Garnering insider accolades but precious little commercial glory, Pylon was the relentlessly danceable dark horse of the fabled ’80s music scene in Athens, Ga., that produced such marquee names as R.E.M. and the B-52’s. Four decades later, Vanessa Briscoe Hay has not so much resurrected as reshaped the influential outfit under the guise of Pylon Reenactment Society.
Hay is the only common dominator here, so it’s not really a reunion project, though the quartet does perform Pylon songs live. They also reworked a few deep tracks from Pylon’s early days for their new album, Magnet Factory (Strolling Bones), which is set for release February 9 and is available for preorder now.
Magnet Factory was recorded at several Athens studios in 2020 while Hay was assembling the Pylon retrospective set, Box. Kate Pierson makes an appearance on Magnet Factory track “Fix It”—and her B-52’s bandmate figured into “Flowers Everywhere” in a more peripheral way.
“Several years back, Pylon Reenactment Society opened for Cindy Wilson at a small club in North Carolina,” says Hay. “A young woman shared with me that having her father’s record collection available to her in middle-of-nowhere Alabama had saved her life. I remarked to her that flowers grow everywhere, thinking of my own upbringing in a rural community where music and art had kept me going. I was inspired by the hopefulness of teenagers wondering about the future, no matter what their circumstances.”
Some cool R.E.M. trivia: The “Flowers Everywhere” video was directed by Dan Aguar, who worked on “Can’t Get There From Here” and “The One I Love” as well as other ’80s MTV classics. We’re proud to premiere it here.