The Steves


The Steves In a Room EP reissue

My first thought listening to this EP was “Wow, every band really does want to be DEVO these days.” Then I noticed this was a reissue from 1980, and thought “Wow, this band wanted to be DEVO during DEVO’s peak.” Which, honestly—bold move, STEVES. I can’t fault you for trying. But I also can’t help but laugh at the press release, claiming the STEVES sounded too unruly to be considered for radio play. Freedom of Choice literally came out that same year! Maybe it’s all tongue-in-cheek and I can’t pick up sarcasm the way I used to. I will say though, it was daring of them to put a disco track on the B-side in 1980. Now that’s bold.

The Steves Making Time / Mechanical Friend 7″ reissue

Iron Lung presents a reissue of this long-forgotten 1980 7” record from Boston’s the STEVES, a synth punk duo that was definitely of their time sonically but has enough to separate them from other punk/new wave groups. The drums and synth set-up was not especially fresh in 1980, what with bands like DEVO getting MTV play and cult heroes like the SCREAMERS and LOS MICROWAVES employing a similar approach, if not attitude. Underground music has come full circle enough that the electronic whooshes and electro-bass sound as contemporary now as they did back then, but what strikes me the most about “Making Time” is its economical, straightforward songwriting and vocal delivery. It’s a short, well-written song that is performed without the affect or provocation of much of that era’s punk. When the chorus of “Making time for making time” hits, it’s a perfect melodic moment, reminiscent of ’60s pop as much as a robotic KBD curiosity. “Mechanical Friend” is the first-person account of a “robot lover” describing itself and how it’s “here to serve you” over slow, ESQUIVEL-leaning instrumentation. So, it’s weird, but the melodic, earnest vocal performance wins again. If the early days of synth punk or new wave get you moving, check out this unusual disc, and keep an eye out for two more STEVES reissues from Iron Lung.

The Steves Jerk! EP

Here’s an interesting pearl dredged up from the deep chasm of the early ’80s Boston underground. Jerk! is the third EP of STEVES material to be released this year. Unlike the reissues of Making Time and In a Room, Jerk! features previously unreleased songs that were recorded during the original sessions around 1980–1981, and have been unearthed and repackaged by Iron Lung Records. The STEVES played an eclectic blend of punk, proto-metal, and proggy power pop. I hear elements of BLACK RANDY AND THE METROSQUAD, DEVO, and the ZIPS, mixed with RASPBERRIES, FOCUS, and QUEEN. The ripping guitar solos and operatic layered vocals make the STEVES more interesting than a lot of the KBD-style punk they’ll inevitably get lumped in with. The three songs on Jerk! are not quite as potent as what you’ll hear on the two previous EPs, but they still pack a wallop. Recommended for anyone with a penchant for the quirkier side of obscure underground punk.