Monday, 20 January 2014

Reality Bath-Nice Strong Arm (1987)


Now here's a record that is truly lost. Nobody talks about it, it's forgotten. It's in my record collection and I've barely considered it as anything. I was reading a blog (sorry forgotten the name) the other day and there it was with a little spiel and a dead download link from like 7 years ago. In Melbourne in the early 90s I picked up a stack of records on the Homestead label for next to nothing in a bargain bin . Live Skull, UT, Great Plains etc. I'd heard or heard of those bands but I'd not heard of these guys, I bought it anyway (probably due to the cover). It sat alongside my Live Skull record as a good noisy LP but it couldn't really compete with you know...er... who could it? So it rarely got played. Well that's what I thought.

So I pulled out Nice Strong Arm's Reality Bath after over 20 years of ignoring it and guess what? It's a little lost gem from the 80s underground. They obviously loved their Joy Division and MX80 Sound. They didn't sound unlike their peers Flipper, Bailter Space etc. Nice Strong Arm also predate/influenced Pavement, Trumans Water, Unwound and in particular Polvo. Looking through what info I could find on the interweb, one common criticism aimed at the group is that their songs were directionless. They're songsare definitely not directionless. Like Throwing Muses circa mid/late 80s Nice Strong Arm's guitars just took a different route to the rest. The guitars turn down strange paths exploring uncharted nooks and crannies, then new harmolodic vistas open up seemingly out of nowhere. This is the most compelling aspect of the band. You get the feeling the critics and public alike (including myself) missed the point. Sure the name Nice Strong Arm has got to be one of the most pox names ever for a group, so that can't have helped their chances. They moved from Austin to New York after this album and recorded 2 more records before breaking up in 1990 which is all news to me. Reality Bath never got issued on cd and isn't even a cult record as far as I can tell.

1 comment:

  1. tim, it astounds me how good your radar is for hidden gems like no other on the blogosphere and i'm pretty sure we went to high school together. what a small world. this album is great. the criticism i remember reading about this album was that they sounded too much like sonic youth and that you can hear where the two drummers don't sync up on time, mere withering comments on technical abilities. i can hear a little SYisms in there, but i reckon they forged their own identity which seemed to inform later bands such as aminiature. there are some good songs on stress city and mind furnace as well, but reality bath seems to carry more consistancy as an album imo.

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