22 Jacks / Wank (split 7" review) (Time Bomb Recordings): This was sent to me by Time Bomb, the same fellers who re-issued Hell Comes To Your House. 22 Jacks has Joe Sib (formerly of WAX) on vocals and Steve Soto from The Adolescents on guitar. They backed Joey Ramone in the studio when he recorded a song for a Cheap Trick tribute disc. They've toured with the Bosstones, Social Distortion, Goldfinger and the Voodoo Glow Skulls. All this info comes from the promo sheet. Their contribution to this split, "Sky", is a decent slice of driving commercial punk that is reminiscent of Boston’s Moving Targets. Post-Husker Du indie punk with deep, powerful drumming and Southern California power chords. This gets better each time I listen to it.
Wank, from Huntington Beach, was produced by Social D's Mike Ness, who says "I'm not easily impressed. It's not everyday that a band catches my ear. Putting three chords to a melody and not sounding generic is not that easy to do." Their "Larry Brown" could have been an Elvis Costello number off Taking Liberties, when Nick Lowe's influence could still be heard. Very Good.
Time Bomb Recordings seems to be in business to promote new bands and older south-of-Los Angeles HC pioneers Social Distortion and The Vandals. Support their efforts.
Airwalk Guide To Music (CD review) (Interscope): The benevolent synergy of these projects brings a tear to my weewee - I mean eyes. That charitable organizations found time to work together to bring this twelve message revelation to the masses is just so... excuse me... I'm all misty.... Airwalk, manufacturer of skate, snowboarding and active casual footwear and gear that bestows individuality to kids via the sale of millions of $80 sneakers; Interscope Records, a non-profit propagating unheard music to the masses; and of course the bands themselves, who spend their lives Keepin' It Real and insisting on a $5 cover charge, because the kids don't have a lot of money and they refuse to work.
Or, it could just be major corporations scratching each other's asses. Airwalk exists for the profit motive as much as GM or your corner crack dealer. When Individuality is manufactured in lots of 100,000 units and sold at a huge markup, I must giggle because so many breathing mannequins spend all their cash on clothing with a built-in style obsolescence of at best a year. Who has time for personality anymore when attitude takes much less effort and can be bought off the rack?
Back when, skate comps were filled with speed metal and skate punk bands like JFA. This thing right here is middle-of- the-road, cover all the demographics lifestyle marketing. Pretty tame in general. Here's the bands: Possum Dixon, No Doubt, Love Nut, Rocket From The Crypt (sell-outs for a long time now), Red 5, Shufflepuck, Litter, Toadies, Phunk Junkeez, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Polara,and The Young Gods. Released in 1996, whoever picked this up has probably aged up and moved on to the CD samplers at Starbucks and Pier One.
Alkaline Trio/Hot Water Music (split CD review) (Jade Tree): Chicago's Alkaline Trio, the next big thing six months ago, split an EP with Gainesville's Hot Water Music, the great live band whose studio output alternately satisfies and disappoints. They toured together on the Plea For Peace tour, and this seven track disc contains three by Alkaline Trio ("Rooftops" is a Hot Water Music cover) and four by Hot Water Music ("Radio" and Bleeder" being Alkaline Trio covers).
"Queen Of Pain" is a killer Alkaline Trio track, "While You're Waiting" good but average, and the cover is a little harder at the edges but still retains the standard Alkaline Trio pop sense. It's ok. I can see where their strengths lead to a wider appeal, but they need to watch out for complacency on album tracks.
Hot Water Music are poppy and tight, which I prefer over their Screamo and metal psychedelic tendencies. The split with Leatherface also brought them up a notch. Their originals, "God Deciding" and "Russian Roulette", are worthy of repeated listens, and extra credit for the intentionally off-key chords on the latter track. The covers are electrified acoustic and not special. Hot Water Music are all over the map, and my idea of what might make them better is probably the opposite of what their fans think. I'll bet they also own rap rock records but won't admit to it. They should always split the middle between melody with power. But nobody listens to me. Nobody.
American Fight Club No. 1 (comp CD review) (Outsider): Another disc slipped under my door by either Dave or Dave from Long Beach's Outsider Records. They've updated their web site and it's a veritable monster of capitalism – but only if you buy something, so get to it. Outsider is a street punk label but most of their bands (thankfully) aspire to more than boot stomping and thug choruses. Well, maybe not The Authority!, who can't even give their band a name that isn't a threat. They share the bill with Chicago's Callaghan, Jersey's Hudson Falcons, and Sonoma, CA's The Trend. The Authority! hail from Costa Mesa, CA, carrying on the county's tradition of shows to avoid if you like your teeth. There's a lot of diversity and a wet diaper full of good music to be had with these 28 tracks, and for the most part Dave and Dave have another winner on their hands.
Street Punk. Ok, what does that mean? It's the American version of England's oi. It's working class punk for working class people who, though they may envy the UK's endemic traditions of class and neighborhood rivalries, realize they live in America, the land of freakin' opportunity. No matter what hippies say, our class system is not enforced by law. Street Punks are libertarian when it comes to their own freedoms, and conservative when it comes to other people's problems. They like to unite, fight and get tight. Sing-along choruses are a staple of street punk bands so they can bond with their drunk fans who turn the pit into a war zone. The Authority! are the area's masters of this extreme interpretation of street punk's real world application. The CD opens with a ditty called "Embrace The Hate". I can't make out all the words, and I don't think there's anything or anyone specific they're saying you should hate, but they seem to suggest a general sense of raw hatred is the way to live every day. Another song is called "Marchin’ ime". As in a war? OC is a huge suburbia, and it’s only a war zone if you kid yourself or make it so. The real world of The Authority is a creation of the mind, since Real doesn't always have to be the worst case scenario.
Putting aside their thuggish back-up singing, The Authority! are a talented band. I like how they use bass guitar as an equal of the guitars. "Just Fine" sounds like The Jam's "In The City", which reminds me there are bands who call themselves street punk only to distance themselves from pop-punk and commercially successful bands like Rancid. Callaghan and The Trends could easily fit into the rosters of non-street punk record labels, but the members of the bands must see themselves as street punks no matter how poppy, rockabilly or greaser rock they can be. The Hudson Falcon's cover of Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie" is excellent.
I like most of this comp very much. What I don't get into are generic calls to violence and the sing-alongs that encourage it. Street Punk isn't neo-nazism, and most street punks are probably anti-nazi, but it's hard to see the difference through all the screaming and raised fists.
America Sub-Culture Suck (Comp CD review) (Generalissimo): This is a very cheap ($3.15) CD comp of eighteen bands, all but one from the Washington DC area. The Suspects are the biggest name, churning out the '77 sound they love so much in the Bowery. These bands lost their chance to be on Dischord about fourteen years ago. This is East Coast New School, punk by kids who play in hardcore bands but still take strong sides on the Sammy Hagar vs. David Lee Roth controversy. There's one ska song, a surf instrumental and even a woman singing on one track. Pretty good but not my usual brand of dog food. For the price of a Wendy's Pocket Pita this can be yours forever.
At War With Society (Comp CD review) (New Red Archives): 33 songs for 99 cents. Oi such a deal. It's nice to see an old label still pushing old product like Crucial Youth and Reagan Youth. Also with the UK Subs, Christ On A Crutch, Samiam, Kraut (yikes!), Ultraman, MDC, Snap-Her, Swingin' Utters and others. Lots of thrash and political screaming that should appeal to unwashed punks everywhere. Lots of good memories for old farts who still have a Positive Dental Outlook. This leans toward the old MDC sound of fast, hard and loud with frequent tempo changes.
Back Asswards - Compilation CD review) (Interbang Records): A thirty band/thirty song CD for eight smackers from bands on various labels. A lot of famous power pop punk bands are here: The McRackins, The Parasites, Teen Idols and The Groovie Ghoulies. A majority of the songs have that Lookout sound. The others tread the Fat Wreck Chords waters. A good, cheap comp with artwork that looks like it was faxed to the printer.
Banana Pad Riot (Comp 7" review) (Skull Duggery): Skull Duggery is the next Lookout Records. They also do mail order specializing in power pop and garage/surf. This is a four band tribute to The Banana Splits, a really weird live-action kids’ show from the ‘70s. I haven't seen it since then but I'm sure it's on cable somewhere. I’m guessing these songs came from the show. The bands are Boris The Sprinkler, The Vindictives, Young Fresh Fellows and the Mr. T Experience - all well known power pop punk bands. "Two Ton Tessie" is an old standard, but it's great to hear Joey Vindictive pervert the line "She's big and round, and I love every pound". The other songs are "We're The Banana Splits", "Doin' The Banana Split", and "Don't Go Away". For all I know these don't come from the show, but they do all have the same era-defining Partridge Family/Monkees sound. Boris The Sprinkler does a good job sounding like The Dickies (who do the definitive Banana Splits cover). This 7" isn't too exciting. You'd have to be a real fan to want this. The 7" is also banana colored. Quick! Collector Geeks! To the record store!!!
Before You Were Punk, Vol. 2 (comp CD review) (Vagrant): This might be the most blatant punk novelty ever. What's ever scarier is this brand of foolishness is becoming common. Band tribute albums are opportunistic (while generic old-punk Greatest Hits packages are cannibalistic), but no matter how big the cake, this takes it. Not that it marks the end of the world, but this CD represents the commoditization of punk rock at its cutest. This is bad for street cred but a nice joke for a minute, and fans get to prove yet again how devoted they are by purchasing every fart and belch their heroes record. It's not a bad record but it does beg to be ridiculed as a lightweight money grab.
Here's the songs: What I Like About You - The Suicide Machines, Electricity - NOFX, Space Age Love Song - No Motiv, No Action - MXPX, Our Lips Are Sealed - The Hippos, Don't You Forget About Me - Bouncing Souls, Close To Me - The Get Up Kids, This Way Out - Rocket From The Crypt, Just What I Needed - Gotohells, Bring On The Dancing Horses - Lagwagon, Every Breath You Take - Strung Out, Rebel, and Yell - All.
NOFX contributes a signature-style version of OMD's "Electricity” good enough to make me wonder if more OMD songs have the potential to be recast as punk tunes a la Devo. Most of the tracks are as exciting as you might expect from a project where Vagrant calls up bands and says, "Hey, we're doing a record of corny 80's new wave songs for the Christmas buying season, and you guys are popular right now, so can you think of a popular song people have heard a thousand times, and record it by this Thursday?" The only gutsy choice is Rocket From The Crypt, who take on a great Wall of Voodoo tune. The rest are only as strong as the source material, so you know "What I Like About You" will be as tasty as raw tofu while even a fair rendition of "No Action" makes MXPX look like hardcore geniuses.
It was hard to just listen to this CD because I was taking mental notes on how much any particular band was trying to add their own sound to the old songs or how much they were changing their own sound to accommodate the oldies. So to me this CD was more like a Rorschach test of the band's personality and intelligence. Most of the bands take no chances and make whatever they do instantly recognizable to their fans. The novelty aspects of it are overwhelming. Must… go... listen to something more original than Before You Were Punk… something like A Partridge Family Christmas.
Bite The Bullet (comp CD review) (Know): One of those DIY ultra-affordable comps you'll see in one area but nowhere else. The region here is Orange County and Los Angeles. A combination of some national bands and local ones with connections. 33 songs, including the UK Subs, Electric Frankenstein, JFA, Raw Power and The Suspects. A lot of American street/bar punk and some generic hardcore that couldn't find a melodic hook if it was baited with skunk. Well worth the few bucks but something you transfer your favorite songs off of and then stash away to never see again. It's funny how a clunker here and there can make you not want to leave a disc on the player the whole way through.
Bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhh! A Music War (7" comp review) (Slap A Ham): I made sure to transpose the name of this correctly because it’s not on my spell-checker. This 7” is the third in a series (#1 - 41 bands, 64 songs, #2- 52 bands, 69songs, #3- 73 bands, 84 songs) that I’ve bought for the sheer novelty. I’ve listened to each a total of once and don’t plan on doing so again. I’ll probably continue buying these and listening to them only once. I have no idea why but there’s something fascinating about songs that require no talent to play and last from one to nine seconds. Punk bands are accused of not knowing how to play but that’s both a relative statement and a snobbish insult. It assumes if punk bands had the ability to play prog rock they would do so.
The songs (and I use the term loosely) on Bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhh! are a freakish punk/metal bastardization of free form jazz where everyone crashes into their instruments with closed eyes and clenched teeth. Even I could do this. I imagine these bands are technically talented but they’ve recorded these blasts of random noise as either 1) a joke, 2) a reason to be on this comp, or 3) they’re Anal C—t fans. I can take A.C. for about as long as it takes to lift the needle off the record. Genres I could care less about – speedcore, death metal, grindcore, black metal, and heavy metal. A lot of Bllleeeeaaauuurrrrgghhh! can be called punk only because there’s no time for guitar solos and clunky stadium riffs.
These comps are fun because it’s what you imagine it sounds like inside a band’s van before it crashes into a wall, or, for the longer (yuk yuk) songs, falls off a cliff before hitting the rocks. Reading the song titles is great because they’re tacked on randomly and usually try to paint a cruel, gruesome image. "The Spazz Triptych", "Victorian Puncture", "Feed On Their Vomit", "Altar To Waste", etc. Giving names to random noise reminds me of minimalist paintings of nearly solid-colored canvasses given titles like “Digression of Principles, #4” and "untitled". With art it’s pretentious, but in music it’s the hysterical icing on the cake.
The single's sleeve has info on the bands, and the lettering of choice seems to be that Death Metal range of fonts I'll call Apocalyptic Cannibal. If you take this kind of music seriously, please seek therapy.
The 4-Squares/The Bollweevils- Carol EP (split 7" review) (Dr. Strange): A 49 cent closeout special and a four song split from two Chicago bands. Mob Town is a great punk rock city. If not for the bitter winters I'd live there in a heartbeat. The 4-Squares are fast and loud, and that's about it. Good for a listen or two, but ... The Bollweevils release records as often as I put a new roll of toilet paper on the spindle. To me these guys can do no wrong. Fast, powerful and Bob's singing style is all his own. Note to self: see The Bollweevils play live.
Bread: the edible napkin - Compilation (CD review) (No Idea #12): a $5 postpaid ($8/2 lp set) comp put together by Var of Gainesville, Florida's NO IDEA fanzine/label/distributor. The last issue came out two years ago and this issue is mostly ads, so for all practical purposes issue #12 is an afterthought/giveaway with the CD. The cartoons by Jason Armadillo are great, a cross between Hate and Tesco Vee. Otherwise there's little stories, some interesting and others without a destination. The CD has 32 bands, most for punks not afraid to wear Van Halen T-shirts and bang their heads when they're not moshing. There's grindcore, thrash and hard-stance emo-core, so much that the other songs come off as unplugged versions of hard rock punk. When I was a teen in the mid ‘70s kids would always say "how could you not like Led Zepplin?! They rock!!" Like ROCK was a higher Zen state of consciousness. Somehow, somehow, I resisted. I'm turned off by anything disco or heavy metal. I don't judge the songs because these genres have nothing to do with me. Listening to this CD I imagined for fans of these bands the worst thing about being hardcore must be cutting off two feet of long hair. Banging your head can't be as much fun without the greasy mop flying around your face. Here's some band names: Serpico, Elmer, Brutal Truth, Sideshow, Lisa Killers, Crunch, and the Bruce Lee Band. May I go now, sir?
Budget Ranch (3- 7" box set review) (Budget Ranch): I can finally use a term I may have made up myself (ok, so maybe I didn't, Mr. Atariblink. Yeesh): MedioCore. As in mediocre ("Of medium and unimpressive quality"). Hey kids, use it in a sentence and it will be yours for life! I recall the mid ‘80s as a dull lull in punk history, and the Budget Ranch box set had something to do with it. There’s three colored vinyl 7"s from Peace Corpse, White-n-Hairy and Pillsbury Hardcore in a numbered, limited edition box set. All that effort was wasted on (here it comes, kiddies!) MedioCore.
Peace Corpse covers ZZ Top and Neil Young songs as if they’re playing them for the first time, and with barely enough energy to successfully pick their own noses. White-n-Hairy are a faux funk trio who cover "That's The Way (I Like It)" with lyrics about donuts. God, why couldn't I have thought of that first? Their other song is a fifth rate Gang of Four imitation. I can imagine them assuring everyone at their shows they’re a fun band. These guys make the Big Boys look like Barry White. Pillsbury Hardcore provide three death rock songs that will kill you with their slowness and dullness.
Making a box set for this is like putting a tiny tuxedo on a turd log. You figure out what that means while I put this back on the shelf to gather another inch of dust.
Built For Speed - A Motorhead Tribute (comp CD review) (Victory): I'm reviewing this because it was sent to me by the nice folks at Chicago's Victory Records. Right up front I must say I have a serious aversion to all hard rock and heavy metal. It goes back to my high school days, were I couldn't stand Led Zepplin-worshipping stoners with their 45 word vocabularies and long girly hair. If I had a nickel for every time I heard "How can you NOT like Zepplin?" I'd probably have 45 cents. When punk first hit you didn't hear any punker admit they liked metal bands (or even Kiss, everyone's closet favorite) like they do today. You were either a rocker or a disco duck. I was a new waver who liked some punk. Music lines in the sand were drawn longer and deeper then. Being a Ramones fanatic I was told I might like Motorhead, metal's version of the Ramones. I tried to get into them but their buzzsaw guitar drove me nuts. I can't take anything metal or disco - ANYTHING. That's how it is being a shellshocked veteran of the ‘70s music wars.
This is a good time to tell you about Elvis Penis. Back when I was eleven I went to summer camp in upstate New York. One of my bunkmates was a fat doofus who did a piece of performance art called Elvis Penis. He was naked, and he'd put his right arm out like he was holding a guitar while his left hand strummed his penis as he did an Elvis imitation. I learned what surrealism was that summer. That's was hard rock is to me - Elvis Penis.
Victory Records is a diverse label with a fair share of hard rocking punk bands. I liked Built For Speed more than I thought I would. Some of the songs are punk without any trace elements of metal, so I was able to enjoy them. Blood For Blood prefaces their pounding version of "Ace Of Spades" with a nicely acted slice of life taking place in a Boston bar. There's this great line, "It's like I tell ya, ya know, guys like me and you, people like us, we're like, ah, royalty in exile, you know, born to lose". The Groovie Ghoulies cover "R.A.M.O.N.E.S." in their usual fashion. The Dropkick Murphys sound less street punk than usual on the still interesting "Rock and Roll", while Electric Frankenstein does their usual shtick on "We Are The Road Crew". Zeke cock-rocks through "I'll Be Your Sister". The other bands are Integrity, Starhead, Chrome Locust, Fahrenheit 451, Terra Firma and Speedealer.
If you like hard rock and punk you should get into this collection. If you're a metal head you'll probably be pissed there's not more guitar solos. Because rock solos rock, that's why.
