Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Observers-Walk Alone EP (2004)

"It was midday and Eric was trying to remember how to get out of bed. At this point in time no one seemed to care whether he was human garbage or not, and it was just killing him."-Richard Price, Lush Life

I first heard the Observers when they played Chicago's Ice Factory back in 2005 with Clorox Girls, on the "So What's Left Now?" LP release tour. Even if they hadn't dropped that LP, this three-song EP would still cement The Observers' place as one of the best punk bands of the '00s for those who never got a chance to see them. From the twinkling guitar notes that open "Walk Alone" to the squalling instrumental mess that closes out "Slipping Away," there's not a flat moment or fake sentiment on this thing.

Musically, the Observers were one of the only bands of the period talented enough (i.e., they were song-writers as well as simple instrumentalists) to move beyond crude Wipers worship and develop the Greg Sage-inflected guitar sound in an original direction. The heavy bass lines, tucked away just behind the guitar on this EP, catch my ear now in a way they didn't when I first bought this EP back in 2007. But it's the guitar, for sure, that takes pride of place here:  in lockstep with the rhythm section, it sets the pace and shines, snaps, and cracks through the mix like a time-keeping whip.They're one of the only contemporary punk bands that have gotten compared to The Adverts, and that's apt: like Gaye and co., The Observers' songs always hovered on the edge of dissolving into arrhythmic chaos, and were all the better for it.

There are two basic schools of listening: those who give a shit about lyrics and words, and those who don't. Hyper-textual loser that I am, I've always been firmly in the former camp. I'm also a cynical, cranky old bastard on the best of days, so this EP quite accurately reflects my typical state of mind. To my mind, Doug wrote some of the best lyrics of recent years (and continues to do so, for the Red Dons ). "Walk Alone" is a succinct account of urban anomie and isolation: "walk these streets where I'm a stranger, seeking out new directions/lost and found..." As the chorus swells, the grinding frustration of wanting something different than the misery you're stuck in, but having no clue how to get that something different, bursts out: "Fear's what I've found/I'm in over my head/....I just want something different than what I'm feeling right now..." It's that line that's stuck with me since I first got this EP.

 "The Void" stands out because of the chanted vocals, while "Slipping Away" really displays the Adverts influence: the instruments are mixed in a muddy stew that emphasizes the near-clarity of the choruses. The song dissolves into a frantic, confusing swirl of guitar skronk and violently repetitive drumming. As far as I can tell (no lyric sheet in front of me), the song's about watching your dreams whirl down the drain as you get older: anyone in their mid- to late-twenties is familiar with that sentiment.

The Observers one of the very few bands that I loved when I was 18 that mean more to me as I get older than they did back then.

Anyway, this review is probably too long for those of you who come here for the download links, but The Observers fucking mattered, man. To me, anyway. And this is my blog, so you have to endure my obsessions and neuroses. Deal.

HERE. I think this EP is long out of print, but try dropping Jonny Cat Records a line on their facebook page and find out for yercelf. Four fifths of The Observers now play in Red Dons, a band who deserves your attention and money. They just dropped a new EP, go buy that.

*EDIT, 3.28.14: Re-up'd the file, you can now get it here.*

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crooked Bangs-s/t LP (2012)

I stopped following the Austin scene around when WorldBurnstoDeath dropped that monstrosity of a second LP  and Storm the Tower broke up, but Crooked Bangs has piqued my interest anew in Austin punk.
  Crooked Bangs' debut LP offers just the catharsis I need on a washed out Thursday night: midtempo glum rock that wears its Misfits influences on its sleeve, especially in regards to the vocals. As it happens, I can't stand about 95% of the Misfits' recorded output, but that's intended as a compliment to Crooked Bangs. They dish out eleven tracks of mid-tempo punk that reveal them to be much better songwriters than Danzig and co. ever were: this LP confirms my view that punk bands stand or fall based on their rhythm section.

