The Scenics are now releasing their new studio album Dead Man Walks Down Bayview on vinyl. This
is the first studio album that Toronto punk rock survivors The Scenics have recorded since the 1970s. Recorded at Toronto’s #9 Studio and Allowed Sound Studio on Saltspring Island, 2009-2012, the album was produced by original band members, Ken Badger, Andy Meyers and Mark Perkell, mixed and mastered by celebrated producer Joby Baker at Baker Studios in Victoria, BC. Dead Man Walks Down Bayview is being released by Dream Tower Records. The vinyl release was originally slated for late 2012 release but bumped till now due their press plant being commandeered to press up a range of Beatles albums for the holiday season. I’m hoping you’d consider covering them via feature or album review.
Like their initial late ’70s work the sound on Dead Man Walks Down Bayview is a thrilling fusion of the essential sources of punk and new wave with the styles inspired by them. The result is an intricate yet powerful twin-guitar sound that suggests, without imitating, the power drone of the Velvet Underground and the heavenly jangle of the Byrds as well as the oeuvres that outfits like Television spun out of those same elements in the early days of punk. The material here was written over a span of several decades, but stylistically could have all come together in one madly inspired session.
The Scenics consist of founding members Ken Badger and Andy Meyers on guitar and vocals, with bandmates drummer Mark Perkell and bassist Mike Young returning to the fold. There’s been some great press of the CD release already:
First-wave Toronto punks the Scenics have expanded their recording catalogue at a glacial pace, releasing just the 1979 LP Underneath the Door during an initial run that ended in 1982 and then waiting until 2008 and 2009, respectively, to plunder the vaults with How Does it Feel to Be Loved: The Scenics Play the Velvet Underground and odds-‘n’-sods collection Sunshine World. The positive response to those collections convinced the quartet to reunite and play a few shows, which all involved rather enjoyed doing, and now, lo and behold, we have a second Scenics album a full 33 years on from the first. The band’s demeanour has calmed somewhat over the past three decades – how could it not? – but Dead Man Walks Down Bayview finds the Scenics’ caustic wit, scattershot musical tastes and flair for experimentation intact. There’s a touch of rockabilly and a touch of country stirred in with the usual Velveteen jangle and sidewinding New Wave, while the real fun happens when intricately duelling guitarists/vocalists Andy Meyers and Ken Badger let it all sprawl out in rambling, Television-damaged drone-rockers like “When You Come Around” and the swaggering “O Boy.” There’s something to be said for keeping quiet until you’ve got something to say. Ben Rayner/Toronto Star 1/19
There’s always something a little scary about a much-loved, influential band deciding to get back together and recording new music, as recapturing that original magic is usually incredibly tough. Fortunately, the Scenics have reunited with nary a misstep; they’ve delved into their archives for a couple of albums’ worth of old material, played a bunch of live shows and it’s now time for the inevitable new record. Dead Man Walks Down Bayview is their first studio album in about 30 years, featuring songs written during the past couple of decades. There’s nothing terribly unexpected about it – there’s still a strong Velvet Underground influence, most notably on opener “Dark Cave,” and the slower songs are reminiscent of Edwyn Collins’ solo work. The overall effect isn’t that different from the last Vaselines album – a perfect extension of their earlier work that took into account the fact that they’ve matured and mellowed along the way. It might not be as punk as they once were, but they’ve done nothing to sully their reputation. Michael Edwards/Exclaim 11/27
The re-emergence of Toronto’s punk-epoch Scenics bears new fruit. The 1976-1982 band immortalized in the The Last Pogo movie (December 1, 1978’s farewell to the Horseshoe Tavern, with Teenage Head, Viletones, etc.), and their scene’s oral history, 2010’s Treat Me Like Dirt, only released one LP-1980’s Underneath the Door (Bomp!). But since reforming in 2008, they’ve issued six vault compendiums: Sunshine World – Studio Recordings 1977-78; a Velvet Underground covers collection, How Does it Feel to Be Loved; and four volumes of gratis Punk Haiku web downloads. Now, 32 years on, here’s a proper second LP. Both singer/guitarist/bassist/songwriters return, Andy Meyers and Ken Badger, with ’79-’80 bassist Mike Young and ’80-’82 drummer Mark Perkell. Their reinvigorated familiarity inspires Dead Man, progressing comfortably from their bygones. In tandem, they rejigger a 1977 Sunshine oldie, “O Boy” with new lyrics/arrangement, record four 1980s Meyers’ songs he’d considered “unfinished business”-“Miami,” “I Can’t Be Careful,” “Growing Pains,” and “No Sleep”-and open with a ’90s composition that’d left Meyers regretting The Scenics no longer existed to record! Badget’s tunes such as “The Farmer” affect softer Television/Velvets-like designs, but nevertheless induce his own brand of Yonge Street walks on the wild side. Myers strolls that gambol as well (“Growing Pains”), but with a spikier Talking Heads/Television/Count Five/Roky Erickson characteristic for “No Sleep” and the Byrds-esque “Miami.” Two becalming CD bonus covers, of Big Star’s1974 Third track “Take Care” and The Byrds’ 1964 Mr. Tambourine Manfolk-rock version of Jackie DeShannon’s “Don’t Doubt Yourself Babe,” conclude a stout comeback. (thescenics.com) Jack Rabid/Big Takeover #70
Andy Meyers and Ken Badger originally formed The Scenics in the summer of 1976, joining the ranks of the nascent Toronto punk scene alongside outfits like Simply Saucer, Teenage Head, The Viletones, The Diodes, The Demics, Forgotten Rebels, and The Dishes. With a rotating cast of drummers and bassists, Ken and Andy created a sizeable catalogue of wonderfully distinctive and innovative songs during their six years together.The group shared bills with bands like Talking Heads and were part of 1978’s infamous Horseshoe Tavern punk swansong, live album, and film “The Last Pogo”. The Scenics released their Underneath The Door debut album in 1979 followed by the “Karen/See Me Smile” single two years later before parting ways amicably in ’82.
Over a quarter-century later, Meyers started listening to some of the more than 300 hours of rehearsal, live and studio tapes The Scenics had recorded and was pleasantly shocked “by the depth of the songwriting and the passion of the performances.” The group re-introduced themselves to music lovers in 2008 with How Does It Feel To Be Loved: The Scenics Play The Velvet Underground, a collection of live recordings from 1977 – 1981. How Does It Feel… hit the Top 30 on college radio charts and received considerable critical acclaim from publications like the Village Voice, Toronto Star, Detroit Metro Times, Vancouver Province and Big Takeover among others. That same year, the documentary The Last Pogo, featuring performances by The Scenics and other members of the ’70s Toronto scene, was released on DVD. Seven unreleased Scenics performances from 1978’s “Mystery Train” filming were included as DVD extras.
Badger and Meyers then resurrected the most powerful Scenics line-up with Perkell and Young, playing their first live shows in 26 years to wildly appreciative audiences. Sunshine World followed in 2009, featuring previously unreleased originals and two intriguing covers laid down in ’77/’78. Meyers began posting his reminiscences of the heady days of the punk revolution on the band’s website via his Punk Haiku blog. The band also began making a wealth of vintage Scenics’ material available for free or voluntary donation via www.dreamtowerrecords.com.
The band then returned to the studio for the first time in over 20 years to record nine Meyers and Badger originals. Dead Man Walks Down Bayview is vintage Scenics made new: jangly, inverted pop aesthetics, wrapped up in sharp lyrics and a cascading-two guitar attack.