I found The Reds® on Last.fm.  Never heard of them.  But, after further investigation, discovered they're a true artifact recording since the late seventies.  Currently the line-up is two of the original founding members, Rick Shaffer and Bruce Cohen.  Their new recording, Early Nothing, the topic of present discussion, is an album with late sixties vitality and adventure, at times mirroring early Velvet and Stones, with a good amount of Door's swagger.  However, the other part of The Reds® story is their work with director, Michael Mann (Heat, Insider, Collateral), on Miami Viceand three films, especially their Manhunter score.  Their film work, along with interesting side works by Shaffer (guitar tracks on albums with Marianne Faithful, Peter Murphy, Mark Almond, the late Hilly Krystal), and Cohen (scores for stage productions in Philadelphia and NYC), keep this band's sound fresh and expanding, not just a curious time capsule.

To fully appreciate Early Nothing, for this listener, is to experience it at the most sonic volume level, via a good set of headphones.  Starting with Big Boy, a slow grinding groove, bluesy Door's style track, with a driving organ, pumping bass, slapping back beat, edgy metallic guitars and dark, blues tone Shaffer vocals, not unlike Jim Morrison, with a bit of Jagger twang.  The track further hits you with the atmospherics of sixties percussion, most notably Cohen's understated keyboard work, much like Brian Eno's approach in his atmosphere treatments.

Other tracks carrying this type of feel, drive and atmosphere are SidebusterDiggin' ItWhere We Belong, and Strangeness.  Sidebuster is my favorite, because of the psycho rich textures of guitar, percussion, keyboards (the main organ signature reminds me of a warped Junior Walker sax riff), and Shaffer, a man not fully in control of himself, but with a missed sense of humor, much like Morrissey.  The end of Sidebuster, with it's rocking groove and vocal refrain, "Dream, baby, dream," seems inspired by Suicide's vocalist, Alan Vega's haunting style.

Additional songs, more electronic and groove oriented are, A Few Dollars MoreNight Must FallLaying Low, and especially, Endless, a moody track that conjures up the vision of Jim Morrison singing, Massive Attack electronics, with a Robbie Krieger guitar approach.  These four songs hint at the band's film work, with moments of dark slinking stories of things best left unsaid, and a world of very modern sound, yet pure, original, organic, and as adventurous as late night sixties radio and today's indie underground.

Every now and then you're lucky enough to come across unique bands, deserving much greater exposure, but who never fully achieve it, so you feel compelled to help spread the word.  The Reds® are one of those bands.  Take a listen, it's the kind of music you'll find yourself still listening to twenty years from now without ever getting bored.

Thomas Rathman
Eraser Net Blog
Berlin, Germany