Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kontaminat-Live, Albion House, 6-20-11

Straight from the slums of, I mean, Little's Kontaminat!
 It's a bit misleading to describe Kontaminat as a "new" band, since if you assembled these guys' collective "ex-member of" list you'd get the history of Chicago punk for the last 10+ years.
 The sound on these videos ain't very good (whattaya expect? It's camcorder footage of a basement punk show), but I'm diggin' what I'm hearin'-the first segment reminds me of the d-beat wallof ound perfected by Framtid, while the second segment is a bit closer to these doods' previous projects (although that may have something to do with where the two tapers were standing-I'm a punk, I dunno shit about acoustics). You be the judge.

 Reliable sources inform me that they're working on a demo, so stay tuned. Check out their website for upcoming shows, flyers, etc. Dd I mention that it's none than Mike Thrashberg    on vox? Oh. Yeah.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heavy Times-Sick Listens (2005-2010) CS (2010)

In this era of instant access, Chicago's music scene has managed to retain its insularity largely intact. Internally, the North and the South (Sides, that is) have never really understood each other, there's not a punk scene but rather several bickering micro-scenes, and everyone talks tall shit about the SAIC kids while still attending their parties, stealing their beer, and ripping off their bands. 
 Where does Heavy Times enter into this? To a non-Chicagoan, they'll probably sound like they came from Timbuktu, while many Chicagoans probably dismiss them as "too [SAT adjective goes here]."  "Sick Listens," another fine Prio Male chartbuster, isn't a coherent statement, like their LP, but a collection of musical sketches, which makes sense, this being a collection spanning five years. It works well: just when you've pegged Heavy Times as an intentionally retarded neo-Phil Spector project, they switch into something the Pitchfork dweebs might like, yet there's a unified undertone to "Sick Listens." It's consistently pleasant, without being coy or boring.

This is perfect music for cruising down LSD one fine June evening in a stoned haze, en route to your favorite basement venue or hole-in-the-wall dive bar.  Pop this in the cassette deck (er, twirl your ipod), groove to the hooks, and glory in being from Chicago! I.e., talk as much shit as you like about those assholes you've never met who run that shitty venue two blocks away you've never been to! Right on!
After that, pop over to Priority Male and pick up the real deal-doods this talented really shouldn't be drinking tall boys 'o' Old Style. 

*Edit, 6.29.12: The download link is fixed, and should work. Lemme know if it don't.*

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Contaminators-No Friends 7" EP (2007)

 *Edit, 12.13.13: Re'upped the file again, so get it here.*

 *Edit, 8.3.12: I re-upped the file; you can now get it here.*

Those of you who were hangin' round in Chicago in the mid-'00s are probably familiar with the '77 Street Punks, a bunch of white-denim rockin' dweebs who took Sid Vicious/Johnny Thunders worship to extremes only attainable by kids who grew up in subdivisions. Having to worry about getting jumped by these morons whenever I went out 'cause I liked Crass definitely turned me off to the Noow Yawk, junkie blooz side of punk that these louts venerated, and I only recently started coming around to this stuff (The music, that is. Junkies are fucking horrible creatures. If you don't believe me, try going for a walk at 11 pm in my neighborhood).

  Enter the Contaminators, a Bakersfield, CA duo who bashed out some pretty sweet riffage ca. 2007-'09. The recording quality is so shitty on this thing, the first time I heard it I wasn't sure there was any drumming on the first track-the vocal and guitar tracks are blown through the fucking ceiling. Don't let that stop you, though. These guys had the swaggering petulance of Mssrs. Johansen, Bators, et. al. down to a "T" as in "Thunders." The song titles tell you what you're in for: "Human Mess," "Closet Junkie," "Sick Fixation." So if you're down in the dumps of the sort that require glorious two-note solos as accompaniment, pop on the Contaminators and nod out.

I think this is still available from Blackwater.
Up next: some Heavy Times, Raincoats, and a few surprises. Mebbe.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Population-demo (2010)

Thinking it was Thursday evening here in Rome, I was going to write something longer about Population, but then I found out it's Friday, which means I have a date with my good friend Limoncello, so this'un's a quick'un.

