Tag Archives: bands we like

The Perfect Disaster – Asylum Road

About ten years ago, I was sorting through the marked-down LPs at my favorite record store (Mystery Train in Amherst) when I stumbled on an album by a band I had never heard of called The Perfect Disaster.  The album was “Asylum Road” (Fire Records, 1988).

At the time, I had a firm policy of never buying records I wasn’t explicitly looking for, and I probably would have just brushed right past this one if not for a handwritten note taped to it. This particular copy had apparently belonged to WMUA, UMASS Amherst’s radio station, and the student DJ who had listened to it way back in 1989 had scrawled a review on the cover:

“Unheralded, the PERFECT DISASTER sneak up from behind the stereo and land a Top LP of ’89.  Cross Peter Perrett (ENGLAND’S GLORY ONLY ONES), YO LA TENGO, & LOU REED and the result could be Asylum Road, a stellar representation of what can happen when all the correct elements of self-referential gtr. rock are filtered through angst-ridden emotionalism and drone (was that a run-on sentence or what).  “Aching” gtr, fleshed out vox, totally downer lyrics + vocals, this is gorgeously depressed. This stunning endeavour [sic] lands an uppercut to the drugged up jaw of SPACEMEN 3, and blows MY BLOODY VALENTINE’S head off.  Thanks to Cal Zone for forwarding this gem. PLAY.

I immediately knew I had to buy this record. As weird as this description is (“drugged up jaw”, anyone?), it does a great job of capturing what college radio must have been like back then (i.e. Spacemen 3 were very much on the radar). To boot, the fact that it was handwritten and probably hadn’t been read by anyone since 1989 made me feel like I had received a intimate personal recommendation from a total stranger (a recommendation I’m now passing on to you).

This is a wonderful album—one that I’ve listened to many, many times since that day.  If you’re a fan of eighties jangle pop in the vein of the Feelies, Dream Syndicate, and The Go-Betweens, you will love this record. In particular, make sure you listen to TV (Girl On Fire).

It’s shocking to me that this band isn’t better known, particularly given that Josephine Wiggs of the Breeders was their bassist.  I looked around and, aside from a great fan page on Facebook, the Perfect Disaster is almost totally unrepresented on the internet. I did find one great blog post from 2010, at the bottom of which none other than Phil Parfitt (lead singer of PD) himself had commented to say that not only is he around, but that he is still writing music (!!!).

I went to the website of their label, Fire Records, but found scarcely any mention of the band. Fire Records itself is alive and kicking.  I would *love* to see them issue or reissue the Perfect Disaster catalog in MP3 format.  In the meantime, I’ve digitized the Perfect Disaster’s “Asylum Road.” You can listen to it here:

You can download it here. You can buy it used on vinyl here.

Needless to say, this is copyrighted material which I’m sure belongs to Fire Records.  I’m providing this to the internet in the hopes that someone will hear this and realize what a great, overlooked band this was. At the first whiff of a copyright complaint I will, of course, take this down.



Chicago Month One

Concept-15bHi All,

This past month has been crazy. We’ve been doing our best to hit up all of the bars, coffee shops,  and art shows we could – making up for lost time in getting to know a city that this time last year we had never once even been to. Last night we went to the opening of the Heartland Exhibition at the Smart Museum which was exceptional. Go to the official site here or see a write-up in the Huffington Post. There was a great, great piece by Deb Sokolow. See more of her work here. This piece was sort of a sprawling, graphical, choose-your-own-adventure style mural made up of hundreds of bits of drawings and narrative text interlinked by arrows, dotted lines. Construction was partly on paper and partly stenciled directly onto the walls of the museum itself; a great delivery mechanism for the captivating and paranoid storyline. Speaking of narrative, it was also amazing to finally see some of Kerry James Marshall’s RYTHM MSTR work.  We had read about this originally on the PBS ART:21 website a while back, but couldn’t find a way to get our hands on any of it. The work was beautiful, brilliant, a completely unique vision. What else? There was an amazing dual-channel movie called Rites of Passage by Judika Rudelius (seemingly about young politicians coming of age), a feature length music video and documentary by Ssion. A giant boat with wings. Over all, an awesome show. Completely worth checking out if you are in the Chicago area.

OK. So music shows. What did we see? Well, we went to see Jon Langford at the Empty Bottle; also Psychedelic Furs and the Happy Mondays. Both shows were amazing. We were Psychedelic Furs fans before but we came out of that show having a now newfound respect for them. Their set was extremely tight and totally engaging, but moreover it really seemed like they loved being there, playing these songs that are now, what, like almost 30 years old? And Jon Langford…well, exactly what the doctor ordered really. We’re huge Mekons fans so it was great to see the man engaging in the sort of twangy bar music that makes that band so epic and mundane at the same time. He also played a Go-Betweens cover which really put the show over the top. What else? Well, tonight we’re going to see Monotonix at the Logan Square Auditorium. If rumors are to be believed, that show should be nothing short of legendary.

Okay, that’s it.

More soon,