By The Banks Of The Mighty Santa Ana Vol. II (comp 7" review) (Truk): I'm reviewing this because I bought it for 49 cents and the site needs empty calories to keep it fat, happy and slow. The bands on this four song mini-platter are The Women, Naked Soul, Pinch and Big Drill Car. It starts out well enough with "The Misery Of Your Company", with it's heavy, fuzzy bass and vocals sung through a fuzzy microphone - like a fuzzy Volcano Suns. Then Naked Soul applies some wimpy singing on top of decent mid-paced power pop. Then Pinch's guitarist has to prove he can play fast licks as well as Van Halen. The vocal riff also reminds me of bad cock rock. Finally, Bid Drill Car does a psychedelic number called "Song no. 40", which sounds tight and professional but please, no alternative rock, I'm about to eat. The guitar is reminiscent of Hunky Dory. For 49 cents I've added needed girth to my singles collection. By sheer weight my shelf now screams collector geek. God bless America.
Check This Out Too: Just Another One Foot Records Compilation (comp CD review) (Onefoot): A surprisingly strong comp from a label I've never heard of out of Long Beach, CA. This is a step up from the NOFX-Bad Religion rut most punk kids find themselves in. These bands are more mature lyrically and musically. While you can still point to these two major bands as inspiration, I hear excellent old-style power pop punk as it's done by Samiam, Vacant Lot, the Parasites and others. It's refreshing to hear young bands graduating from stupid snotty childishness. Still ages-show material for the most part but intelligent and powerful beyond the call of duty.
Electric Frankenstein donates a tune and my favorite band is Kid With Man Head. Rounding out the CD are Garage Fuzz, Adhesive, Crank, Pep Rally (sounding like Dag Nasty), Blitz Babies, Lick 57's, The Tie That Binds, Stoned, Gameover, Horace Pinker, Drapes, Latex Generation, Gutfiddle, Migraines (not to be confused with the band that sounds like Sloppy Seconds) and Racer Ten.
Only a few bucks and very well worth it. A rare comp that will wind up in my gym bag for those tough days on the stair machine. Very highly recommended. Hey, maybe there is hope for the future… oh, who am I kidding?
Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot... A Kooties Benefit (comp CD review) (Flatbroke): Amateurish cartoon covers are universally a sign of bad product within, but this started out strong... before devolving into generic ska, idiot- clever punk and a numbnut boot stomper. It was only a dollar.
Blackhead opens strongly with "Redneck Romeo", which reminded me of Sludgeworth. Slappy follows with another Sludge-worthy tune, and then Mulligan Stu kicks in a nice Weasel-esque number. Community Service, Shower With Goats and the Kosmo Kramers followed, and I'm thinking this is the best comp I've heard in a long time. Then songs seven thru eleven end up being ska, which I don't mind per say but the genre is by now too kid tested and mother approved. Ska kids are good kids, so pick it up pick it up pick it up till your ride comes.
Buglite's "What We Had" got me back on track, and The Lexington's "Cars" is decent. No Empathy and The Letterbombs are ok, but then Ringworm reminds me that guys who sing at lower registers than their speaking voice are posers. Then, there's a hidden track that's so stupid and nonsensical to anyone beyond the band's social circle I'm embarrassed to even mention it here. If I knew where it was on the CD itself I'd scratch that part up good.
Only a buck and at least half of it is pretty decent. (flip.. smash..) Next!
Cleveland Confidential (comp. cd review): I'm writing this as much as anything to say I'm happy I found a compilation of old bands (some solidly from the 70s) that's consistently entertaining. More specifically, one that doesn't stink and is as dated as hot pants, as my personal collection proves a few times over. Cleveland Confidential was released in 1982 and is most likely recent to that year, and it's garage punk rooted in the pre-hardcore era (the one peripheral exception The Offbeats's "I'm Confused"). I found it here and so can you. There was also a 1980 7" with the same name, also on Terminal Records.
The big names are The Pagans and The Styrenes. Pere Ubu's David Thomas sings background for The Pagans and Anton Fier of The Feelies backs up The Styrenes. You get a bit of psychedelic punk, garage punk, dirty power pop, and even some melodic, horn-driven no wave from Red Decade. Two songs are named "Even Lower Manhattan" and "In New York", evoking the envy-resentment complex held by cities in the flyover country of these United States. The Dead Boys exacted Cleveland's revenge by destroying CBGB's art-punk scene with some good old fashioned midwest cretinism, showing the locals in Suicide how to really FSU. Good times, good times.
A Country Fit For Heroes (Comp LP review) (No Future): I review this because every fuggin' oi and second wave '77 song has been repackaged for suburban kids who were still a future migraine in their parent's heads when this material first came out. The question is: is the demand for this that high, or is this being licensed for a penny a song, so why the hell not? In the bigger picture there's no real harm because most UK tunes from this era are worth owning. It's just funny seeing how many cheap comps with the dumbest possible covers meant to appeal to the dumbest possible consumers get released.
No Future Records put out two of these in the early ‘80s to promote bands not yet making the big pennies and nickels the more popular punk and skin bands were drinking away. Blitzkrieg, The Violators, One Way System and Attak were able to parlay this exposure into future vinyl while the rest went on to lose their teeth through attrition while living in decrepit row homes six feet wide. Not much of this stands out but the bands copy the style of the day fairly well. The Violators sported a female singer who wanted so much for Christmas to be Siouxsie Sioux. Hostile Youth win best yell while Attak not only musically kiss the arses of the Anti-Nowhere League, they manage to leave hickies that still have not healed. I'm kidding - I kid because I love.
Here's some trivia: UK import records back then were packaged in cardboard sleeves half the thickness of US LPs. How this knowledge will help get you laid is not something I can help you with.
Cub/Potatomen (split CD single review) (Lookout/Mint): The Cub fanatic inside me made me buy this even though I own the songs elsewhere. Larry Moreliver and pop-punk producer Mass Giorgini are in the Potatomen, and Larry sings like Ian Curtis or some other epilieptic. Not bad in a quasi-acoustic sense but this review is no more than another excuse to trumpet the greatness of Cub. You can now catch singer Lisa Marr in her new band Buck. That's Cub as pronounced by a dyslexic.
You can read every love note I've written to Cub in the music archives section. It is my fiduciary responsibility to point out that Lisa is the best singer, and that Cub was a pop, punk and garage band. Cub are like The Go-Gos in that their true value to the punk scene gets distorted behind prejudices against pop music and all-female bands.
Gotta run to the mailbox and see if my check from Cub's arrived!
Damned For All Time Volume III (comp CD review) (National Dust): A very diverse comp and every song is great except for a heavy metal track by Gunpro. Otherwise, many branches of the punk rock tree are well represented, from shockabilly to drunk punk to speed pop to thrash. Nervous Christians open with "Get Ahead And Go", and the singer sounds exactly like Jeff Pezzati from Naked Raygun, and that's ok with me. My other favorite tracks are from the Automatics and The Weaklings. 21 songs, and not for the weak-livered.
Dischord 1981: The Year In
Seven Inches (CD review):
released this 48 track collection of first wave HarDCore ditties from five bands
– four and a half if you consider the Teen Idles the rough draft for Minor
Threat. In 1981 I was living in Maryland and attending college, and even then I
was older than most of the kids in that scene. It flew under the radar even in
DC. They seemed like a tight bunch well organized, and if you wanted to see the
bands in person you could drive to Rockville and they’d sell you records at
Yesterday & Today Records, the local musician’s workfare program.
Dischord proved that with artistic talent and a few bucks you could put out records and sell them cheaply. Y&T’s Skip Groff showed Ian Mackaye and Jeff Nelson how to do it and the fellas took it from there. Minor Threat led the way, and they were by far the tightest and most talented band of the lot. They all prayed at the alter of The Bad Brains.
I have a theory the local scene’s hardcore at the time was the Ramones played at 78 rpm, and under all the fast and furious are actual melodies. I didn’t think that at the time because it was so loud and fast I thought they’d be lucky just to make it through a song without breaking something internal. Minor Threat hit like a train the same way the Ramones did when they started. My theory doesn’t work so well with Youth Brigade and either Faith or Void (I never knew what side of their split I was listening to), who tended more toward slow metal played fast.
The Teen Idles are average. Neck Rollins fronting S.O.A. are great, sometimes steaming along like D.R.I.. Minor Threat rules. Government Issue were great early on even though the vocals suffer from sameness and also sounding like a dog barking. Youth Brigade are great even though they were heavier than I like.
Dishwasher - music to wash dishes by - volume 1 (comp7" review) (Seven-O-Two Records): This isn't just a four-song 7" with The Queers, Ten-Four, The High Fives and Scared of Chaka, it's an afternoon of reading too! Put together by Dishwasher Pete, these are four tributes to the minimum wage vocation of dish washing, the Hobo life for punks who need a job they can get easily and quit at the first sign of a tour. Dishwasher Pete puts out a zine about dishwashing, and his goal in life is to wash dishes in all fifty states. Now there's a lofty yet twisted ambition. His parents must be proud. Along with the 7" you get a great booklet filled with stories - and a cool sticker too. I haven't seen something so involved since the XTC limited edition "Making Plans For Nigel" 7". The songs are great Lookout brand power pop punk, the standout being Scared of Chaka's "Dish Militia". It hit me like an electric eel and these old legs couldn't stop dancing. Buy this and write an encouraging letter to Dishwasher Pete. He's my hero and he should be yours too.
Dropkick Murphys / Face To Face (split CD review) (Vagrant): Vagrant is a professional label, which I think is great, and both the Dropkick Murphys and Face To Face are professional bands, which impresses me only to the point of being impressed. I'm not a purist when it comes to being real, because real is often shorthand for real stupid. Bands like Face To Face and The Dropkick Murphys are falsely pushed as the real thing by trendy scenesters. It's not the end of the world, and it's probably just a generational problem on my part, but still....
Dag Nasty was the first hardcore band so slick and professional they might as well have been writing songs based on market research processed by three Cray supercomputers. I was and still am a fan of Dag Nasty, but it took me some time to realize they were the Stepford Wives of the Dischord scene. Face To Face was for me the next Dag Nasty. Once again, I fell under the spell of finely crafted, Cray processed power punk, but the truth of it came to me within days this time. Soon thereafter, the punk scene flooded itself with slick punk bands. I attribute it to supercomputers becoming smaller, faster and more affordable.
The Dropkick Murphys are as close to authentic as you can find, for a band started in Boston around 1995. They're fifteen years or so too late and a few thousand miles to the left of Belfast, but they succeed fairly well in merging traditional Irish music and culture with an American sound at home on Epitaph Records. Being from Boston helps, as opposed to Tucson.
Face To Face provide an original ("Fight Or Flight"), a cover of the Dropkick Murphy' s "Road Of The Righteous" and a cover of Stiff Little Fingers' "Wasted Life". "Fight Or Flight" is a decent rendering of the Stiff Little Fingers sound. I wonder what software they used to accomplish this. "Road Of The Righteous" is faithful to the original and besides the point really. It’s the same story with "Wasted Life", which at least serves the purpose of introducing the old band to a new generation of American kids. There's nothing to hate and a much like about Face To Face, and I'm sure they're lovely human beings who pay their taxes and don't litter, but they're just too clinical. They're more like studio musicians than a punk band.
The Dropkick Murphys provide an original ("The Dirty Glass"), a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" and a cover of and old oi song by The Press called "21 Guitar Salute". "The Dirty Glass" is neat because of the bagpipes and vocal assist from former Letters To Cleo singer Kay Hanley, and "21 Guitar Salute" sends them happily into Chuck Berry territory. The Creedence cover is odd, but maybe not to you. Split EPs are an odd piece of merchandise, don't you think?
Electric Live: Jakkpot & L.E.S. Stitches (CD review) (Onefoot): I won this from the L.E.S. Stitches' label, NG, for being amongst the first 36 people to list the original members of Motley Crue. I can't say I've ever heard a Motley Crue song, and I didn't even know Pamela Anderson’s husband Tommy Lee was in the band, but thanks to the internet the answer wasn't hard to find. This is a split/live CD from two east coast bands who claim the "Punker Than You'll Ever Be Motherfugger" banner with equal spittle. The L.E.S. Stitches are a band on the rise, regurgitating the success formula of Rancid and applying it to NYC ‘70s bands The New York Dolls and The Deadboys. See them this summer on one of those outdoor mega-tours with its own skate park. Baltimore's Jakkpot have some decent releases under their belt. The problem with this CD is that the sound quality stinks, especially on the Stitches tracks, and the sets don't show the bands at their best. Electric Live should have been a cassette-only release.
Both bands are channeling the Rolling Stones through the New York Dolls. The modern update is to present it with maximum aggression. Sloppy and fast. Rude-A of Jakkpot likes to say the word "punk" between songs, always indicative of trying too hard. His stage banter is like Lou Reed. The Stitches' set is from ‘97 or ‘98 and Jakkpot was recorded in ‘98. The L.E.S. Stitches are a much better band now, and Jakkpot I'm sure plays a better set of songs than what's here. The more I think about this CD the more I wonder why it was put out in the first place.
Emo Diaries Vol. 7: Me Against The World (CD review) (Deep Elm): I think by now I've gotten the point of emo. It's creative and the production qualities are a marvel to listen to with headphones, but the preciousness changed my perception of it from refreshingly honest to cloyingly cute, and I only like cute when it applies to kids and animals. The best of the genre is Sense Field's Building -- the low point something by Joan Of Arc which made me want to mug a nerd for $10. I'm not turned off by emo lyrics since I don't care about them in the first place. Lyrics are sounds to me.
Volume 1 of this popular series came out in 1997. If this new collection is supposed to represent the cutting edge of the genre, sadly there is none. The bands tend to tread water somewhere between Jets To Brazil and Braid, mostly the former. There's nothing wrong with that, and as far as I can tell emo is here to stay. I wish crusty punk would die, but as long as there are middle class youth who pretend they're homeless and living in a post apocalyptic society, that’s not gonna happen any time soon.
I can do without the trippy, grooving qualities to the headbanger-lite theatrics of many emo bands, and the worst emo is designed to be trance-inducing progressive rock epics. The day I bang my head is the day I, oh, never mind. My favorite bands on this CD are Tabula Rasa, Halifax Code, Waterpistol and Killing Suspense. The other tracks are decent yet nothing to warrant much interest. As a once in a lifetime experience, "Animus" by One Starving Day switches from ambient new age to deathemocore. You, me and the man behind that tree are all bewildered. I once thought rap rock was the sign of the coming Apocalypse. Now I'm not so sure.
Estrus Spicey Sizzlers Sampler (comp CD review) (Estrus): Garage Rock is a description thrown at anything with a raw sound. Throughout rock history garage bands were for the most part regular bands that emulated the rockin' hits of the day in hopes of fame, fortune and chicks. Some failed because they were not very good, while others were either too fast, loud, or weird for airplay (often the band couldn't understand why their morbid fuzz-freakouts wasn't what radio wanted). The garage rock market is small yet manic. Rhino recently issued a four-CD retrospective of classic garage rock under the title Nuggets. Tiny labels constantly re-issue obscure regional garage bands for a core base of hipsters who will buy anything they can get, like jazz kooks who’d sell their souls for rare discs. Texas garage bands are considered the wildest and best. Bellingham, WA's Estrus Records is where the big modern garage bands hang their hats.
The Mono Men, The Makers, Man or Astroman?, The 1-4-5's, Satan's Pilgrims, The Volcanos, The Von Zippers and many others grace this collection. The styles vary from lounge to surf to rockabilly voodoo to psychedelia to straight ahead rocking punk. It took me a few listens but I'm really into this now. There's much depth and underplayed intensity to be found on these recordings. The best part is that this comp is just a few bucks ($1 more at Tower), so you have no excuse to pass this by. You might just expand your musical vocabulary beyond what your friend Stinky says is effin’ cool. Doh!
Everything Is Beautiful (comp CD review) (Geffen): Free I tells ya, this was free! An alternative comp - the possibilities for hating this are endless. Alternative is as sincere as Joe Isuzu. It's the trendiest bandwagon jumping you can buy without a prescription. Not all alternative sucks, but a lot of it has a shelf life of bread. It's about pushing new product. Don't get too attached to a band because an even more market-tested one is coming up next. As I listen to each of these eighteen groups I'll comment and award 1 to 5 stars (*), 1 for total crap and 5 for being not bad but still not anything I'd ever recommend to a gathering of skins:
Remy Zero - decent fuzz pop (****), Girls Against Boys - white folks shouldn't try to be funky, and they should never ever scratch (*), Rob Zombie - Techno is disco for pissed off bi-curious white guys (*), Pitchshifter - almost like Trenchmouth but too hard and trendy (**), Home Grown - Good ol' love song power pop with slightly off-key choruses I find endearing (*****), Eels - fey and silly at the same time (**), The Crystal Method - music to twirl to while sucking a Binky and wearing a Garfield backpack (**), DJ Spooky - I hate crap, I mean rap, but this was pretty good not too funky at all (***), Propellerheads - lounge funk with sampling (*), Cowboy Junkies - 3% country, 0% junkie, 97% well recorded rock atmospherics (*****), Rufus Wainwright - Beatle-esque (**), Embrace - non-twirly rock you can twirl to if drugs are mixed correctly. Tries too hard to be an anthem (**), Hayden - Psychedelic guitar that's the picture in the dictionary under "generic" (**), The Bomboras - fun surf like the Barracudas. Go Cat Go! (***** and highly recommended), The Ghastly Ones - Spaghetti Western surf guitar instrumental that kicks tushy (*****), Robbie Fulks - oddball voice over nicely played country pop (****), Flat Duo Jets - Every Las Vegas lounge cliché meet in a bar (**), Phantom Planet - Let's just say they play the flute in this one. Another Beatle ass kiss (**)
The Excursion Compilation (comp CD review) (Excursion): I keep up with what I can but there are many bands and record labels I've never heard of. I look at zines these days and I don’t know any bands. I'm not going to drop hundreds of dollars on 7"s and CDs from unknown bands, so the occasional compilation is a good thing. Thankfully this one was $3 and change. Sixteen songs from fourteen bands on the Excursion label out of Seattle, WA, a city forever associated with grunge the way DC is with straight edge. The first eight songs by Red Rocket, State Route 522, Hutch, Serpico, Ten-O-Seven and Brand New Unit all have a heavy Jawbreaker + light All influence, and if you weren't paying attention you’d think they were all by the same eclectic band. I liked these songs a lot. Song nine and up stay firmly in the rock punk bang your head camp. Any song you can bang your head to is actually a heavy metal song. There's even a grind-core song by Botch. Grind-core is the weirdest thing ever. The singing is always the same "Blah Blah Blue Blah Blow!" (or something) in this comically deep monster movie voice. I don't get it. A good comp, but like most of them, I'll tape a few songs off this and, even though I won't trade it in, it will never see the light of day again.
Fat Wreck Chords Presents Survival Of The Fattest Vol. Two (comp LP review) (Fat Wreck Chords): From what little I know about Fat bands I assumed they all either sound like NOFX or Bad Religion. I saw a Fat Wreck Chords "on tour" concert a few years back and wasn't impressedl. Too many mosh parts and Bad Religion clones. This LP was $5, so why not give it a chance? I like a number of the songs but I'm not that much into the Fat genre. The production values are top notch, and the bands sure know how to play. It’s the stink of teenage skate punk I can't relate to. I also don't look good in a backwards baseball cap and baggy shorts. A drummer must have mixed all the songs because they stand out as the lead instrument. The bands I liked were Diesel Boy, Good Riddance, Bracket, and especially Tilt. On "Libel" the female lead singer sounds a lot like Debbie Harry of Blondie.. What a great voice. No snide pissy grrrl screaming - she can really belt it out. When she sings "follow me all the way home" you know she could sing on Broadway and bring down the house.
