Friday, December 31, 2010

Straight Down Is An Angle

"Skyin'" is a collection of early Tyvek demos/practice tapes, recorded in late 2004, which I'm guessing had to be even before Tyvek had more than one show under their belts. This sold out from the label almost as fast as it was released earlier this year, but the band still had some with them when I saw them in March a week or so afterwards, so I was able to grab a copy. Other people have griped about the sound quality of this LP, which was part of the reason why I held off for a while before I listened to it, but once I did I found out that this really isn't that bad at all. Out of the slew of Tyvek demos/live collections that have been released within the past year or so, the "Demos" and "Live, Demos, Rehearsals, and Screwed" tapes on Fag Tapes are about the only two I've heard that have better material/better sound quality than this one. At the very least, being a vinyl pressing gives this a lot more weight than if it was just another cassette or CD-R.

I've owned some crappy vinyl pressings before-- like, almost everything that I bought from Blackbean & Placenta back in the '90s-- so whatever "fidelity issues" are present here aren't really enough to bother me, and eventually even become part of the charm. The first track, "This One or That One", tends to wobble in and out, but things are fine after that, although there seems to be a radio that's constantly playing in the background throughout the whole record. I actually think that's something that was already on the tape itself and just wasn't erased all the way because of a dirty tape head. Other than that, you might be surprised at how pulled-together Tyvek come across in their 2004 version; most of the ten songs here are already "classics", so to speak, and I think by now only "Through Night" (a ballad) and the Mekons cover haven't shown up on vinyl anywhere else. "Flashing Lights", which isn't listed on the back cover for some reason, is the same version that's on the X! Records "Shiftless Decay" compilation, which is a really great compilation by the way-- if you've been holding off buying it because you only recognized some of the bands on it and weren't sure if it was any good, just GET IT, it's killer all of the way through. "Future Junk" as it appears here is obviously a work in progress, as it doesn't have the whole "every day north on 10, every day south on 10" thing, but "Duck Blinds" has some extra zip to it which sorta makes up for the lousy version found on that crappy Sub Pop single.

The hand-assembled jackets are supposed to feature wrap-around artwork stuck onto recycled sleeves (like old Bee Gees albums or whatever), but mine's one of the few that came in a blank white jacket instead, so I guess I missed out on being able to keep a Tyvek record inside a chunk of smelly moldy cardboard leftover from the '70s or whatever.

Tyvek -

"Where Were You?"

"Mary Ellen Claims"

"24 Hours in a Duck Blind (Duck Blinds)"

"Give It Up"

"Through Night"

Here's a .zip file with all ten tracks, which I'll leave up for about a month or so:

Tyvek - Skyin'.zip

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Can See The Things That You're Not

Most likely I wouldn't have bought this without the Home Blitz connection (Dan DiMaggio of Home Blitz makes up half of the duo that is Car Commercials), but don't be misled into thinking that this sounds anything at all like Home Blitz. I mean, there may be similar stuff on the far-reaching Home Blitz Gulcher CD, but I wouldn't know, since those are probably the tracks that I skip over. Most of "Judy's Dust" sounds like when someone accidentally dials from their cell phone and you can hear people talking in the background while they put away dishes. I sorta smirk to myself at all of the dipshits these days who think Smith Westerns and Best Coast are "lo-fi"-- this is the real lo-fi, besides being sort of indescribable on my end, not being all that familiar with the late-70's DIY cassette culture or whatever might be the touchstones here. There's no steady punk moves or bits of Southern rock in here (there might be some slide guitar in "Mechanic", though). There isn't much at all on this record that'll give you much to hold onto, but the more you listen to it, the more it starts to fall into place. I'm not saying that this is a cohesive or coherent effort by any means, just that eventually, after a while, I decided that this was some pretty neat shit.

