Two years into Certain Songs, and here’s the type of obscure gem with a backstory that absolutely I live to write about.
One of the things that instantly happened after Chronic Town & Murmur was that college kids all over the country decided that they wanted to do that, and almost instantly jangly guitar bands with names like “Boxcars” and “Art in the Dark” sprung up sporting songs featuring arpeggiated guitars over rumbling beats.
Produced by Mitch Easter himself, Art in the Dark’s 1983 Art in the Dark EP was a minor sensation at KFSR, and something that hasn’t crossed my radar in the past 30 years, so all I have is a memory of it being heavily influenced by Chronic Town, which was fine by me.
Then, for reasons that are lost to time, they remonikered as The Icons and released a full-length album also called Art in The Dark in 1985. Which I didn’t find — and probably only found at Rasputin Records in Berkeley on a road trip — until April of 1986. Because that’s just how these things go.
Anyway, the Art in the Dark album (which you might be able to find here, I didn’t check) is more sophisticated than I remember the EP being, with the songs colored out with horns and keyboards, but still definitely indie through-and-through.
And it’s anchored by the psychedelically brooding “Trouble In Havana,” featuring lyrics I’ve never really been to decipher on the verses, but culminating in absolutely majestic chorus with Jack Harrison & Tim Lacy’s voices playing off of each other throughout.
All I can say is
All you’re going to find
Is more trouble in Havana
More trouble in Havana
More trouble in Havana
That chorus is utterly lovely, and after the second one, Tim Lacy takes a long, slow, multi-part guitar solo that ends up playing around the melody line of the chorus before they slide into the last verse.
I know that there is more great music out there that I’ll ever hear; ’twas ever thus, but it would have been nice for this band to have been widely heard. So far as I’ve been able to determine, they never made another record.
“Trouble in Havana”
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