Feer Of Smell (comp LP review) (Vermiform): This a re-issue of a record from 1992, and it's one of those collections intended to warp the mind by presenting a clinically cruel world filled with sociopaths programmed by Society to torture and antagonize without any remorse. You get a lot of the same sentiment in industrial/techno, but since most of that is disco for pissed off bi-curious white guys it's easy to blow it off as another excuse to shake your groove tushie. The sixteen tracks on this comp runs the gamut of grindcore, jazz damage, sound-collage, straight ahead punk and prank phone calls ("Is there a Dick in the house?). I liked some and hated others (I despise the cowardice of prank phone calls), but comps like this are made to present a unified perspective of callousness and alienation under the guise of Art. The comedy on this record is presented as insincere irony, so spare me that argument.
Is the world really nothing more than hatred, demented pathologies and calculated cruelty? It's there for sure, more than polite society admits to, but that's not all there is. The worst of human behavior is not any more real than people being nice to each other. That argument assumes we should embrace cruelty, hate, destruction and self-destruction because that's either what's actually normal or we are doomed, doomed, doomed anyway, so why not jump headfirst into the tree shredder. That's either nihilistic, which is mindless, or a cheap way to draw attention to yourself. There's nothing more pretentious than turning suffering into art, as if art justifies suffering. If your life sucks and there's no way out, kill yourself. What can I tell you. Life sucks, that's true, just don't expect me to be impressed because you figured it out on your own.
Here's the roll call on Feer Of Smell: Eric Wood, The Nation of Ulysses, Tit Wrench, Rorschach, Man Is The Bastard, Sugarshock, Rich Oliver, Heroin, Native Nod, Infest, 1.6 band, A. Woodrow, Merel, Moss Icon, Sam & Joe, and Hell No.
Forward Til Death - Lookout! Records Sampler Compilation (comp CD review) (Lookout!): Some people hate Lookout because they made barrels of cash from Green Day. Nothing pisses off kids who don't work for a living more than the success of others. If you don't like the bands on Lookout because they're not punk enough, all I can tell you is you shouldn't care if the label exists or not. The narrow definition of punk you live by today is based on bulls—t. Five years ago you were probably listening to whatever was on the radio and asking mommy if you can eat dinner at Timmy's. You may look punk but it's a costume.
Every year Lookout puts out an affordable comp of released and unreleased songs from the last year's catalog. While still the best consistent source for power pop punk bands like The Mr. T. Experience and The Groovie Ghoulies, they've also signed a healthy roster of garage pop bands like The Smugglers and the Donnas – the latter good for three songs. There are always a number of keepers on a Lookout comp, the rest mostly enjoyable too.
Standout tracks: Citizen Fish sounding like Madness on "Habit", Pansy Division's use of blaring horns on "Bad Boyfriend", Mr. T's Buddy Holly inspired "King Dork" and Servotron's "I Sing The Body Cybernetic", which makes me think of Spizz Energy. 23 songs for about five bucks. No reason and no excuse not to buy this. Tell me why Lookout isn't punk and I'll smile at your cute outfit and baaaaad attitude.
Gabba Gabba Hey - A Tribute To The Ramones (comp CD review) (Triple X): The big fear about tribute albums is "will these bands turn classics into crap?" It's sweet when you're holding a loving tribute to a band you love, made by other bands who love them too. You kind of feel vindicated, because here's proof many others were influenced by them too. But what if the cover bands suck to begin with? What if they interpret songs incorrectly? What if they miss the point of the band and are just on the tribute to gain exposure? Oh, whoa was me…
The TXC tribute stunk because the bands were mostly wimpy alternative nobodies who made every XTC tune sound like pap. The Ramones were a punk band partly influenced by the Bay City Rollers. There's an aesthetic purity on the Ramones' first four albums that's hard to explain and reproduce. It may look simple, but it's very difficult to recreate the magic of these records.
This 1991 collection is well stocked with bands like The Creamers, White Flag, Bad Religion, Groovie Ghoulies, D.I., Flesheaters, Flower Leperds, Bulimia Banquet, and Mojo Nixon. Mojo's Rockabilly take on "Rockaway Beach" is the best song. Mojo is cooler than most people think. Pigmy Love Circus turns "Beat On The Brat" into a slow metal headbanger. Which I hate. Not that I know too much about L7, but they make "Suzy Is A Headbanger" sound like every other L7 song I've heard. In general, this is a good comp but I would only recommend it to serious Ramones fans. Do you think there's someone out there who only knows the Ramones through a tribute compilation? That’s too wrong to be possible.
Garage Punk Unknowns - Part I, Mid-Sixties America's Teen Garage Rock Action Blast! 1965-1967 (comp CD review) (Crypt): I realize some of you don't know the difference between garage punk, your elbow and a toaster pastry. Garage Punk is a genre mostly associated with collector geeks sporting Beatles hairstyles and flared jeans - the guys at record shows who smell like old newspapers. Rodney Bingenheimer is garage rock's poster child. In the great debate of where punk began, garage bands of the ‘60s score highly with many if not most music aficionados. The 70’s punk forefathers drew much of their inspiration from the DIY garage bands found on the old Nuggets comp (recently re-released in a boxed set by Rhino).
There's a small yet rabid collector's market for the old, obscure (the more obscure the better) garage bands that inhabited the nooks and crannys of America's disconnected music market of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Back then, for the majority of bands with no chance for national fame, be it for lack of talent or good representation, the country was divided into small and large markets. Rarely did the hits of one small city make it to other small cities outside of day-trip range. Collections like Garage Punk Unknowns provide glimpses into what everyone was missing. This CD is very enjoyable. I hear you can find collections that stink like crazy.
What is a garage band? It has a number of meanings and uses. It's a generic term for any band that's not famous, never will be famous, or are famous for how well they fit the garage band image. The mental picture is a bunch of tone-deaf teens in dad's garage spending hours trying to play like The Rolling Stones. Garage is sometimes seen as the practice or minor league stage of a band's development. A band without talent will be derided as a garage band not worthy of leaving the garage. A talented band who play rough and ragged will be labeled garage. Billy Childish puts out excellent records that emulate the exact sound of ‘60s garage bands. For what garage bands may lack in talent they often make up for in sincerity, determination and gung-ho weirdness. The best garage bands are the ones who suck but don’t realize they suck.
A misconception about early garage is that bands weren't looking to be popular. Hell, punk's DIY, anti-corporate stance didn't come about till the ‘80s, when punk spread to the suburbs where mom and dad supplied most punk's room and board. Garage bands emulated The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Byrds, Paul Revere And The Raiders, The Kinks - really any band with a "The" in their name. Some Nuggets"bands were good enough for the radio while most others were too intentionally or unintentionally hard, extreme or weird. Garage Punk Unknowns Part 1 is two and a half sides of the seven record Garage Punk Unknown series, presenting 31 tracks of "pre-psych, pre-prog, Stones-influenced garage". The quality of the tracks are excellent and it's easy to daydream they should have been national hits in their time. Poor distribution and media coverage dictated otherwise, and that's the pleasure of comps like this. If I owned a record store I'd put this on all the time, knowing customers would think I'm some kind of frigging genius for even knowing it existed.
74 minutes of non-stop cool, and not one clunker in the lot. Here's some band names: Teddy Boys, Kempy & The Guardians, Danny & The Other Guys, Motor City Bonnevilles, King-Beez, Avengers, Bobby Roberts and the Raveons.
Go Kart Vs. the Corporate Giant (comp CD review) (Go Kart): 28 songs (9 unreleased till now) from 21 bands out of NY's Go Kart Records. Go Kart is a small group of music lovers who put out all kinds of punk releases, for a nice change little of what you'd consider straight edge, power pop or hard rock punk. The bands share a sense of humor and a love of rocking punk. The spectrum is covered from the lounge stylings of Black Velvet Flag to The Meatmen (if you require an introduction to the Mighty Tesco Vee, you're so new school you need baggy pants just to hide your diaper!). Other bands of note are the Lunachicks, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Weston, Trick Babys, The Wives and Buttsteak. Thankfully none of them come off as bratty kids. Really worth it for good music that won't preach at you or demand you to bang your head. Go-kart might be the most underrated label around. Check this out.
Goin' After Pussy: Tidbits and Teasers (comp CD review) (Junk): No, there isn't a band called Goin' After Pussy; this is the long awaited $4.95 sampler from Long Beach's Junk Records, the label by and for degenerates. Lou is the brains, Katon is the personality and Nancy is the evil troll in the warehouse that makes it all possible. These bands live to drink and love every fast & loud band to ever crawl out of the sewers of NY's Bowery. I'm talking about the Heartbreakers, the Dolls, the Dead Boys....
And this isn’t a collection of b-sides either. You could call this a greatest hits from Junk, whose roster includes Electric Frankenstein, The Humpers, Manic Hispanic, The Dragons, The Weaklings, Zeke, Boris The Sprinkler, Dimestore The Haloes, The New Wave Hookers, Jakkpot, The Lowdowns, The Stallions, The River City Rapists, The Dips--ts, The Candy Snatchers, The Slobs, The Bulemics and the Onyas.
This isn't your little brother's punk rock. This is what turns sober men into alcoholics and women from good homes into whores. In addition to the music you hear messages from Katon's answering machine. He's more a concept than a person. If you've ever been loudly insulted at a party in Long Beach for no reason, it was probably Katon. The losers at Junk Records are the nicest people you'll ever meet, but they honestly don't give two fuggs about you. Nice! Take your hand off your pee-pee and buy this now.
Heide Sez - Lookout Records Comp. (comp CD review) (1996): 26 songs from the Lookout Records class of 1996. Top songs too, with no fillers. Lookout specializes in power pop punk and I couldn't be happier. Bands you wouldn't expect are here too - Fifteen, Citizen Fish, Avail and Couch Of Eureka add variety to the standard Ramones-tinged pop. What more can I say about a comp with The Crumbs, The Queers, The Groovie Ghoulies, The Mr. T. Experience, Sweet Baby and Cub? Go out an get this! Nuh-ooooow!!
Hellcat Records Presents... Give 'Em The Boot (Comp CD review) (Hellcat/Epitaph): So, anyways, Tim Armstrong was in a band called Operation Ivy. Maybe you've heard of them. Some kids consider them old school, which makes me Fred Flintstone playing "rock" records by having a phonograph bird put his beak down between the grooves. Operation Ivy revitalized ska by combining it with hardcore energy. After Op Ivy broke up Tim formed Rancid, who put out some product until Tim's body was possessed by the soul of Joe Strummer, formerly of The Clash (and still breathing at the time). ...And Out Come The Wolves was the best Clash album the Clash never recorded. Tim has his own record label, Hellcat, and a mission similar to and updated from Strummer's - get out the positive messages of traditional ‘60s Jamaican ska, late ‘70s 2-Tone ska bands and the ’79- early ‘80s second generation punk & oi often incorrectly referred to as '77.
This is a twenty band/twenty song sampler. Like it says on the website: "..very finest ska and '77 style punk.. the true embodiment of the 'Hellcat Sound'.. and serves as a roadmap to the label's musical direction." Manufacturing and distribution is supplied by Epitaph, the bastard child of Bad Religion.
Who's here?" Rancid, of course, with "The Brothels”, good enough to have been on their last CD. The first Rancid releases were a shade of blah, but recently they've hit a groove and can crank out hits at will. One of the best oi bands of all time is on this too, the Business, lending oi cred like few others can. The lettering and boot photo that adorn the CD are pure oi, but the label itself is based more on ska and rocksteady. The Dropkick Murphy's, U.S. Bombs, and the Swingin' Utters provide the '77, but most of the selections veer closer to The Skatalites than the Specials. Union 13 does a cool version of Rancid's "Roots Radicals", which calls back to the comp. title, Give 'Em The Boot. The big theme is "Roots" - what Tim sees as the roots. Maybe Tim's out to explore the roots of The Clash. It's worth noting '77 punk politics were heavily influenced by Jamaican ska and reaggae. This retails for $4.99.
Hell Comes To Your House! Vol. 1 - (comp CD review) (Bemisbrain/Time Bomb): One of the best early hardcore punk comps has been re-released by Time Bomb Recordings. Other great hardcore comps from the early ‘80s are American Youth Report, Flex Your Head, Let Them Eat Jellybeans, Rodney On The ROQ and This Is Boston Not L.A. According to an e-mail I received from Time Bomb my original LP is worth a lot of money, so I guess I should stop using it as big coaster for pitchers of cheap beer.
The look of the original album is early punk goth, with photos of kids dressed like extras from the Living Dead movies. Most of the bands on side two went on to be full-blown goth bands, which strikes me as standard Los Angeles glam mixed with a self-obsessed campiness taken too seriously. The Misfits may have set the horror movie fashion tone, but they, at least in the beginning, played great hardcore four-chord guitar fuzz. Side one is pure punk, featuring both famous bands like Social Distortion and Red Cross, plus some local Long Beach talent that while great didn't stick around too long.
The bands on this comp are: 45 Grave, Christian Death, 100 Flowers, Rhino 39, Super Heroines, Social Distortion, Legal Weapon, Red Cross/Modern Warfare, Secret Hate and The Conservatives. Social D to be top-40 punk stars while the slender brothers MCDonald steered Red Kross into more garage-psychedelic waters. Black lipstick addicts can find old goth punk on those cheap multi-set CD comps at the mall. If you like Secret Hate and The Conservatives, look for the old Mystic Records comps under the names We Got Power.
Not a bad piece of nostalgia here. Time Bomb should have done more than just reprint the original cover art and liner notes, since this is a classic. I think Vol. II of Hell Comes To Your House contained country-punk bands. Now THAT I'd like to hear again (but only once).
Various Artists - Here Comes The Summer: The Undertones Tribute Compilation (cd review): As I'm sure you all remember my lecture on superfluous and bullet-proof cover songs, I approach tribute albums with care. They're novelty items to begin with, and I'm not usually that interested in how unknown band X or even known band Y decides to interpret someone else's material. Here Comes The Summer wins on all fronts with great bands doing great covers of great songs from The Undertones, one of the truly bullet-proof singles bands of the punky new wave era.
Here's the track list: 1. Cub - Here Comes The Summer 2. Pansy Division - Male Model 3. Deflowers -You've Got My Number 4. Clay Wheels - Top 20 5. UFOFU - Wednesday Week 6. Smugglers - (She's A) Runaround 7. Figgs - Boys Will Be Boys 8. Vacant Lot - More Songs About Chocolate and Girls 9. Queers - Get Over You 10. Pluto - Girls Don't Like It 11. Milkduds - Mars Bars 12. Shambles - It's Going to Happen 13. Odd Numbers -Teenage Kicks 14 Racetrain - Casbah Rock.
I've given it more than a second of thought and I want tribute compilations to be pleasing. That's pretty much it. That, and respectful. And different in interesting ways without being deconstructive to the point of wanting to groin punt random art students. Is that too much to ask? Cub would have to beat me into a coma without first asking permission for me to not like anything they've recorded, so of course their contribution is top shelf. Pansy Division seemingly chose "Male Model" randomly. Who'm I kidding, they're as predictable as The Go-Nuts. They sure get the backup singing right. If you want a fun cover of a fun band you of course go to The Smugglers, and they deliver as usual. The Figgs, The Queers and the rest do a wonderful job hitting the easy homers of the originals, and even though these things are usually at best a once a year listening event, Here Comes The Summer is a great tribute album, worthy of your oh-so valuable time.
Honest Don's Welcome Wagon (Comp CD review) (Honest Don's): $5 at a Chixdiggit/Groovie Ghoulies/Muffs show. A relatively new label out of San Francisco (actually a division of Fat) with big names on the roster, for me the tops being The Riverdales, Teen Idols, Chixdiggit and MDC (!?). Dave from MDC is also in The Submissives, doing "Sissy Made For You" and doing it well. Also on this comp are Diesel Boy, The Other, Dance Hall Crashers, Limp, Mad Caddies, J Church, and Me First an The Gimme Gimmes. Honest Don has a great mix going - bopping ska, Epitaph/Fat Wreck Chords/Green Day commercial punk, and the Ramones-tribute by Ben Weasel's Riverdales. "Cafes and Bombs" by The Other sounds like that Green Day hit that starts off slow and works into their usual hyper-power pop, except here they play cock-rock lite guitar riffs instead of going for the throat. Me First and The Gimme Gimmes do a nice job with Elton John's "Rocket Man", smartly keeping the melody while beating the hell out of the drums in that punky rhythm I find so quaint. All in all a great comp.
Honest Don's Greatest S--ts (comp CD review) (Honest Don's): The second affordable comp from this offshoot of Fat Wreck Chords. My funny bone tells me they control My Records too, but I could be wrong. If Honest Don's is supposed to be a label for bands with a slightly older demographic they've done a pretty good job so far. They have Chixdiggit, The Riverdales and the Teen Idols, so what else do you want? A nice collection of fourteen songs with the stupidest title and cover art. If they're trying to appeal to an older crowd why have a cheap cartoon of a clown taking a large dump in a huge bowl of cereal. Is that supposed to be funny? Great title too – if you’re fourteen maybe. I keep forgetting punk is for and by idiots.
Hope For Us (comp 7") (Discontent): I see four bands with singers that sing, scream and talk; four drummers who beat the hell out of their kits but with no rhyme or reason; four guitarists with long hair who never look up and resent they’re not touring with Sabbath, and four bass players wondering if their instruments are plugged in.
The 4 bands are from Wisconsin and their names are Damitol, Animal Farm, One Day Away and Buried. It must be something in the cheese.
Hopelessly Devoted To You Too (Comp CD review) (Hopeless): It says right on the package, "Maximum Price $3.98 - please!" Tower sells this for $4.99, those corporate bastards! Sure, it's the only place f self-mutilated freaks can get a minimum wage job, but they're The Man, man! Corporate Big Brother! Hopeless Records is a California label less known than Fat Wreck Chords but just as deep in its catalog. They've released Schlong's Punk Side Story, 88 Fingers Louie and the latest Queers 7". The bands on this comp run in the familiar ska & punk genres, but they generally play harder and the subject matter a bit more mature than the competition. 11 of the 21 tracks are exclusive to this CD. The Queers cover Screeching Weasel's "Like A Parasite" and the "Bonus Track" is a mystery version of "Walk Like An Egyptian". Other bands are Against All Authority, Dillinger Four, Falling Sickness, Mustard Plug, Nobodys, Heckle, Funeral Oration and Digger. This comp is definitely growing on me, and if you're a ska/punk/street/skate dude or dudette this is a cheap introduction to a well run label.
Hot Curly Weenie Vol. 2 (comp CD review) (Recess): There's a metric ton of snotty ferocity on this comp that makes it ten times better than your average SoCal label comp, which aims no higher than pimply high school rejects. The freaking Dwarves are now on Recess, and their nihilism runs through most of these 31 tracks from 17 bands. 12 are previously unreleased. The female-fronted bands go out of their way to be as unladylike as possible. Also endless sloppy punk and non-metal thrash that runs ahead of itself with an urgency that threatens to tear everything apart. A great collection and it's less than three bucks. Give a copy to your little brother who thinks Propaghandi is radical
Here's the bands (quite a diversity and some big names too): Quincy Punx, Furious George, F.Y.P., Grumpies, Sex Offenders, Dwarves, Jag Offs, Berzerk (not the Baltimore band), Pud, Hidden Resentments, Stun Guns, Kankersores, J.C.C.C., Criminals, Crumbs, Four Letter Words and Les Turds.