Whereas most punk bands spew forth a mess of guitar squall with the drummer thudding away somewhere in the background, CB's drummer and bassist converse with the guitar: the result is an album's worth of songs, as opposed to a gurgling mess masquerading as such.
"C'est Iutile" is a precis of the Bangs' talents: the song opens with a measured riff that fights for space with the lockstep drumming, while the singer intones about..uh...something useless?
"Le Beau Tetard Sur Son Cigare" is the best'un here, though: I'll be humming the bass/guitar line to myself til I pass out in a fog of Gordon's gin and Drum tobacco, and the beat is so snazzy you could dance to it, if you're inclined to do such things. Dance punk at its finest, folks, with no annoying irony or self-consciousness to be found (seriously, didn't we all get into punk 'cause we can't cut it on the dancefloor, among other places? So why does every punk I know dance like all the cool kids is watchin' him/her?).

Anyways, I give this a ringing DrugPunk endorsement: if I ever again meet a girl who can stand me for more than 10 minutes at a time, a Crooked Bangs song will be on a mixtape for her.

Listen to Crooked Bangs HERE. Then, go buy their LP from Western Medical Records!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Well forked (but not dead)

Postings will be intermittent for the next two weeks. The internet at my apartment has more or less ceased functioning, and the landlord charges 30 Euro to even take a look at the system. Bandcamp won't load, and I can't download anything, currently. Zippyshare, finally, has dropped almost every file I've tried to upload for the last two weeks, so the vast re-uploading project to compensate for LeMaire's slaughter is going quite slowly.

I'll be back when I can, at the latest the first week of October, when I get back to the US.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stand Alone Complex-Broken Sleep in a Minor Key LP (2012)

It’s only 8 pm, I’m only 4 beers into the night, and already I’ve been offered weed, coke and fucking heroin by three different street dealers in my neighborhood. Either I look a lot more dissolute than I see myself as appearing, or I have the phrase “I am a stupid white boy, please rip me off” written all over my shirt and said street dealers’ English literacy is a lot higher than I assumed. I mean, yeah, I am a stupid white boy, but 1) I know my drugs, and the drugs these assholes are offering have nothing to do with said drugs as I know (know of) them, and 2) I’m no one’s fool but my own, and yours, dear reader.

On that note, let me introduce you to Portsmouth’s StandAloneComplex, which I understand to be the solo project of Damon Marcus. Marcus belts out a slew of tracks in that scuzzy, lofi register you and I both love. “Crywank” is a good’un ‘cause of the retardedly simple-yet-endearing guitar wankery that takes over from the acoustic bedroom punk halfway through. “Canis Major” (“the Greater Dog”) emerges from the trashy lofi gloom enough to have an identifiable set of chords to accompany Marcus’ croon. “Ursa Minor” (“[the] Lesser Bear”-someone took intro Latin!) bears more than a passing resemblance to many a Mountain Goats tune that I’ve drunk myself into oblivion to, which is a compliment coming from me. SAC doesn’t have the lyrical resonance of John Darnielle, but hey, who does? It’s a great tune, prolly the best on this album.
“Thirteen’ is a convincing take on Nick Drake’s finer moments, but executed with an urgency foreign to Messr. Drake. Anyways, this is a good album I can heartily recommend to those of you who aren’t gonna remember yr Saturday night when you wake up on Sunday morning, in the cold grey morning (as Iron Cross put it), tired, broke, and miserable. SAC is just the thing for ya-it won’t make you feel better, but it will at least give you the impression that someone out there recorded an album just for this mood you find yrself in. Cheer up, bucko, and crack that beer! Hair of the dog is just whatcha need. 

Hang out with Stand Alone Complex  here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

email snafu

Due to a series of stupid circumstances involving Google's email access barriers and my being abroad, I can't access my email account for the blog.

Until I get back to the States in two weeks or so, please send all music submissions/fuck yous/hate mail/et.al. to this account:

[yeh, I know there's two "g"s there-some jerk already has 'drugpunk@yahoo.com' taken].

I had a number of albums backed up for review, but they're gonna have to wait til the first week of october, sorry people.

Expect new stuff soon-ish.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Ex-1936 (Spanish Revolution) EP (1986)

"Well I used to be disgusted/but now I try to be amused"-Elvis Costello, "Red Shoes"

"A cheap holiday in other peoples' misery...."-Johnny Rotten, "Holidays in the Sun"

I was going to post The Proletariat's 1985 Lp, "Indifference," to celebrate 9/11, but zippyshare has dropped every LP I've tried to upload for the past two days.