Car Commercials -

"Down on the Curtains"


"Babe's Out of Luck"


"Collida and Jimmy"

Sunday, December 26, 2010

In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up

(Part One)

I came up through the mid-80's hardcore scene, which is partly why the people around the music scene that I respect the most are the ones who cut their teeth on '80s hardcore like I did. This can't be applied to every generation, obviously; heck, kids who started out a decade or so after me say things like, "I saw an Offspring video on TV when I was fifteen and that's how I got into punk", which is strange for me to even think about because punk wasn't even on TV when I was fifteen, or even twenty for that matter. Still, nobody falls out of the crib fully formed and listening to Void or The Abused from day one-- we all gotta start somewhere... and for me, prior to indie, punk, and hardcore, it was a bunch of late-70's/early-80's FM rock shit. When I was 16 or 17 and turned on the radio I didn't get Offspring and Nirvana, I got Eddie Money and Billy Squier, which in a way is good because Offspring and Nirvana suck way more than Eddie Money and Billy Squier ever did.

I think when the Walkman first came out they were 20 bucks, and I would walk to my summer job and listen to tapes like XTC's "The Black Sea", and Simple Minds... I was just starting to figure out that anything that had a big drum sound sounded cool to me. Cheap Trick's "Next Position Please" was another one of the tapes I'd listen to constantly. Supposedly, "I Can't Take It" is the only Cheap Trick song written by Robin Zander, but whatever the case, Todd Rundgren's mix for this song is just about perfect, with the drums on top of almost everything else. It might even be my favorite Cheap Trick song ever. One of things I thought was funny about this record is that the title track ("Next Position Please") includes the line, "I want to be the biggest gun in the world/I want to see the tits on every girl", which seems like a pretty bold line for a band striving for commercial radio airplay back in the early '80s. I didn't realize it at the time, but the cover art apparently makes fun of Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run"; by the time I figured it out years later, it seemed like a pretty boring idea.

Cheap Trick -

"I Can't Take It"

The best Billy Squier record is actually "Don't Say No", but since I don't have that one handy right now, I'm going with this one instead-- hence, Part Two. "Emotions In Motions" is pretty good in itself, although even at his best Billy was a little fey at times, meaning you get the stupid "Hot Space"/"Drums and Wires"-looking album cover and tons of dopey '80s studio trickery-- like the ridiculous overdubbed snare sound-- to go along with everything else. Still, we're talking Billy Squier here, one of the Top 3 Male Solo Artists, Immediate Pre-Hair Metal Era ('78-'82) (1. Eddie Money, 2. Billy Squier, 3. Donnie Iris, as first noted here some years ago). Plus there's an almost funny story about a DJ in Pennslyvania or somewhere locking himself inside the studio and playing "Everybody Wants You" a hundred times in a row, which could almost be a Spinal Tap moment if they ever want to make another one of those.

Billy Squier -

"Everybody Wants You"

Just in case anyone thinks my saying that I liked this record is a bunch of bullshit, I've posted a "best-of" list at the top of the page, taken from one one of my old zines printed exactly 24 years ago this month. Of course, I'd change the list around a bit if I had to re-write it-- like, the Cro-Mags and Slow would most likely switch places-- but it's too late now. "Done With Mirrors" was Aerosmith's first post-rehab comeback album, and even though it's on par (read: non-horn-filled) with a lot of their earlier stuff, it still flopped pretty hard, partly because everything on the record is written in backwards letters, including the production credits on the inner sleeve and even on the record label itself. They wised up afterwards and brought in a bunch of song doctors to write garbage like "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" for their next record, and the rest is history. The best track on here ("Let The Music Do The Talking") was already five years old when they swiped it from the first Joe Perry Project album and had Steven Tyler write new lyrics for it, but that one along with "My Fist Your Face" and "Shame On You" make about as good a 1-2-3 punch to start off an '80s rock record as you'll ever find.

Aerosmith -

"My Fist Your Face"

"Let The Music Do The Talking"

As an added bonus, here's that old newsletter from 1986, which a friend of mine scanned and sent to me a little while ago; I don't even have an original copy anymore. When you read it you'll see that I'm still writing the same way 24 years later (even though the two best jokes-- the Jack Rabid/Penis Landscapes joke and the Joeski Love joke-- are too old for people to get them anymore). This isn't an easy habit to get rid of, obviously.

