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The members of Polvo (drummer Eddie Watkins, singer/guitarist Ash Bowie, bassist Steve Popson, and singer/guitarist Dave Brylawski) came together in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1990. From the very beginning, Polvo's atonal melodies and nontraditional song structures made them sound different and fresh. Their songs all sound like they're on the verge of falling apart, and yet they manage not only to remain together but also to be oddly catchy.

Polvo's first release was a seven-song double seven-inch on Kitchen Puff/Jettison called Can I Ride that was re-released on CD in 1995 by Jesus Christ Records as Polvo. Their first full-length album, 1992's Cor-Crane Secret was coincidentally the first full-length released by Merge Records. More singles, compilation appearances, and full-lengths followed, including three on Merge (1993's Today's Active Lifestyles, 1994's Celebrate the New Dark Age, and 1995's This Eclipse) and two on Touch and Go (1996's Exploded Drawing and 1997's Shapes).

The featured song, "Tragic Carpet Ride," is from Celebrate the New Dark Age, which was originally released as both a CD and as a triple seven-inch on colored vinyl. The song is classic Polvo: a rocking eardrum assault built from layers of warbly bending guitars, skittering rhythms, and subtle, nearly monotone vocals. The result is both repulsive and compelling, pop music that is skewed three notches beyond art rock tradition without losing its ability to Rock.

Watkins left Polvo before they recorded Shapes. By that time, members were living in Boston and New York City as well as in Chapel Hill, which contributed to the band's complete dissolution in early 1998.