X – Under the Big Black Sun
When X released “Under the Big Black Sun” in 1982, they were already gaining major traction on the L.A. punk scene. But this didn’t mean they had to adhere to the standard “punk” sound. With their major label debut, X took the opportunity to polish their sound and begin incorporating some of their other influences, like those from country music and old-school rock and roll. Largely inspired by the unfortunate death of vocalist Exene’s sister, Under the Big Black Sun maintains the punk edge of their previous two albums, but adds a bit of country twang, goth darkness, and even some doo-wop inspird rythm. Hard driving numbers like “How I (Learned My Lesson) sit comfortably with songs like “Come Back To Me” which sounds like it’d be right at home in a goth malt shop. It’s got a little bit of everything and would prove that punk music is not only poorly-played noisy guitars and snotty lyrics like much of the music press claimed it was.
My first experience with X was their “The Unheard Music” documentary. I’d heard of them before, but never actually HEARD them, so I figured I’d give it a watch to get to know their music better. Almost immediately I was blown away by their sound. Exene’s vocals, John Doe’s drive, DJ Bonebreak’s energy, and Billy Zoom’s signature (and occasionally creepy) smile all drew me in and sent me on a deep dive of their discography. They’re a shining example of how you can successfully meld influences into a cohesive sound that is also your own. I find them inspiring and I know you will too.