As the cassette tape format has waned, there have been periods of time in which I found myself cheaply acquiring music on cassette faster than I could digest it. I’ve begun a campaign of slowly unearthing these treasures, by periodically grabbing a tape out of my closet and bringing it along in my car for a few days — I drive a 1993 Buick Century that still has the factory tape deck, in good working order, I don’t yet own an iPod to hook up to the tape adapter, and the XM radio frequently doesn’t have anything going on that I feel like listening to.
So to begin this series, I dug up the 1987 SST Records album Get Lost (Don’t Lie) by These Immortal Souls. A pretty intriguing album, and knowing nothing about the band, I noticed the sort of “dark cabaret with noise” thing they seemed to be going for, and right away thought of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Turns out, These Immortal Souls was headed up by Birthday Party guitarist Rowland S. Howard after the breakup of Birthday Party and subsequent breakup of Crime & The City Solution — the lineup is essentially the later C&CS lineup minus the lead singer — Rowland Howard, his brother Harold Howard on bass, and Epic Soundtracks on drums, — with the addition of Genevieve McGuckin on keyboards, and Rowland taking on the lead vocals. There’s an unsettling discoherence to the arrangements, though it could be the mix, which places McGuckin’s melodramatic grand piano right up front. Rowland’s laconic, off-key vocals take some getting used to, especially at several points when he goes for a lounge croon, as on the eponymous song “These Immortal Souls,” but it definitely suits the atmosphere of the music. Also, dude looked downright scary; check out this video for the band’s debut single and opening track of the album, “Marry Me (Lie! Lie!)” His lyrics are at least as frightening. This is some wonderfully dark stuff.
Incidentally, These Immortal Souls cover a song (“Hey! Little Child”) by the recently-departed Alex Chilton on this album, and Rowland S. Howard himself died near the end of last year.