Saturday, January 12, 2008

Cutting-Edge Cassettes:
Dramarama's Stuck in Wonderamaland

I know, I know, vinyl's in vogue at the moment, and I can't and won't try to say I don't love the sound and look of vinyl. I do. I adore it. I fully embrace mp3s as a less-nice-sounding but quite convenient form of listening, and I'm just about the only person left on the planet still defending CDs, for some stubborn nostalgic reason I can't really explain. But when I tell people I buy cassette tapes, I get a blank stare or an incredulous gasp. Sue me, my car's old, I don't have an iPod adapter and I certainly don't have a CD player. Tapes really are the most convenient form for me, especially since I love listening as I drive, and the things are so darn cheap since nobody else wants 'em! I've snapped up a bunch of them for $1 each, mostly from bands I've never heard of or am not exceedingly familiar with, and I'm going to be chronicling my adventures on tape here every week!

ARTIST: Dramarama
ALBUM: Stuck in Wonderamaland
RELEASE DATE: April 1989
LABEL: Chamelon
TRACKS: 1) "Wonderamaland," 2) "No Regrets," 3) "Fireplace, Pool and Air-Conditioning," 4) "Lullabye," 5) "It's Hardly Enough," 6) "Last Cigarette," 7) "70s TV," 8) "Try," 9) "Would You Like," 10) "I Wish I Was Your Mother," 11) "Pumps on a Hill," 12) "Stuck in Wonderamaland"

First up is an album from Dramarama, an awfully named 80s band that somebody in the Replacements Facebook group had recommended, you know, one of those RIYL sort of deals. Originally based in Jersey but later transplanted to LA, the band enjoyed a bit of notoriety in its time but today is fairly obscure, making the band an ideal candidate for this feature. When I saw it in the bin of tapes at my local thrift store, I happily snapped it up. I would not be disappointed... The album, Stuck in Wonderamaland, is one of those albums that you find to be immediately comforting, mixing comedic wit, a little bit of melancholy and singalong choruses just like your best friends. My favorite tracks on the tape include "Last Cigarette" and the band's wonderful cover of the androgynous "I Wish I Was Your Mother." The band's got less of a punk anything-goes sort of edge than the 'Mats do, but the feeling produced is similar: both bands perfectly capture the discontentment, boredom, cultural experience and euphoria of being an American young adult in the suburbs in the 80s. And, of course, both are criminally under-appreciated.

After enjoying this album, I did a little research and found that the band is still performing. Original members John Easdale, Mark Englert and Peter Wood are all still contributing members, and they put out an album of new material (Everybody Dies) in 2005. Reviews look quite good, though I doubt I could find it on cassette.

Check back next week when I listen to Kate Bush's The Dreaming.

"Last Cigarette" [MP3]
"I Wish I Was Your Mother" [MP3]

John Easdale & Dramarama's official website
Check out the album on Amazon


randy said...

that's a wicked good idea. the cd player in my car is total pile and unfortunately the tape i got with my car has been stuck in the player from the beginning. mp3s are for total wieners but the ease and usage is unchallenged. i'm still surprised how people tolerate and accept mp3s for their main listening source. fucking ipods. vinyl rules but cds will never die (unless i can listen to vinyl while i drive).

Kathy said...

I'm a short walk from a used record store that sells piles of cassettes that I always forget to pick through. (Who knows when that copy of Boink!! is going to show up -- yes, someone burned a copy for me, but it's not the same thing.)

I'm old. I think I owned that Dramarama album once upon a time. My city's first "alternative" radio station played the heck out of "Last Cigarette." Fun times.