» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Maximum Joy
Unlimited (1979-1983)
Crippled Dick Hot Wax!

Rating: 9/10 ?

March 6, 2006
"Lollipops laugh as I smile and the crawfish dance all the while," Janine Rainsforth intones in "White and Green Place." Words of urban unrest and revolt these aren't, but this chorus does act as one of the central images in the career of a band who were interested in a different kind of revolt: a revolt of the imagination.

Maximum Joy sprang from the ashes of storied Bristol post-punk band The Pop Group, counting former Mark Stewart cohorts John Waddington and Dan Catsis among their ranks. In many ways, they fit into the same narrative as The Pop Group, The Slits, Liliput, The Homosexuals, and other key voices in the late '70s and early '80s British rock underground, abandoning rock's rigid rules by applying punk's sneering ethos to questions of form and style. This meant delving into dub, jazz, soul, and even pop music to break boundaries in the name of a higher cause than mere anarchy. What differentiates Maximum Joy from other post-punk mavericks is their insistence on music as pure fun; in many ways, their songs animate the band's moniker.

Unlimited (1979-1983), a collection of singles, rarities, and album cuts assembled by the unfortunately-named German label Crippled Dick Hot Wax!, presents the band as Platonists and aesthetes, even when they're tackling political issues. "Man of Tribes" toes a pretty hard left-wing line, but it frames its arguments in the most idyllic terms imaginable, suggesting that we "let money be no part of you and me." This music reaches for a pure state of true communal living where socioeconomic structures will give way to one giant dance party. While it's difficult to say whether the band ever makes a strong case for the likelihood of this actually happening in their lyrics, their music really does seem liberated from the burden of fitting into any boxes.

The group's first single, "Stretch," might capture them at their most unfettered. Centered around a devastating Bootsy Collins bassline, "Stretch" maintains a cohesive feel without following any formal rules, rolling from one passage to the next with little more than a rhythmic anchor. Cheerleader chants, buttery clap-and-snare romps, an Albert Ayler-esque barline-transcending solo, glass-shattering screams, reverb-heavy space-outs - all of these elements get caught up in the song's ecstatic march, and they all feel right at home.

On the whole, this compilation might be the sturdiest dance-punk document to be uncovered in the reissue-crazed last half-decade or so. While American artists like ESG and James Chance made more lasting contributions to the musical landscape, their music doesn't behave as belligerently towards idiomatic constraints as Maximum Joy's does. In other words, the punk elements tendencies as clearly as the post- elements in Maximum Joy's post-punk.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan



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