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Skooshny

Skooshny is an L.A.-based psych-folk-pop trio who originally came together in 1971, a time that singer/guitarist Mark Breyer later said was "too late for the Byrds, too early for R.E.M." Breyer and drummer David Winogrond had been in a Chicago-area trio, Brevity, before moving to L.A. in the early '70s to try their luck on the West Coast. They met guitarist/keyboardist Bruce Wagner after placing an ad in a music publication and he continued to be an on-again/off-again member. Rehearsals proved to be tough to organize, however, as none of the three had a car and relied on public transportation to get around L.A. Perhaps because of this, Skooshny (reportedly the Russian word for "boring") never played live during their first six years of existence (years later, they would make a rare live appearance at an Arthur Lee benefit gig). They did, however, record a handful of paisley-tinged jangle rock songs and in 1978, issued their first recordings, a four-song EP, on their own Alien label (they also backed glam-punk singer Page Croft on his Dragons EP for Alien). Its relative success led to them issuing a single, but the band was chuffed at the underwhelming lack of major-label interest and decided to call it a day in 1979. Like the Green Pajamas, one could also say they went on an extended "hiatus." A few years later, a mid-'80s revival of jangle pop -- including the bands in L.A.'s paisley underground movement, all of whom had been inspired by '60s folk-rock bands like the Byrds and Arthur Lee's Love -- led to Skooshny reuniting. They demoed tracks into the early '80s, including a handful with Michael Penn, who produced the band at his home studio. Although the band continued to occasionally play together, the group never quite managed to gel and the bandmembers moved on to new projects. Breyer and Winogrond ended up in a psychedelic band, SS20, then Winogrond joined To Damascus, and in the '90s became the drummer for Davie Allan & the Arrows. The positive response to Skooshny's rare and difficult-to-find recordings, however, ultimately led to them being discovered by Bill Forsyth, owner of Minus Zero Records, a small record shop near Portabello Road in London. In 1991, Forsyth's Minus Zero imprint issued the band's earliest recordings (including the six tracks from the two mid- to late-'70s EPs, together with 11 previously unreleased demos from the late '70s/early '80s) as their debut CD, Skooshny. Minus Zero then issued a four-track vinyl EP, 1992's Holy Land, followed by an all "new" album, Even My Eyes, in 1996. This album -- co-produced by Beach Boys engineer Jeff Peters -- was comprised of just three "new" songs from 1996; the rest were songs that had been written between 1992-1994, including the four tracks from Holy Land. In 2000, Minus Zero issued Skooshny's Water. Breyer and Winogrond continue to occasionally re-group to record new songs when the mood strikes them. ~ Bryan Thomas, Rovi
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