Remember, back in the ’80s, when there was that tape release with both of DEVO‘s first two albums together on it? . . . No? . . . Oh . . . yeah . . . right . . . Anyways, back then Devo were starting to get better known, especially with MTV playing their psychedelic videos a bunch. That tape was a good way to play catch-up on how such an innovative band got started turning pop music on its head. So, our friends at Feeding Tube Records have done something similar with a vinyl pressing of songs from PETER’S WINDOW, which (hooray Internet!) you can sample with your computer before scoring the LP. It won’t be any wonder that these songs sound a lot like tracks from Brattleboro’s Great Valley, since the Peter in question is that beloved cult band’s frontman, Peter Nichols.
Last Summer, on Earth + Hits From Grapey Day features bedroom-pop productions spanning roughly the past five years and, sorta like Devo did, prods the pop animal until it shows us all a new face. That new face, to me, seems cartoonishly feline in character, part Fritz The Cat and part H.R. Pufnstuf. Jangly Fendertones ring out on the plaintive summer jam “Last Summer,” which tells the iconic story of a summer romance recalled. “Stayin’ Home” is a delightfully introspective musing on domesticity, and “Hey NASA” tells that agency what we really want from them, dammit, a F-ing RIDE! These songs really show bedroom pop’s strengths: dreamy thoughtful themes and the kind of vocal playfulness that comes out of nobody else being around to get judgy.
Side Two features more recent works culled from last year’s Grapey Day and includes the truly necessary road-mix bumper “A Trip,” as well as my fave on the album, “Somebody Upstairs,” rocking an absolutely fun, almost steel-drum feel and then, suddenly, going all dark ‘n’ shit before quirking back to happy tones and cats.
And if you wanna check these felines out yourself (and maybe feed your vinyl fetish too), come out this Saturday, February 7th at 10pm for this month’s HASSLE NIGHT at Cambridge’s all-age haven the Lilypad, where Peter and pals come to town as GRAPE ROOM along with fellow Vermonters THE LENTILS and Worcester’s own SECRET LOVER.