I Can't Believe It's Not Water (Comp CD review) (Just Add Water) Compilations are more like catalogs than records. As you approach each track, you don’t know if you'll love, hate, or be totally indifferent to what you hear. Comps are good for making tapes, and they're better than throwing $12 at groups you know nothing about, but they're more advertising than works of art. A crappy song here and there and chances are the comp will never see the light of day again. This CD is great and the nice folks at Just Add Water are smart too. They picked a genre (in this case power pop punk), represented all the sub-genres within that genre and made sure each track was of a consistent quality. It also helps to have access to great songs by great bands. 26 bands/26 songs, each a keeper. If you don't like power pop punk you'll think every song is the same, but if you do this is the best collection you'll find, with not a weak song in the lot. The best tracks are by The Lillingtons (X-cellent), The Crumbs (imitating The Clash) and The Parasites doing a cover of Sweet Baby's "She's From Salinas". This CD is going to bankrupt me. Now I have to buy everything these groups have ever recorded. Wah!!!!!
In Flight Program - Revelation Records Collection 97 (comp CD review): I've always believed Revelation Records to be a two-dimensional record label for Krishna's and neck-vain-bulging-screaming-hard-stance-straight-edge-middle-class-suburban-white-guys in $50-hooded-sweatshirts. Either way a little too much self-awareness for an old fart like me. This comp cost (pay no more than) $4.99, so what a great opportunity to either be right or wrong. After these 26 songs/bands, I'd say I was only half right. Sure, there's the unfiltered second generation SXE preachiness of Chain of Strength, Ignite, Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Judge, Shelter, Underdog, Inside Out and Bold, but I was pleasantly surprised with Sense Field, Texas Is The Reason, Farside, Shades Apart, Bodyjar and No Fun At All. Texas Is The Reason and Farside reminded me of early Lemonheads, when Ben Deily was still in the band. Whirlpool, Chinchilla, and beta minus mechanic all feature female singers with strong voices (hey, who let chicks into the emo-pit!?). Some of these bands are fun enough to be on Fat Wreck Chords. Still too much crunchy metal/rap posturing to make me change my mind about Rev Records, but I'm glad they give other bands a chance.
It's All About The Punk, Baby: TheOrangeSpot.com Sessions; Vol 4 (comp CD review) (Orange Peal): There are a number of professional sites associated with this label, but it's all a bit vague. It looks to be backed by money, and they handle recordings, shows and promotions. Is this a corporate venture pretending to be an indie? Hhhhmmm....
There's variation yet also consistency with seventeen of the eighteen bands on the comp. The Lab Rats, who should be on Recess Records since they sound like The Dwarves meet The Exploited, are thrown in at the end in the pop-punk tradition of signing off with noise and distortion. Most punks are kids, and their tastes run toward MXPX, NOFX, Rancid, 25th wave ska, emo, The Dropkick Murphys, and yes, Blink 182 and Green Day. Kiddie Punk, being a genre of sub-genres, manages to offer divergent styles with wide appeal to the entire demographic. In other words, if you like any one band or style there's no reason not to like its cousins. I hear a common slappy drum style, a similar need to dip into the chugga chugga guitar toilet, snotty singing sung through the nose and a wall of guitar fuzz I find to be the only redeeming quality to the whole endeavor. I'm a huge fan of Bob Mould's guitar work - the masterful way he alternated between guitar leads and walls of distortion. To the last, the bands on It's All About The Punk, Baby handle their guitars in a pop-punk homage to Mould and the results are surprisingly mature. This stands in opposition to everything going on around it, and I wished I could listen to the guitars in isolation.
There's some punk, emo-pop, ska, and what have you. The general emphasis is pop-punk with aggressive guitars. If I were twenty years younger I would consider this brilliant. As it is, the music wasn't written for anyone over eighteen, and when I was eighteen, comic books were 25 cents, the sun always shined brightly and women were not allowed to work outside the home. The Taliban in NY ran a pretty tight ship, I'll tell you that much.
It's The Cheap DAMAGED GOODS Sampler CD (review) (Damaged Goods): Easily the best comp I've purchased in a while, from the UK label you should get to know better. London's Damaged Goods is like the old Stiff label - scrappy and eclectic out the wazoo. Their catalog includes, among many others, The Dils, Snap Her, Spizz Energy, Hopper, Thee Headcoates, The Revillos, Slaughter and the Dogs, Pansy Division and the Sniveling S--ts. The thirty songs on this very affordable collection stay well within the confines of lo-fi, garage and tough-edged retro-pop. Each song is a keeper and serves as a nice introduction to areas of punk not often traveled by the spikey haired proletariat. Once you get the cookie-cutter angst and anger out of your system, these tunes will fill the void with wit, hooks, power and enough cool for fifty beatniks.
Before I list some band names, I must say I can't stop listening to Helen Love's "We Love You", a casio-driven pop gem that makes me long for the days of pogo and kooky thrift store fashion -- Helen Golightly, Cuckooland, Dustball, Period Pains, Sexton Ming, Television Personalities, Manic Street Preachers, Twister, J Church, Budget Girls, Anorak Girl and Phantom Pregnancies. I'm sure none of these bands print patches for your mom to sew onto your designer punk jackets. Sorry, crustie the punk clown, this is punk without the political posing and style fascism.
Dave Parasite Presents... Japan Punk Kills You (comp CD review) (American Pop Project): If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Japan would be on it's knees giving lip service to the United States for every musical style it ever produced. These people go nuts for American music. Dave Parasite is the brains behind The Parasites, America's most underrated pop punk band. In line with such things, the comp put out by Ben Weasel is filled with bands that sound like Screeching Weasel. Joe Queer's comp is more eclectic but still leans heavily towards The Queers. Dave's comp is filled with bands that love The Parasites, with some retro power pop tossed in. Twenty songs from twenty bands who come off sounding more American than we do (during WWII it was said you could find the German spy because he spoke English better than Americans). Fans of power pop punk should love this, while rusty punks will puke upon contact.
From Dave Parasite's liner notes: "Japan is a country of opposites. It combines ancient traditions and ultra modern industry. It has colorful, bustling cities and small villages which seem unaffected by the passage of time. In the cities, you can find crowded alleyways, filled with merchants and customers bargaining under colorful canopies, within sight of major thoroughfares pulsing with traffic and huge, mesmerizing luminescent billboards that light up the streets all night. If you're lucky enough to go there, you will find a scene where everyone is accepted; where the word "jaded" doesn't exist. No one is concerned with who's more punk than who, they simply love the music. You'll find an audience that is boiling over with infectious enthusiasm that is impossible to resist. Kids at the shows are so polite that they ask you in advance if they can stagedive during your set, and if that's not cool, I don't know what is... If I suddenly disappear one day, you'll know where to find me."
Junk Punk - a punkrock compilation (CD review) (Awesome Dawson Records): 34 songs from 21 Northeast bands on this $5 comp. funded and distributed by the bands themselves. Sound quality varies but there's lots of good punk rock going on, mostly in the cheap-guitar-four-chord-short-loud-fast-rules variety. No metal, no obligatory mosh parts, and no musical talent to get in the way - just the way I like it!! Not a bad song in the bunch. Heeeere's some band names: The Piss Shivers, The Skabs, Joey Asthma, Aisle 9, Unemployed, The Martians, Bucket Of Monkey, Buglite and Headboard. Bye now!
Knock Out In The third Round - (Comp CD review) (Knock-Out): A really swah-eet comp from a German label that only set me back five clams. The bands are retro- Euro- ‘79 but with enough variety and cleverness to keep it consistently interesting. The opening track by P Paul Fenech is a swing/jazz/rockabilly ditty with a singer who sounds like John Otway. Track 2 from The Butlers captures the live sound of early Specials. Track 3 is typicalyl great Italian street punk by Klasse Kriminale. This goes on for 25 tracks and should appeal to every punk over his or her snotty youth stage. Very little oi and a lot of good old style street punk for both punks and skins to stomp their boots in unity. Also a few reminders oi sprang from mod, that came from American and Jamaican black music. An exceedingly strong CD more than highly recommended. I'll be working out to this one fer shure.
Some other bands on here are the
Anti-Nowhere League, Oxymoron, Blaggers, Glory Stompers, Spicky Joys, Son of
Bronto, Youth Anthem, the Oppressed and the Wernt.
In 2008 Knowhere Records released a 27 track tribute to the Groovie Ghoulies, proving the Ghoulies catalog is bullet-proof, meaning their strong melodies and fun lyrics guarantee success in all cases except deliberate sabotage. And why'd anyone want to do that? Assholes... (breathe, breathe, mantra, take pill... I'm back!). My faves are the Parasites (man-child Dave Parasite hates my guts) covering "She Gets All The Girls", The Knowheres' "The Beast With Five Hands, The Apers aping "Highway Man", Rich White Males' "Island Of Pogo Pogo", and Dropgun's dropping of "Let's Do It Again". Tribute compilations are gimmicks and they should never be reviewed in detail. I'd also wager 99% of the people who buy them don't listen to them more than once. As an impulse buy they're pretty darn irresistible, like cocaine flavored heroin.Live From The Masque - 3 volume compilation (CD review) (Year One): I hope Year One went into this expecting to lose money, because while they're performing an archival function by releasing rare live material by mostly obscure California punk bands, I doubt a paying audience is out there. Early punk is for the most part a great unknown infamous by reputation only. It's one thing to buy the Germs album, but drop $13 to get six Germs songs on a live comp? I doubt it. I bought these used only because it's my job.
The Masque was a legendary dive in Los Angeles, "a dark subterranean basement off Hollywood Blvd. The ceilings were very low and exposed pipes hung everywhere close to your head. They filmed porno movies there." Baltimore had a place like once. The Masque was closed by the police and Fire Marshall as a threat to the neighborhood. Drunk punks trashing everything in sight tends to bring that response by the authorities. Also a rehearsal space, crash pad and punk community center, the Masque was home to the early L.A. scene. The liner notes claim people were more open minded in dress and behavior, and you were accepted as long as you weren't a total poseur. I bet this last part wasn't the case, but hey.
The bands on these three CD's are The Weirdos, The Bags, The Germs, The Skulls, F-Word, The Alleycats, X, The Zeros, The Eyes, The Dickies, The Randoms and Black Randy & The Metro Squad. Recorded on a four-track on Feb. 24 & 25, 1978, these tapes were from a benefit to help pay legal fees arising from the club’s closing. The tapes were left to rot in a cardboard box for seventeen years. The quality isn't "off the board" but it’s also not that bad. Most of the bands were one or no hit wonders, blending the Stooges and The NY Dolls with Hollywood's indigenous glam rock. Besides the chance to hear early X and Dickies I can't find a reason to buy this. This should have not been released on three CDs. One packed CD would have sold more and done more to enhance the image of late ‘70s American punk.
The Loiterers/Endangered Feces (split EP review) (handi-cock): This eight-song 7" was sent to me from Merrick, Lawn Guyland (NY), a few towns away from where I grew up in Oceanside. The kids there may be poor but their parents do ok, ya know what I'm saying? The Loiterers are from Valley Stream, another few towns away and a suburb of Brooklyn made famous in Steve Buscemi's film tribute to regional loserism titled Tree's Lounge. Endangered Feces, besides having the most childish band name of the year, might be from either Brooklyn or Queens.
I assume The Loiterers are the main band on the split because their side of the low-toner Xerox cover is where you'll find the quaintly nostalgic punky price tag disclaimer "Pay no more then 3 bucks". "Then" should be "than", but than again watt doo I no? I like these goofs well though and appreciate their snotty humor. The lyrics sheet says of the band, "The Loiterers were Ian, Jen, Al, Duncan. The Loiterers are Ian, Dirt, Jay, Duncan. The Loiterers R.I.P., Viva The Loiterers. For booking, call 516-339-PUNK." The music is a copy of what the Queers did in their earliest days when Pappy stumbled in to belt out a few tunes and throw down (and up) some beers. It's hard to make out the words since they're more regurgitated than sung. Mostly it comes out as chunks of "Blah blah blur blah blay." It’s four chord guitar fuzz and four dollar drum set backbeats. I'm a big fan of this kind of pure American hardcore, and The Loiterers get points from me for playing an old style of musical sarcasm to a decidedly all-ages crowd. Mature immaturity at its best.
Endangered Feces hump a few different genres, from harmonious power punk to Bad Religion to early Lookout to "Don't Drink The Milk", a rip-off of Lawnmower Deth. Not bad but very noncommittal. Not bad but nothing special. Eclectic is good but only to a point.
Available through: Riotous Assembly, PO Box 16396, Portland, OR 97292
Los Punkeros - Raza Punk Y Hardcore (Comp CD review) (Aztlan): Fourteen hardcore songs sung in Espanol by Lodo Y Asfalto, Los Hijos De and my local favorite, Manic Hispanic, who cover "God Save The Queen" with their usual mix of humor and perfect musicianship. Most of these songs were recorded in the United States so maybe they recorded these songs in Spanish just for this comp. The label, out of San Francisco, exists to promote music by Spanish speaking bands of all types. This CD isn't even listed on their web site.
The songs are decent and in the hard hitting style of non-metal speed punk. The lyrics are in a foreign language so I know they're talking about me. I just know it. Why? Why not?
Not knowing what the words mean takes away from the experience but I like screaming along to words that sound funny (because it's not English, you know?) Seriously, it's like those great MRR comps from the ‘80s where punks in Italy scream and it sounds like cats fighting in an alley. OK, enough racism for one night. One song is in English and another may be too but in typical hardcore fashion it's hard to tell.
Mailorder Is Fun (comp CD review) (Asian Man): Hey there. Run a record label? Then put on your pants (It's a little known fact that 80% of guys surf the internet with their pants off) and pay attention. This is what you must do if you want your label to get noticed. A low-price compilation is very important. This packed Asian Man Records comp is suggested retail $3.99. I don't care how many ads you put into zines: unless you just read about the band or heard them at a friend's house, very few kids are going to drop their minimum wage income on recordings from unknown quantities. Don't do a comp for profit - that will hopefully come later. This is pure advertising. I'll buy just about any comp for $3.99. I've seen the Asian Man ads a zillion times but now that I've heard the comp I at least know what they sound like and the relative strength of their roster. I'd also suggest loading the CD cover with banners like "Punk/Ska/Emo Compilation", "29 songs, 29 bands", and biggest of all, "$3.99!!!!". Don't make a comp that doesn't look like a comp, and don't squeeze "Suggested Retail Price $3.99" in a space only 1/4" high like they did here. This is commerce first, art second. Also label the bands by style in the liner notes like these guys do. To say it's all just music promotes ignorance as laid-back acceptance. I want to know if a band sounds like another band I already know. That's useful information. I'm not going to discover I actually like crap because you didn't tell me a band sounds like Pearl Jam. Know who doesn't like to label bands? Hippies, because they're high on pot and acid and don't know what day it is.
Now that the Nyquil has kicked in I can discuss the CD itself. A surprisingly competent collection of songs of the ska, power pop, and emo genres. In this era of ska overload and backlash it's nice to hear bands with more lyrical maturity than what's been recently coded onto little silver frisbees. I love ska for about twelve minutes at a time. Link 80 does one of the better Operation Ivy imitations around. Korea Girl is listed as a cross between Seam, Pavement and Velocity Girl. All I know is that I like them very much. I haven't heard a guitar like that since Robert Fripp recorded with The Roches. Tuesday and Alakline Trio offer fine slices of emo. The Blue Meanies cover The Vindictive's "Dummy Room", done beautifully here but the original has been known to make strangers shove pencils in my mouth as I flail helplessly on the ground. When the frick is someone going to put together a Vindictives tribute box-set collection? The nine bonus tracks from Fueled By Ramen Records are mostly poppy punk. The rest is ska in all 47 varieties from bands like The Chinkees, Less Than Jake, Monkey, Pushover, The Bruce Lee Band, Johnny Socko, Unsteady, Slapstick, MU330 and Let's Go Bowling.
A very good deal for $3.99 from a record label with a strong roster of bands.
Mandingo/Zoinks! (split 7" review) (Dr. Strange): A 49 cent closeout at Lou's in Encinitis. Score!!!!! Zoinks! is from boot-e-ful Reno (slogan:"Nevada's Other City") whilst Mandingo lives someplace else. This four song split was released to commemorate their summer ‘95 tour. Zoinks! is pop in the vein of Dinosaur Jr. and Jawbreaker - before those bands took a dive. Mandingo pull from the same two bands but are a bit harder and sloppier. "Muleheaded" is a real keeper, reminding me of Husker Du's "In A Free Land" with more melody. Worth $3? Maybe not, but for four bits I'm taking the whole family to dinner on the savings. This gets better every time I listen to it. Mandingo is the devil. I know because my turntable sped up to 100 rpms for no reason.
MOC Records sampler (comp 7" review) (Debris): One point off for not having a picture sleeve. What's the excuse? None. Five points added for putting a song by M.O.T.O. on this. Oval-Teen and Bunnygrunt contribute one song each of great folk-rocking lo-fi, and Ken Stringfellow throws up a short wall of guitar fuzz that pays equal homage to John-Paul Sartre and the Velvet Underground. Pretentious only if the band is, I guess. Playing 7"s are a lot of work, by the way.
The Money Shot (Comp review) (Chunklet): This comp, from issue #12 of the fanzine Chunklet, came in a thin cardboard sleeve and had a cute cartoon on the front of a little boy shooting water from a school water fountain into a little girl's face. On the back you see the water fountain and the bottom half of the little boy layed out on his back with only one shoe on, the implication being she hit him so hard the other shoe flew off. If you don't know what this all means I'm not going to explain it to you. Ask your father and the newspaper will fly out of his hand. Ask your mom and she'll have no idea what you're talking about. If she does, give her my number. There's twenty bands, the most famous Man or Astroman?, Six Finger Satellite, Arcwelder and Harvey Milk. Most of this is trendy college alternative that's extremely hit or miss. I'm not that open minded. Man or Astro-Man? Are great but there's too much spacey instrumental bulls--t going on here. Maybe I don't take the right drugs or sumfin.
Joe King Presents: More Bounce To The Ounce - (comp CD review) (Lookout!): Some of you hate power pop punk. Maybe all you can think of is Green Day on MTV and you have to force back a healthy puke. I don't blame you, but power pop punk is one of punk's cornerstones, a gift to the world from the Ramones. Joe King is the leader of The Queers, a band in love with The Beach Boys. This two CD set is a follow-up to Ben Weasel's punk comp Punk USA (Lookout #77) and it's great. There's lots of power pop punk but also old California HC in the style of Black Flag and the Angry Samoans. Many of my favorites are here: Cub (sounding hardcore before they broke up), The Parasites (doing a cover of The Queer's "Day Dreaming"), The Lillingtons (who in each song find a great hook and beat it to death), The Queers (covering The Who's "The Kids Are Alright" and once more attacking those darn hippies), The Muffs (covering Elvis Costello's "No Action" quite nicely), The Groovie Ghoulies (great live band), The Mr. T. Experience (recapturing some of their old tunefullness), Cletus (covering The Queer's ultra-classic "Granola Head"), Sinkhole (covering the Angry Samoan's "Gas Chamber") and the Cretins ("Jenny"). 22 bands - 39 songs. It's not all covers, but I mention them here for curiosity value. If you spike your hair and polish your Docs every day you probably don't need this, but if you want to dance and laugh the night away this is for you all the way.