Population and their brethren band, Ultratumbados, were just getting started when I moved away from Chicago a few years ago, and I remember playing both bands for people on the West Coast only to be told that they were in fact Paralysis Permanente. I'm not making this up. Infer from that what you will, point is, Population excels at the sort of downcast, eyeshadow-drenched post-punk so popular with the youth these days. The stand out track here is "Waltzing a War," with a delightfully understated synth line punctuating the funeral procession riddim.
 So throw on that black raincoat, lace up your twenty-eye black docs, and groove to the gloom! Peeps 'em live if you're in Chicago.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sex/Vid-Nests (2009)

These'uns were the HC community's favored wank material a few years ago, and I remember, around 2008, wanting to hit the next person who told me that if I liked Void, I'd like Sex/Vid. This sort of reductive, "new product A sounds like old product B, and thus is approved listening in our cult-scene" mindrot is a disease all music fans are prone to, music writers in particular (myself included); perhaps it's unavoidable, but it's certainly undesirable and mentally deadening.

"Nests"' howling guitar riff quickly builds into a raging whirl, but then around thirty seconds, the momentum slams to a halt and morphs into a grinding dirge-then the riff jumps into hyperspeed, and throws you across the room, only to slow down again a few times. It's remarkable how well Sex/Vid uses the fast/slow dynamic to trick you out of complacent listening, and the song reminds me of PiL's "Memories", in its startling, effective change in tempo.
"Exorcism" is a bit more standard hardcore, but "Always Home" is a funereal spiral of tormented guitar, relentless drumming, and barked vocals. It's actually pretty close to a certain Ann Arbor band's song about the desire to be a canine, really.
Sex/Vid is one of maybe four punk bands (with Tragedy, Giant Haystacks, and Pink Reason) from the '00s whose music not only does not bore me years after first hearing them, but which actually rewards close, repeated listening.

Knock that fucker off the wall! then, check out this remarkably intelligent piece on Sex/Vid. The "Nests" EP is probably out of print, but write (yeah, write!) the folks at DOM and they might have copies left: Dom America, PO Box 2066, Olympia, WA 98507, USA

*EDIT, 9.20.12: Re'up'd the file, here. *

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dead Eyes-demo (2011)

In the spirit of full disclosure, Dead Eyes' drummer, Max, is also my partner in crime here at Drug Punk. But where, I ask you, would punk rock be without blatant cronyism?., well, better not ask yourself that question, actually....

A coupla years ago, I had jaw surgery and got copious amounts of liquid Valium. Boy Scout that I am, most of this candy fell into my friends' hands. I left them alone one night with the bottle of Valium and a bag of weed. When I returned, I found them plastered to my friend's porch swing; they had dipped their joints in Valium. Movement was not on the agenda that evening.
  This demo might be the result of boiling that evening down to musical form. That might sound like criticism, but stoner sludge in all forms is preemo primo stuff for us here at Drug Punk. Sludgy like what'd happen if your postpunk band popped some Xanies before covering Mission of Burma's "Outlaw": there are fast parts, but they're jerky-twitchy, not thrashy. The singer has a hollow, high-pitched yowl that comes close to AIDS Wolf at times, which suits the cavernous mix quite well.

So anyways, if yer havin' a barbiturate bomber of night, give Dead Eyes a spin! And buy the real deal when they're out! Yeah!

Dead Eyes is playing' up and down the West Coast this summer, so keep checking in your humble narrators at Drug Punk for news.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Creem-I Hate You 7" (2011)

Rage: it's not the healthiest emotion in the world, but boyhowdy, it sure has spawned some razzledazzle hoohaw in our times!

It's almost high summer here in Rome, which means sweltering swamp heat, mosquito madness, and a malfunctioning, overcrowded public transit system full of fashionable idiots who don't wear deodorant. Creem is perfect for situations like these: when you absolutely, positively despise every motherfucker around you.

I'm no fan of the Boston violence junkies that Creem is indebted to musically, but I am a fan of this 7" from the good folks at Katorga Works. Behold! Two slow, driving tracks with grinding Oi intros that are the perfect soundtrack for beating up your best friend 'cause you caught him with a beer...or just stomping around in an impotent rage, gen'ly speakin'.

