Feb 232011

Will Your Mystery Date Be a Dream or a Dud?

Our latest Mystery Date, the band Townspeople so readily compared to My Bloody Valentine, turns out to have been early ’90s Boston chimp rock–scenesters Swirlies. As the opening to the band’s Wikipedia entry states:

They have often been compared to My Bloody Valentine, and are sometimes referred to as shoegaze musicians.

As you surely guessed, Townswoman ladymisskirroyale set up this Mystery Date. It turns out she’s old friends with the band’s bassist, Andy Bernick. They met at their college radio station, at which point ladymiss reports Bernick and his cofounders were big fans of Mission of Burma and punk rock. ladymiss saw many of the band’s early shows, and the track she provided, “Tall Ships,” had some special meaning for her, as she wrote:

This track is the first one that I played on my first “grown up” stereo.

Much later ladymiss learned that the band initially formed with the intent of being a Go-Gos cover band, in which, coincidentally, our old friend Townswoman Sally Cinnamon is currently playing (a Go-Gos cover band, that is, not Swirlies).

Following their initial meditations on MBV, Swirlies would evolve/devolve into more noise. Here’s a later track that ladymiss recommends:

Swirlies continue to play periodically; in fact, Bernick recently wrote ladymiss to let her know they may be playing NYC or DC shows in July. If so, she’s there!

Bernick is currently making music with the DC band Wild Fruit. Ron Rege, who did some of Swirlies’ artwork, went on to Lavender Diamond, who have been pretty popular recently. Each of the members has been doing interesting side music projects. Shauna Carmody, for instance, was with Sugar USA. The band went through many drummers, sort of like Spinal Tap.


  6 Responses to “Mystery Date Revealed: Swirlies”

  1. I saw these guys at the Khyber once or twice, around 2000 or so. I remember they closed with a cover of “Do the Ostrich.” I think I thought they were from Philly, for some reason.

  2. jeangray

    I knew I had heard this band before. I have their late ’90’s album that the above video comes from. Brilliant record, and they had tempered their MBV impulses by that point.

    Strong work! Thanx for reminding me of these guys. Have to check out “Do the Ostrich” now.

  3. I’m calling bullshit on “Chimp rock.”

  4. ladymisskirroyale

    I didn’t make up the term and am not sure on the origin. And none of the members are very ape-like. Wikipedia uses the term, and there’s a Facebook group for fans. I heart chimps?

  5. ladymisskirroyale

    Thanks, y’all, for playing along.

    May I suggest some more Swirlies tracks? Another, Sunn, continues to showcase the addition of synths and radio noise:


    The later “Cats of the Wild, volume two” has more of the guitar blast interspersed with male/female vocals but the addition of some OMD-like synth sounds and some noise.

  6. To be sure, the Wikipedia page is from 2006, has a Ticketmaster link as a reference, and one of the first edits has the comment, “‘Chimp rock’ is non-notable, if not complete bollocks.” Of course, this in itself is not dispositive, and there indeed does seem to be a spirited effort to establish the page thoughout 2006 and 2007.

    “Chimp rock, [a] term that predated ‘sneakyflute music.'” lulz ensue!

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