So instead, to celebrate the atrocity generator that was 9/11/01, I give you The Ex's "1936.' For those of you who haven't heard it or them, the Dutch band covered four original Anarchist songs from the Spanish Revolution (or Civil War, depending on who you are). Folk songs they ain't, though: "No Pasaran" is a wrecking ball, with all the urgency that the workers and peasants of Spain must have felt when they rose up against the planned military coup of Franco and his goons in 1936. The other three songs are in the same vein: bracing, intense-in-a-non-hardcore-or-noise sorta way. The highest compliment I can give the Ex is that they did justice to songs that were originally sung by people fighting and dying against Fascism.

THEY SHALL NOT PASS. You really should buy a physical copy of this album, at The Ex's website.: the booklet is a beautiful, heartbreaking collection of photos of the people who made the Spanish revolution, along with an unabashedly partisan history of the war from an Anarchist perspective.

As mentioned, I'm posting this to commemorate 9.11. Listening to this music in 2012, I can't help but feel perverse, in much the same way I would imagine it would feel reading pamphlets from 1789 in post-Waterloo, Restoration-era Europe ca. 1820: this is an artifact from a moment when people saw a chance to create a liberated existence, and took it. That moment was drowned in blood, at the hands of Communists, Liberals, Fascists, and the Nazis; but at least they fought for it. Looking back, it's almost impossible to conceive of that moment as having existed anywhere in the world.

Americans certainly can't say that. Occupy? Give me a fucking break. Even more than that, this album makes me cringe thinking of self-styled American anarchism: vegan assholes denouncing each other for being insufficiently freegan does not a revolution maketh. Ultimately, I think that 9/11 was only a tragedy for the rest of the world, particularly the global South, since it's the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc. that have to live with the consequences. Sure, drones are being deployed in American cities and NYC itself more and more resembles a prison, but ultimately, us Americans deserve it: what goes around comes around, and the American middle class is finally learning what it feels like to be targeted by the state. Good fucking riddance.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sex Cross-s/t EP (2012)

The goofy name is a dead giveaway that we're dealing with a goth band here. Unsurprisingly, then, these Jerseyites dish out three tracks of blackclad gloom, leaning on coldwave guitar  stylings like I'll be leaning against a wall to keep me on my feet as I puke in a few hours.

This brief EP has all the requisite components of a guitar-based goth ensemble: distant, chanted vocals; monotone drumming; a bass that's somewhere in there, probably beneath a black trenchcoat; and a taut, shards-of-ice guitar track. "Summer of Fire" is my pick, for the, you guessed it, guitar: once again, as I claimed in my Cemetery review, goth owes a lot to surf guitar riffs.

In fact, if you dig Cemetery, get yr hands (er, ears? Itunes files?) on this now-Sex Cross will tide you over til the next release by those Chicago glumrockers, and I'm looking forward to what these guys' mortuary operation produces next.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Antique Pony-Museum of Blood EP (2012)

After spinning these Glaswegians' [sic?] debut EP, I can safely say that they are fans of mathrock. Their email winging the EP my way described them as a noise band, but their sound isn't as guttural as most groups I associate with that genre.

Instead, these nine tracks exhibit a pretty solid grasp of postrock songwriting. The production is a bit too mannered for my tastes, but it sounds like an aesthetic choice, not happenstance. Most of the tracks sound like the makings of jazz musicians who got fed up with playing in fancypeople bars and got into Scratch Acid. The drummer totally stole the opening roll for "novella written by retired mortician" (gee, these guys had their thesaurus at hand when naming these songs, eh?) from Joy Division, but eh, who isn't ripping off Morris & co. these days?

Anyways, you'll dig this if you like sustained, guitar-centered post-rock instrumentals. This is a lazy review, I know, but I'm on my way out of the house to get blackout drunk and try to make conversation with the anarchists of Florence, so buzz off.

Check out Antique Pony HERE.