NYC is spitting 'em out like hotcakes these days-Natural Law, Nomos, Crazy Spirit, Accept the Darkness 'zine, and now Creem.
So do yercelf a favor and HB stomp the night away, pardner! Then, getcher hands on the real deal!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Neon Piss-Demo (2010)

Hey internet; my name is max and I'm very excited and honored to be posting on this already storied and well-credentialed internet-weblog.

Ugh, I hate introductions. Anyhow, I couldn't be happier to be posting the demo of Neon Piss, a simply stellar punk rock 4-piece out of the town I'm pleased to have called home for almost a year now: Oakland CA. Neon Piss plays frantically driving, tuneful, and relentlessly catchy pop-laden punk; their sound sometimes recalls the sneering melodies of Denton, TX luminaries The Marked Men, the dark, driving hooks of Swedish punks Masshysteri, and the mournful affect of The Wipers, to name just a few. But this is really a band where getting caught up in the myriad of influences these dudes are borrowing from detracts from what sets them apart as a band: the skill with which they weave them together into something new and fundamentally different form the sum of its parts. This isn't a punk band that's good because they copy great bands (still no sin in my book). They're a great fucking punk band.

If you're in the Bay Area and you've seen these guys (they just played with Crazy Spirit and The Slowmotions, both of whom played great sets that did not equal that of Neon Piss, imo) then you've probably had this band's name tattooed on some part of your body by now. If not, do yourself a huge favor and cruise over to their website above to see when and where they're playing next (they're headed to the Northwest soon too, keep an eye out). And finally, if a live Neon Piss experience is not in your foreseeable future, head on over to their Bandcamp page to stream and download your very own copy of their demo.

And hey, if your clicker-finger is just feeling too tired to go through the labors of clicking a hyperlink, and then ANOTHER hyperlink, and then DOWNLOADING something (life is hard//firstworldproblems) feast your ears on the video below for a choice track from a demo already high on the summer jam list.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cro-Mags-Before the Quarrel demo (1986)

  For the past few months, I've been living in Rome's San Paolo neighborhood. For the most part, it's a quiet, workaday neighborhood, but the defining geographical feature is the innumerable public housing towers that dot the landscape. When night falls, Moldovian prostitutes and East African heroin dealers dominate the asphalt, in between Carabinieri flying squads. Violence around here is a necessity, not a choice.

 The point is that this area is the closest I hope I'll ever come to experiencing the Cro-Mags' native landscape. Read John Joseph's autobiography and this background really comes into focus (although listening to Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" is more succinct).
 This is violent music from a violent time and place: New York City (the Deuce, not White Plains), ca. 1986. John Joseph sounds like the street kid he was, Harley Flanagan's bass has the entrancing effect on the opening track, "World Peace," that it managed to miss on the  LP, and Parris Mayhew's guitar soars and hovers over Mackie Jason's drumwork, which gallops through these tunes like the long-lost, essential ingredient it truly was. Fuck the "Age of Quarrel" LP. This demo captures the 'Mags as they were: angry, desperate street kids straight off the LES, long before Giuliani and his urban cleansing.


  I can't remember what blog I stole this demo from, but read this and you'll want to start selling fake acid to burnouts at Mets Stadium, too.

*EDIT, 7-14-12: Re-upped the file, fixed the link. It should work now.*

Carol-Breakdown 7" (1981)

Due to a series of unfortunate circumstances arising from a real humdinger of a Monday night, your humble narrator is feeling about as garrulous as a bog toad on bad acid.
 To accompany my null-node nebbishness, I present you with a 2-song synth EP, with vocals from some Belgian girl Carol.
 There's a scene in that awful movie, Fellowship of the Ring, where Galadriel becomes a she-Sauron before Frodo's hobbity eyes-this 7" might be the perfect accompaniment to a she-Sauron's snow castle. Crystalline, sparkling, Belgian-what's not to love, right?

...had a heart of glass....

Sorry kiddies, no clue where you could buy this thing. But Minimal Wave Records has a whole buncha sweet, like-minded gems to whet your whistle while you're suckin' down your poison.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Svart Framtid-1984 EP (take a wild guess)

"hey man, it's quality not quantity..."-Slater, Dazed & Confused
 If you could boil punk down to a DNA strand, Svart Framtid's 1984 might be the product. This is the only thing SF recorded before dissolving. Yet it contains all the virtues of punk as a musical form, and lacks its downsides, which are legion.

