The '80s are back. No, not A Flock of Seagulls and Kajagoogoo, but the flipside of the decade -- the underbelly of arty, dark post-punkers who lurked in the murky corners of scenes such as San Francisco (Chrome, Tuxedomoon) and England (the early Factory, Mute and 4AD rosters). Except this time, they're all reincarnated in the body of a Brooklyn dude who calls himself Blank Dogs.
Blank Dogs always covers his face with a mask or sheet, thereby retaining complete anonymity, a la The Residents. Most people don't know much about him personally, but we can theorize that he matured in the Fort Thunder scene of late-'90s Providence, R.I., and saw bands such as Lightning Bolt at their peak. Or that his name is Mike and he works at Academy Records in Williamsburg. Or maybe not.
What's certain is that he's managed to put out a voluminous discography, whether he made all the music himself or had a group of undisclosed friends help out. Dozens of very limited-edition tapes hearken back to the halcyon days of '80s cassette culture (reminiscent of The Psyclones, for example). iPod-playing hipsters scour their cellars for boomboxes to play them on, and the almost equally rare 7-inch singles frequently end up on turntables at DJ nights.
To remedy the kind of unbridled collectors' fever that used to plague '90s indie-rock, Blank Dogs made much of his music available online at his blog (it's been removed recently for unknown reasons) as well as on the reputable labels Troubleman and In the Red. And he's made himself visible live, albeit still in the trademark wrappings, as part of a semi-shoegazey quartet with two guitarists and a keyboardist. That might be what you'll get if you go to the show at Howler's this Sun., March 15.
But isn't it better to keep a little bit of mystery in a relationship?
Blank Dogs with Woods, The Humankind, Thickness, Naked on the Vague and Tusk Lord. 7 p.m. Sun., March 15. Howler's Coyote Café, 4509 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. $7. 412-682-0320
- Maybe not: Blank Dogs