heard on the wire

How’s it taste, that bitter end?


One of the advantages of having been an eMusic subscriber for longer than I care to remember is that every time they increase the price of their downloads, they throw me a wedge of free credit that allows me to occasionally download an LP on a whim without being entirely sure whether I’ll like it.

Thankfully this more than makes up for eMusic’s many drawbacks, from confusing one artist with another, to sub-standard file quality, antediluvian social sharing and music discovery and inadequate 30-second previews.

The debut from Northampton, Massachusetts’ Potty Mouth was an “eMusic Pick” that perfectly exemplifies those shortcomings. The band should definitely not be confused with LA’s Pottymouth and if ever a record were ill-served by its track previews this is it. My ears said no but my instinct said yes. Regular readers may be tiring of american, female punk pop. I don’t think I ever will.

Potty Mouth :: The Better End

It’s difficult to think of an “alternative” band that made a more newsworthy splash in the 1980s than the Jesus and Mary Chain, whose speed-fuelled, 20-minute feedback frenzies so incensed and excited audiences. In March 1985 one such audience was more incensed than excited and stormed the stage and destroyed the band’s equipment.

But a tunefulness that may not have been evident in those early live shows shone through in the debut LP, Psychocandy. And in some way, for brothers Jim and William Reid, it was the end, for while they continued to make fine records throughout the ensuing decade, they would never recapture the quintessence that made Psychocandy one of the defining records of its time.

The Jesus and Mary Chain :: The Living End

Audio MP3


The Reid brothers’ fuzzy guitars could scarcely be further removed from the 21st century, house-influenced electronics of Cymbals and a record about living in Paris and dancing too much.

Cymbals :: The End

Audio MP3


It’s impossible for people of a certain generation to hear electronic music without mentally referring to New Order, who, along with Depeche Mode, are probably more responsible than anyone for giving widespread credibility to music made with computers rather than guitars. Of course, everyone of that generation now pretends to have been listening to Kraftwerk all along, when the closest we actually got to cutting-edge music technology was taping The Model off the radio.

But before the astonishing, symphonic Blue Monday changed everything for spotty, white indie kids like, there was the band’s 1981 debut LP.

Bass player Peter Hook has described Movement as “good for the first two-and-a-half minutes”, which coincides with his vocal on the first track. It may not be in the same league as the four fabulous LPs that New Order would go on to make in the same decade, but it has a lot more going for it than the three and a quarter minutes of its opener.

New Order :: Dreams Never End

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The LP is clearly a record trapped in the aftermath of Ian Curtis’s suicide, which left the three extant members of Joy Division with a desire to carry on but as yet little idea of where to go. Then again, how do you follow the greatest LP of all-time?

Joy Division :: Means to an End

Audio MP3


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds :: Death is not the End

Photo: Fin; origin unknown.

Twitter: Potty Mouth.

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