Friday, December 24, 2010

I'm Too Smart To Know My Fate

The Bedlam LP was among the first few batches of albums that I bought when I first started buying hardcore records back in '84/'85, although I remember the copy I bought back then had a folded-up sleeve, and this one doesn't. I guess this album was re-mixed and reissued in a regular jacket a few years after it was recorded in '83, and I never knew about it until just recently. I've also been calling this album "Bedlam's 'Total Bedlam' LP" for most of my life, but I guess that's not the real name of it, either. If they did actually re-mix this thing then I guess that's why this sounds way beefier than I ever remember it being, though all it takes is to play the second side again before I'm reminded of why I didn't think this album was all that hot to begin with: a few too many slow, dirgey songs and funny ha-ha covers and whatnot. Still, the faster songs on here sorta rip pretty good, especially now that they've been jacked up a bit, and side one barely clocks in at 6-1/2 minutes, which is shorter than a couple of 45's that I own. Bedlam even did a "fuck MTV" song before Jello even thought to write his, which is worth, like, a point, I guess. I remember not knowing exactly what WPLJ was when I first heard the song, and then seeing WPLJ billboards and ads on buses when I would visit NYC later on and thinking "ha ha, that's the shitty station that Bedlam made fun of." See, NJ hardcore has enriched lives in ways you probably never even thought of.

Bedlam -

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fake Best Of 2010

Cheveu -

"Charlie Sheen"

Merchandise -

"I Locked the Door"

Sudden Walks -

"Nostalgia Fucker"

Nomos -


"A Witness"

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Want To Fall Apart

I never would've guessed that Saturday night's Estrogen Highs show was gonna leave me with a newly-minted impression of The Mountain Movers as a harshed-out rock outfit, yet that's pretty much what happened. It wasn't that The Mountain Movers' set itself was all that hellacious, although it was definitely more aggressive than I was used to hearing from them. Stripped down as a four piece, with Kryssi Colorguard adding weird skronking noises and stuff on second guitar and with the distortion level on Dan's guitar switched up to halfway at least, the songs had some added kick to them. Still, the pace was still languid enough to where the drummer, John, could play through most of one song with only one hand (I guess he'd dropped his stick) and still not really miss anything.

The surprise came at the end of the night, when I bought two new cassette EPs, "Come In" and "Get Out", to listen to in the car on the drive home. Dan's deceptively simple-but-elaborate way of putting songs together, with some added piano or horns placed here and there, gives a decidedly psychedelic rock/folk feel to The Mountain Movers' stuff-- or at least everything I've heard up until now. These tapes, on the other hand, are nothing like that. Recorded as raw demos to 8-track cassette, the songs are dirt-level garage thump at its most primitive, like Fireworks or Gories with even less of a budget. Guitars drone and shriek, drums fade in and out, Dan's voice sounds menacingly resigned, until eventually the wheels fall off with a couple of songs stopping dead altogether. The songs are still catchy, though, which is amazing. Really great stuff which I hope some people will make an effort to track down, although right now the tapes aren't up for sale on the Mountain Movers merch site (, with "Come In" also being listed as a Jan. 2011 release so I guess it isn't even officially out yet.

Saturday's show was the release party for the new Estrogen Highs LP, "Friends and Relatives", which is out on Stefan's and Kryssi's new label, Gramery ( I've only been able to give the a-side of the new LP a glancing run-through so far, so I won't even try to sum the whole album up yet, although it's apparent right away that "Friends and Relatives" covers a much wider territory than any Estrogen Highs release so far: pop stuff, rock stuff, even some outright noise. Their set on Saturday was another free-for-all, though it probably wasn't as erratic as I would've liked, or as terrible as they apparently thought it was (Stefan: "No matter what we do, you people keep standing there watching us. What's wrong with you?"). They played more than a few covers, most of which I forgot to remember, save for the Marshall Tucker one (again) and then "Echos Myron", which Stefan introduced by saying "all these other songs we've been butchering we've actually practiced before, but this next song we've never even played together once."

One of the covers they played the other night will be on their upcoming "Cycles" EP on Safety Meeting, which will fill in the answer of why I can't remember it; hopefully the EP will also have "Kings Run Errands For Me", a pretty awesome song which is on the Estrogen Highs' MySpace but isn't on the new LP. The Mountain Movers also have a new record out, a double LP (three-sided, actually) called "Apple Mountain". Of the tracks I've posted below, "Goodbye Human" is from "The Day Calls Out For You", another Mountain Movers LP which came out earlier in 2010, while the other two tracks are from the "Get Out" cassette. "Weed Queen", of course, is a vinyl rip from "Friends and Relatives".

