Saturday, July 31, 2010

I Keep It Peppy Every Goddamn Day

A unfreakin' godly hunk of rock if there ever was one, Fireballs of Freedom started out of the underrated Missoula, MT scene of the mid-90's, a scene that featured a whole slew of good bands (I've still got the Humpy/Oheisvasara spit on Pink House Records! I rule!) and some great zines like Shat Upon and Inner Muscle. Missoula was a place where everyone liked AC/DC and no one seemed to like Silkworm very much, if reading those zines was any indication. "Viva El Gato" came out after the Fireballs had already moved to Portland, but the sleeve is totally in the Vanek/Inner Muscle/Wäntage style, even though this came out on Empty. Every track on here is a scorcher, including "Von Ferno", which is one of those "tonight we're gonna rock you" type songs with a boogie riff. Dig it.

Fireballs of Freedom -

"Viva El Gato"

"Von Ferno"

"Fighting With Knives"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

There's A Man Made Of Shadow Behind You

Kitty Badass were definitely one of the more interesting bands to come out of Connecticut in the last half of the 90's, besides being one of the best. A great live band, their songs were both spastic and amazingly catchy, and they had the ability to downshift quickly from thrashy punk to ripping powerchords, much like the Libyans do now. Not everything they did was gold, of course-- starting off with an okay track on the "I Can't Do Anything With 50 Cents" compilation and a split with Fudge Daddy-O's-- but when their first EP came out, the first two songs ("Tilted" and "Wings Folding") crushed anything they had released up to that point.

A second EP, "385 Seconds of Kitty Badass", was released within a month or so of this one (on Al Pist's Red Tape Records), and then there was 1998's "One Cell At a Time" CD, which wasn't recorded as well as the "We'll Let You Live" EP but had even better songs on it; in fact, I'd say that first six songs on "One Cell At a Time", taken as a group, were as good as any batch of songs released by a CT band that decade. Kitty Badass continued for a couple more years afterwards and there might've been one or two more releases beyond that, but I don't really know because I sorta lost track. "One Cell At a Time" is definitely worth picking up if you happen to find it though (ugly cover and all), otherwise I'll probably get around to posting it here eventually.

Kitty Badass -


"Wings Folding"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Was Always Looking In The Other Direction

One of my favorite '90s singles, if just for the Scribble side, which has a bunch of great surging guitar lines and then adds a whistle solo (!) and some cool layered vocals towards the end. Take the fuzzy indie-pop thing that was going on at the time, along with what Superchunk was doing, and "Bedwetter" sorta fits right in-between there-- although Scribble were from Portland, so they were probably influenced just as much by Treepeople/Built To Spill as anything else. When I first reviewed this record I thought that the Sissyface side sounded a lot like a surf/psych version of "Valley of the Gwangi" (Phantom Tollbooth), and I'm still standing by that. I'm starting to think that the cover model looks a bit more like Dee Snider, though.

Scribble -


Sissyface -

"Muscle Car"

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It Feels Like I'm Going Backwards

To me, "All Going Out Together" always seemed like a nice enough song about a bunch of friends getting ready to hit the town, until I figured out later that it was actually about everybody dying in a massive disaster and then it became that much better. A lot of Big Dipper's lyrics were twisted like that, which is one of the things that separated them from run-of-the-mill college rock, even if occasionally you could find them being extolled by the same people who bought crappy BoDeans records.

I would've posted a lot more Big Dipper along the way except the re-ish put the chill on that, although I still have all of their earlier records. This particular one I found kicking around in a used bin at Looney Tunes up in Boston for six bucks; it wasn't until I took it out of the sleeve that I found out it was a test pressing (the piece of tape on the back cover probably held the info sheet, before it was ripped off). "He Is God", which later found its way onto Homestead's "Human Music" comp, is another twisted Big Dipper lyric, about finding out that your friend who's been passing around bread and stuff is really Jesus. The untitled "hidden" track at the end of side two is a mash-up of a couple of different versions of "Faith Healer" (including a somewhat hysterical attempt by Shonen Knife), along with some crackly old recordings about the space program and the Loch Ness Monster and what have you. It's barely kinda neat, but it's also not on the re-ish, so there.

Big Dipper -

"All Going Out Together"

"He Is God"

"(bonus track)"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Don't Know How To Handle This

Probably the only cool thing about living in Connecticut is that I get to see Medication twice a year. However good the HoZac 7" and LP might be, there's nothing like hearing those songs live w/a band-- the slower ones breathe and simmer a little bit more, and ones like "Didn't Wanna Know" and "Don't Die" become real shit-kickers. On Wednesday night they played one vaguely familiar sounding song about halfway through the set, that totally knocked me backwards; it turned out to be some song (the neighbors?? not sure if I heard it right) that's been played live a few times and has been recorded, but wasn't on the LP. Now that I know that there's some newer solo-recorded Medication tracks floating around out there that I've never heard, it's probably gonna bug me.

