Personnel: Maggie (electric guitar, synthesizer).
Audio Mixer: Brian Kehew.
Liner Note Author: Maggie.
Photographer: Donna Santisi.
A Los Angeles band that never caught a break during the music's peak, the Heaters wound up acquiring a Tascam PortaStudio Recorder in the early '80s and turned to that machine once their major-label dreams fell apart. Holing up at home, the trio wound up recording a set of modern-day girl group pop, music that paid tribute to the sound and feel of the '60s but freshened up the sensibility through punk rock nerviness and D.I.Y. sensibility. These recordings became an underground sensation in L.A. -- Rhino wanted to have the band record new versions of the tunes for their fledgling label -- but the tapes never led anywhere, so the group disbanded sometime later. Omnivore Records revived these homemade sessions for 2016's American Dream: The PortaStudio Recordings, the first official release of these semi-legendary tapes. Two things impress on this album. First, the recordings are shockingly sophisticated for homegrown recordings from 1983: the harmonies are full, the music is rich. Secondly, the music is sharp and clever, playing upon classic girl group tropes but also subverting them, such as in "Sandy," which bears the chorus of "that boy wants to be a girl." Such sly subversions signal how the Heaters were a post-punk girl group, but as it's constructed, the rest of the music feels as if it could've been recorded in the pre-Beatles '60s. No wonder Phil Spector reportedly flipped for American Dream: this is the kind of music he could've made into a smash. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine