Someone & the Somebodies

Bops on the Head

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After the initial blitz of the 1970s new wave in Boston, MA -- a movement of singer/songwriters fronting bands, spearheaded by Willie "Loco" Alexander and Jonathan Richman -- the college city found techno and industrial sounds infiltrating the scene with the dawn of the '80s. The Modern Method record label, a division of retailer Newbury Comics, began issuing some of this music on sampler albums as well as EPs by November Group and writer Tristram Lozaw's outfit, Someone & the Somebodies. The music on the four-song EP Bops on the Head might seem innocent enough, but Lozaw's cover design is beyond politically incorrect a couple of decades after its release. A man with what looks like a golf club has it raised over his head as if about to strike someone, while a larger male head is seen with a hand around his throat. The 45 RPM 12-inch disc is at its most violent on "Mombo Sombo," a drifting, weaving industrial folk tune with percussive sounds playing against the guitar bursts and dark, incoherent vocal. Where Willie Alexander was employing the dissonance by merging jazz with his primal scream on Solo Loco at this point in time, Someone & the Somebodies take an electronic sledgehammer approach. Mao Tse-Tung, a woman hitting her child with a hammer, and a beach bully punching another guy out are the images on the back cover which accompany the sternutatory sounds of "It's Only Extazy." As Mission of Burma embraced aggravating noise and attitude, Someone & the Somebodies brought the tempo and level down a notch or two, massaging the electronics. Lozaw put together an interesting arrangement of prizefighter Lee Dorsey's 1966 hit, the Allen Toussaint composition "Working in a Coal Mine," which obtained heavy regional airplay. Synth/guitar player Rob Davis contributes "We Were Only Kidding," a staccato guitar-phrased chant over heavy bass. Not for everyone, Bops on the Head is a good document of a day when the new wave morphed into heavier sounds, which eventually led to modern rock. It's what came in between and is worth a listen.