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Volcano Suns

 

B+
Album: All-Night Lotus Party
Label: Merge

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B-
Album: The Bright Orange Years
Label: Merge

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After Roger Miller's chronic tinnitus forced Mission Of Burma to disband, drummer Peter Prescott soldiered on in the rowdy art-punk act Volcano Suns. His group saw some modest success during the mid-'80s heyday of college radio, when bands as betwixt-and-between as the Suns stood a fighting chance. Now Merge has reissued Volcano Suns' first two albums—1985's The Bright Orange Years and 1986's All-Night Lotus Party—in expanded editions that include live tracks, B-sides, and other sundries, and though the records will likely appeal most to people who already remember the band fondly, they're also a useful document of alternative rock's transition from modesty to muscle. The Bright Orange Years finds Prescott modulating his natural tendency to yelp, delivering somewhat muted songs not too far removed from alt-rock's delicately jangling R.E.M. wing. With All-Night Lotus Party, Prescott cuts loose, apparently realizing that his personality is best expressed in music that resembles a reckless hoedown. Aside from a few minor classics—the chugging "White Elephant" in particular—the songs on Bright Orange and Lotus are largely formless and unmemorable. But Volcano Suns are still notable for what they inspired in the decade following, as other, better bands realized the benefit in making head-banging safe for art students.