"Watching the Sex Pistols' infamous Manchester gig in 1976," I'm tempted to say in reference to the sophomore effort produced by the Pittsburgh band currently known as Comrad, "Pete Shelley can't have known that the band he'd soon lead from obscurity -- the Buzzcocks -- would find itself so vital a force in a different shitty postindustrial city, 3,000 miles and a quarter-century away."
But that's bullshit: Shelley knew. A poet and prophet not unlike his Percy Bysshe namesake, Shelley could foresee generations of beautiful losers churning out thick, damaged-goods pop masterpieces such as Comrad's "Grid City" and "Up Syndrome." Likely he could already smell the sweat stains on Comrad singer "Johnny Monk" Dzubian's week-worn camo T-shirt.
There's no new tale to tell on Comrad: Just Buzzcocks loser rock ("Grid City"), Love and Rockets-style, post-Bowie punk ("Method Act"), XTC-ish hyper-pop ("See You at the Dance"). No, the excitement of Comrad's new one -- besides the new name, replacing The Wynkataug Monks and, therefore, losing for Pittsburgh the "world's dumbest band-name" title -- is in the brash exhilaration which accompanies some damn fine, get-in-and-get-out economical pop-song genius. Even the breaks between tracks are curt, each song starting as abruptly as its predecessor ended, making the disc's 10-track half-hour fly past faster than you can say, "Wash your fuckin' hair!" Ah, the innocent energy of a misspent youth, cranked up on cheap speed and fast pop -- brings a nostalgic tear to the eye, don' it?
And in an age in which the physical artifact of a new recording seems less and less important, Comrad comes finalized in lovely red bookbinding, its guts hand-cut from old easy-listening LP sleeves, as artistically simple and subtle as its contents are "What've you got?" rebellious angst. Certain to be one of the city's best this year.