Monday, October 24, 2022

Breck & Scott - Dream You Away + The Orbits (rec. 1976-88)

The tale of fellow Wisconsinites Breck Burns and Scott Krueger began when the two met in the early '70s as teenagers, but the world (or at least the country...or maybe just the state) at large didn't pull them up on radar until their first serious band, The Orbits made inroads in the power-pop circuit via their brilliant 1980 7" "Make the Rules," which I'll get to a bit later. Almost simultaneous to The Orbits, the duo alongside Scott's girlfriend Jill Kossoris would become part and parcel of one of Milwaukee's most renown unsigned bands, the Shivvers.  The Shivvers. and their incendiary 45, "Teenline" (another crucial 45 blast from '80) were quite literally a story and phenomenon unto themselves. 

The real meat and potatoes of this post concerns Breck and Scott's work post-Orbits/Shivvers, which was well hidden until the Hyped to Death folks did more of their crucial excavation efforts, yielding this cd-r album in the mid '00s. Still residing in WI throughout most of the '80s the duo in question had no good excuse not to continue collaborating, even if they kept their recordings to themselves, which they did for almost a couple of decades. Per the liner notes, they never bothered to field tapes to labels, and from what I've been able to glean never played out. The high strung, punky power-pop of the Orbits and Shivvers was largely phased out by the mid '80s when Breck & Scott's commenced recording sessions semi-informally in their spare time. With a more mature and seasoned acumen in hand, and best of all, no record label or management hovering over their shoulders, our protagonists weren't informed by any pretensions or even the prevailing trends of the era. Oddly enough, with a lack of supervision (so to speak) the boys sounded doubly more disciplined on Dream You Away's dozen or so tracks, most of which exude surprisingly clean and measured tones, without sapping any of the songs' natural energy.  The overall effect isn't quite as charming as say, Big Star or Velvet Crush, but not entirely removed thereof either.  A more accurate comparison might be Butch Vig's pre-stardom outfit, Fire Town. The strummy "Without a Sound," the gritty and muscular "Day Into Night" not to mention the wistful ballad "Let Me Know" are all immaculate keepers...and there's more gold where that came from. 

Dream You Away thoughtfully, and for that matter, crucially appends The Orbits aforementioned lone single, two frenetic power pop bangers, laced with the same mid-fidelity aptitude that worked wonders for the Shoes on their contemporary platter Black Vinyl Shoes, and maybe to a less obvious extent what the Plimsouls were up to around the same juncture. If you're hungry for more than just a pair of two-minute Orbits tunes (and who wouldn't be) four unreleased demos are graciously tacked on.

Breck and Scott
01. Dream You Away
02. On My Roof
03. Look What You've Done to Me
04. You're in Love
05. She Won't Change
06. Alone
07. Without a Sound
08. Frank Lloyd Wright
09. Day Into Night
10. Pine Circle
11. Here and Now
12. Let Me Know
13. Day Into Night (live)

The Orbits

14. Phenomenal World
15. Make the Rules
16. Having Fun
17. Smart Suit, Shirt &Tie
18. Until the Word Gets Out
19. The Waiting Game


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