This was Estrogen High's first show with their new drummer, Ross (Iron Hand, Tombstone Minds), which of course makes the band sound really different, although part of that is because they played only all new songs again except for a couple: "Logical Doctor" and "Move", which happen to be two of my favorites. The new songs are a bit different from what you've heard before-- maybe more VU, more flannel-rock. The ending part to "Logical Doctor" is a blow-out every time they play it, you've gotta see it, it's completely possessed.

Rich of Florida's Dying was also there, making the rounds with some of his records and bringing a bunch of new stuff (which you'd otherwise probably never see around here) along with some "tour only" type presses as well as the occasional eBay fodder for half the usual. I snagged a few sides that I still haven't listened to yet, there's crates around here full of that sort of thing.

Medication -


Estrogen Highs -

"They Told Me I Was Everything"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

To Be Forgotten Doesn't Really Matter To You

I doubt that anyone remembers this now, but back in the '90s some joker came up with the term "retro punk" to describe bands like Dimestore Halos, Spent Idols, Sonic Dolls, and whatever crappy band George Tabb happened to be in at the moment. The Stiffs were one of those bands, before they changed their name to Stiffs, Inc. and turned goth or something... I sorta lost track after that. "Blown Away Baby", The Stiffs' second single, certainly has its moments-- I like the part where the guy says something that sounds like "put out that damn cigarette"-- and you can tell from the b-side that the drummer is pretty good, but when I listen to "Work Work Work" now it sorta sounds like Tyler Trudeau singing for Chronic Disorder, so flip a coin I guess. I would've thought that I bought this single from Jim Budds, but there's a Vital mailorder list inside of it so obviously I didn't.

The Stiffs -

"Blown Away Baby"

"Work, Work, Work"

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Covers Of This Book Are Too Far Apart

Friday night was my third time seeing Glue Machine in the past month, and this time they finally nailed it. I don't know if it was The Whitney House's superior acoustics (probably) or some extra practice or something, but finally their sound made sense to me. While the show flyers tag Glue Machine as being some kinda grunged-up AmRep-style damage, I still think the template is Side-Two-and-after Black Flag with a side order of Flipper, but maybe that's just a matter of a quarter-inch in either direction. Maybe they really do sound like The Cows, who knows. I've never actually bothered to ask the band what it is that they're shooting for; some day there'll be a demo to listen to, and then you won't need my half-assed guesses. Their set was really good, in any case.

White Suns were relentless; everything they did was precise, even though they still found enough space to play off each other, which I thought was impressive. With two guitars and two sets of patched-together effects boxes to fiddle with, they made a heck of a wall of sound, with a drummer that hardly ever stopped moving, and everything they did seemed to be at its absolute physical limit. They seemed to be randomly funny guys, too (I'd repeat the suns/sons joke, but if I don't get it right it'll just sound stupid). Rick is/was also in Open Star Clusters, and White Suns originated in Connecticut, though I'm not going to tag them as such (I know, like it really matters what I do).

White Suns -


Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Only Evidence Is A Fresh Dug Hole

A decent enough single from a pretty good band, nothing that's gonna make me jump up and down but I'm glad I own it... which I guess in that sense makes it the Johan Witehall of punk singles... after an extended wrong-speed intro, the a-side sorta ends up sounding like the Lime Spiders "That's How It Will Be" or the Spiderman theme song... I could be wrong, I mean, I get things wrong all the time. That's why the pictures and songs are here, to detract from the writing.

Gas Huffer -


Monday, July 5, 2010

Let's Get Hurt

I'm sure their records are already pretty easy to find on the internet, but I own a bunch of Teengenerate stuff so I figured why not rip one of them... Every record of theirs I've ever heard scorches all the way through-- total fuzzed-out Bass-O-Matic garage psych/power thrash, but Teengenerate knew their way around a rock 'n' roll hook, too, which is best documented (I think) on their EP of all The Kids covers... I'd post the review I wrote of "Get Action!" in an old issue of Brushback ("what a great idea to re-write 'Take 'em Up' about a half-dozen times now that no one will remember it anyway"), except that I don't feel like explaining the postage stamp joke... Trust me when I say that the Queers cover seemed reasonable back when they first recorded it, even though you'd have to be an idiot to buy anything that the Queers are putting out now.

Teengenerate -

"Mess Me Up"


"Let's Get Hurt"

"Right Now"

"She's So Fine"

"Something You Got"

"Don't Leave Me"