  Many years ago one of my friends was critiquing a band that another friend had just started, saying that "these dudes don't know how to write songs, they only know how to write hardcore songs. A good hardcore song isn't the same thing as a good song." Substitute "punk" for "hardcore" there, and you've got Svart Framtid.
  Every moment on this EP is essential to the band's majestic coherence: the guitar lead on "Religious Terror"; the perfectly paired drum-bass intro to "Disiplin"; the intro to "Milliarder," which puts a dozen Dead Kennedys bass leads to shame;  the singer's fucking urgency.
   I don't speak Norwegian. I don't know shit about Norway. Except that Vikings and Knut Hamsun were in part or whole from there. But I do know that this guy MEANT every fuckin' word he sang! How many punks, this 'un included, could ever say that without lying?
  I remember hearing SF for the first time on the Red Line,  headin' down to Boystown for another teen blooz New Year's Eve party in 2008. It was about 6 in the evening, I was already wasted, and the Navy Pier-bound yuppie revelers were clearly disgusted as I started slam-dancing in my seat to this slab of nordic brilliance.
  Please don't be waiting for me. Shit is ~30 years outta print, but all you spiky-haired punx should peeps the blog I stole this sweet wax from, here!

Running-s/t LP (2010)

Holy studded assflap, Batman! This thing is sick! DNA spool of dysentery sick! Contagious contamination sick! Oh yeah!

The Permanent Records writeup of Running describes them as "psych/punk." I take that to mean "psych" as in "psychotic," not "psychedelic." There's nothing psychedelic about this record. Unless you yourself are a bit psychotic. This is a yowling, yammering acid bath of reverb and mutilated howling.

 But there's obvious artifice to Running's bathroom-cleaner binge. One of the great conceits of noise rock is that you can just turn on a switch and the music will create itself. WRONG. At first listen, this album sounds like a collection of fragments. The cymbals fade in and out of focus, songs fall off a cliff instead of ending, and I think the guitarist just leaned his guitar against the amp and walked away, with the tape running, in between takes.
  But then you start to realize that those transitions are a little too sharp, that surf guitar intermezzo at 1:30 into "Garbage Truck" too clever, for this to be a bunch of SAIC amateurs fiddling with feedback. The opening ~5 minute dirge, "Garbage Truck," is actually a series of snarling snippets that (I'm assuming) captures the band's live sound well: the transitions are seamless, the assault pacifies you into inattention, and towards the end of the set/song the random changes in tempo give you a horrid taste of vertigo. "Pillow Talk Revisited" begins as a standard punk riff Varispeeded to death, before another amazing tempo shift that drags the band back to their usual pukeoid pace. A few posts ago, I described Running as the perfect soundtrack to rhythmic convulsions, and this LP fully supports said statement.

You'll love Running if, like this upstanding citizen, your wine never comes in a corked container.

Gurgling bloody mess.  Support some righteous doods and buy said gurgling bloody mess here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pink Reason-By a Thread 7" (2007[?])

 "Dope is just pot for people who wanna be hardcore"-Kevin Failure

've you ever had one of those nights where you go to bed at 5 am and wake up at 8 am 'cause you're still so drunk that you not only can't get to bed, but can't even lie on your back without getting the 'spins?
  This little three-song baby is the soundtrack to the day following that night. The first song, "by a thread," is tinny, relentless, and catatonic to the point that the only appropriate response is to sit there in a drunken stupor, numbly nodding along to the bangclang in yer brain.

"The Devil Always Wins" is pretty much our anthem over here at Drug Punk. For a guy whose work ostensibly owes so much to Russian punk, Kevin Failure fucking nails the sort of acapella Delta Blues stomp you'd expect to hear on one of those Smithsonian Angola Work Camp comps. Play this one when noon strikes and you're just sober enough to start piecing together how many friendships you destroyed last night.
   "Down on Me" returns to the abject, thudding spiral of "By a Thread." There's an element of warmth to this song though-maybe its the Vicodin inertia of Kevin Failure's voice. Then around 2:45 the whole song temporarily shifts into scroll-saw hell before settling back down into its static haze.
    So if you're having one of those Sunday mornings where you don't even want to be able to put together a coherent thought for fear of what you'll remember, throw "By a Thread" on and revel in your own slime.

