Portland’s Wipers were a massively influential band from the Pacific Northwest punk scene who got a blip of posthumous mainstream interest when Kurt Cobain repeatedly cited them as an influence. 1983′s Over The Edge follows a steely, aggressive debut, and an expansive, psychedelic follow-up, Youth Of America. It distills Wipers’ unique brand of emotional, overdriven guitar rock into an economic classic of tight, melodic songs and heavy distortion.
One minute into the opening title track, you have, in a sense, heard all you need to about Wipers — the song is as passionate a statement of intent as “God Save The Queen.” This fearless, spat-out emotion is no doubt what inspired Cobain; unlike most punk music of the time, Sage’s songs are as melancholy as they are angry.
“Romeo” is the closest Wipers ever came to a hit single, though its allusions to Sage’s homosexuality (“Romeo cruises the streets at nightâ€¦there is no Juliet”) are usually overlooked. Elsewhere, songs like “No One Wants An Alien” and “Messenger” sound almost infused with ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, but while persistent themes of alienation and rejection align it with punk, the only appropriate comparison for Wipers might be with the equally isolationist Oregonians, Dead Moon. Thirty years since its release, Over the Edge sounds as urgent as ever, and is perhaps the best example of this singular band’s work.