Friday, September 7, 2012

No Trend-Teen Love 7" (1983)

I'm often accused of being a misanthrope. That's probably true, BUT!: compared to No Trend (or at least the version of No Trend presented on this and their first LP, 1984's "Too Many Humans"), I'm a hippy.

NT was infamous in the mid-80s US punk scene for their obnoxious performances (including the use of blinding runway lights to separate themselves from the audience) and unpredictable, consistently contrarian albums.

This is by far my favorite: three tracks of trudging, grinding noise that gives you a good sense of why Lydia Lunch later collaborated with the band. "Teen Love" is a touching tale of teen stupidity in Reagan's America: the first two tracks, "Mass Sterilization (Caused by Venereal Disease" and "Cancer," sound like they read: vicious, gleefully nihilistic noise.

Throw this slab of puerile misanthropy on if your week has been as bad as mine. Enjoy!

There's an interesting oral history of the band up on the NY Press website; the interview that Ratcharge did with an ex-bassist is also worth reading.

Bands and musicians who have sent me stuff recently: Have patience, your stuff will be reviewed eventually.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I just realized that Mediafire has suspended my account. Those motherfuckers didn't even send me a fucking email. Thanks a lot, you bastards. I can't explain how angry I am about this.

This means that all of the posts from 2011 now have dead links, as well as quite a few from this year.  I don't have the time or patience to re-up everything. If you want a given file or mix, send me an email or leave a comment on the relevant entry and I'll reup it elsewhere. Or, if any of you wanna be sweethearts, try posting current links for dead files.

The "Alone and Forsaken" takedowns especially piss me off, since they're semi-autobiographical in a lot of ways. Also, A&F XIII included a track by a good friend that I was hoping would get more attention.

I'd like to reiterate my charge that the people who run Mediafire are, collectively, a bunch of cowards and assholes. Of course, I expect this sort of behavior from a corporation, but Mediafire is notable for their open complicity with fraudulent copyright owners, namely, LinkID and Lemaire.
 Their one-way process of kowtowing to any shitbird who sounds like a lawyer is craven and despicable, and in any case will not save them if SOPA passes. There is no future in Mediafire's dreaming.

The way Mediafire responds to complaints, based on what I, Zen Arcade, Iamtheleastmachiavellian, and various other blogs have experienced, is to unquestioningly believe anyone who emails them with a complaint., even if the email is clearly written by a spambot or dummy corporation.

I'm using Zippyshare for all future reviews when there isn't a bandcamp link. I'm sure, however, that the purge of music blogs will eventually zero in on Zippyshare. If anyone has suggestions for more permanent solutions to this issue, now's the time to start talking.

I'm going to continue Drug Punk to the best of my ability and as time allows. The contrarian in me actually is energized by what these shitbirds are doing to the community of weirdos, loners, and music nerds that I've always aimed my writing and posts at. If all else fails, we can just go back to trading cassettes anyways.

If you run a blog or any sort of website that hosts files, you're probably going to be targeted soon, if you haven't already, by someone calling himself Lemaire, running the company LinkID. Here's the contact info:
13, rue Greneta
75003 PARIS
Tel: +33950084207
Mobile: +33620867619
Mail: contact@leakid.com

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Strike a Match-demo (2012)

True story: one of my friends saw Fugazi (or was it Bikini Kill? Sorta the same band in a lot of ways-those of you who disagree, read some other blog) at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom back in the early '90s. Pearl Jam had just broken big, and Eddie Vedder was shouting the good name of Ian MacKaye et. al./Kathleen Hanna et. al. from the rooftops. So a bunch of fratboys were there, catcalling the riot grrrls. Of course, they had picked the wrong bunch of women to fuck with, and a fight ensued. Problem was, the riot grrls thought that my friend-a Marxist and noise musician-was one of the frat boys, and they beat the living shit out of him instead of the shitbird frat guys.

You might like Strike a Match if you like Fugazi. Although they sound like they have a better sense of humor than Ian et. al. ever did (that's a compliment, fellas). They're from Oslo. I apologize to them, as this thing washed up in my inbox back in February and they've since broken up.

Check it out here.