22 Beaches Dust: Recordings 1980​–1984 LP

Dust is a curious journey through the four-year lifespan of 22 BEACHES, a six-piece from Stirling, Scotland whose recorded legacy had previously been limited to a handful of tracks on some painfully rare early ’80s UK DIY cassette comps—there’s no insert or liner notes with any sort of background info, or even basic dates on the sleeve to indicate when each song was originally recorded, so there’s still a substantial element of mystery here that plays right into the band’s often otherworldly sound. The LP starts with a handful of previously unreleased studio-recorded demos put to tape not long before the group split in 1984 and then works backwards chronologically from there, documenting (in a reverse aging sort of way) 22 BEACHES’ transformation from the more needling and paranoid post-punk clamor of their earlier material to the sparse and sophisticated dub-influenced reverberations of their later years. There’s some sensibilities that 22 BEACHES obviously shared with many of their more well-known and successful Scottish peers, from the starkly rhythmic gloom of “That Girl” and “One of Us” that recalls the WAKE’s Factory Records phase, to the spiky, Afrobeat-accented jangle of ORANGE JUICE circa Rip it Up likewise channeled in “Somebody Got It Wrong,” while the intersecting male/female vocals and simmering punk-funk groove of “Breathing” hits like a perfect synthesis of GANG OF FOUR and the AU PAIRS, and the dispassionately narrated vocals from Jackie Sharkey over the writhing and driving beat of “Talent Show” is no-nonsense femme art-punk at its best. So great to see this band finally get a little much-deserved time in the (vinyl) spotlight.