Formed in 1980, Band of Outsiders became a popular CBGB act and recorded with Ivan Kral of the Patti Smith Group. They called it quits at the end of 1988, seemingly at the peak of their career, after touring Europe and releasing a tantalizingly small output of incandescent guitar-fueled songs. Their swirling, intricate yet powerful twin-guitar sound foreshadowed the dreampop explosion of the late 80s; their post-Velvets songwriting drew apt comparisons to another legendary CB’s band, Television. Band of Outsiders influenced an entire generation of dark psychedelic and garage bands, from the Jesus & Mary Chain to Brian Jonestown Massacre. Reuniting sporadically, and then for good in 2008, they’ve been playing around New York and have a new ep, Sound Beach Quartet that’s arguably the best thing they’ve ever done. They’re at Local 269 tomorrow night, June 5 at 9 PM on a great bill with Lakeside all-stars Los Dudes opening at 8, then their longtime pals Certain General at 10 and legendary John Cale collaborator and Floor Kiss frontwoman Deerfrance headlining afterward.
As usual, the twin guitars of Marc Jeffrey and Jim McCarthy are the drawing card here with their edgy blend of jangle and clang. The opening track, As It’s Written has a surprisingly airy early 80s Feelies vibe, working its way up to an irresistibly catchy chorus on the new wave pulse of Dave Lee’s bass and Richard Maurer’s drums, with some deliciously circling tradeoffs between the guitars as it picks up steam. Likewise, One Life is Not Enough opens with spacious acoustic guitar interplay and then turns into a backbeat anthem with bright Tex-Mex guitar that wouldn’t be out of place in the Willie Nile catalog. The strongest track is the absolutely gorgeous, bittersweet Gods of Happenstance: it’s the missing link between Television and the Grateful Dead (there’s a very clever quote in there) as REM would have done it if Peter Buck had been a world-class lead player. The epic concluding track, Trickle of Love first builds slowly and gently, then hypnotically, then majestically as layer up on layer of acoustic and then electric guitar enters the mix. After a Beatlesque bridge and a slide guitar solo that finally sails up with a wailing intensity, it winds out on a surprisingly gentle, ornate note with a handful of piano flourishes. Short and sweet as this is, it’s a fair approximation of Band of Outsiders’ intense, crescendoing live show – and one of the best rock albums of 2012.