Bubblegum Guitar Racket: Tuscadero

Tuscadero

In a mid 1990’s Washington DC music scene dominated by bands known for their straight-faced, nose-to-the-grindstone post-hardcore” the blissful pop punk of Tuscadero managed to find an eager audience while also earning the quartet acceptance from   DC’s straight edge musical scene.

Taking their name from Suzi Quatro’s Happy Days character Leather Tuscadero the quartet’s (guitarists/vocalists Melissa Farris and Margaret McCartney, bassist Phil Satlof, and drummer Jack Hornady)

punk-pop paeans to television, teenage crushes, and problems with parents

were influenced by “’70s junk culture,” girl groups, but mostly their own 1970s childhoods. 

Another influence on the band’s music were the individual members disparate musical tastes. Influences included: Breeders, Black Sabbath, Matthew Sweet, Luna, Bread, Unrest, Air Miami, Versus, Pavement, Isaac Hayes, X-Ray Spex, Wire, Joy Division, Meat Puppets, Jefferson Airplane, Love, Desire era Dylan; and  the soundtracks to Hair and the ’70s Bollywood spy flick Johny Mera Naam.

In a stroke of good luck Teenbeat Records head honcho Mark Robinson happened to be in the audience at the group’s first show. They signed with Teenbeat who released the groups first two singles “Mt. Pleasant/Nancy Drew” and “Angel in a Half Shirt/Poster Boy” before releasing the group’s first full length The Pink Album,

a winning slab of bubblegum guitar racket, the debut LP is pure charm dressed up in singalong verses and shoutalong choruses.

The Pink Album eventually ended up being recorded three times. Unhappy with the original mix the band persuaded Teenbeat to scrape the original pressing, which consisted of several thousand CDs and a few hundred LPs. After re-working most of the material at Inner Ear Studios Teenbeat released the album in the fall of 1994. Tuscadero would later re-record The Pink Album after signing with Elektra Records in 1996.

It took three tries for Tuscadero to get The Pink Album right, but Step Into My Wiggle Room finds Melissa Farris and Margaret McCartney harmonizing like they were the B-52’s Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson; and bassist Phil Satlof and drummer Jack Hornady finally developing into a reliable rhythm section. Of the eight songs on the disc four of them were individually created by each band member.

Satlof’s "Dreams of the Tanker" is a busy-bee blanket of guitar whooshing over a tinny electronic rhumba, while McCartney’s "The Sways," Hornady’s "Given Up" and Farris’ "Sonic Yogurt" are catchy electric pop tunes…

With the assistance of ten pals the album ends with the chantalong groove of "Palmer: The All-Star Jam,"eventually petering out with five minutes of ambient chatter.

My Way or the Highway, Tuscadero’s first album recorded specifically for Elektra, was released in the spring of 1998. Tuscadero broke up in 1999, reuniting in 2005 for a one-off performance at Teenbeat’s twentieth anniversary celebration.

 

DISCOGRAPHY

Releases:

Mt. Pleasant/Nancy Drew (7") (Teenbeat) 1993
Angel in a Half Shirt/Poster Boy (7") (Teenbeat) 1994
The Pink Album (Cass, CD, Album) (Teenbeat) 1994
Step Into My Wiggle Room (CD, Album) (Teenbeat) 1995
The Mark Robinson Re-Mixes (7", EP) (Teenbeat) 1995
100% Soap / Tickled Pink (7") (Duchess Records) 1996
My Way Or The Highway (Cass, CD, Album, MP3) (Elektra) 1998

Tracks Appear On:

"Holidays R Hell"  Wakefield. The TeenBeat Story/Vol. 1/1992-1994/A TeenBeat Sampler. (CD) (Teenbeat) 1994
"Boys Don’t Cry" Give Me The Cure (CD) (Radiopaque Recordings, Corduroy Records) 1995
"Island Girls" Squirrel (7", EP) (Level Records) 1995
"Holidays R Hell", "Angel In A Half Shirt" Wakefield. The TeenBeat Boxed Set (4xCD) (Teenbeat) 1995
"Poster Boy" Wakefield. The TeenBeat Story/Vol. 3/1986-1995/Superstars On Forty-Five. (CD) (Teenbeat) 1995
"Crayola (Re-Mix)" 1996 Teenbeat Sampler (CD) (Teenbeat) 1996
"Heat Lightning" Sites & Sounds (CD) (Elektra) 1996
Breakin’ Necks, Rockin’ Discotechs (Killer Blows From the Temple of Electra) (CD) (Electra) 1996
"The Teenbeat Song" 1997 Teenbeat Sampler (CD) (Teenbeat) 1997
"Game Song" All Over Me (Soundtrack) (CD) 1997
"Tonia" 1998 Teenbeat Sampler (CD) (Teenbeat) 1998
"Paper Doll" CMJ New Music Volume 57 May 1998 (CD) (College Music Journal) 1998
Fast Forward (CD) (Columbia) 1998
“Hollywood Handsome” New York Post Modern (CD) (Hits Post Modern Syndrome)
"Nancy Drew" One Too Twee: An Indiepop Retrospective Digital, Bootleg)
2004

 

Step Into My Wiggle Room  (1995)

Playing Time: 29 minutes 59 seconds

 

Step In to My Wiggle Room

 

1. Holidays R’ Hell (3:42)
2. Angel in a Half Shirt (3:48)
3. Poster Boy (2:11)
4. Dreams of the Tanker (2:25)
5. The Sways (2:00)
6. Given Up (4:14)
7. Sonic Yogurt (3:46)
8. Palmer: The All-Star Jam (7:53)

 

Buy Step Into My Wiggle Room from Teenbeat Records

 

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3 responses to “Bubblegum Guitar Racket: Tuscadero

  1. Thanks! I grew up in the D.C. area, but never picked up any of the product by the bands I saw. This gives me a good sample!

  2. Thanks for the Tuscadero’s. Real quality that passed me by at the time

    Great Blog which reaches music others don’t

    Cheers

    G

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