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Wild Seeds

Inspired by '80s post-punk greats like the Fleshtones, Dream Syndicate, and Gun Club, Texas music writer Michael Hall formed the rootsy pop Wild Seeds in 1984, on the cusp of Austin's much ballyhooed "New Sincerity" period. With Hall on lead vocals and guitar, French Acres (ex-Norvells) on drums, Russell Sanchez (ex-Skank) on bass, and Phil Reed on guitar, the band began playing parties and clubs and quickly found a place among likeminded acts like the True Believers, Doctor's Mob, and Zeitgeist. After replacing Sanchez with Julia Austin, the group released its debut, Life Is Grand (Life in Soul City), a 12" EP on the Aznut Music label. Marked by jangly guitars and rough harmonies, the record picked up praise from such renowned critics as The Village Voice's Robert Christgau.

Upon establishing themselves on the indie touring circuit, Hall and company signed with the local Jungle imprint, which put out the full-length Brave, Clean & Reverent in 1986. Commonly regarded as Wild Seeds' defining release, the album, featuring the revamped lineup of Hall, guitarist Bo Solomon, drummer Joey Shuffield, and bassist Steve McCracken, drew yet more kudos from the press. Accenting the group's pioneering alt-country approach, the record is graced by warm textures of acoustic guitars, and tracks like the Gary Cooper tribute "Pure Heart" are among its highlights. The band continued to make its name on the road, eventually signing with major independent Passport Records. The eventful year of 1987 saw the departure of Solomon (replaced by Randy Franklin of F-Systems and Austin punk forebears Standing Waves), along with the addition of vocalist Kris McKay and the release of the album Mud, Lies & Shame. Containing the amusing college radio hit "I'm Sorry, I Can't Rock You All Night Long," the release went on to sell nearly 25,000 copies -- a significant amount for an indie recording in the late '80s.

Unfortunately, Passport went bankrupt the following year, taking the momentum of Mud, Lies & Shame with it. Despite its members' obvious dismay, Wild Seeds continued to tour into the months that followed before calling it quits in 1989. Michael Hall went on to release a critically hailed string of solo albums, as well as record one album with fellow Austin songsters Walter Salas-Humara and Alejandro Escovedo under the name of the Setters in 1993. In 2001, Aznut released a Wild Seeds retrospective, I'm Sorry, I Can't Rock You All Night Long: 1984-1989. ~ Peter Aaron, Rovi
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