MTV's Most Unwanted - New Left Records Compilation (comp CD review): Why a punk should care about MTV is beyond me. This 29 band/29 song comp CD was a few bucks, like it should be! Nobody's doing me a favor by having me shell out $14 for bands I've never heard before. These things are advertising and should be affordable. It’s a D.I.Y. effort "put together by the bands for the bands", most of them SoCal punk and ska bands from the SoCal region, so you have more of a melodic feel than you would from a New York area comp. In general this is a good collection, even though the youth and inexperience of some of the bands unshines through, especially on ska numbers whose syncopations are hard to master. If you live for all-ages shows this comp is for you. If you're an old geez like me it's nice to know what the little bastards are up to. Some bands are: The Excrements, Carter Peace Mission, Kloyster, The Skammunists, Best Buy and Gimp.
MTV's Most Unwanted II (comp CD review) (New Left): You can tell a lot about a local scene from the comps that come out of them. Comps usually adhere to a few genres (if even that) so the picture’s always incomplete, but comps are still a great indicator of the local action. The existence of comps are proof of positive involvement on the part of bands and local labels. So how's the all-ages scene look here in San Diego? Pretty good, it seems. The big influence now seems to be, for better or worse, Blink 182. Better in the output of fun and tight power pop, and worse in the celebration of all types of what passes for suburban obnoxiousness.
Ska is still popular, with swing creeping in where ska once ruled. The thing with ska is that to be taken seriously it has to be done well. It's trendy to hate ska, and if you give people any legitimate excuse to yell "Sucks!" they surely will. The Blisters fall on their faces with "Jenna's Big Jeans", about a girl named Jenna who wears baggy pants. I hope this got the lead singer laid so he can change the lyrics to something less dumb. The best songs are grouped up front, and in general this is a nice collection of 28 songs from what looks like the healthy local scene here in San Diego.
Here's my beef with the name of the comp, MTV's Most Unwanted. What does MTV have to do with punk? Nothing. It shouldn't even exist in the hearts and minds of punks. Do you want to see punk bands filming videos? Do you think the world would turn punk if more people were exposed to Bad Religion and NOFX? Do you want to live in a world where every numbnut listens to what you do? Of course not, because you listen to punk to be different (snicker snort chortle).
Physical Fatness - Fat Music Vol. III (comp CD review) (Fat Wreck Chords): I've been harsh towards Fat Wreck Chords bands. The label is ok but for too long their roster was crammed with mediocre NOFX and Bad Religion wannabees who strive for nothing beyond the glories of the all-ages show. If the kids want childish ditties with pre-programmed mosh bits, bless their rotten little hearts. They pump good mommy and daddy cash into the scene, and who am I to dictate to a zillion teenagers what they should like anyway? Kids like sugary cereal and bands like Good Riddance, Lagwagon and Hi-Standard who have this thing for a constant slapping of the drums. God bless the kids and their little partly shaved heads.
On the plus side Fat's been releasing stuff by great bands like Snuff, the Swingin' Utters and the Dickies. Fat's other label, Honest Don's, put's out music by Chixdiggit, the Teen Idols and the Riverdales. This sampler CD contains enough for both camps, and it's only $3.98.
Pogo Attack - Compilation (LP review) (Pogo Punk Records): Five bucks, twelve bands, 24 songs - oi such a deal! The cover is coated paper and folds out into a DIY band info page. These bands are mostly from NYC and comprise the cream of the Spirit of '77 revival seen on any street corner in lower Manhattan. Dyed mohawks, leather and spikes, shaved heads and boots and plaid. The '77 revival is really a mix of '79-'82 UK punk, a little oi and a bit of Italian thrash punk. Listen to the UK Subs, D.O.A., Raw Power, The Anti -Nowhere League and The Exploited if you want to find the roots of the new '77. All the big names are included: Blanks 77, The Wretched Ones, The Casualties and The Pist. If you're into this you won't find a better deal anywhere. Just please don't call this oi. Oi-kay, boy-o?
POP O.D. - The Songs of Iggy Pop (comp CD review) (Static Records): Iggy Pop is an imminently likeable, talented and historical figure. Part icon, part myth, part commodity - Igyg is on everyone's list of what's cool, from poets to punks to used record store Beatniks to art farts ("His name is 'POP'! How Warholian!!"). His story is one of rock n' roll recklessness that brought him to the edge and back of both death and insanity. At the same time he's a survivor and a suicidal maniac in the name of living each night like it's your last. He's what Jim Morrison would have been if Mr. Pretty wasn't ultimately a useless hippie. So what if Iggy's output has been at the mercy and talents of those around him? So what if his catalog of solo albums isn't all that great? It's Iggy! The man who rolled around in broken glass on stage. The man who may not even be aware he's pulled down his pants so Little Iggy can wave to the crowd. It's Iggy, man, don't you get it?! Iggy!!
Detroit's own Static Records put out POP O.D. - The Songs of Iggy Pop as a culturally mandatory tribute to the Motor City's most famous bastard child. It's also a clever way of highlighting the eclectic talent of the local music scene, like the promo says, "From Pop to Rap, Noise to Ambient, Industrial to Spoken-Word." This project is like 1993's Du Huskers - The Twin Cities Replay Zen Arcade, which is well worth finding.
All the good stuff's here, from "Search & Destroy" played as hard glam to "Raw Power" as death jazz. The effort and talent involved in these covers are awe inspiring. Any fuggknuckle can thrash out a hardcore version of "I Wanna Be Your Dog". It doesn't take much ingenuity to throw your instruments down a flight of stairs and record it as Princess Dragon-Mom does on "Real Cool Time", but it's a revelation to hear "I'm Bored" on acoustic guitar as a beatnik protest song. My tolerance for anything disco or rap is less than zero [uncalled for E. Costello reference] but I know it takes time and skill to transform a Stooges thrash classic into sleep-inducing ambient. Is that a backhanded compliment? No, that would be more like "That shirt makes you look a lot less obese."
A big hats off to Sue Static of Static Records for enduring the logistical nightmare of putting this together. No scene can suck with a Sue Summers or two on the job. You too can be a or even the Sue Summers of your local scene. Visit Static Records at http://www.staticrecords.com, and ask Sue how you can be Sue too, even a boy named Sue [uncalled for Johnny Cash reference].
Here's the bands on the comp: Agent 009 with Red September, Twitch, Red September, Forge, Jumbo, Mog Stunt Team, SPAT!, The Lovemasters, Trash Brats, The Impaler & Cindi St. Germain, Kristiva featuring Skinhorse, Marooned, Down Boyz, Culture Bandits, Franklin Sane, The Immortal Winos Of Soul, Princess Dragon-Mom, CyberTrybe, Acoustic Terminator, Moisture, The Process, Tars Tarkas and Passenger To Nowhere.
The Power Of The Mind (comp 7" review) (Mindpower): In my never-ending quest to buy records for 49 cents and then write reviews of them, I give you a three band sampler from this Southern California label. It starts with a tune from Four (that's the band's name) that punk rocks the way they do in Chicago (so you know it's good). Pollen Art have that Gilman Street cheap drumming sound and probably know every Nils song by heart. I like it. The Splitfinger crap on the other side must be a test of some kind. Are they daring me to rip this off my turntable and break it into pieces? If I ever bang my head it will be because I've gone insane and am in an institution. Maybe I just don't know how to
Punk-O-Rama III (comp CD review) (Epitaph): Today’s all-ages bands draw from two major inspirations - the slapshticky goofiness of NOFX and the thesaurus-driven power chord punk of Bad Religion. Fat Wreck Chord sand Epitaph work the same constituency from different angles. Fat bands are the peers of snotty kids on skateboards while Epitaph bands are former snotty kids on skateboards who know the easy money is found in baggy pants filled with allowance bucks. Fat bands prefer a style one step away from lite hard rock and sing about life as a horny fifteen year old, while Epitaph bands fancy themselves intense blues rockers with worldly experience to impart on kids who should listen to them because of the dues they've paid.
The Epitaph roster is impressive, with the Dwarves (sounding unlike the Dwarves), Agnostic Front (cashing in on the latest oi revival), The New Bomb Turks, The Cramps, Rancid, (grandpa hippie) Wayne Kramer, Bad Religion, NOFX, All, The Humpers, Red Aunts and others. This affordable collection has 25 songs from 25 bands, and it’s quite a bargain.
How best to phrase this… let's see…. punk is divided into two groups - the all-ages show and the 21+ bar show. Since the average punk fan is fifteen the all-age shows generate the most interest and money. All-ages shows are day care centers for kids acting out new-found rebellion and aggression within the safety net of a bed and hot meals at home. Kids run around shows out-screaming and out-posing the competition. Which is not to say the bar scene is that much better. I'm just saying the two scenes don't mix well. I can't listen to this without putting every song in the context of the all-ages show, no matter if it's the New Bomb Turks or The Cramps. To put it crudely, any band playing a kid’s birthday party is going to come across as a kid’s band. Gosh, I'd like to be more open minded about this but I can’t. A 37 year old man at an all-ages show is going to feel and be treated like either a pervert, a narc or a bewildered parent.
Epitaph still loses points with me for stealing Ralph Record's "Buy Or Die" advertising slogan, which only makes the freak show theme of the artwork another Residents rip-off.
Punk-O-Rama 4 (comp CD review) (Epitaph): Punk's dirty little secret is that most of the money going into it comes from teenager’s allowances. For a long time Fat Mike's Fat Wreck Chords label stood next to little Timmy and Becky to take whatever money mom and dad handed them for doing chores or not getting pregnant. Recent years saw Fat take on more geezer-tastic bands like Snuff and The Muffs, while Epitaph has taken upon itself to corner the kiddie-porn, I mean kiddie-punk market, with comps such as this. It features a twelve year old on the cover. What's next, titles like "Homework Sucks" and "Zits-O-Rama"?
Epitaph is home to Bad Religion and Rancid-type bands. I like both well enough but when fifty bands jump on the bandwagon I lose interest. I admit I'm a sucker for every Ramonsey band, but there's a difference. The Ramones are fun and ultimately silly. Bad Religion pushes political theology and street punk promotes a class-based view of gang warfare. It's interesting hearing it from the originals but the next generation bands come across as unoriginal and full of attitude, but with nothing to back it up. I realize each new generation prefers to hear it from bands of their own generation, and I'm not saying kids have to run out and buy obscure records by bands long gone. What I am saying is that if you love I Against I, the most blatant Bad Religion imitators allowed by law, in three years you'll feel the way I do when you come across the 20th band who sound exactly like I Against I.
There's variety on this comp and the lyrics are generally more mature than what I remember from older Fat Wreck Chords collections. Here's the bands and assorted snide comments: Pennywise (annoying lite speed metal guitar and tough guy chanted backup singing), Pulley (Bad Religion lives!), H20, Rancid (ripping off themselves at this point), Bombshell Rocks (extra credit for using a pub rock piano), Bouncing Souls, Ten Foot Pole, All (always worth a listen), New Bomb Turks (can't go wrong with the Turks), Bad Religion (where to start), Dwarves (they're back but does anyone notice?), Straight Faced (horrid hard stance straight edge), Agnostic Front (sadly they're a cartoon of how people remember them, like Suicidal Tendencies), 59 Times The Pain, Refused (run, it's rap rock!), Voodoo Glow Skulls, Zeke (slow and heavy. I like their fast songs), Gas Huffer (a fun band who should be on Lookout), Tom Waits (what the hell is he doing here?), Jack Grisham (best track I've heard from him, which still isn't saying much), Union 13, 98 Mute, Osker, Millencolin and NOFX (friendly label swap ahoy!)
Punk Bites (CD Comp review) (Fearless): You have to believe me on this. The packaging and marketing of this comp. is so geared to children I scribbled down a cliché to help me goof on it: "Kid Tested - Mother Disapproved". Lo and behold, that's exactly what it says on the cover! This is the comp you see everywhere with the eight year old snot with the green mohawk and a few teeth. The inside sleeve is even better. There's a cartoon version of the same brat shooting a machine gun, and at the top is a drawing of a maze with a sweaty cop's face inside. The caption is "Have some real fun kiddies! Help Fearless Freddy to the middle of the maze to wipe out his enemies, local hard ass teachers, racist cops and everyone else over 40!" Yeah! I don't know what's worse - those hard ass teachers or those racist cops (mom, what's racist mean?). And over 40? It used to be don't trust anyone over thirty. Looks like the folks at fearless might be over-thirty geezers themselves.
If your average punk is fifteen years old, childish bands like these help push down the average. Only one is on Fat Wreck Chords, but most belong there. Stop and go mosh punk with slappy drums and odes to Bad Religion and NOFX. Even D.I. sounds generic now. The Vandals steal the show with "His Name Was Joe", a self-propelling tune if there ever was one. Glue Gun do a nice job with the Angry Samoan's "Gas Chamber". This comp is so juvenile there's even a song called "Jr. High Sucks". Other bands are Das Klown, Schelprock, No Use For A Name, Drunk In Public, Hi-Standard, Drain Bramaged, Ignite and Assorted Jelly Beans. Not bad at all, though, if you think Bad Religion is too old and wordy.
I almost threw this thing out the window on the first track. It's a Jerky Boys-type phony call to a woman in some company's HR dept., and the guy says he's looking "to fill a permanent position". He's looking to fill - "Doggy Style". Get it! That’s so gnarly, dude. With caller ID nobody does that much anymore. Why? Those racist cops visit your mom and dad's house. I worked in a restaurant and the same person called with fifty dumb questions about the menu, laughed, and then hang up. If I had caller ID back then I would have broken his face and laughed while he screamed "can't you take a joke?". Yes I can, but don't waste my, asshole. And doggy style, yeah right. 95% of the kids who would buy this CD probably don't even know how to jerk off yet.
The Punk Generation - 4 CD Pack (review)(Castle): I found this generic looking set of old UK punk songs in a top-100 record store in the mall, discounted but new for $19.99. I own too many comps like this but along with the usual spikey-haired classics there's live songs that make this a must for both old and new punks. Of course you get The Exploited's "Dead Cities", what might be the most licensed song in punk history, along with the usual suspects: 999, Anti-Nowhere League, UK Subs and Sham 69. The mix is an even split between second wave street punk like The Exploited and first generation oi like The Business and the Cockney Rejects. There's even melodic power pop punk from The Abs, The Crack and the Guitar Gangsters (my new heroes) - making this the best compilation I can recommend to kids who want to explore the post Pistols/Clash UK punk scene.
The songs on these four CDs were licensed through Link Records, who along with Secret Records and Syndicate Records put out the best early oi. Instead of making this a real collector's item they opted for cheap, generic product. The graphics are cheap and there's no booklet to provide history and context. The song selection, though, is very clever. The three CDs of studio recordings strike the right balance between political anthems, boot stomping harder-than-thou theatrics, melodic punk and light-hearted sing-alongs with the lads. Few realize how much humor was injected into oi, from Peter and The Test Tube Babies ("Elvis Is Dead") to The Gonads singing "I Lost My Love To A UK Sub". The Live And Loud cd is the real treasure, giving a true sense of the power behind songs like Sham 69's "Borstal Breakout" and Chelsea's "Urban Kids". Live And Loud was a series of live LPs put out by Link - find them if you can (or if you dare!)
This is a great collection packaged poorly. I imagine the shallow, generic look was intentional to appeal to the mall kids who want to be punk but don't know where to begin. It starts with the title: The Punk Generation. What the fugg does that mean?
Punk USA - A Compilation Soundtrack To Your Breakdown (comp CD review) (Lookout): Fifteen bands and songs from Screeching Weasel's Ben Foster, all un-released tracks from the likes of The Queers, The Vindictives, Moral Crux, Jawbreaker, Face To Face and the Beatnik Termites. While favoring power pop and garage, street punk heroes The Pist preach from the pulpit like nobody since the early days of Straight-Edge. I eat this stuff up like a bulimic at a chocolate buffet. Joe Queer later released the two CD set More Bounce To The Ounce, which is even better.
Rational Inquirer New Music Sampler - (comp CD review): This 37-song sampler comes with the latest issue of the Rational Inquirer, a fine zine from Hialeah, Florida. I love this punk mag. There's everything a good rag should have - tons of ads, reviews, commentary and a focus on bands both old and new. In this issue there's Youth Brigade, The Cows, Rocket From The Crypt, Let's Go Bowling, plus many more! The CD has bands from the Dr. Strange, Hopeless, Shredder, Liquid Meat, Rhetoric, Grand Theft Auto and Stiff Pole labels. Lots of good music. Visit their web-site for more info.
Records From Overseas (reviews): A friend handed me records from Europe that was handed to him from someone else. An international chain letter of vinyl. Since you'll probably never see these things I'll review them all at once. I pay myself nothing by the word so it's nice to be able to type like this for no particular reason but to add bulk to my zine. Bad News - Ex-Fluchtversuch - a nice record from Germany that's sung in English, the international language of most things. These guys are political without being self-impressed, and they play in a loose four-chord punk style that might appeal to power pop fans along with street punks. They model themselves mostly after The Clash, whose cover of "Police And Thieves" they cover. Very accessible and extra points for not pretending to be more than it is. Ostikada - self-titled - Four guys in blue jeans, sneakers and leather jackets from Gipuzkoa, Spain. They're singing in Spanish, and they're trying hard to be Beefeater, which means a combination of jazz and punk. Sometimes I think they're gonna rap metal but it thankfully never does (I'll bet they do now since it's popular). The cover is a watercolor of a coyote's head, he's smoking a joint and there's skulls instead of eyeballs. Ah, to be fourteen again so I can think this is cool. The Vectors - self titled - a rocking three-piece from Sweden, home of IKEA, blondes and meatballs. Hard and fast punk without being metal, with song titles like "I Hate You", "Quit Your Job" and "F--k Punkrock" which states the obvious for the 87th time: "lining up all the punk rockers/ it looks more like a look-a-like contest/ viva one man revolution/ no corruption no final solutions/ oh no". In the punk world, lyrics like are the equivalent of thirty pushups. Recorded live in the studio and the hyperactivity is infectious. The songs themselves are competent but the delivery is great.
Restart Records Sampler 2001 (comp CD review): Restart Records is a label formed by El Paso, TX's At The Drive In, who have cracked the mainstream conscience with their head-banging brand of funky, trippy emo. It depends on the song. Sometimes they sound like Fugazi while at others an opening act for Korn. I love Sense Field but hate Limp Bizkit and Rage Against The Machine, so my opinion on At the Drive In can change from a smile to a frown and then back again. This sampler has six tracks from four bands (At The Drive In, Universal Recovered, Belknap, and Defacto), and only the last track by Universal Recovered ("Minor Features") offended me as someone who shall never bang my head in the pit after stage diving and body surfing. At The Drive In is more intelligent and sonically worthwhile than the more popular bands responsible for their acceptance into the larger marketplace, so even when a song of theirs turns me off, I'm happy it might exert a positive influence on the millions of numbnuts squandering the precious few brain cells they have.
