Forgotten Records: Suburban Lawns – Self Titled

sublawnsWell, it’s certainly been a while. If it’s any consolation, the downtime has allowed me to dig in the stacks and find a real rare gem. You won’t find this little bugger on CD on any time soon. No, friends, this one’s a vinyl-only (or ripped MP3) New Wave gem from 1981: Suburban Lawns.

First making an impact in 1979 with a single “Gidget Goes to Hell,” which can be found on various compilation CDs of New Wave and Punk singles, they certainly sounded like something else. Part Surf-rock, part nervous New Wave like DEVO or Talking Heads, and with a vocalist not unlike Nico on helium: Sixteen-year old Su Tissue. The album is much in the same vein, though with vocal duties alternately shared by John Gleur.

Opening with the synth-driven madness of “Flying Saucer Safari,” a mishmash of sci-fi and grocery-list lyrics over a hyperactive synth-line and taught rhythm, sung by Tissue, Suburban Lawns grabs you by the head and make you listen. The entire first side beyond this is a series of dark, nervous, quirky New Wave tracks. “Gossip” is particularly creepy with the chanted chorus: “Lies. Paradox. A blade of grass.” All of these tracks, save for “Not Allowed,” and “Protection” are played at almost hyperspeed. There is not a single number on this record longer than 3 minutes.

Suburban Lawns album cover

Side two’s starter, “Janitor,” is the high point of the entire exercise. A bouncy punk rock tune with the strangest chorus you’ll ever hear on a record: “Oh my genitals! I’m a janitor!” juxtaposed with Chernobyl-paranoia. “All action is reaction / Expansion, contraction… / Does it matter? / Nuclear reactor / Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!” “Computer Date” is an equally bouncy tune singing the praises of technology and mating, surprisingly lacking in sinister overtones.

The entire event is barely over 27 minutes, a little more than your average sitcom. Fourteen tracks, nervous, wild, and lost to time. The Lawns put out an EP called Baby after this, with a more synth-heavy sound, as was the style at the time, then vanished into the ether. Relics still float about: there’s a music video for “Janitor” on YouTube, a little blurb on a website for IRS Records, and a Wikipedia entry. None of their stuff, save for “Gidget Goes to Hell” is on legit CD. Do what you can to track this one down.

Enhanced by Zemanta

One comment

  1. The Ripple Effect

    Listening to this lost bizarro right now. Found it for $1 in the sale vinyl bin. Hard to resist.

    I remember Janitor from back in the day. Very edgy, quirky, early new wave madness

Leave a Comment