SWELL MAPS: Wastrels and Whippersnappers: CD

A number of years ago, a few local rock intelligentsia types were all a-twitter because Nikki Sudden was playing in town. They thought it was noteworthily incongruous that the esteemed and presumably very important Nikki Sudden was playing in our unesteemed and presumably unimportant burg. They were like “Nikki Sudden! Playing here! Can you imagine?” I was like “Yeah, that’s a wild one. Who the fuck is Nikki Sudden?” I was informed that Nikki Sudden was in Swell Maps. Amazingly, while i remember seeing Swell Maps 45s in mailorder catalogues in the early ‘80s, i actually don’t think i ever heard Swell Maps until just now. I seem to recall hearing the words “Syd” and “Barrett” in any anecdotal description of their services i was ever provided; historically, that’s been quite enough to deflect any amorous advances i may have been considering. Ultimately, twenty-five or thirty years after the fact, i find that Swell Maps aren’t too terribly un-swell at that – the more coherent moments remind me of an unlikely marriage between Guided By Voices, the Sniveling Shits, and the first 10cc album, or maybe if the Soft Boys were on Rip Off Records. The less coherent moments suggest Pianosaurus trying to sound like Jethro Tull covering “Shut Down” by the Germs. All in all, i’ll take a mild rebuke for never having heard the band til now, but will not offer up my bottom for a full-on paddling. BEST SONG: “Full Moon-Blam-Full Moon” BEST SONG TITLE: “Harmony In Your Bathroom” FANTASTIC AMAZING TRIVIA FACT: These “primitive home recordings” come with a health warning. One assumes this warning came too late to save the tragically no-longer-with-us Mr. Sudden.

 –norb (Overground)