A cheap holiday in other peoples' misery.

*EDIT, 9.15.12: I reup'd the file. Download BAT HERE. *

This thing is long out of print. But check out this interview! 

Then, mosey on over to the good folks at Siltbreeze, and buy Pink Reason's magnum opus, Cleaning the Mirror.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Alright Alreadies-s/t EP (2010)

 So, a few years into the second Bush term, we all went a little too far with that whole drone/ambient noise thing, and the corrective (chastisement?) is this beach-surf-garage-revival we're weathering right now.  It's hard to stay awake for most of this stuff. Beach House doesn't count, for several reasons, while Best Coast is a bad joke that only native Californians can be excused for taking seriously (did anyone else notice how they stole the opening drum fill of "Boyfriend" from The Boss' "Badlands"?). Tennis squandered the immense potential displayed on the "Marathon/Baltimore" demo with the well-nigh-comatose "Cape Dory" LP. This wave will no doubt crest while we're at the beach in July and August, after which we'll self-correct for an appropriately somber September, with a little Tuvan throat singing.

  Which brings us to the Alright Alreadies, a lean mean surfin' machine outta, you guessed it, Chicago. One of the saving graces of the Windy City is its lack of pretension: we're stuck in the midst of corn fields, the weather sucks, and no one's gonna notice us anyway, so why get too highbrow? The Alright Alreadies just rock out, and manage to make beach music fun again. This tape opens with "Deep End," a charmingly rambunctious surf tune that begins with a perfectly succinct dual-guitar line. Maggie, the singer, sounds fuckin' tuff, like Shangri-Las tuff, and can handle the syncopated vocals, a welcome surprise that are sprinkled throughout the EP.

   One of the things that sets this tape apart from most garage rock I've heard is the balanced mix: the band knows how to construct a rock tune, and whoever recorded it knew what they were doing. None of the instruments takes precedence for very long, and they flow together very well: the drums introduce the vocals, which are offset by the guitar, which open on a little bass bump.... If you listen to the EP on headphones, the drums really jump out at you, especially on "Freak Out" and "Aquarium:" the sound is big not abrasive, huge not aggressive-very Phil Spector.
The last and longest song, "Aquarium," is the peak: it opens with a romping drum roll that segues into a sweet guitar riff  that surfs along above the rhythm section. One of the weird things about many of the recent beach groups is their heavy use of distortion: even on a stand out tune like Tennis' "Marathon," the guitar in the chorus is so distorted and tinny that it mars the song. Dust off your Dick Dale vinyl, though, and the guitar is clean-same with a group like the Ventures. Alright Alreadies seem to have remembered this, and it really pays off on "Aquarium." The guitar is there, but in the background, so that the surf notes cascade around the rest of the band, instead of washing everything out in a quagmire of distortion. The band is so tight, you can imagine them playing in one of those 60s music videos where the band bobs their heads in unison.
"Rage it with the Alright Alreadies, bro!"

  Give it a gander, and I think you'll agree with Mr. Spicoli: "Awesome! Totally awesome!..."
Then, use the change from that bag of schwag ya just bought, and pick up the cassette from Priority Male Tapes.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blank Dogs-Phrases EP (2010)

So this cold wave biz  is what the kids are hyped on these days. Same kids seem to concur that Blank Dogs was at the top of their (his? Mike Sniper’s?) game with the lo-fi Joy Div/Front 242/et. al. worship of the earlier records. 

Fuck that. It’s easy to hide vapidity if you’re recording on a bedroom four-track and purposely cloaking your lyrics as much as Blank Dogs does. The slightly-more-polished sound of “Phrases” puts Sniper’s project on trial, and sincerity, a serious thought, is what emerges. It’s not any particular lyric, but the feeling of the album as a whole, that pushes it beyond simple Manchester ’78 dues-paying to resonate after the stylus lifts.

 This album is flotsam from the bottom of the sea-but it’s a warm sea, unlike the one that spawned Cold Cave, whose glacial beats and oh-so-tragically self-aware vocals issue from the Bering Straits. The overall mood of “Phrases” is desolation, but it’s the loneliness of someone reaching out to a multitude, instead of the noise that a solipsistic cave troll makes while reinforcing his icy ramparts. This distance owes as much to the beats as the vocals: they’re more audible than on previous Dogs releases, yet they don’t grab you by the throat and throttle you as most dance music does. The multitracking lets the vocals float up out of nowhere, quickly submerging again beneath the synth swirl.

