The Purrs Are Back (In Paisley)

A Paisely Popsicle
Last week while I was listening to Kevin Cole on KEXP he played a song from Purrs‘ new album followed by the Dream Syndicate‘s Tell Me When It’s Over which reminded me of a couple things.  One, how much I love Kevin Cole’s kid in a candy store approach to his daily show (you never know what he might grab off the shelf) and two: how much the Purrs seem to be influenced by the Paisley Underground.  About a year ago when I saw them across the street from the Green Pajamas, I made the connection, and now with the new record (as well as Kevin Coles’s playlist) that Paisley Underground connection has been reaffirmed.

Back in the early 80’s the Paisley Underground scene was a somewhat unheralded movement that produced a lot of great albums that to this day seem to go unnoticed and unheralded as the great works that they were. The Bangles are probably the best known (Prince penned Manic Monday or the goofy Walk Like an Egyptian anyone?) band to emerge from the scene, and also Rain Parade‘s David Roback went on to form Mazzy Star, but bands like The Dream Syndicate, Green On Red, The Long Ryders and the Three O’clock put out a a whole bunch of druggy, jangly, 60’s tinged, psychedelia inducing albums that hold a special place in my heart. A few years back Magnet magazine featured the Paisley Underground on the cover of their magazine, which I thought was one of the coolest things an American music magazine has done in the last ten years. Finally, a scene that created such great songs was got some recognition. Well that was nearly 10 years ago, back when magazines were still semi-relevant. So since then who has been carrying the torch of the Paisley Underground you may ask? Well look no further than Seattle and the Purrs (note to self, must do another blog post on Seattle’s godfathers of psychedelia, the Green Pajamas).

Yes, the Purrs are back with the follow-up to 2007’s The Chemistry That Keeps Us Together, an album that  just didn’t get old for me, with it’s strong pop back-bone and it’s spacey vibe. Their new album Amused, Confused and More Bad News, just released last week, carries on that same vibe  while adding an extra layer of psychedelic haze that makes you work just a little bit harder at pulling out he pop hook. Bassist and vocalist Jima has essentially upped the ante with this set of songs making them less immediate but in the end more gratifying.   The first couple listens of the new record, had me looking for songs as immediate as She’s Got Chemicals and Drive and coming up empty. It wasn’t until third and fourth that I realized that Purrs were making me work for it, and songs like Stay With Me, Baby I Want You Back, A Century of Rain and The Outpost began to reveal themselves.  The guitars still sound like they were played somewhere in outer space and sent back to the studio on some kind of sub-warp frequency giving the songs an extraterrestrial vibe, but with this new batch of songs Jima’s disaffected vocals are less in your face catchy and more intertwined into the songs as a whole.  The band leave a trail of bread crumbs with the  more immediate Fear of Flying and they momentarily doff the paisley and go for the pop jugular with the Verve/Oasis style sounding Feeling Fine. A song I bet Oasis wish that they could still write in. The real payoff comes with patience as this album is the kind that reveals something new with every listen.  It’s an album that holds its own with anything that got released by anyPaisley Underground band back in the early 80’s as well as the high standards already set by the Purrs themselves on their previous records.

The CD release party is 29 August at the Sunset Tavern with Black Nite Crash and Blood Red Dancers.

mp3: The Purrs – Stay Here With Me (buy the new record Amused, Confused & More Bad News)

After the click, a bunch of songs from the Paisley Underground

mp3: Dream Syndicate – Tell Me When It’s Over (from The Days of Wine and Roses)
mp3: The Rain Parade – I Look Around ( from Emergency Third Rail Powertrip)
mp3: Green on Red – Death & Angels (from Green On Red ep)
mp3: The Three O’Clock – Jet Fighter (from Sixteen Tambourines)
mp3: Long Ryders – Still Get By (from Native Sons)
mp3: Opal – She’s a Revelation (from Happy Nightmare Baby)
mp3: Game Theory – Dripping With Looks (from Lolita Nation)
mp3: Bangles – Dover Beach (from All Over the Place)


  1. janice · August 18, 2009

    aww, that’s really sweet what you wrote about kevin! :)

  2. willvis · August 21, 2009

    Great post. Wonderful song selection. I’ve been listening to Buzzcocks’ “A Different Kind Of Tension”, and in particular their punk-psychedelic opus “I Believe”. Cheers.

  3. bob in van · December 28, 2009

    hey kind of a late post as I just stumbled onto kexp (thank you lord) and the purrs…but your post triggered some great old bands I haven’t dusted off in a while…when I first heard the purr’s it made me think of Echo and the Bunnymen…another great psychedelic 80’s band..anyway great post

    • Toby · December 29, 2009

      Thanks. Echo & the Bunnymen never go out of style in my house either.

  4. bob in van · December 28, 2009

    BTW…I LOVE!!! that song finest kiss…:o)

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