Washington DC punk-new wave band Egoslavia started off with a different name. When they were working on their EP they found out that some band down in Georgia had the same name and was working on their own debut single. A club owner thought it would be a good promotion to have both bands play together in a battle-of-the-bands, with the winner getting to not only keep the name they both shared, but also rename the loser. Egoslavia went on first and played what was, by all accounts, a pretty solid set. Then the Georgians hit the stage, and the rest is history. Egoslavia had a new name, courtesy of some guys in a band you may have heard of, because they went on to a little bit of success. That band got to keep the name R.E.M.
As if that wasn’t interesting enough, Egoslavia’s bassist was a kid named Christopher Anderson. Um, should I know who that is, you ask? Well, you should if you ever bought a copy of WIRED magazine… he was its editor-in-chief for over a decade.
I found this in the new arrivals bin over at Easy Street Records this morning. I’d had the vinyl itch – it had been a few weeks since I’d done any serious digging, and though a few CDs came my way they just could’t replace the feeling of picking up a record (or five). Released in 1982, Egoslavia is a seven song EP with that early new wave sound – when the genre was still transitioning out of punk and not quite fully formed into the big hair, big shoulder pads music that would make it big on MTV. It’s funky. It’s weird. It reminds me a lot of Þeyr. Solid.
Stylistically Egoslavia mixes it up a bit. It’s all new wave, but the band definitely explores some different sounds, with some of the songs being more radio friendly and polished, others more experimental. I’m pretty sure my copy came from a radio station given the “45 rpm” written on the jacket and the sticker I managed to peel off the front. Three songs are specifically marked in some way on the reverse – “Lost Songs”, “Do Your Face” (an instrumental), and “Girls Without Trying.” “Lost Songs” is probably the most radio-friendly track on the album, with “Read Palms” a close second, both somewhat moody and morose songs, but still with a brisk pace – early new wave made more of an effort to cram those disparate song elements together than any other genre. “City Up!” is the best song, bar none; it has a super funky bassline as its foundation and more aggressively paced and punctuated vocals.
Exploring old school punk has been an interesting experience for me. After about two years of listening to some of the early stuff, I find my tastes changing more towards the early new wave stuff… the same way the music itself progressed back when it was new. I’m pretty sure I won’t continue to progress into the more mainstream new wave of the mid 1980s if for no other reason than I actually listened to a lot of that as it was happening, so there’s not a lot there “new” waiting for me. But this early stuff is pretty cool. I think I’ll hang out here a while.