All of these songs remind me of second and third wave Dischord, which passed me by. I was still waiting for them to put out Meatmen-type records instead of soundtracks for me to slowly circle my head to. Restart bands would also fit nicely into the Revelation Records catalog. These bands are very good and if you're a fan of the style I'd visit restartrecords.com and start a long-term relationship with their roster. Now I'm inspired to put on that Trenchfoot CD I like so much.
Rickets/Neurotiks split 7" (review)(Kids United): I bought this blue piece of plastic for $2 at a recent show in Washington, DC. The cover wasn't ready but they said they'd mail it to me once it was printed (a lyric sheet was included). Four songs from each band, The Neurotiks from DC and The Rickets from California (?). There's a number of influences that make me think the street punk thing is an innovation and a joke at the same time. The Kids United lettering uses the standard skinhead tattoo lettering you'll see on guy's necks at a Business concert. The graphics steal equally from The Exploited's "bones" war-horror style (not to mention the artwork of Pushead) and the cut & paste anarchy of the DKs and Crass. The music itself is a blend of every street style the kids have ever heard: Black Flag, D.R.I., oi, 7 Seconds, Flex-Your-Head era Dischord, DOA, The Exploited, The Anti-Nowhere League, The Dead Kennedys, Crass, Reagan Youth - I can do this all day. It's an innovation to create an entire genre based on a perception of gutter punk street cred, and it's a joke for the same reason.
The Rickets evoke early Dischord, Spirit of '77 guitars, Black Flag and even a token "oi, oi, oi !!". On "I Wanna Be British" they copy Rancid to the note. The song is clever and dumb at the same time. Their graphics and lettering are a direct copy of what Reagan Youth did way back. The Neurotiks' logo is a skull with bloodshot eyes, a German Iron Cross on its forehead, and a nuclear explosion shooting from the top (whut the..?), and lettering that's hard to read (it looks like "Nevkutiks"). Here you have early DRI, 7 Seconds sing-alongs, and on "Riot" a guitar that evokes the DK's surf attack.
I like this EP and can recommend it. I myself do not hang out in gutters, and the kids I grew up with now have kids of their own. When someone screams Anarchy I head for the hills, and I don't pretend I'm from the UK. I give credit to the old bands I've mentioned in this review who are the inspirations of the street/gutter punk movement. I like some of these newer bands well enough but I can't relate to the mixed messages.
Various Artists - Rock Music - A Tribute To Weezer (comp CD review) (Dead Droid): Look, up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane, it's SUPERfluous! If a tribute album isn't interesting it's just commerce. Capitalism at its dullest. Cha-ching!! Three and out is bad enough in football, but rehearse three times and record? That's just silly. Tribute albums are novelties and only a few of them work. The problem here is that the covers often mimic the originals to where you wonder why they even bothered. Oh yeah, I forgot.... Cha-ching! Grade does something decent with "Surf Wax America", Dashboard Confessional dunks "Jaime" like he does everything else and Mock Orange go for a long three at the buzzer on "Only In Dreams", but it circles the rim a few times before spinning out. The rest is Memorex, or Memorex with some signature stuff band X does so their fans will know it's them. On the plus side, at least nobody covered "Undone (The Sweater Song)". Weezer's first album is a pop gem and it's hard to ruin a song like "My Name Is Jonas". Pinkerton is, to put it mildly, half-baked. The green album is ok but probably overrated. This thing here won't get listened to again more than twice by anyone on the entire planet. It's just a reminder to listen to the originals. I was listening to this on the treadmill and kept on forgetting these were covers. That shouldn't be. I'm going o put this next to my We Are Not Devo CD. Together they shall rest in peace. Amen.
Rugcore Compilation (7") (Rugcore): 49 cents worth of lo-quality lo-fi from three San Diego bands - The Abyss, Katie and Loplop. I think this 7" has seen 47 generations of record store employees come and go. This is a wee bit old and a nice gift from the bands to their friends - the ones who weren't forced to buy one out of guilt or friendship. It's not horrible but I'm listening to it and I'm saying to the turntable "And your point is?....."
Scene Killer (comp CD review) (Outsider): This is an amazingly good collection of street punk and oi tunes from some great bands old and new. But first a tangential rant:
To keep a short story short, street punk and oi are cousin terms used to describe the second generation UK punk bands that formed in the wake of The Sex Pistols and The Clash. Oi is associated with skinheads and street punk with everything else that purports to represent the under-working class. American street punks harbor a desire to be British, maybe because class, poverty and drinking culture are more celebrated over there. American oi is dishonest because it's based on a culture that is, regardless of anything in a punk zine, removed enough from daily American life as to be non-applicable. It's like Japanese people who pretend they're cowboys and walk bow-legged. Sure there may be horses in Japan but it's the American West only by a consumer culture's stretch of the imagination. When an American band chants "oi oi oi!" all I see are short Japanese men with greased back hair and white jumpsuits belting out "Ruv Me Tenda" like Elvis.
With this in mind I was a little tentative playing this 26 band comp from Outsider Records. Their logo incorporates an eagle in flight, and I won't bother explaining what that symbolizes in certain ultra-right circles. Outsider is a Long Beach label run by two guys named Dave, and the last thing they are is racist. They just love '77 punk and the best of modern street punk. On the comp you'll also find bands like Gang Green, Nashville Pussy, Snap Her, JFA, Poison Idea and ADZ, which puts Outsider in direct competition with San Diego's Taang! Records.
I won't dwell on individual tracks but this is one of the best comps I've come across lately. It's balanced, powerful, melodic and with enough humor to keep everything in perspective. My favorite track is Bladder Bladder Bladder's "U.S. Dole Queue", the greatest thing since the Clash's "Capital Radio One". Other bands on the comp are The Randumbs, The Bodies, The Authority, The Business, Ducky Boys, The Forgotten, The Murderers, No One's Victim, The Decline, Mata Ratos, United Blood, 999 (who at this point must be make a living off comps). Pressure Point, The Franks, U.S. Bombs, Damnation, The Starvations, Smut Peddlers and Ruin Bois.
Visit the Outsider website at www.outsiderrecords.com. Oi my achin' back.
Scene Killer Vol. 2 (comp CD review) (Outsider): God bless Dave & Dave of Long Beach's Outsider Records. Just when my tolerance for oi/ street punk hits an all-time low, The Daves compile some of the best and most interesting songs from around the world onto one $9 postpaid CD. Along with this great material are prime examples of what I don't like about some American oi - cartoonish deep-throated backup singing that serves to unify the crew and terrify anyone in their way. In concert it's audience participation for sweaty, shirtless numbnuts taking a break from blindsiding strangers minding their own business. Another thing I can do without are ultra-serious working class anthems from Americans. In this country it's called blue collar, just like it's unemployed, not on the dole. The American version of the word "Oi" is "Hey". Next week's lesson: personal hygiene.
Oi is not ‘77, the cliché year attributed to UK punk's first wave. Oi is second wave punk that came into its own in the early ‘80s through the concerted efforts of music journalist Garry Bushell and the release of his famous compilations with the word “Oi” in the titles. Oi is mid to fast-paced pub punk (never thrash) with creative, fuzzy power guitar chords sometimes supplemented with random Chuck Berry riffs. My favorite oi bands are Cock Sparrer, The Business, Peter & The Test Tube Babies, The Anti-Nowhere League, Blitz, The 4 Skins, and based on only one song ("Make Mine Molotov"), Maniac Youth.
Dave Squared love The Clash, Chelsea, Stiff Little Fingers and every other UK band that knew their way around a hard, fast melody. This comp, just like the first, features exclusive tracks that show each band at their most creative. The track by The Authority! is better than anything I heard on their full-length. My favorite by far is "C&A" by Menace. It's just as great as the first comp's "U.S. Dole Queue" by Bladder Bladder Bladder. Other bands that turned my amp up to elven were Subway Thugs, Radio 69 (please tell me what Clash song they're swiping from), Bonecrusher, The Dropkick Murphys (covering Stiff Little Fingers), Anti-Flag, The Unseen, 999, Soldier 76 (great use of backup singing), Pug Uglies (excellent rhythm guitar and solo), The Staggers (this guy can actually sing), Discontent, The Oi!sters (a ska/skin mix that works. This is a happy surprise that makes up for the weak title "Oi! To The Drinking Boys"), Dead Empty, Clit 45 (redoing The Ejected's "East End Kids" as "Long Beach Kids"), The Explosion, Hudson Falcons and Boots and Braces.
Here's the bands with weak backup singing that were otherwise strong musically: Blind Society , Forced Reality , Youthful Offenders , The Jacks and The Boils. The rest did nothing for me so they go without dishonorable mention.
Another fine street punk release from Outsider (outsiderrecords.com). I admire their professionalism and high standards of quality.
Shreds - Volume 1- 1993 (comp CD review) (Shredder): There is such a thing as good alternative music. Alternative grew mostly out of the new wave movement, and just as new wave slowly became disco once disco lost its appeal, alternative became a lame variation on dinosaur rock and top-40 radio. There's lots of comps of cutting-edge alternative groups, some bands definitely better than others. What makes a song a worthy candidate for punk admiration and others the object of ridicule? It's a personal decision, but like the judge once said about pornography, "I know it when I see it".
Shredder Records has issued a few excellent comps of indie singles. To quote this CD, "1993 saw the release of approximately 4,000 singles by American bands on independent labels. The vast majority of these were either put out by micro-labels, or by the band's themselves, generally in pressings in the 50-500 range. Since it is all but impossible to keep up with the glut of releases, many of these singles are gradually discovered over the years, becoming highly sought after items by collectors worldwide. The selections included here are not intended as a comprehensive representation of American indie music, but as a sampling of some of the year's best singles. Hopefully this glimpse of the iceburg's tip will help you find alternatives to the corporate sound-alike "alternative" bands, and the gimmick laden show biz wannabees, who are backed by the irresistible marketing muscle of some of the world's largest and most powerful multi-national corporations."
How true, and what a public service this is, especially when it's put together by a great label as Shredder. The three Shreds CDs I own are all great in their own way. This first one has some established punk favorites like The Parasites, NOFX and The Mr. T. Experience, along with For Sale, Mary Lou Lord (highly recommended), Jolt, J Church, Bracket, and others. There’s twenty songs from twenty bands. I daydream about putting together a similar collection from old singles I know would become classics. Bless you, Shredder, for doing it yourselves.
Shreds - Volume 2- 1994 (comp CD review) (Shredder): Another public service from the folks at Shredder, bringing together the best alterna-punk a-sides from the underground American scene. Alternative is 99% poser crap, but there's a long tradition of folk and semi-acoustic rock fitting comfortably in the punk tradition. Post-Punk groups like the Au Pairs and The Feelies have served the softer side of the punk market very well. It's a quality the music either has or it doesn't . The songs on the Shreds comps have that punk quality. First cut - Cub, the queens of Cuddle-Core. Cute, poppy, and more punk than you'll ever be. Some other groups on this twenty band/song disc are The Fondled, Sluts For Hire, Beatnik Termites, Bubble Boys, Wooly Mammoth, Coloring Book, Tugboat Annie, Broken Toys and Loose Change. Some you might know as punk and power pop punk bands. They're all great on this, which is not to say the rest of what these bands do doesn't suck, because it very well might. This collection, though, doesn't go wrong once. A CD like this might help convince your trendy alternative friends that punk might not be so bad after all.
Mel Shredder observes in the liner notes, "In the 80s came CDs which cost less to produce but sold for wildly inflated prices due to price fixing by the majors. Every time a music fan buys a major label release they contribute to a system that rips them off financially, prevents them from hearing much of the best music that exists, and makes America a tough place to be a band. Almost all major label rock releases these days are little more than marketing hype and lame gimmicks to give corporate rock the kind of credibility needed to appeal to the targeted audience. If you're tired of seeing the majors pick a band with street credibility, force them on fans with an awesome publicity campaign, and then spend the next couple of years promoting sound alike bands, buy indie!"
While I agree with the basic premise I don't think the problem is that bad. Corporate rock can suck for sure, but that should have no bearing on a punk market that ought to be running on it's own level anyway. Early punk and new wave relied on cheap hype, colored vinyl and picture sleeves to make their product stand out. ‘70s bands wanted to be on majors. Today there's no need when Lookout and Fat Wreck Chords function nearly as well at the indie level. If you consider Epitaph a major label you're being self-righteous and a too dramatic in your cynicism. CDs are overpriced but people pay for the convenience and better sound quality. It's called capitalism. Records are not food. You can live without overpriced music. A lot of punk CDs and vinyl are cheap enough anyway. Dischord used to sell records for $5 postpaid. That was sixteen years ago, the age of today's average Punk fan. Time=Inflation=Higher Prices. Try to stop the world from spinning while you're at it. 7"s back then sold for $3. Today they go for $4. That's not too bad. LPs sell for a few bucks cheaper than CDs. The price of CDs and the power of major labels are false issues.
Punk will always exist at whatever level it can. Getting pissed at PolyGram is as useful as hating the Spice Girls. Neither should have any impact on your life. Buy the bands you like, support your local scene and stop worrying about the corporate Boogey Man. Many punk labels have too many sound-alike bands on them too, and if every so-called punk stopped buying the occasional major label CD, believe me, these huge companies wouldn't even know it. Nobody keeps The System going by purchasing Jawbreaker on the DGC label. The shiny ball doesn't cease to exist just because mommy is holding it behind her back and out of baby's sight. Catch my drift, Punky Brewster?
Shreds - Volume 3 (comp CD review) (Shredder): To quote the back cover, (uh-hem).. "Long after the experts declared vinyl dead it remains very much alive. Singles in small pressings, usually 500 or less, are still a cheap and sometimes effective ways for bands to get their music out. In 1995 more than 5,000 artists released singles on American indie labels. Separating good from bad can be a nightmare for fans, as can be trying to hunt down a copy of one you want. Any store that tried to carry every indie single would be filing Chapter 11 in short order. In the thousands of singles we missed hearing at Shredder last year there were no doubt a number of gems. Hopefully someday someone will put out a compilation that will turn us on to some of those great underground nuggets we missed. For now, 'Shreds' Volume 3 is our chance to turn you on to twenty of our favorites. Enjoy it, and support indie labels because that's where most good rock music has always come from."
To quote myself right now, "For five years Mel from Shredder Records put out great CD comps, along with five comp singles called 'The World's In Shreds'. Vol. 3 is from 1995 and is a great addition to the series. If you like power pop, and own more than a few records from Lookout and Just Add Water, you'll appreciate the cross-section of pop, punk and alternative bands that appear on the Shreds comps. If you worship Crass and hate pop, that smell coming off your body is making it hard for me to concentrate on your political tirade.
"Mel might still be in heavy legal trouble for spying. It's a weird long story from the last issue of Hit List magazine and I wonder what’s happened since. Shredder's big claim to fame is releasing the first Jawbreaker LP, Unfun. They also have chunks of the Parasites and McRackins, both of whom appear on this comp. As the label that broke Jawbreaker, Shredder gets tons of free singles and demo tapes. These comps serve a great purpose and are easy enough to put together. Sorry to say the series ended in ‘97.
"M-Blanket's contribution, "Coaster Breaks", sounds exactly like Jawbreaker. It helps that the song is great. The Parasite's song, "Burnt Toast", is another great song by them, but damn how many times can they re-record the same damn song?! The bands run the gamut from girly indie pop to art noise to punky ska (thankfully only one song) to mod (The Strike's classic, "Danger") to mid ‘80s Lookout brand power pop to Jawbreaker-like pre-emo. It's easy to listen to this from beginning to end, and the lesser songs get better with each listen. It’s easy to find in the used bin and a great value. Expand your mind and shorten your life.
"Band list.... The Dugans, Million Sellers, M-Blanket, Jenny Mae, Padded Cell, Stand GT, Parasites, Pomeranians, Pumpernickel, Buglite, McRackins, Connie Dungs, Gob, New Speedway Kings, Peppercorn, Tullycraft, Dr. Bob's Nightmare, The Strike, Mark Brodie & The Beaver Patrol and Round Nine."
Shreds Volume 4 (comp CD review) (Shredder): The 4th in this excellent series, this one contains sixteen a-sides from indie singles released in 1996. While still a fine collection this is probably my least favorite as the tone seems wimpier. It doesn't help that the first song, Honeyrider's "Superstar Sex Machine", is retro-‘70s fa-la-la wimp pop with no edge. A few doo-wop inspired tunes and standard-issue alterna-poppers can really take the steam out of any comp, and that may be the case here. Otherwise there's lot's of good stuff from bands who prefer melody over aggression. Here's the bands for all you trainspotter types (not the druggies but the obsessive old guys with nothing better to do): Honeyrider, Detroit Cobras, Beltones, Krabs, Planet Seven, Decibles (they do a great job combining "Anarchy In The UK" and "Judy Is A Punk" on their own "Kiss Me Caroline"), Durfs, Discount, Moped, Stool Pigeons, Grumpies, All About Chad, Me First, Subincision, Andersons, and the (Young) Pioneers. If you don't like this you're just more punk than I'll ever be. Darn, foiled again by real punks like you.
Short Circuit - Live At The Electric Circus (comp CD review) (Virgin): From 1978, this live eight song CD EP features The Fall, John Cooper Clarke, Joy Division, The Drones, Steel Pulse and The Buzzcocks. All the tracks are great. Joy Division does "At A Later Date", sounding a lot more like the Fall than the gloomy electronics band they became. John Cooper Clarke does great new wave/punk poetry that's funny and biting, giving it as good as the great oi poets Garry Johnson and Attila The Stockbroker. This CD is way too short.
Simple Machines - The Machines 1990-1993 (comp CD review) (Simple Machines): One of the few true DIY labels of the ‘90s, Arlington, VA's Simple Machines stubbornly put out comps and singles if for no other purpose than to prove it could be done. Community over consumerism, it's the type of earnest, educated social education experimentation that's always thrived in the DC area. I lived there for fourteen years, often a few blocks in any direction from the Dischord house, so I know of what I speak. I was never a fan of the post-Dischord, proto-grunge, alt. rock sound so I never paid Simple Machines much attention. Not much has changed since, but all you college radio rockers should seek this out because it's a vital document of your scene. I did like tracks by Geek, My New Boyfriend, Velocity Girl, Severin, Scrawl's cover of Wire's "Reuters" and Unrest.
The Machines 1990-1993 is a comp CD of comp singles they put out under the titles Wedge, Wheel, Pulley, Screw, Lever, and Inclined Plane. Each featured four bands with the exception of Wheel, and the bands donated tracks in exchange for copies of the final product. For a while these were collectors’ items. The Simple Machines web site claims they're of no great resale value.