The guitar chords that open “Racing Backwards” have a cheerful melancholy to them-covert revelry, a party that would be awesome if only there were other people around to enjoy it. This song's ambiance is that of falling in love in late August, as summer wanes into autumnal twilight. This bittersweet feeling sticks with me after spinning this record, every time.

Sit alone and cry.  Mirabile dictu, this Blank Dogs release is still available, so scoop it up here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Loose Dudes/Running split 7" EP (2010)

 Split seven inches are a dicey proposition, especially in the world of punk/noise. If the two bands have the same sound, what's the point of the split? On the other hand, put two bands that are utterly dissimilar on the same slab 'o' wax, and there's a good chance fans will opt for a full recording by whichever of the two they prefer.

 This split, a co-production of Catholic Tapes and Priority Male, manages to strike a nice balance between Loose Dudes raucousness and Running's static panic attack. "Black Preacher" is on the Permanent Sex Vacation EP (see below), but this version's better, for my money. The mix is cleaner, which makes for a better balance between the drums/vocals and the guitar. The bridge is sweet-sorta like that scene in Blues Brothers where Jake & Ellwood attend James Brown's service, only if Agent Orange was playing instead of the gospel choir.

"Father's Day" sheds any pretense of being anything other than a drinking tune, which is fine; perhaps as a result, the Dudes have never sounded tighter. There's a subtle line between fast punk and outright thrash, and the Dudes straddle it smashingly-the guitarist really starts to fuckin' wail towards the end, then they start mumbling about 'shrooms. Go figure.

Tonight, the crazy man who lives across the courtyard from me was ranting about killing someone in Italian and English when I put on the Running side, which was actually a good accompaniment. The tune really reminds me of the opening of Decline of Western Civilization, with LA punks slamming the shit out of each other to X's "Nausea." Not that Running sounds like X-it's just a good accompaniment to rhythmic convulsions, or said crazy man's homicidal fantasies. The singer sounds like he's arguing with himself at the bottom of an elevator shaft, and the song sort of collapses in on itself towards the end, with a loopy, sputtering fade out.

This baby is gonna go fast, so contact the good folks at Priority Male to Pay Pal your way to sonic bliss, or at least something rad for that hangover. Oh, did I mention the artwork for this thing is amazing?

Fucked Up-No Pasaran 7" (2002)

*Edit, 1.20.13: Re'upd the file. Get it here.*

We've been hearing a lot in the last coupla years about this band called Fucked Up that records for Vice Records and plays on MTV. They also record wanky prog-rock tunes as a fuck you to the punk scene. Lots of people like 'em, but I'm too intellectually underdeveloped to appreciate the great things they've been doing for modern music. They almost had me for a minute there with that "Hidden World" geegaw but c'mon, man-among other fopperies, anyone who manages to use the word "chthonic" in a pop song is trying too hard. Aeschylus ya ain't, so stop smellin' yer own farts.

But back in the early '00s, there was this awesome band that also happened to be called Fucked Up that made some of the best rock 'n' roll of the decade. I saw them in the classroom at the DePaul cheesegrater in 2004, and they tore it up. A friend and I interviewed them in their van before the show and they were awesome people. Smart, too.
Anyways, "No Pasaran" was the first in a series of remarkable 7" EPs by them. Side one's a barebones, bareknuckle hardcore anthem about the CNT/FAI, and a fuck you to every asshole that called you an idealist for joining the IWW at 15. "Circling the Drain" is a dirge for anyone suffering from the terminal ennui that is postindustrial labor.
Reputable sources allege that there's a connection between the aforementioned Fucked Up and the Vice Records Fucked Up. Said sources also allege that the Vice Fucked Up is innovative and revelatory in creating a self-sustaining, spectacular hype machine and that "Hidden World" was in effect a second "My War," winnowing out the avant garde wheat from the lumpen chaff. 
 For my part, if I want a brilliant critique of punk rock and why it needs to be subverted from within, I'll dust off my copy of Society of the Spectacle, thank you very much.

All you ignorami can join me in the circlepit.

