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Bush Tetras

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New York City (1979 – 1983, 2005 – present)

The Bush Tetras are a rock band from New York City. Forming in 1979, they were very popular in the New York club scene in the early 1980s, but never had much mainstream success. Their music combined dance rhythms and dissonant rock-guitar riffs.

Lead guitarist Pat Place and vocalist Cynthia Sley produced the most distinctive aspects of the Tetras sound. Place’s guitar lines were rhythmic and distortion-filled. She had been the original guitarist and one of the founding members of the No Wave band The Contortions. With the Bush Tetras, Pat continued to pursue some of the musical ideas she had explored in that band, although her distinctive slide guitar is absent from many of the Tetras songs. Sley’s vocals were half-spoken, half-sung. In songs like “Too Many Creeps” and “Can’t Be Funky,” she repeated simple phrases over and over again, creating a hypnotic monotony similar to Place’s guitar rhythms.

Place appeared in some of Vivienne Dick’s movies co-starring with Lydia Lunch and other musicians from New York’s thriving, late-1970s and early-1980s music community, an off-shoot of No Wave. These appearances contributed to the band’s prominent position in downtown New York in the early 1980. At present there has been a resurgence of interest in this period, and the band’s influence can be heard in many younger bands.

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