sounding. I believe it actually takes quite a bit of skill to make a record sound so weird like this and I think most people that hate it can't appreciate that. Yeah, there are a lot of weird sounds going on but it stays cohesive. It kind of makes me think of black midi and Viagra Boys which makes me wonder if this album is an inspiration for post-punk. It also sounds like Talking Heads could have pulled some inspiration from this record or they had similar inspirations.

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Sun Apr 14 2024
4

Vascillating wildly between really liking it and really hating it. The hatred was of the squonky woodwinds. I don't need anyone to explore the full range of sounds a soprano sax can make. But, when they put that aside, I was getting into it. This is clearly an inspiration to a lot of music I like. Just abrasive as all hell.

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Wed Apr 17 2024
4

They’re growing on me I’ll probably listen more

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Wed Apr 24 2024
4

I had never heard of this, but it was entertaining. Strange sound and some of it is just noise, but I never put it down.

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Sun May 05 2024
4

i really like this in theory but in practice i don't want to hear David Thomas's vocal performance ever again (can't believe he had time for this band on top of running Wendy's!) challenging in a way that doesn't feel forced or (excessively) pretentious. not something to throw on in the background for sure, but active listening is certainly rewarded here. again, i just wish there wasn't some unwritten rule about post punk vocals being insufferable 85% of the time

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Wed May 08 2024
4

Nice. Has a talking heads vibe in places

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Mon May 13 2024
4

I liked this - I think I would have enjoyed it when it first came out, if I had heard it then.

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Tue Aug 01 2023
3

Vinksahtanut ja ihan hauska levy, alku vahvempi kuin loppupuoli joka menee jo vähän kikkailun puolelle. 3/5

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Tue Aug 01 2023
3

Hämmentävä levy! Laidasta laitaan matskua niin postrockia kun reggaetakin. Jotenkin sellanen popedamainen versio talking headsista tulee mieleen. Täytyy kuunnella uudelleen myöhemmin jos sit vaikka hiffais onks tää birdy vai fisu 3/5

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Fri Aug 04 2023
3

HL: "Non-Alignment Pact", "Street Waves", "Humor Me" Listening to this made me go back to Surfer Rosa, for two reasons. One, I underappreciated it the first time, plus this generator has blessed me with a tolerance for noisier rock I may not have had then. And two, there has to be some of Pere Ubu's David Thomas in Black Francis's vocal stylings. This isn't an easy listen, but it's surprisingly catchy at times. I actually liked the spooky synth, but I was less enthused when it was isolated in my right ear. Just put the damn oboe down 3*, I’m feeling generous August 3, 2023

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Mon Aug 07 2023
3

Some of it was interesting some of sounded like a bratty 5 year old with a toy trumpet

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Wed Aug 09 2023
3

Pere Ubu has always one of those bands that I struggle to "get into". They're similar to say The Residents or Captain Beefheart with Kraut Rock sensibilities. With no discernable melodies and purposely ugly vocals, its a challenging listen. But I guess this is intentional as they're reflecting the angst and chaos of their apocalyptic world.

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Wed Aug 09 2023
3

This album has a much more Ramones-y, rock&roll feel to it than their other 1001 offering, Dub Housing. Yet there are still a few avant-garde pieces thrown in to please the lovers of noise.

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Wed Aug 09 2023
3

Late 70s was an interesting time for music. The cool musicians were leading the charge to trying to get run away from disco as fast as possible. This coupled with economic woes resulted in an environment ripe for creativity and change. This album was one of the results. Sure there is a lot of noise and at times it sounds like a novelty act but it’s still a good example of the creativity that came out of that period.

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Wed Aug 09 2023
3

I have to be in the mood, but when I am I like them.

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Thu Aug 10 2023
3

Cool sound. The immediate drastic panning of instruments is very annoying. I've written before about how I think it's very easy for panning to hurt a song's overall production and how frequently this kind of stark/heavy handed panning was happening in records from the 50s up to the 80s. I am enjoying track 2 "Modern Dance". It's got this cool repetitive riff and yelping vocal part that I find attractive. Track 3, "Laughing" is cool too. I like how improvisational it feels. That is a musical concept that I feel like this list has been avoiding. Overall I give it a 3.

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