*It appears that the 7" is out of print, but you can get all the early Fucked Up material on the "Epics in Minutes" CD over at Deranged Records *

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Loose Dudes-Permanent Sex Vacation (2010)

 *Edit, 12.16.13: Re'up'd the file, get it HERE.*
Those of you who’ve spent time in my hometown Chicago's punk scene are surely familiar with the Lucky Gator Loft. I moved away from Da Mare’s (ex-)fiefdom before Loose Dudes got started, so I haven’t had the fortune of actually seeing them live, but they’re a quintessential Gator Loft band: it’s Friday night, your options are drinking yourself under the table at a hole in the wall or doing something interesting, so you choose a bit of the latter and a lot of the former. 
   That would mean stumble-slamming around the Loft (or some 18 year old’s basement) while ~5 bands bash out rudimentary garage punk: enter a drummer who’s the John Bonham of Tommy Ramone thudding, a guitarist who’s a past master at trebly guitar leads, a bassist who may or may not have bothered plugging in before downing a few Hydrocodone, and a singer who’s more interested in guzzling the Rebel Yell squirrelled away behind the amp than in actually hollering whatever pearls of wisdom accompany the cacophony. Anyway, Loose Dudes are your perfect soundtrack to said Friday night, or really any activity that involves screaming along to songs whose lyrics you don’t know while stealing someone else’s Icehouse.

In short: As a friend of mine said, wearing a Loose Dudes shirt totally woulda gotten you a date with Ben Weasel’s sister in 1995. 

If that sounds awesome to you, then chug some Old Style and FREAK OUT!

Brought to ya c/o Priority Male tapes. 
This EP's sold out, but be sure to scoop the Loose Dudes/Running split!

Middle Class-Scavenged Luxury EP (1980)

Middle Class started as arty thugs, and finished as thuggish artistes. Always a step ahead of their SoCal brethren, while other LA bands were still thrashing out their stupidity with three chords and the HB Strut, by 1980 Middle Class was already jettisoning the hidebound hardcore formula.

1980's "Scavenged Luxury" EP is one of the most interesting American attempts at working through the Martin Hannett sound, without, for a moment, simply aping it. The first track, "Home is Where," is the real transition from the hammer blows of hardcore to the wider horizons of post punk: the drumming is clipped and measured, superseding the frantic double-time of "Out of Vogue;" the guitar echoes off the bass, which sets the tone for the rest of the band. Jeff Atta's vocal style hasn't really changed: he declaims more than he sings, and the hollow, aloof tone fits the band's new, measured sound. 

   If 1978's "Out of Vogue" EP was about claustrophobic compression, "Scavenged Luxury" is self-consciously expansive. This really becomes evident on the second track, "Blueprint for Joy," where a razor-wire guitar note shimmers through the mid-tempo bass-drums combo. Combined with Atta's fragmentary phrasing, the tune has a furtive, twilight quality to it. "Last Touch" is built around a guitar line that crescendos in a repeated bass/drum lead, while "Introductory Rites" brings the whole show to a grinding halt. The track is jerky and the clean guitar sound has an echoing quality to it.
 Middle Class was clearly groping their way towards something new with “Scavenged Luxury,” and it’s a real midpoint between the sonic hurricane of “Out of Vogue” and ‘82’s “The Call” LP, which sometimes sounds like a sleeping pill. Throw this on at your next hipster dance party, and show all those assholes what the soundtrack to their late night coke binge should be instead of the Bloc Party (do people even listen to those guys anymore?).

*Frontier put out a good collection of the early Middle Class material a few years ago, from whence I culled the "Scavenged Luxury" EP:*

*Edit, 9.10.12: reup'd the file. Download SL HERE.

