X-15 - Bombs and Insurance
New Soul Records
X-15, based out of Bellingham, Washington, toiled in the local clubs of the American Northwest and eventually made their way to opening for some of the big names of the early 80s, such as X, The Clash, Black Flag, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and an early incarnation of Soundgarden. Along the way, they changed their name to Life in General and had some of their tunes spun by DJs on local radio.
Bombs and Insurance is a retrospective of the band’s career, covering the time period of 1979-1986. A variety of influences can be heard throughout the album, which leaves the listener with an impression of a good local band that struggled to find a signature sound through the myriad of musical styles that came, went, and came again throughout the late 70s and 80s. The result is an uneven listen, but one worth hearing if only to get a feel for a band that bridged the gap between late 70s punk and the new wave, art-rock, and alternative music that would later form the foundation for the so called “grunge” scene in Seattle.
The opening track, “Vaporized,” sounds like a deep cut off the The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack. A jangly piano and high, slightly screechy, David Bowie-ish vocals bowl through an early New Wave review with slightly odd harmonies. It’s a good opener for its energy and strong beat, which unfortunately seems to steadily slip as the album wears on.
“No Regard” is another fun song, heavily influenced by The Clash and early MTV-era bands like The Buggles circa “Video Killed the Radio Star.” There’s a peppy, driving bass and cheesy synth keyboards which work pretty well in tandem, leading into an oddly standard-fair guitar solo. Overall, the vibrant keyboards give it a unique sensibility.