The liner notes of the CD recount the original goals of the label, which they stuck to until the pressures of running it became a burden that threatened to stop it from being fun. The gist of that last line came directly from Simple Machines. They strove to: "put out music we love and sell it for a fair price;- make everything we did beautiful, interesting and friendly; pass on skills and information (to avoid reinventing the wheel); use our record packaging to educate, not just to decorate; see personal pleasure and fun as measures of success; endorse a measured application of caffeine (within reason) to humans who have the drive to do something creative and often exhausting with their spare time, so they can still get up and go to their dehumanizing jobs so they can make enough money to buy more caffeine; support our peers' efforts by working with other small labels, bands and local businesses to sustain a productive, self-sufficient punk/la la network and; answer our mail and return phone calls.”
Tsunami’s Jenny Toomey and Kristin Thomson ran Simple Machines. I met one of them years ago on the metro. The one who wore the goofy hats. She didn't know much about music history but I guess that didn't matter because she knew how to write popular music and run a successful and important record label. At the time it struck me as odd. Not as odd as how they described their labels' genre classification as the "punk/la la union" (also the "punk/la la network")
Skratch Magazine's What'd You Expect For Free? vol. 2 (comp CD review): Six thousand of these CDs were distributed to local outlets in Orange County that carry this free monthly punk mag. I'm guessing its readership averages about twenty years old and they're the kind who move up to Epitaph when they realize they're too old for Fat Wreck Chords. I suspect these 43 bands paid for whatever it cost to put this out, which may have been very little. Of these songs I liked thirteen tracks and found six worthy of transfer to tape before burying this disc with all the other cardboard-sleeve freebies. The bands I really liked are El Centro, L.E.S. Stitches, Mock Orange, Darlington, Husking Bee and The Kowalskis. The bands I thought were decent are Spazboy, Knucklehead, Agent 51, Cell Block 5, Tongue, Din and Lucky 7. Otherwise this comp is pretty straight-forward SoCal punk with nods to Bad Religion, Fat Bands and bad 1983 Doug Moody bands who wished they could be more like C.O.C. There's one rappy song, one funky song and surprisingly no ska. What, none of these ska band's parents could put up the money to get junior's band on a fraking comp?
Something In The Water: The Secret History Of Long Island Punk (comp CD review) (Winged Disc): I grew up on Lawn Guylind when these records came out, so don't tell me I don't know, motherfugger!! Well, that was uncalled for. Long Island always had a punk scene but being in the shadow of New York City there were bridge-and-tunnel issues that made the LI scene less self-contained and secure as it could have been. This comp was put out by the great zine Under The Volcano, which you can still find at some Tower Records. The tracks are indeed rare and some worth hearing too.
Jimi Lalumia And The Psychotic Frogs were a Max's band modeled after the punk cabaret of Wayne County. "Death To Disco" was a novelty song from 1978 that made a splash on the lower side of Manhattan. Whooptie doo. It’s an early and dated example of anti-disco sentiment not worthy of a second listen.
The Nihilistics are still around, and man are they heavy and fast without being metal. Their 1979 EP came out years before DRI and COC. Imagine The Exploited and Teen Idles killing each other, and that's what The Nihilistics sounded like. "Kill Yourself" sounds serious in its sentiment. These guys defined brutal hardcore. Excellent, excellent, excellent.
Ism. The funniest socio-political American punk band. Mr. J. Ism also covered The Resident's "Constantinople", so he's alright by me.
Dead Virgins. It says here the drummer was supposed to sing for either Deep Purple or Humble Pie. Ask your dad about what that means.. They were Long Island's answer to Chelsea and were supposed to be huge, but it didn't happen. They weren't fast, loud or energetic enough, and "Emotional Strain" sounds goth without committing.
Horror Planet. A classic EP that's sick, twisted and funny as hell. They would have done well touring with The Butthole Surfers. I knew some of these guys, and "It wasn't The Fleas" was written about the family of the singer's girlfriend. What a freak show that house was since the mother was nuts and had the worst taste. Don't get me started. I think the girlfriend didn't get offended because it was sadly true.
Sea Monster. Still around and they've changed their sound a few times. "Sex Puppet" is one of the best American punk songs of all time, and you can march to it too! "Sex God Chant" is a great death rock dance number. The rest is uneven like T.S.O.L. Lie, cheat and steal to listen to "Sex Puppet".
Son Of Oi!
(comp LP review) (Captain Oi): Another from
Captain Oi, a reissue of 1983’s
Son Of Oi!,
the fifth of the oi comp series originated by journalist and musician
whose site is worth a visit for the long history of the style, a violent comedy
of contradictions that could only be made into a film using
Punch and Judy
hand puppets. The only skin I know now works
the door at a goth club and screams that he wants to beat somebody into a coma.
But he's not a nazi!
Bushell claims that by the time of Son Of Oi! the scene was ending. Maybe as thinly defined by Bushell, and maybe it's surprising it lasted two years to begin with. Padded with a bit of filler, Son Of Oi! is a great collection of punk music and poetry in styles including goth, roadhouse blues, country and synth pop, all with a working clarse bent. The cover reads, "The Oi organizing committee presents a raccous resurrection of rebellion, rumination & rumbustious revelry......"
Cock Sparrer opens with a live version of "Chip On My Shoulder". Other highlights are "Generation Landslide" by Prole (a bit of Clash), "Violent Playground" by Clockwork Destruction (sharp chords), "Andy Is A Corporatist" by Attila and the Newtown Neurotics, "On The Streets" by the Four Skins, "Out In The Cold" by The Business (their best song), "Make Mine Molotov" by Maniac Youth (a boot stomper if there ever was one) and "Manifest Oi!" by Oi The Robot (steals an Ultravox riff).
The poetry is just as good, my favorite by Phil Sexton, which starts "Every Thursday evening, the Wallies watch the box, settle down in their rainbow gowns and watch Top Of The Pops." He pronounces Renaissance as "Ree-Nay-Since". I'm also pretty good at lip-synching the Garry Johnson poems, "Loves to revel in the boot boy glory, but when he's in his closet he's a typical Tory...."
I like most of the b-tracks probably out of simple nostalgia. I firmly believe most music ages poorly, and it's hard to teach an new ear to like old songs of little current merit.
Straight From The Gutter... And Into Your Panties (comp CD review) (Junk): Another compilation from Lou Carus' Junk Records, another reason to drink yourself into a coma. Featuring the finest of today's Detroit/NYC roots punk fetishists, Junk delivers on its mission to be as far removed from kiddie punk as possible. And believe it or not, a woman designs their soft-core porno covers and promos, so you can go sit and spin for a while on your PC politics.
The last comp featured crazed answering machine messages. This one bookcases its songs mostly with superior film dialogue. It opens with Al Pacino from Carlito's Way, "You think you're big time?!... You're gonna fugging die, big time. You ready?.... Here come the pain!!", which leads into The Dragon's excellent live "Roll The Dice". My second favorite is the classic line about "paste" from Barfly. I'll save time and tell you what songs I didn't like: EF2000's "Rock & Roll Is Dead" and The Weakling's "One Night Stand". EF2000 is some kind of Electric Frankenstein side project, and EF either record great retro punk or cheesy cock rock anthems. Maybe EF2000 is how they'll release cheese like this in the future. I find The Weaklings too entrenched in the Hot Rockin' Tonight school of juvenile dirtball rock.
Besides that, it's all sunshine and light from The Dragons, Muscle Car, The Spitfires, RC5, The Bulemics, The Vaccines, New Wave Hookers, Runaway Sins, The Bullys, Rocket City Riot, Jet Set, Hellbenders, American Heartbreak and Bradly Wayne Shaver. Another great comp from Junk and worth a few days of lunch money. Aren't you too old for video games anyway? I suggest you grow up and start up a drinking problem. Junk Records - the soundtrack to your own fall from grace. Here come the pain!!!!!!
Sub Culture 2 - The Culture Sucks Back (comp CD review) (Generalissimo): The first thing you should do when you move to a new city is to pick up a few local punk comps. This way right off you can pretend you're a scene veteran, and it's also good to know what bands to throw your valuable cash at and who to avoid like a case of jock itch. Local comps are usually cheap, too - this one around $3. Don't let comps fool you, since many are based on a small spectrum of styles instead of a wide overview of what the area has to offer. And 90% of everything will stink.
The Washington, DC Punk scene is split up into small camps with few unifying factors. There's shows if you know where to look, but if you ask around you'll be told there's no real scene at all. Larger clubs book national acts firmly in the alternative genre. Sure, every once in a while the Queers or the Teen Idols show up, but for the most part, Washington isn't a prime destination for the bands you'll find reviewed here. There's one small club in town that has a punk show every Friday night, but they're littered with gutter punks, both real and poser, and the bands rest firmly in the heavy hardcore category (this comp is littered with them). DC has a big ska scene, but I must not be in the right place at the right time because I rarely see listings. Dischord still puts out stuff, but a lot of it is post-punk and that's just another form of alternative.
This comp has 26 songs by 26 bands. The Suspects are the biggest name with a song from their last CD. Too many of the songs are too HEAVY. What's my criteria for judging this? There's no hooks, no melody, little power and speed - just heavy drumming, heavy bass, cock-rock guitar heroics and muddy singing that's supposed to sound evil or something. There's only one way to review heavy rock - "It Rocks!". "Does it Rock?", "fugg Yeah, it rawks!!" "It rocks hard, it rocks heavy, it just rocks!!!" Here's the bands I liked, with a variety of sounds inspired by The Dead Kennedys, The Circle Jerks and The Minutemen: Lickity Split, Showcase Showdown, The Impossible Five, The Jerks, The Suspects, The Boils, The Goons and Awaken. Most of the rest grew up on too much Corrosion of Conformity and Black Sabbath. What's even worse is when bands sing rap-rock style. Maybe if in my youth I'd hung out more often in 7-11 parking lots I'd be able to appreciate this. Or maybe, I just don't know how to Rock.
Suburban Voice #36 free 7" EP (review): Zines once gave away 7"s with enough frequency to make it an actual trend. Most were flexi-discs that sounded as flimsy as the plastic they were pressed on. Weighing these discs down with a coin was goofy for some reason. Al Quint's eternal Boston zine, Suburban Voice, gave away a few real vinyl EPs in the mid ‘90s, and even though they were money losers Al thought it was the right thing to do. This particular EP was a Dischord Tribute/AIDS Benefit featuring Sinkhole, Horace Pinker, the Bruisers and Shattered Silence covering, in order, Minor Threat's "Filler", Dag Nasty's "One To Two", Iron Cross's "Live For Now" and Faith's "Limitations".
Boston was always an odd punk rock city in that a deep vein of thuggery made that scene tougher than most, and it also leaned toward a harder, heavier rock sound. Boston took Washington DC's native straight edge and devolved it into something called hard stance, which turned the dogma of the original into physical fascism. It's no surprise Boston is a center for American oi and street punk. Beantown has long served as a model of working class ethnic tribalism that aspires to little more than work, drink and fight.
Sinkhole and Horace Pinker, both pop punk bands, cover their songs as conceived and performed. The Bruisers (still around and self-described as working class, a British affectation) and Shattered Silence emphasize the heavier leanings of the originals. I don't know how to rock so I prefer the Minor Threat & Dag Nasty covers. Mr. Quint used to sell these singles in groups through his zine for very little money. Pick up the latest issue and see what's he's got left. Support the scene and cross at the green , not in-between!
Suburban Voice fanzine issue 40 FREE 7" - (comp review): One song each from Violent Society, Halflings, Everready and New Sweet Breath. Suburban Voice is Al Quint, the zine's writer, editor, photographer and toilet scrubber. Contributors supplement each issue but Al is Suburban Voice. He covers both the national and local Boston scene. For the low cover price of $3 you often get a 7" thrown in. Each band's contribution: Violent Society "Philly Shreds" - easily the crusty punk song of the month. I was caught between wanting to gallop around the room and shaking as if I was holding a wet, plugged in toaster. Halflings "She's So Ugly" - to the note a rip-off of Screeching Weasel around the time of My Brain Hurts. I love the style but must take take points off for the lack of originality. Everready "Untitled Punk Hip-Hop Slam Jam" - fuzzy bass four-chord rock pop with slight cock rock leanings. It’s safely in the punk camp but I was imagining two guitarists swinging their hair in unison. Not bad though, and it should appeal to punk fans of ‘70s hard rock. New Sweeth Breath "Southern Hospitality" - garage/surf/spy/psychedelic noise damage with muffled lyrics. It’s a weird mix of The Cramps and Pussy Galore from a band I like a lot.
Suburban Voice 15th Anniversary Compilation (comp CD review) (Suburban Voice): A 33 band/song compilation of bands from Boston's best zine. S.V. has always been great and Al Quint's been doing it for fifteen frigging years! Isn't that as old as you are, little rooster head? Much of this hasn't aged well but it brings back a flood of memories, not all good, but a lot was going on and I was there to see it firsthand. If you need proof each generation is guilty of generic music, this CD will do nicely for the 80's Punk scene. 90% of everything is mostly crap. The biggest names on this comp are The Proletariat, Youth Brigade, C.O.C., Jerry's Kids, MDC and Moving Targets. The acoustic version of MDC's "John Wayne Was A Nazi" is great in that it’s a reminder punk protest songs aren't far removed from what littered the 60’s hippie antiwar movement. The CD is packaged with issue 41 of Suburban Voice.
Suburban Voice presents... DBO/DIY or Die! The third Suburban Voice compilation (CD review): Factually speaking, if your city had an Al Quint like Boston has an Al Quint, your scene would be bigger and better than it is now. Al's Suburban Voice is a huge & mostly one person operation, and as an unassuming guy I'll bet my third testicle he gives a lot more to his local music scene than he gets back. Gosh bless Al's pointy little head.
Al slips a free CD now and then into his zine because it's the right thing to do. He has the recordings, he knows and loves the local scene and it's important to document the musical past if you want future generations to get it right in whatever is the present. He makes less money (ironic joke) by giving these away, but the cost of making CDs is cheap enough, and, unless you think of yourself as a business, personal time is free. Again, gawd bless Al's coke-bottle glasses.
Al loves pop, punk, American oi, metal, speed metal and possibly thrash klezmer. There's a bit too much punky metal on this comp but at least it's closer to D.R.I and C.O.C. when they still had some punk in them. Boston bands have certain qualities that make them Boston bands, and if you listen to this a few times you'll catch the localisms.
The opening track is "Beer In The Shower", a rousing original yet traditional sounding Irish (phonetically and ironically "Oi-rish") instrumental with bagpipes and the whole magilla by Toxic Narcotic, who, according to the liner notes, "usually play in a much more manic, brutal hardcore style." Boston is America's #1 and stereotypically most Irish city, and drinking class pride dictates you show enough respect to play a tune even the most dismissive codger at the bar will raise a pint to. It's a great song.
Back in the mid ‘80s there was a cassette label out of San Diego called BC Tapes. They put out a great comp LP called We Can Do Whatever We Want. It had Raw Power, Cheetah Chrome Motherfuggers and Eat The Rich on it. There's a spirit of fun DIY recklessness running through that record I also find in this comp, mostly in the bands A Poor Excuse, Capitalist Casualties and Cops And Robbers, but even the more metalish songs on the comp lack the deranged lunacy of what's coming out of Europe.
A Thousand Times No's song changes from a decent sing along to a No Trend - 9353 meltdown of the riff from "It's a small world after all". It’s a reminder of the musical ties between MA and DC. "No Dick" by Pajama Slave Dancers takes me back to State Of Alert's "Disease". Other keepers on the comp are Shoot The Hostages and God and Texas.
The last track is the best, all the way from 1981 by Art Yard, contemporaries of Mission Of Burma. "The Law" is a great power pop tune with slight psychedelic touches. If more exists from this band please let me know.
Team Mint - Mint Records Comp. (CD review) (Mint): All compilations should be $5 like this one, and geniuses like me shouldn't have to work for a living. This is a nice collection of twenty songs by nine bands on Canada’s Mint Records. Mint is like Lookout Records - they share some of the same bands and co-released the latest Cub CD. The big names here are Cub, the Mr. T Experience and Pansy Division. If you don't like Lookout bands, run for the hills, otherwise for half the price of a used CD you can own this. A no brainer.
That Was Now, This Is Then: A Punk Rock Retro-Spectacular (comp CD review) (VML): Joey Vindictive knows what I like - snotty power punk performed by fat slob smelly losers (I mean that in the best possible way) who channel The Dead Boys, Chuck Berry and The Ramones. The sidebar on the CD reads "1977 Meets 1997", which is not exactly true, but most punks are idiots, so why not market to the Pavlovian clichés that shape their world?
The deal here is that bands like The Crumbs, Sloppy Seconds, Teen Idols, Boris The Sprinkler and Moral Krux cover (mostly) obscure tracks by oldies bands like The Vibrators, The Real Kids, Weirdos, Eater and The Saints. The easy way out would be to cover major hits from old punk's top ten, but besides Less Than Jake's take on The Jam's "This Is The Modern World" (average), each band polishes off a chestnut that should be more widely known today and gives it a new coat of paint.
This is one of those rare comp CDs worthy of repeated listens all the way through. It should appeal to punks both old and young, tall, short, putrid, aromatic, innie and outie. After track sixteen, the CD works itself up in four second intervals to track 77 (git it?!) for a hidden Vindictives take of the Sex Pistols' "No Feelings". Then, you guessed it, on track 97 there's another hidden Vindictives track of "I'm A Lazy Sod" (or whatever the hell that song is called.) I work out to this CD, and I don't waste my time with lame crap when I'm trying to kill myself at 6 AM. That’s my personal quality test.
Theologian Records (free 1998 CD sampler review): Fourteen songs from seven bands, all for the price of postage. And, it came with a load of stickers! Nothing spells success like a Pennywise sticker on the back of a Ford Pinto (tink....boom!!! - best joke from the movie Top Secret!) They've put out stuff from The Dwarves (who hasn't?) and the Fondled, but this comp features hard & heavy teen punk bands who aren't afraid to rock, the kind of rock where you scrunch up your face like you're squeezin' out a five foot turd. The name War Called Peace sounds like a hip hop band but they have that buzzsaw chugga chugga guitar attack that usually spells speedmetal. The kind of music where you air-bang your head, form the sign of the trident with both hands above your head, stick out your tongue and look at your buds like "dude, does this rock or what?" Homemade does more of the same. Cheater homages Bad Religion with some chug chug power chords. Not bad. No Fun At All does like Cheater with richer backing vocals. Again, not bad. 98 Mute just rocks, I guess. Deviates chugga chugga some more and Cigar rocks like the world's gonna end tonight, and if they don't sing like Bad Religion they'll fry in heckfire. They also have a vocal delivery that threatens to turn into rap if you don't watch yo ass. Not my cup of whiz but like I always say, I don't know how to rock.
This Is Boston Not L.A. (comp LP review) (Modern Method): Newbury Comics on Newbury Street was the commercial hub of the Boston HC scene starting in 1979, and they released a number of recordings from local bands on their Modern Method Records label. This comp was #12. Newbury Comics now has 22 locations, one near you if you live near one. A CD reissue came out a while back and probably contains additional tracks. An answer to the successful Dischord comp Flex Your Head, This Is Boston Not L.A. should have referenced DC and not LA, but I was not consulted at the time. The bands on the LP are Jerry's Kids, The Proletariat, The Groinoids, The F.U.'s, Gang Green, Decadence and The Freeze.