*EDIT, 1.5.14: Re'up'd it again. AGAIN.*

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blight-Blight EP (1982)

 Like many teenage males who preferred the cozy womb of punk to the terror of socializing and talking to girls,  I spent most of high school trolling through the back catalogues of early '80s record companies like Touch & Go, Dischord, Dangerhouse, SST, et. al. You've got your obvious heavy hitters: Negative Approach, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Bad Brains, Necros...and then you have Blight.
Composed of ex-members of two of Detroit's pioneering HC groups, The Fix and Meatmen, these guys never registered in my 17-year old peregrinations through the necropolis of American HC. Besides the fact that I didn't know these 'uns existed until this week (thank you, Can't Stand the '80s , from whom I'm reposting this), it's easy to see why:
This is squalid, grinding, static sheetmetal music. All the forward momentum and cathartic rage of hardcore have been stripped away to reveal a twisting, thrashing rubbish bin of noise. In place of 4'4 time, basic rock structures speeded up to the point of oblivion, you have shuffling feedback, intermittently audible, plunking bass lines, and Tesco Vee mewling and whining over it all. The EP begins with a clip from MLK Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, which precedes a sludgy feedback porridge ("The Dream Was Dead"). "Bludgeon" is just that: hammer-drumming, gong samples, and Tesco burbling, "bludgeon fucking death!...." The standout track is "Seven Winds Over the Gobi Desert," which really sounds like Flipper's "Sex Bomb," with Tesco blooping out trumpet riffs over the usual squall.
 Many of the first generation bands of American HC, after learning how to play their instruments,  morphed into metal wankery(Circle Jerks, SSD, FUs) or precious, precocious proto-indie (Embrace, Greg Ginn's various post-Flag projects, Dag Nasty). Not so Tesco & co. Eschewing such fancy-schmancy progression, they moved backwards, echoing Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and Mars more than the above-mentioned.
Yet Blight's sound is quintessentially midwestern noise: stripped of the arty pretensions of the No Wave set (although I've always thought that Tesco & Lydia Lunch deserved each other), this is unintellectualized, unreflective, plodding, clever-stupid sonic snarkiness in the fine tradition of the Touch & Go fanzine (no shit, right?) and such geniuses as Ben Weasel. Blight is what happens when a bunch of Lansing natives who never went to art school but were certainly too smart for their own good got bored with aggressive speed and turned the electrodes on themselves. In fact, "Blight" was a great name: this is hardcore suffering from a necrotic flesh wound.
So go on, slam a sixer of Milwaukee's Best, smoke your bag of nutmeg that dude in seventh period told you was hash, and revel in their majesty here.

*EDIT, 1.6.14: I re-up'd the EP. Feast on it HERE. *

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Weed Hounds-Demo (2009)

Weed Hounds is the soundtrack to my sweltering summer in Italy. This is
mid-tempo shoegaze alternating with slightly faster parts. I hate music writing that relies on references to other bands ("they sound like X with a dash of Y combined with the lyrics of V, so buy it if you like XYV!"), so here's my stab at Weed Hounds' vibe:
You've just smoked a vicodin-dipped blunt and are snugly ensconced on your beach blanket. It's 1994, Billyboy Clinton is president, there isn't a care in the world, and all that's on your mind is watching the waves while cultivating your high, or a rambling conversation with that cute girl(/boy) next to you.
Chill out and enjoy these summer jams .

You can find the rest of their stuff, and current news, here

No Statik demo (2010)

Raw, blown out, frenetic hardcore from the Bay. Ex-Artimus Pyle, Scholastic Deth, Scrotum Grinder, blahblahblah.
Catch 'em (shoulda caught 'em? I'm in Rome) at Chaos in Tejas! And pick up their We All Die in the End LP, too!

Distortion 'til deafness....

*update, 9.14.11-re-upped the download link.*

Grazhdanskaya Oborona-Optimizm (1985)

Weird, amazing, lofi punk from the Gorby-era USSR. These guys spent years on the run from the KGB for playing punk-how many of us are that committed, eh?
The standout track for me is "Na nasyh glazah"-it sounds like a Lee Scratch Perry tune that morphed into a feedback-tinged Russian ballad about...I dunno what. Shit roolz.
Oh, and Vice Magazine apparently approves of 'em. Don't be deterred.

Read about 'em


Pink Reason-Bloodstains 7" (2009)

This is my first post. This blog will mostly focus on the scuzzier side of punk/HC, sorta like the musical version of Lester Bangs' work, but sometimes I'll digress into other sorts of awesomeness. First on the docket is Pink Reason's Bloodstains EP. I call it the perfect soundtrack to a lazy Sunday spent sitting around the house, downing the pills you found under the couch, 'cause you're too broke and lazy to go out and buy beer. 
Borrowed from decrepit tapes blog.