While researching the availability of Scrawl records for my recent post on this former Columbus, Ohio group I noticed while browsing Amazon.com that
“Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” the Swirlies Blonder Tongue Audio Baton”
Seeing that made it obvious to me what I was going to post next.
It begs the question; how does one go from being a Go-Go’s cover band called Raspberry Bang to becoming the Swirlies, leading light of Boston’s “chimp rock scene?”
Originally formed in 1990, the band; guitarist/singer Damon Tuntunjian, singer/guitarist Seana Carmody, bassist Andy Bernick, and drummer Ben Drucker, along with the bands Kudgel and Fat Day, and a few others were all part of Boston’s chimp rock scene
“which pitted dreamy, guitar-based pop against noisy, experimental tendencies.”
Releasing a handful of singles in 1991 and 1992 the Swirlies teamed up with Kudgel to release the split double single “Red Fish Dreams.” Of the two Swirlies home recordings on the single, the nearly inaudible “Her Life of Artistic Freedom” which was
“basically amplified surface noise with a little guitar and singing“
is perhaps a hint at the future direction the Swirlies music will take.
Signed to Boston based Taang! Records they release What To Do About Them in 1992. Although “Her Life of Artistic Freedom” is included, What To Do About Them, is a collection of the group’s earlier singles along with new material, but What To Do About Them will mark the group’s last full fledged foray into “dream pop.”
Taking it’s name from a vintage tube equalizer, the Swirlies’ first full-length album, 1993’s Blonder Tongue Audio Baton
melds noisy guitars, samples, and sweet girl-boy vocals into a disheveled take on dream pop.
With it’s tape loops, found sounds, Moogs, Mellotrons, and white noise
songs like the “static-spattered “Pancake” and “Park the Car by the Side of the Road” alternate with gentler songs like “Bell” and “Vigilant Always.”
One reviewer writes
The combination of Seana Carmody’s demure vocals, big guitars, and burbling Mellotrons makes for one of Boston’s most memorable pop moments since the Pixies’ “Gigantic.”
That certainly puts them among some pretty good company.
1993 also sees the group release Brokedick Car, but with it’s shorter version of
Blonder Tongue’s “Wrong Tube,” two home-demo quickies and two alternate mixes of “Pancake”: the less-noisy “Pancake Cleaner” and a dance version entitled “House of Pancake”
Brokedick Car is essentially listenable filler.
The period following the release of Brokedick Car is marred by almost constant personnel turn-over. Original members Ben Drucker and Seana Carmody leave; with Carmody forming her own band, Syrup USA.
For 1995’s Sneaky Flutes and 1996’s They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days in the Glittering World of the Salons original members Tuntunjian and Bernick are joined by new members, singer/guitarist Christina Files and drummer Anthony DeLuca.
In the spring of 1996 DeLuca leaves the band and is temporarily replaced by Karate drummer Gavin McCarthy. With a trigger drum kit now part of their equipment the Swirlies occasionally tour as an electronic trio. Later that same year Adam Pierce becomes the group’s permanent drummer, but Files will leave in 1997.
1998 found the Swirlies continuing as a guitar/electronic hybrid, releasing the remix album, Strictly East Coast Sneaky Flute Music, adding another guitarist, Rob Laxo, but most damagingly losing their label distribution.
Undaunted by the loss of a label they begin
releasing cassettes as part of their Sneaky Flute Empire project.
and by 2000 Sneaky Flute Empire is beginning to release CDs including Damon Andy Rob Ron: Yes Girls. Continuing to record the Swirlies release the mini-album Cats of the Wild, Vol. 2 in 2003 and that summer embark on their first major US tour opening for the Lilys.
“Didn’t Understand” (7″ Single) (Slumberland Records) 1992
“Error” (7″ Single) (Pop Narcotic) 1992
“Red Fish Dreams” (2×7″split with Kudgel) (Cinderblock Records, Nervous Records) 1992
What To Do About Them (Cass, CD, LP, MP3 Album) (Taang! Records) 1992
Blonder Tongue Audio Baton (CD, LP, MP3 Album) (Taang! Records) 1993
Brokedick Car (7″, 12″, CD-EP, MP3 Album) (Taang! Records) 1993
Vents Of The Ocean Floor (split 7″ with Iris) (Bubble Core Records) 1994
Working Holiday November (split 7″ with Pitchblende) (Simple Machines Records) 1994
Sneaky Flutes (CD, MP3 Album) (Taang! Records) 1995
They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days In The Glittering World Of The Salons (CD, MP3 Album) (Taang! Records)1995
Strictly East Coast Sneaky Flute Music (CD, 2xLP, MP3 Album) (Taang! Records) 1998
Strictly East Coast Sneaky Flute Music / They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days In The Glittering World Of The Salons (2xLP) (Taang! Records) 1998
Damon Andy Rob Ron: Yes Girls (CD) (Sneaky Flute Empire) 2000
Cats Of The Wild: Volume 2 (CD) (Bubble Core Records, P-Vine Records (Japan) 2003
Tracks Appear On:
“Chris R.” …One Last Kiss (CD) (spinART Records) 1992
“Park The Car By The Side of the Road” Unnecessary Niceness (CD, LP) (Beechwood Music) 1993
“Two Girls Kissing (Live at The Middle East)” Indie Rock Blueprint (CD) (Go Compact Discs) 1996
“Indian Ocean Nosedive” Flygirl (EP) #7 (7″) (Blue Bunny Records) 1997
“Protect Yourself From Aliens (Soul Slinger Remix)” Upload: A Continuous Mix (CD) (Jungle Sky) 1998
“Christmas In Kenmore Square” The Tarquin Records All Star Holiday Extravaganza (CD, MP3 Album) (Tarquin Records)2000
“Dolphins Dance With Our Music” U.S. Pop Life, Volume 7: Experimental: Random Access Music Machine (Contract Records (Japan) 2001
“Rare Moment” NPU Let’s Go! (CDr) (Metal Queen Projects) 2002
“Give Us Moonrocks!” 2003 Pre
View Listen (CD) (Bubble Core Records) 2003
“Indian Ocean Nosedive” Like Clockwerck (CD) (Pehr) 2003
“One Light Flashing I Love You” Little Darla Has A Treat For You V.20 Summer 2003 (CD) (Darla Records) 2003
Swirlies – Blonder Tongue Audio Baton (1993)
Playing Time: 42 minutes 31 seconds
1. [Untitled] (0:12)
2. Bell (4:29)
3. Vigilant Always (5:10)
4. His Love Just Washed Away (5:24)
5. His Life of Academic Freedom (2:07)
6. Pancake (3:15)
7. Jeremy Parker (4:14)
8. Park The Car by The Side of The Road (5:04)
9. Tree Chopped Down (3:12)
10. Wrong Tube (5:06)
11. Wait Forever (4:18)
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