You probably know something about the art project/guerrilla theater/rock band from Akron, OH known as Devo, The De-Evolutionary Band. After years of underground touring to go with handmade films and other forms of art-propaganda they finally released their debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO! in 1978. It was produced by Brian Eno (along with David Bowie an early supporter of the band) and is considered a post-punk classic. Two years later, their third album, Freedom of Choice, became a new wave smash, propelled by the hit single "Whip It." It is both perverse and inevitable that a band like Devo would score a big mainstream hit. Yet it also fits in with the band's philosophy and methodology, critiquing the excessive consumerism of modern Western society. Was this part of the plan all along? For Devo to first break through to the mainstream and then years later be considered yet another disposable one-hit wonder seems like it could have been the master plot of Devo masterminds Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale.
As the years roll on, Devo's achievements continue to gain recognition and their influence continues to grow. In the past year, right here in Denver, the Museum of Contemporary Art hosted an exhibition of Mark Mothersbaugh's visual works. He's also been one of the top film composers of the past few decades, particularly known for his work with Wes Anderson. The art and message of Devo have always taken on multiple formats. Yet their great run of studio albums has always been their core and the best way for newcomers to enter their wiggly world. When diving into this world, be sure not to overlook Duty Now For the Future. It's one of the best.
- Adam Reshotko