A recently released compilation album, Out of the Darkness, deftly chronicles the rise and fall of this quintessentially indie band that couldn't quite find the right path to ensure longevity or widespread notice. That, of course, doesn't take away from the impact of many of the tracks on this compilation, which often resemble (but never seem to mimic) more successful contemporary Down Under bands like The Church or Hoodoo Gurus. No, Ups & Downs certainly created its own distinct if constantly evolving sound, and any exploration of the band's sonic history translates into time well spent. At the risk of ignoring other worthy tracks, I zero in today on the punchy yet polished rocker "The Living Kind," a tune that illuminates the pleasing, reaching tenor of Atkinson and the band's devotion to jangly guitar goodness. There's plenty of rootsy emotional grit here to go along with an undeniable power pop sheen, and I can't for the life of me imagine how a song like this didn't reach more ears appreciative of early R.E.M. and other Athens-based sounds of the era. No matter, though, because this stuff still sounds phenomenal even two full decades removed from the last gasps of Ups & Downs. Atkinson would go on to front the better-known '90s band Big Heavy Stuff, but Ups & Downs is where it all started for this fine '80s guitar rock craftsman.
- Listen to "The Living Kind" in its entirety here.
- Top '80s Songs of The Church
- Top Down Under Artists of the '80s
- Jangle Pop Genre Profile
Compilation Album Cover Image Courtesy of As Is/Fuse