Rightly ranked as one of the best and most influential of the ‘70s punk acts, Los Angelinos the Urinals are back with Next Year at Marienbad, only their third full-length in an extended if fitful existence. Long cherished for the unstrained art-ruckus comprising the trio’s early output, the new record emphasizes a vigorous realization of high-quality songwriting. It’s out now on the band’s Happy Squid label.
The title of this release, most certainly a reference to Last Year at Marienbad, the masterful ’61 film directed by the great French auteur Alain Resnais (who we lost last March at age 91), mainly underscores the background of bassist-vocalist John Talley-Jones and drummer Kevin Barrett, both UCLA film students and founding Urinals, the group formed in ’78 with philosophy major Kjehl Johansen.
But the playful moniker illuminates a mild similarity between Resnais and the Urinals, the former predominantly known to non-cinephiles for his Holocaust documentary short Night and Fog (’55) and features Hiroshima mon amour (’59) Last Year at Marienbad and Muriel (’63), while the latter’s reputation primarily derives from the three 7-inches they squeezed out in ‘79-’80, records compiled with stray comp tracks and live stuff on Negative Capability…Check it Out!, issued first on compact disc by Amphetamine Reptile in ’96 and again by Warning Label in ’04; a 2LP emerged on In the Red in ’13.
However, Resnais worked as a director until the end of his life, and likewise the story of the Urinals endures after 1980; in the early part of the decade, having developed beyond punk beginnings they became 100 Flowers, releasing a self-titled full-length in ’83 on Happy Squid (their label since the beginning) and getting the completist treatment by Rhino Records in ’90, 100 Years of Pulchritude one of the more useful single disc collections of ‘80s u-ground rock activity to hit racks immediately in its wake.