Estrogen Highs -

"Weed Queen"

The Mountain Movers -

"Goodbye Human"

"I Had To Stay"

"I Watch The Sea"

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Say There's Nothing To Do

I still have one other Chemical Imbalance 7"-er besides "The Andrew Noel Lin Memorial Trailer Park EP", though I don't think the other one is any funnier or any better than this one. Still, with Ted Nugent and Real Kids covers, I guess it's hard to complain... Blue Hippos are somewhat Halo of Flies related (Paul Osby had been in Otto's Chemical Lounge with Tom Hazelmyer), but not really. Magnolias are the Minneapolis band that got saddled with the "second-rate Replacements/Soul Asylum" tag... I know it doesn't say it anywhere on the sleeve, but Soul Asylum are on this record. Soul Asylum are on this record, by the way. Look, everyone, it's Soul Asylum. Too bad their track really sucks.

Magnolias -

"Do The Boob"
(Real Kids cover)

Blue Hippos -

"Motor City Madhouse"
(Ted Nugent cover)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Now I See How People Really Are

"This scene's got more useless flakes than the bottom of a box of Raisin Bran." --original review of Frozen Monkey CD from Brushback #6

I'm not sure if the Frozen Monkey compilation CD ever officially came out; the liner notes mention a tray card and a printed booklet with some extra photos, but I've owned two copies (thanks to Brian from Atlas, who replaced my original defective copy with a new one a couple of years ago) and they both had the same basic photocopied insert. The material on this compilation is a bit scattershot as well, containing a bunch of hippie metal bands and some other wannabe-commercial stuff that you'll probably want to skip over. Still, the better half of this CD is well worth checking out, including long-time faves Atlas, a great Penfold track-- probably better than anything on their still-mighty-good "Turtle Dreams" LP-- and two tracks from The Ugly Truth (once described by me as "Cockney Rejects/Naked Raygun jr.") which might rate as their best stuff ever. Half-assed attempts or not, if you're into Connecticut bands and looking to build an instant starter kit on the immensely fertile Danbury/New Milford-centric indie scene of the early-to-mid 90's, then the Frozen Monkey CD should be one of the compilations included, along with "Chop Whip Grate Liquefy", the "Destroy All Mediocrity" set, and the Capsule "One" EP.

Out of the really good stuff on here, besides what I've already mentioned, there are two bands that I hadn't heard of before or since. Grass Drags, from New Hartford, contributed the stellar lead-off track, "What I Saw", which has a cool side-of-the-mouth vocal and steals the riff from "Satisfaction"/"Jumpin' Jack Flash". There's one other Grass Drags song on here, but it's sorta too lo-fi to be able to tell what's going on. Then there's Hircine, who keep their drummer on-time long enough to pull off a nice, fuzzed-out power-psych number, "Massochists", which, if not at least a bit Byrds/early Who influenced, seemed perfectly Slumberland-bound for the times.

The rest of the CD gets way too obnoxious, although I guess some of it can be good for a laugh if approached a certain way-- like, if you suddenly became interested in bad keyboard-laced prog metal (Matt's Altar), or stuff that sounds like The Outlaws or the worst-ever Guns n' Roses tracks (Dealers of Salvation, Undermine), or the return of Skid Row and Ugly Kid Joe (um, JoE), or home-recorded Primitive Radio Gods-type drum machine pop (Rob Schipul). Still, I'm gonna go ahead and post a link to the full CD as a .zip file-- good for only about a month or so-- since they're all Connecticut bands anyway, and I'm sure that a lot of people around here have never owned this CD. Plus this could be your only shot at hearing the legendary, highly-regarded Death Penis.

Grass Drags -

"What I Saw"

Atlas -

"Sun Sets on Lawrence, Kansas"

The Ugly Truth -

"Back From The City"


Hircine -


Penfold -

"Ram & Crab"

And, for a limited time --

Frozen Monkey compilation