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Sneakers

Nonsequitur of Silence (Collectors' Choice Music)

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In the mid-'70s, North Carolina's Sneakers established themselves as perhaps the first "lo-fi" indie-pop band, filtering the British Invasion and folk-rock through a nervy DIY framework. In retrospect, the lineup reads like a supergroup. There's Chris Stamey and current Cleveland resident Will Rigby, both of whom would later establish the dB's, one of power pop's seminal outfits. Then we have Mitch Easter, R.E.M.'s future producer and engineer, as well as the leader of Let's Active.

As for the tunes, Sneakers fashioned rough gems -- equal parts pop cleverness and wistful sentiment. Compiling a wealth of long-unavailable material, Nonsequitur traces Stamey's gradual growth into a modern Lennon (while the dB's Peter Holsapple played McCartney). Like Lennon, Stamey peppered his bittersweet rockin' with a mischievous subversion of pop-song convention ("Love's Like a Cuban Crisis"), wry angularity, mild dissonance, and tart sarcasm ("That's funny/You don't look like a character assassin"). Along with those proto-punks (see Pere Ubu), Sneakers did a smashing job of saving rock and roll -- even if the band did concentrate on crafting pretty melodies.

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