Blonder Tongue Audio Baton

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Blonder Tongue Audio Baton
Studio album by Swirlies
Released March 26, 1993
Recorded June 1992–November 1992
Studio Q Division Studios, Boston
Length 42:36
Label Taang!
Producer Rich Costey
Swirlies chronology
What to Do About Them
(1992)What to Do About Them1992
Blonder Tongue Audio Baton
They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days in the Glittering World of the Salons
(1996)They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days in the Glittering World of the Salons1996
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Tiny Mix Tapes 4/5 stars link

Blonder Tongue Audio Baton (sometimes spelled Blondertongueaudiobaton) is a 1993 album by Swirlies, released on CD, LP and cassette. The majority of the album was recorded in the summer of 1992 at Q Division Studios, Boston with engineer/co-producer Rich Costey. It is possibly their best-known and most critically praised work, with many critics citing it as a "lo-fi" answer to My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Allmusic calls it "a mainstay of early-'90s indie music."[2]


Swirlies began work on Blonder Tongue Audio Baton after signing to Taang! Records in the summer of 1992 and compiling the EP, What To Do Abut Them. The band booked time at Q Division Studios with producer Rich Costey to record a dozen songs that the group had been playing live for the past two years. At Q Division Swirlies made use of the studio's collection of vintage keyboards, including Mellotron and Moog synthesizers, to widen the palette of sounds they'd previously created as a guitar-bass-drums indie rock group. Drummers Kevin March and Mark Rivers from Boston bands Dambuilders and Cavedogs were brought on for most of the album's tracks as Swirlies founding drummer Ben Drucker only played on two songs during the Q Division recording session. A different arrangement of the band's 1992 single, "Park the Car (by the Side of the Road)" (named for a song lyric by The Smiths) was recorded but scrapped in favor of the earlier version. Singer/guitarists Damon Tutunjian and Seana Carmody also recorded the songs "His Life of Academic Freedom" and "Wait Forever" at home on 4-track cassette, and artist Ron Regé, Jr. contributed between-song soundbites as he had on the group's prior EP.[3]

The album is named after an obscure and expensive audio graphic equalizer, made by Blonder Tongue Labs from 1959–61, which was used extensively while tracking the album.[4] Taang! Records released the album in February 1993 and the band toured to support it.[5]

Brokedick Car EP[edit]

The five-song Brokedick Car EP was released later in 1993 on vinyl, CD, and cassette tape as a follow-up to Blonder Tongue Audio Baton, and featured different mixes of "Wrong Tube" and "Pancake" from the album. The EP's final track was the electronica remix "House of Pancake", Swirlies' first foray into dance music with producer Rich Costey with whom the band would go on to record and mix further dance and electronic music on future releases. Two more experimental tracks, the atonal[ instrumental "Labrea Tarpit" and the Pavementesque art punk song "You're Just Jealous", rounded out Brokedick Car. These were the last songs recorded by the band's original lineup, as Drucker and Carmody soon left the group.[6]


Blonder Tongue Audio Baton was co-lead singer Seana Carmody's last full album with the group before she formed the Farfisa-driven and somewhat more pop-oriented Syrup USA. In 2015 most of Swirlies' original line up reunited to perform the entirety of Blonder Tongue Audio Baton as a live set in Brooklyn on the 4th of July as part of the band's 25th anniversary tour.[7] Taang! Records reissued the album on LP in 2016.[8]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks by Swirlies

  1. "Bell (Prelude)" – 0:12
  2. "Bell" – 4:29
  3. "Vigilant Always" – 5:10
  4. "His Love Just Washed Away" – 5:24
  5. "His Life of Academic Freedom" – 2:07
  6. "Pancake" – 3:15
  7. "Jeremy Parker" – 4:14
  8. "Park the Car (by the Side of the Road)" – 5:04
  9. "Tree Chopped Down" – 3:12
  10. "Wrong Tube" – 5:06
  11. "Wait Forever" – 4:18

Brokedick Car EP[edit]

  1. "Wrong Tube (Edit)" – 4:08
  2. "Labrea Tarpit" – 1:58
  3. "Pancake Cleaner" – 3:15
  4. "You're Just Jealous" – 2:58
  5. "House Of Pancake" – 6:31


  • The song "Park the Car by the Side of the Road" is a remix of the version from the band's "Error" 7" recorded in 1991. The band had recorded a new arrangement of the song for the album, but shelved it in favor of the original.
  • Taang! also released a 7" version of the Brokedick Car EP with the alternate mix of "Wrong Tube" as the A-side and "Labrea Tarpit"/"You're Just Jealous" as the B-side
  • The song "Trudy" from the band's 1991 8-track sessions was omitted from the Blonder Tongue album and appeared as the November release of Simple Machines' 1994 Working Holiday! split 7" series. It was released again a decade later as a bonus track on the Japanese release of Cats of the Wild (Vol. 2).
  • A 1994 Peel Session of "Jeremy Parker" (with some Alan Parsons Project lyrics adlibbed by Seana) would later make up the A-side of the group's "Orca vs. Dragon" single.


  • Damon Tuntunjian – Guitar, Vocals, Casio VL-5, Minimoog, Chamberlin (incorrectly listed in the liner notes as a Mellotron)
  • Seana Carmody – Guitar, Vocals, Minimoog, Chamberlin (incorrectly listed in the liner notes as a Mellotron)
  • Andy Bernick – Bass, Radio, Artwork
  • Ben Drucker – Drums (7, 8, 9 on Blonder Tongue, 2, 4 on Brokedick Car)
  • Kevin March (Dambuilders) – Drums (2,10 on Blonder Tongue, 1 on Brokedick Car))
  • Mark "Spongey" Rivers (Cavedogs) – Drums (3, 4, 6 on Blonder Tongue, 3 on Brokedick Car, as well as the outtakes for "Park the Car" and "Trudy")
  • Ron Regé, Jr. – Art Direction, Design; Masking tape pull recordist on "Bell (Prelude)"
  • Morgan Andrews – Chimp guitar on "His Life of Academic Freedom"
  • Peter J. Haskett and Raymond Huffman – Prelude to "Park the Car (by the Side of the Road)"
  • Dan – Moth talk recordist
  • Sentridoh and Madbox – Moth talk ambient and cover-up music
  • Swirlies – Producer, Mixing, Engineer
  • Rich Costey – Engineer, Mixing, Co-Producer
  • Kerri Bennet – Artwork, Art Direction, Design


  1. ^
  2. ^ Phares, Heather. "Blonder Tongue Audio Baton - The Swirlies | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  3. ^ Wolk, Douglas. "Swirlies". Trouser Press. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "Blonder-Tongue "Audio Baton"" (Magazine article). Audio. February 1959. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Foege, Alec (May 1993). "Swirlies". Spin Magazine. p. 10. 
  6. ^ Phares, Phares. "Brokedick Car". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 January 2017. 
  7. ^ "Swirlies expand tour, playing 'Blonder Tongue Audio Baton' in full at Silent Barn on 4th of July (updated dates)". Brooklyn Vegan. Townsquare Music. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  8. ^ "Next 5 From the Vault, Pressed from the Original Masters". Taang! Records. Retrieved 30 December 2016. 

External links[edit]