As we all know, commercial success doesn't necessarily define the greatness of a band. Athens, Georgia has produced some very influential bands, R.E.M. being the most recognized of those. An influence to them, and a major part of that once burgeoning scene, was Pylon. Formed out of the University of Georgia, Randy Bewley and Michael Lachowski were inspired by Television and The Talking Heads, and eventually found their front woman in Vanessa Briscoe. Vanessa's edgy wail was a perfect compliment to Pylon's jagged guitars and irreverently wry style.
You may have heard their first single, "Cool," put out on dB in late 1980. The Talking Heads influence is obvious, as is the quirky vocal approach similar to the B-52's Pierson and Wilson. The chorus is so hooky I wake up singing it and find myself singing it throughout the day. "Cool" emerged as an obscure dance hit and pushed their first release, Gyrate, onto the market that summer. Gyrate garnered attention from critics and led them to an opening slot for the B-52's. Disappointed with their second album and disconcerted about a botched tour with U2, Pylon crumbled and called it quits for the second time in 1991, after their final show at Athen's renowned 40 Watt Club.
Gyrate is worth another listen, especially for the first track, "Cool." It takes you back to the jangle and wit of those Athens bands and reminds you why the Talking Heads, R.E.M., Television, the B-52's and, of course, Pylon are so important to our existing independent rock scene. Pylon represents the beauty and charm of New Wave/Post Punk, one of the most overlooked sub-genres in music today.