World of Pooh

I'm reading a biography on Hergé, one of my favorite cartoonists and the creator of Tintin, arguably the first thing in my life I cultivated an obsession for, and, resultantly, Tintin is on my mind. The world of Pooh's one and only album, The Land of Thirst, features an image from 1941's The Crab with the Golden Claws, and it's because of this that I flashed on them.

Land was their one and only album, but it's a powerful and inspired one, a tightly-wound, sometimes nasty, collection of indie rock that adroitly teeters on the line dividing alt from shoegaze, post-punk from grunge. At its most fundamental, the band's music is primal and jagged, plainspoken yet serrated, and it often reminds me of Joy Division or early New Order. Then again, they had a more rumpled and bohemian aura, one that gave them the air of a Boston or D.C. outfit. The crusty tatteredness of, say, Mission of Burma. (But seriously—listen to something like "I'm on the Wrong Side" and tell me you don't hear a Sumner-Hook-Morris dynamic at play.)

The band in brief: San Francisco-based trio comprised of Barbara Manning, previously of 28th Day, later of her own damn self and S.F. Seals; Brandan Kearney, who went on to start the laid-back Three Doctors Band; and Jay Paget, who eventually collaborated with the disheveled and wonky Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, a collection of Iowa émigrés who fashioned themselves as a sort of 80s Bay Area Beefheart.

As much as I love Manning's own work, it's her contribution to Stephin Merritt's 6ths album, as the vocalist on "San Diego Zoo," that has left the most lasting impression. "Highway 405 will take you / From the Boom Boom Room / To Interstate 5 which goes right to / The San Diego Zoo."