Negatives Whole Lotta Shakin’ EP reissue

Early ’80s Boston was ground zero for a certain strain of tense, wiry punk by and for art freaks and eggheads, and this long-lost EP from NEGATIVES hews so closely to that particular sound that I was completely taken aback to learn that the band was actually from New York City—cue the ’90s Pace Picante commercial. Originally released in 1979 or 1980 (apparently the band isn’t even entirely sure), Whole Lotta Shakin’ is basically the stuff of “punk records as retirement fund” dreams: band exists for under a full calendar year, records and releases one poorly distributed single, doesn’t even bother to put together a sleeve for it, then vanishes without a trace. “Mind Scan” is a sneering, snotty rocker and the most classically KBD of the EP’s four cuts, albeit on the nerdier/weirder end of that spectrum (the one occupied by the SCIENTIFIC AMERICANS, DOW JONES & THE INDUSTRIALS, PLASTIC IDOLS, etc.) as opposed to the fuck-up/dum-dum side, but that said, the real hits are the ones bookending it. The dark, desperate harmonies of “Paradise” and jagged, stop/start rhythm pushing right into the soaring, anthemic chorus of “Whole Lotta Shakin’” conjure the dissonant post-punk beauty of Boston’s best—think MISSION OF BURMA, NATIVE TONGUE, and various deep cuts on the great Propeller label—which only makes it even more wild that NEGATIVES (just barely) predated all of them. New York for the win!