Sunday, July 27, 2008

Human Switchboard - Who's Landing In My Hanger? (1981)

Criminally underrated, bursting with energy, Human Switchboard combined art-rock edge with melodic pop music in an irresistible package; this is essential for fans of the "Hoboken Sound" of the early eighties, drawing comparisons to co-contemporaries such as The Bongos and The Feelies. Do yourself a favor. - Ariel

Most music writers seemed incapable of discussing Human Switchboard without mentioning The Velvet Underground, and there's no getting around the fact Rob Pfeifer's melodic style and clipped vocal delivery bears a certain resemblance to what Lou Reed was doing back in his formative days. But there's an emotional tension and sexual paranoia in Pfeifer's work that sets him decidedly apart from the Velvets and their many followers, and songs like "This Town" and "Refrigerator Door" speak of a grim, landlocked existence that would likely not have occurred to anyone outside of the Midwest. And while Pfeifer's jagged guitar has a certain Velvets-like quality, the homey buzz of Myrna Marcarian's Farfisa organ makes it clear there's more than a little garage in this band's formula, and there's a weary wisdom to Marcarian's occasional vocals that's human and endearing. While Human Switchboard left behind a pair of live documents, Who's Landing in My Hangar? was their only studio album, and while the Spartan, low-budget production isn't always flattering to the band's sound, the cutting emotional clarity of these songs shines through; perhaps this isn't the ideal Human Switchboard album, but it leaves no doubt that they were a great, passionate band with plenty to say, and Who's Landing in My Hangar? preserves ten of their best songs for the ages. A reissue is certainly in order.

[Mark Deming, allmusic.com]

Download


"Who's Landing in My Hanger?"


"I Can Walk Alone"

7 comments:

Silent 3 said...

thaks for posting this. htey were a great band to see live. their studio lps just don't do them justice!

Anonymous said...

A shame Pfeifer was arrested for wiretapping and harassing and "ruining" a victim's life and gets sentenced to prison next month (look it up on the web) He snitched on a guy to get out (sang like a canary i just read- pun intended) looks like he went down hill fast after HS. A shame and waste of a talented human.

Anonymous said...

Wow it's worse than I remember when I first saw it on the news. He called hookers, dated one, all sorts of crazy stuff.

http://lostinthegrooves.blogspot.com/2006/02/bob-pfeifer-popped-in-la-wiretap-case.html

Even the link to their website talks about it. Sad... And to think- they never even got released on CD. what a waste :(

music said...

crazy! look at their website.

http://HumanSwitchboard.com

They like BRAG about him going to Prison :(

Ariel said...

That Human Switchboard URL is supposed to direct me to "Lost in the Grooves," right? That's what it's doing, anyway. I guess we'll see what happens to Bob Pfeifer at the end of this month. Now, where's that quick cash-in reissue...

Anonymous said...

Only just "discovered" these guys (better late than never. eh?) - hit & miss but some of it's TRULY great, really economical, nervous alt-pop with a dash of DNA / Mars. I've picked up most of their 45s elsewhere but am still looking for their live LP & Roir cassette - any clues? Thanks, etc IBx

ken said...

I'm sorry to hear that Bob Pfeifer came to a bad end. However, I am REALLY glad for this post; this has long been a favorite LP of mine and it's nice to have it converted to 1s and 0s.