Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Hydrogenic" - I Can See You Glowing In The Dark

Last year, I featured a different spooky song each day in October for a feature I called 31 Songs For Halloween. I don’t think I’ll be able to pull off anything that ambitious this season, but I would like to bring back some of the profiles for those who might not have seen them the first time around.

The 2007 film, You Weren’t There: A History Of Chicago Punk, which is now available on DVD, showcases a thriving alternative music scene that was tragically overlooked by the rest of the country. Bohemia certainly qualifies as an act that deserved national exposure. Back in the early 1980s, the band’s high energy assault, led by charismatic lead vocalist/keyboards player Carla Evonne, prompted a Chicago daily newspaper critic to proclaim that Bohemia was every bit as good as X from Los Angeles. On a personal level, Carla and her mates were the inspiration for a novel I’m in the process of writing.

Following the 1980 release of a self-titled, three-song 10 inch EP in 1980, Bohemia struck again a year later with their impressive debut LP, Deviations. The album’s title served to foreshadow an obsession with offbeat and disturbing subject matter on songs like “Plastic Doll,” “Standard Deviations,” “Empty Room,” and “Dr. Werner.” “Hydrogenic” was dark in its own fun, highly melodic way. A punk rock masterpiece that offers a girl meets mutant love story with an underlying jab at nuclear energy, “Hydrogenic” kicks off with Zirbel’s revved up bass playing and an extended instrumental intro.

Evonne sets the romantic tale in motion, singing, “Since I met you baby/I haven’t been the same/You hit me like an H-bomb and now I hardly know my name.” Her lover’s appearance has been drastically changed by exposure to massive doses of radiation. “Momma says you’re different/With your long green hair/You got webs between your fingers/But I don’t even care.” As the music zips along, Evonne continues to sing the praises of her unique beau: “I can see you glowing in the dark/In my life you really caused a spark.” The satirical lyrics are punctuated by an overjoyed chorus of, “Ooh, our love is new/Our love is new . . . nuclear.”

Sadly, none of Bohemia’s work is available on CD, but you can check out a few of its live performances on YouTube.


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