My quick take on the Bahston Baked Bean HC scene was that it first emulated the Black Flag L.A. scene via the closer DC scene, and then devolved pretty quickly into metal and the dumbest thug form of SXE, known at the time as hard stance. Some good post Husker-Du stuff came out on Taang! but that label moved west a long time ago. Boston was known for a lot of violence at shows.
Jerry's Kids were an early Dischord band in everything but hometown. They contribute six short thrashers and exit stage left. The Proletariat are my favorite band on the album, and even though their songs sound alike more than they should I’m a sucker for Richard Brown's vocals - a speedier and clipped version of Naked Raygun's, and the obtuse art rock socialist dance beats favored by The Minutemen and UK bands like The Poison Girls.
The Groinoids contribute one track and were only heard of again with a track on another comp. The fuzzy guitar is nice but otherwise the song comes and goes without leaving any stains. The F.U.'s vary little from Jerry's Kids except the guitar is moved up front and gives the thrashiest take on "jangly" you'll ever hear. Gang Green is a skate punk band who sing about beer beyond the point of being funny or relevant (just like Fear!). They moved to a heavier sound but here it's loud fast rules for seven tracks of blur. Decadence contributes one track and it stands out because it has actual structure. Jon later formed the popular band DYS with Dave Smalley. The Freeze were a great band who borrowed from the Dead Kennedys, The Germs and to my ears a little Agent Orange. They were by far the most talented of their local peers. Two tracks are classics, "Trouble If You Hide" and "Broken Bones", with its classic oi overtures.
This Is Boston Not L.A. is almost as good as Flex Your Head, the DC compilation it follows in most ways. If you own one you should own the other.
This Is It - Punk Rock That's Real ! - (comp CD review) (Pelado Records): A great compilation not too smartly put together. 32 songs from 23 bands, but the numbered playlist is of band names only, so what looks like track 23 is actually # 32. If you want to hear the Dimestore Haloes you must stare at the CD and count each song, which won't help you either because three bands in the middle of the song list were left off due to space limitations. So, if you don't know what a band sounds like or don't want to match lyrics with song titles, enjoy all the great music and let the band names remain some of life's great mysteries.
The four page insert contains tiny xeroxed band promos and concise notes from Patrick of Pelado Records. This CD is his labor of love. He made a comp with a little of everything and nothing commercial. There's a little street punk, ‘77 style punk, early ‘80s Brit Punk as well as early ‘80s American punk pop. The package boasts "Meet The Bands Too Punk Rock For Epitaph!" The bands include The Suspects, The Bristles, The Bitters, Spent Idols, Frank, Cheatin Hussies and The Dropkick Murphys. I'd review some songs but I'm not up for working the math to figure out what song goes with what band. No need, because this is consistently excellent with more variety than any other new comp on the market. Is this "Punk Rock That's Real"? I can argue yes, but that's like saying my daddy can beat up your daddy. It may be true, but so what?
Through Being Cool: a tribute to devo (comp 7" review) (Emily Schroeder's): He, she or it who knows Devo were at heart a punk band is truly the wise man, woman or other. Punk bands will cover Devo till the end of time, and I guarantee they'll be the most covered band in punk history. If you don't know why, you don't know your Devo and you don't know what it's all about.. There's a Devo song for every mood and occasion. I have a cover of "Gates Of Steel" somewhere in my collection that blows away anything from Agnostic Front, and scientists at the Underwriters Laboratory have determined it's impossible to ruin "Beautiful World".
That being written, this six band/six song slab of vinyl is ok but not worth losing an eye over. It starts off well with The Johnnies's "Gut Feeling/Slap Yer Mammy", but most of the rest sounds thrown together in the recording studio. The Role Models, Mexican Breakfast, The Sillies, The Slobs and Snap-Her don't do anything to be ashamed of, but it's more straight tribute than original exploration.
Vandals/Longfellow split EP (review) (Kung Fu): This was less than a buck and I collect Ramones covers, so I win twice. The Vandals make with the silly on "Judy Is A Punk" and "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker". Longfellow, a popular SoCal all-ages punk band, contribute their own (great title) "Something To Do In Union, New Jersey" and "Insipid". The Vandals are The Vandals and Longfellow are better than I expected.
The Vandals used to be an ‘80s Hardcore band. The name and one original member are now a big-time kiddie punk band only a shade more mature than Blink-182. Damn, the original member was only the drummer, and now he's only the bass player. It's the next best thing to digging up Elvis for another comeback tour. Which reminds me, the only good thing about the Vandals here is that the singer does an Elvis imitation for "Sheena". Otherwise the covers are given the rote funny punk treatment.
Longfellow plays that slappy drum, chugga chugga guitar punk that appeals to the all-ages crowd, but their harmonies are great and they seem to have more insight and intelligence than the bulk of their competition. I sense that as they mature, so will their sound. That'll be worth waiting for.
Vans "Off The Wall" Sampler (comp CD review): Since this comp is better than the one I found from Airwalk, I must conclude their $60 sneakers are superior in every way, from style to street cred. The CD also has a ROM so you can watch the Vans mannequin commercial on your computer. Hey kids, Soylent Green is people!
If you needed proof of the ultimate commoditization of punk rock, this has to be it. Vans doesn't sponsor tours and put out CD comps because they support the scene - they support the scene because it's the consensus of their marketing dept. that by doing so they'll be able to sell more product and bump up profits in the next quarter. Vans sells image, not function. Charmin isn't the official toilet paper of the 2000 Olympics because it scoops up more poop than the other leading brand. It was a cash deal.
Most of the bands on this comp are from Epitaph and its retro ska/oi/mod little brother, Hellcat Records. The ever more annoying American street punk/oi scene, represented through the US Bombs, Dropkick Murphys, The Bruisers and Agnostic Front, is mixed with roots ska and some other new sounding stuff. The overall picture is a modern history lesson on the Clash/reggae/mod roots of punk rock that's surprisingly well thought out. I have to give somebody credit for limiting the kiddie punk to a few clunkers from Union 13 and Straight Faced. The regular Epitaph comps are shamelessly targeted to Jr. High students.
Agnostic Front's "Believe" would be a sterile rip-off of Dag Nasty if not for the laughable baritone chorus that made second generation straight edge the joke it is today. Hepcat is the new English Beat, and I say that as a compliment. "I'll Get There" shows ALL is still worth a listen. I Against I is the most blatant rip-off of Bad Religion you could ever imagine. It's horrifying. Snuff rules. The Dwarves track is surprisingly mellow. War Called Peace sing a "Hey Hey Hey" chorus that's an American substitute for the British "Oi Oi Oi". I thank them for not pretending to be UK working class, but the way they chant is still cliché.
I've listened to this a number of times and will probably do so again. A commercial comp for sure, but one I can lend to a teenage zit farmer knowing he or she will learn something without being freaked out by something original.
Very Very Special People - (Comp CD review) (Black Hole): A real long-player from this Philly-based label. Thirteen bands playing a few each. Being stuck between (and to the side of) NY and DC, Philly bands reflect the influences of both cities. This comp focuses more on melodic street punk and power chord pop. Some names you might recognize are The Wretched Ones, The Stuntmen and Violent Society. Hot Rod Nebula features Danny Roadkill, Sloppy Second's former guitarist and one of the best finger-men working in punk today. This new band (he also sings) is Dave Edmunds Rockabilly-lite that needs more polish. The Stuntmen as usual steal the show with three rocking pop thrashers. I bet you have to live in Philly and rummage through the used bins to find this, but for a few bucks it's more than worth it.
Vital Music Records presents Tommy In Seven Minutes (comp EP review) (Vital): Vital Music Records is still around but they don't go nuts with advertising like they did when they started in 1989 to release local NYC bands. If memory serves me they ran a subscription singles club. The vital catalog is up to fifty titles and their sales catalog contains over 5000 items.
Tommy In Seven Minutes consists of eleven bands performing eleven songs from The Who's Tommy. As you can imagine, in seven minutes you can only do so much before the hook comes out. The bands, who all recorded in the same studio for this project, are Uncle Wiggly, Smack Dab, The Workdogs, Pig Pen, Lunachicks, Artless, John S. Hall, Dave The Spazz, Iron Prostate, Dogbowl, Alice Donut and The See Me Feel Me Orchestra. Every tune segues perfectly, and except for Iron Prostate's take on "I'm Free", it's all quirky art-noise and studio hi-jinx. It’s quite the labor of love and a nice production.
Side B has Fly Ashtray, Rats Of Unusual Size, Youth Gone Mad, and Sea Monkeys tackling The Beatles' "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)". The best version is from Rats Of Unusual Size, who take the airport lounge route to comic nirvana. Jim Fourniadis, who also produced both sides of the EP, works a live room of his friends like a Vegas pro.
All in all a great concept executed perfectly. Pressed on clear vinyl with a fold-out poster sleeve. A lot of work went into it and it shows.
Viva Chicago: The Bollweevils & 88 Fingers Louie (split EP review) (Rocco): I've thought for a while that Chicago is (or was) America's best city for punk rock. For what period of time I can't say for sure, and I've only been there once, but there's something about Chicago punk and the scene there that's impressed me to bits. I lived in NY and DC for years, and of course the scene across the mountain is more romantic than the one down the street, but still, Chicago is in my mind punk rock central. Early Chicago bands seemed more skilled, eclectic and original. All I have are my illusions, so don't bother writing me on this point....
The Bollweevils were a great band with a healthy respect for the past. In a way they were scholars for the kids who followed them. 88 Fingers Louie, more an all-ages band at heart, may still be around. The liner notes from both bands are worth reprinting, so here goes:
Bollweevils: "Since this whole Seattle By The Lake thing happened with Billboard Magazine, there has been a lot of interest in Chicago. It pains me to see people equating the Chicago underground music scene with the likes of super-alternative acts like Smashing Pumpkins or Urge Overkill. Somehow people tend to forget that these bands would be largely overlooked if it were not for the bands that really paved the way like The Effigies, Naked Raygun, and Big Black. While these groups found limited success, others can now easily bask in what they built up. From the first time I saw Naked Raygun, I knew Chicago had something special, and were it not for bands like that I wouldn't be playing guitar and our band would never have happened. Si I guess this 7" is sort of like a thank you to those bands and a hope that when people think about the Chicago "scene", they can look a little bit past the hype of those bands mentioned earlier, and discover what really made "The Chicago Sound" so great."
88 Fingers Louie: "This goes out to all the fly-by-nighters who don't an/or don't give a fugg about the past. Without the past, there would be no present. Instead of looking for the newest punk band/trend to latch on to, take a look at the roots of it all.. These bands as well as several others were the basis of today's scene. Yeah, it had its share of problems as does the present scene. I bet there were a ton more people who gave a damn though. Quit bitching about what clubs are/aren't cool to play, or what bands are/aren't punk. There are too many people out there who do way too much griping and not enough supporting (you know who you are). Keep the scene thriving you punk ass motherfuggers."
Was the past better than the present? Scenes come and go, ebb and flow. If you had a great time when there were a lot of bands and shows you liked, then that was a great time and everything else pales in comparison. Nostalgia is a sweet lie for us old folks, but it makes more sense than younger kids being nostalgic for a time they were too young to have experienced. I think Naked Raygun and Big Black are beyond great, but fifteen year old punks may see 100 shows a year they love and never come across a record by The Effigies. There's no law that says they have to either. It would be nice, and unlike history, people who know nothing about musical history are unlikely to repeat it, but you can't force kids to spend their allowance on extinct bands from before their time. I'm glad bands like The Bollweevils and 88 Finger Louie went out of their way to make this record for the kids.
The Bollweevils cover Naked Raygun's "I Lied" with their usual exactness, and they also re-create The Effigies' "Body Bag" to perfection. 88 Fingers Louie provide respectful covers of Article Of Faith's "My Father's Dreams" and Bhopal Stiff's "Not Just My Head". I'm glad neither band tried to update these songs for modern audiences. It's really in keeping with what they wrote in their liner notes. They want their fans to hear what these older bands sounded like - not just cover their music. You can probably pick this up cheap and I recommend you do.
Water Music! An Exciting Collection Of Top Hits By Today's Wettest Superstars! (comp LP review) (Wet-Oric): This twelve band/song power pop punk comp came out in the same year (1996) as the ultra-amazing I Can't Believe It's Not Water!. Why this was licensed from Just Add Water Records to Rhetoric Records is beyond me. Was Rhetoric so desperate to put out something they'd pay another label for random songs for a comp? Guess so.
All the bands are safely within the sub-genres made famous by All and Screeching Weasel. It's always great to hear a tune from The Parasites, the Harry Dean Stanton of punk bands, plus Boris The Sprinkler and the Beatnik Termites, but there's an unmistakable whiff of afterthought about this, as if whatever wasn't worthy of the I Can't Believe It's Not Water! comp was dumped onto this one. I'm looking at the record itself, pressed on nicely marbled water blue vinyl, and there's room left for more songs on each side. Comps should have more than twelve tracks. I'm sorry, but that's a law of modern punk record capitalism.
The two bands on this who didn't contribute anything worthy of a second listen are Slinky and Toast. Otherwise, the remaining bands to be mentioned are Pink Lincolns, Campfire Girls, Nobodys, Moral Crux, The Rehabs and Scooby Don't. I'm usually a huge fan of this type of material but I was let down by the records' brevity and lack of killer selections from bands who have better to give. The pretty blue vinyl makes it near impossible to see where the needle should go for any given song. And other thing -- ah, fergit it...
We Are Not Devo (comp CD review) (Centipede): Devo was the first new wave band at a time when punk and new wave were used interchangeably. They've been recording since 1974. It's said new wave is dance music for geeks. It's also said punk is angry music for geeks. Devo were prototype geeks who made dance music. If you don't think they were punk you might as well cross off everyone from Pere Ubu to Television to Suicide (which you’ve probably already done). "Gates of Steel" is one of the greatest punk tunes of all time. They should have quit after New Traditionalists, before they both sold out and ran out of ideas.
When the history books are closed on punk and new wave, the band most covered will be Devo. Why? The music is adaptable to many tempos and filled with simple, powerful hooks. Inspired by the strangeness known as Capt. Beefheart (and to a lesser extent The Residents), Devo had the shtick of De-Evolution and the demented energy of nerds.
This tribute contains thirteen songs by as many bands, including The Vandals, Voodoo Glow Skulls, Face To Face, SNFU, Lagwagon, Possum Dixon and Jughead's Revenge. One Hit Wonder do a great power-pop job with my personal favorite, "Beautiful World", the best song of the new wave era. All the hits are covered, from "Uncontrollable Urge" to "Freedom of Choice". These bands are as professional as studio musicians, so don't expect thrashers, but while each band adds their own flavor they stay respectful to the originals. As well they should. The old songs work so well as is they don't leave much room for improvement. Don't look at a Devo tribute album as an exercise in campy ‘80s nostalgia. It's a history lesson more of today's bands should analyze for hours until they see the light.
We Can't Help It If We're From Florida (7" Comp review) (Destroy): This 1983-era 5 band/13 song 7" was given to me because of my unnatural love of Gainesville's Roach Motel, whose George Tabb is now in Furious George. Other bands on the EP are Hated Youth, Morbid Opera, Rat Cafeteria and Sector 4. I remember when this three and four chord sloppy punk first came out in the early ‘80s, and I have no idea if it's aged well or not. I'm a big fan of playing as fast as you can without being metal. Bands up and down the East Coast took their cue from Dischord bands and released crappy D.I.Y. recordings, packed to the gills with short fast thrashers that required no skill or sense of rhythm.
Early American hardcore existed almost solely to hate Ronald Reagan and his crew. Here's the lyrics to Hated Youth's "Army Dead": "I wanna join the army dad / Kill till I'm dead / till I'm dead / till I'm dead". Short, sweet, political and snotty. The lyrics sheets on told records are great too, being collages of hand-scribbled lyrics, rantings, graphics and badly reproduced photographs. It’s worth as much study as the music itself.
If you see this on a wall at your local indie store it'll be overpriced. See if the balding hippie behind the counter will play it for you. It's as good as anything from inside the Beltway, and better than most Boston bands too. The single is growing old and gray, and so am I. Well, at least I'm a lot closer to retirement than you are, sonny! Heh heh heh oi my arthritis.
We STILL Can't Help If We're From Florida (comp 7" review) (Burrito): I found the sequel to one of my favorite comps - 1983's comp with the (mostly) same name. Released in 1992, this has nine songs from eight bands like a goddamn single should. Judging by this, Florida was and probably still is an underrated source for good music. Here's how the Sunshine State is described in the lyrics sheet: "It's hot. It's sticky. It's lowered mini-trucks and shine red IROC Z-28s and Mustang 5.0 convertibles driven by Vanilla-Ice-wannabe frat boy types. It's mile after mile of pink strip malls. It's frozen yogurt mecca. It's where crabby old people from Trenton come to die in mobile homes with cutesy names. It's drugs, crime and tourism. It's where sickening wealth and abject poverty uncomfortably sit side by side. I love it and I hate it. It's Florida, my home." I lived there for two years and that about covers it. They forgot to mention flying roaches the size of your thumb, and during the summer it can rain every day in the afternoon for an hour and then be sunny again. The god of Florida drinks a lot.
The bands sound like they recorded the material ten years earlier. A strong non-metal DRI sound permeates the room as I play this. George Tabb from Roach Motel (and now Furious George) mailed in an unreleased track when he heard this sequel was in the works. Their contribution sounds a little UK street punk and probably didn't fit well with the rest of their material. The other bands are E.B.S., No Fraud, Slap of Reality (good post-punk), Backwash, Chickenhead and Milk and Cookies. Another triumph from the 99 cent bin!
(You're Only As Good) As The Last Great Thing You Did (comp CD review) (Lookout!): Lookout Records, either you love 'em or you hate 'em. It all depends on your tolerance for power pop punk. I love the genre because it's fun, it has melodies and you can dance to it. In my ‘20s I got off on the aggression of Fear, the DKs and tens of other bands who defined themselves almost exclusively by what they hated. My list of things I don't like was carved in stone long ago, so I don't need to dwell on the minutia anymore. Thumbs up, thumbs down, with no need for long explanations. Now I try to define myself by the things I do like. Lookout bands are plenty punk. What, Lookout isn't an anarchy label dedicated to the fall of capitalism? They don't reflect the reality of The Street where life is a mix of the Grapes Of Wrath and The Road Warrior? Not enough crust in their underwear? Did Larry Livermore loss all punky cred the day he realized a profit off Green Day? Purity tests are administered by two-bit tyrants. I'm not into heavy metal, so I don't waste the world's time judging combat core. I'm just a man with a web site. Nobody voted me judge, jury, and executioner for all music.
Lookout has something for everyone, from silly pop to retro ‘77 street punk. Once a year they put out a cheap comp, and this is the latest. I think it cost me $4.99. 23 songs from 23 releases, and as always a sweet deal. This year's crop leans more toward well produced garage/surf/punk owing more to Buddy Holly than the usual Ramones wink and nod. Less fuzzy guitar noise and more clean c&w rockers. The Queers, Mr. T. Experience, Pansy Division, Groovie Ghoulies, Parasites, Crumbs, Squirtgun, Potatomen and more. It's only $5 for Jimminy's sake. Loosen up, would ya? You'll get an ulcer!
Back To Home PageTo Next Page