Here's a bit of a time capsule, somewhat unaccountably re-released twenty years after its initial appearance, of sixteen Indiana bands, right on that weird cusp in American music after punk, before what later came to be called new wave (i.e., synth pop), and before the rise of the great American indie-rock bands of the eighties. No one here's gone on to become massively famous or influential (although there's a future Vulgar Boatman here, and the core of one band has had their songs placed in a handful of movies and TV shows), so the economic logic of its reissue escapes me.
That doesn't matter. There are a surprisingly high number of entertaining tracks here, despite the album's limited, regional focus. The Jetsons' "I Bet Not" is a prime example of snide, punky putdown, set to a catchy, poppy beat before "punk pop" devolved into formula. "Ladies with Appliances" by Dow Jones & the Industrials (gotta love those early eighties band names...) shows a bit of Devo influence, while Mr. Science's self-titled track swallows that band whole. "Banging Your Head" by A. Xax is twisted, ugly, and discordant in a brittle, synthetic way (that's a good thing), while elsewhere more tradition-oriented bands salute garage rock in rather different ways. The Post Raisin Band's "Pink Lincoln" evokes the snarling cars-and-girls envy of classic mid-sixties punk, and Last Four (4) Digits peer ahead into Marty McFly's garage to present a futuristic, gleaming chrome update of Bo Diddley's "Diddy Wah Diddy."
Red Snerts makes no pretense at polish or enduring quality, and there may well be a tinge of nostalgia in my response to the CD but its very weightlessness is something music needs about now.
Jeff Norman Architectural Dance Society October 18, 2001
Remember back a little over 20 years ago when the New Wave was happenin' and it was actually kinda diverse? Power pop, ska, synth pop, punk, reggae and more could all comfortably fit under that one banner.
Well, in 1981, Bloomington, Indiana label Gulcher put out a compilation of local bands entitled Red Snerts (an anagram for Rent Dress, according to Ira Robbins I don't get it!), illustrating the diversity of the scene. (I bet at least one member of every band included had "Devo!" shouted at them from a passing pick-up truck by some thick-necked jock at some point.)
The bands: Amoebas in Chains are reggae-stylee with multi-tracked female vocals, The Jetsons play punky pop (and later morphed into Worcester, Mass' Unattached), Mr. Science is Devo-influenced spud wazz.
The Defekts sound like the B-52's crossed with the Slickee Boys (great Kim Kane singing style, but did they have to cop that bit from Rock Lobster?)
A. Xax rocks the dissonant electro-art damage, E-in Brino is punky and great with their ode to "Indianapolis." There's also rockabilly influenced rock from Phil Hundley, driving punk from the legendary Zero Boys, new-wavey punk with bleepy electronic flourishes along with the buzzsaw guitar from Dow Jones & the Industrials.
Post Raisin Band is rockin' pop, Last Four (4) Digits check in with the only cover (Bo Diddley's Diddy Wah Diddy), Freddy & the Fruitloops play Two-Tone-style ska, Bay-Root kinda reminds me of early Wipers, but more power poppy, and The Dancing Cigarette try their hand at No Wave / Pere Ubu skronk (do I detect a hint of Mission of Burma influence, too?).
Peter Gullbuy Music Review March 5, 2002
This is the classic midwest punk / new wave compilation of the early 80's. The record is bursting with that unique hard-edged innocence that seems only to have existed at this place & time. Must-have songs include the Gizmos "the Midwest can be allright," "I Bet Not" by the Jetsons, and "Banginging Your Head" by Xax. Of course, the Panics' "Drugs Are For Thugs" is brilliant.... Basically all the songs on the album capture the earnestness of a bygone era brimming with wit, rebellion, and sarcasm.
Eric J. White Amazon February 10, 2008