Posted by: markfender | December 3, 2014

Curve

Curve is one of my favorite bands. And yet, I’ve somehow never managed to talk about them.

curvemainI first heard of them because of Depeche Mode. Being a bit of a Depeche Head, I tracked down all the Depeche Mode side projects, one of which was Alan Wilder’s Recoil (Recoil is a band I actually like more than Depeche Mode, but that’s probably a different blog entry). One of the songs of Bloodlines featured Toni Halliday. More research eventually led me to the band she was in, Curve. (To the millenials: this is how we discovered new music back in the day)

Curve was Toni Halliday on vocals and Dean Garcia on everything else. They apparently met while doing background work for the Eurythmics (which always seemed weird). They worked for several years, putting out a number of EPs, albums, and assorted other things and then went on hiatus. They returned from hiatus with their strongest albums before eventually disbanding.

Curve started as one of those shoegaze bands. I’ve always liked the sound of shoegaze, but often find it a little boring. The ‘wall of sound’ guitar noise of shoegaze is cool, but then you just listen to that for three minutes and nothing else really develops in the music. Curve always seemed like the exception to that. With their early work, they remained much closer to the original shoegaze sound, but provided a bit more song behind it.

I would say that I’m fond of early Curve, but wouldn’t classify them as one of my favorites. That is, until we hit Cuckoo. They got more and more electronic as they went along. Old-school fans will, of course, complain about the move towards more electronics, but not me. I prefer electronics, so adding that to shoegaze guitar really worked for me.

Now, at this point, you’re probably saying to yourself “Hey, that sounds a lot like Garbage.” You would not be incorrect. Garbage pretty much stole everything from Curve. Garbage has always been the poppier version of Curve. Not that this makes Garbage a bad band. I like them a lot as well. But the more noise-orientation of Curve has always been better to me. They disbanded for a bit after Cuckoo, giving Garbage plenty of time to cement themselves as the successors to the Curve throne. So, when Curve released Come Clean in ’97, they were already a bit behind the eight-ball as far as making a pop career out of it. Still “Chinese Burn” got featured in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as the song Buffy and Faith danced to.

“Chinese Burn” pretty much encapsulates the more electronic-oriented focus of the band after that. Personally, I think that “Recovery” from that album is their absolute best song. There is not a part that is out of place. Everything works perfectly together. It’s the greatest song in the entire world (The irony that they have remixed it a bunch of times is not lost on me).

Curve has always struggled with popularity. They’d get the occasional bit of music in mainstream, and then not develop anything from it. Their record label shelved one of their albums for years before finally releasing it. Just when you think they’re going to break big with a song like “Hell Above Water” off of Gift being featured in the Spiderman and Iron Man trailers, the song doesn’t appear on either soundtrack.

They released a bunch of internet-only releases as well, which were really annoying to find, especially if you don’t live in Britain or find out about them five years later. Both New Adventures of Curve and Open Day at the Hate Fest are worth tracking down, however. They get even more electronic but that’s not a bad thing.

The good news is that you can find all their albums on their Bandcamp page. Like a lot of British bands, they love to remix their shit so I’d say there’s a good half of their catalog I don’t particularly like. But the rest is uniformly awesome. And while you’re there, be sure to check out all of Dean Garcia’s other work because it’s all pretty good (Like KGC, his collaboration with Lucia Raffeli and Sasha Koenietzko of KMFDM, or SPC ECO, his current shoegaze band with his daughter, or even his solo work). Toni Halliday had a band after Curve as well, but it was Dean that made the sounds, so her solo stuff wasn’t particularity great to me. I like SPC ECO quite a bit, but I do miss the combination of Toni and Dean. But, as it turns out, Dean Garcia is pretty much my rock god.

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