Saturday, April 30, 2011

Giving Drugs To Little Kids

Joe Stumble used to have this one up on Last Days of Man on Earth, but it's gone now, so I figured I'd step in. Plus Joe's living in New Zealand now or somewhere far enough away where he can't punch me... even though this may or may not be a real copy of the first Drunks With Guns 7" (I think it's the bootleg version that came out a couple of years later) (*turns out it's an original), it still goes that each Drunks With Guns single that came out between '85-'89 was by itself the greatest non-hardcore 7" of that half-decade, and if that doesn't make any sense the way I wrote it then you're all a bunch of friggin' dorks... I doubt that I'll be keeping this one up for long, so grab while the grabbing's good.

Drunks With Guns -

"I Got The Gun"

Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Either That Or They Hit You

When I first started buying actual punk records around '84 or so, instead of the usual chain-store shit, there was a lot of trial and error involved. One of the things that I figured out early on, thanks to Lyres "On Fyre" and the first few Mission of Burma records, was that Ace of Hearts had an asthetic that I really liked, and so from then on I latched onto pretty much anything I could find that had an Ace of Hearts logo on it. This was back when you could still find stuff like "Trem Two" and "Academy Fight Song" fairly reasonably, besides being able to buy all the copies you could want of "Signals Calls and Marches" at the original $6.98 list price or whatever it was.

One of the first Ace of Hearts singles that I bought was The Neighborhoods. The copy I found at Brass City Records came without the sleeve (the two pictures you see here are from a Google image search), and for the longest time I didn't even know there was a sleeve, so I never knew that they'd snuck a nekkid lady on the front, or that the back looked totally goofy. I still don't think much of "Prettiest Girl", though I'm including it here anyway. "No Place Like Home" has a lot more zip to it, so I liked it a lot more, even throwing it onto a mix tape that I made for Bill Callahan once (this would've been back in '85), probably because we were both acting ticked off about still living at home with our parents or something with a really deep meaning like that.

The Neighborhoods -

"No Place Like Home"

"Prettiest Girl"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Don't Need But A Little

I'm pretty sure the main reason why I got this Doo Rag single in the first place was because Jay Hinman used to talk them up big in Superdope-- I think there was even a photo of them on the cover once, with the big plastic spiral tube that Bob Log used to sing through... a great single, though I didn't bother hunting down any other Doo Rag stuff afterwards, which means I'm not very smart sometimes. When I listen to "Grease & All", I can't imagine how you would even begin to play like that (yes, that's a locked groove at the end of it). I wasn't born with the best vocabulary for describing this kind of scratchy blues stuff, but safe to say if you likes your Feedtime and your Bassholes and your Get Haunted and so forth, you'll probably like this. Or "Toys in the Attic" or old AC/DC.

Doo Rag -

"Hussy Bowler"

"Grease & All"

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ever Think You're Smart Then Find Out You Aren't

Popeye's Garage has been back up and running for about a month now, with shows scheduled out into July so far, which is pretty great. Friday's show started off with a couple of harsh noise sets, including Bella Reese (Chris Point), which were most definitely head-cloggers. Obviously my exposure to this stuff has been somewhat limited, but I certainly was digging what I heard. People were head-banging, and it actually seemed appropriate. You could've probably head-banged to Queening's set, too-- there's a part at the end of "Strays" that builds up until it gets really frenzied, with the drummer pummeling out all sorts of patterns and the guitar player's hand sliding up and down the fretboard, and it was seriously powerful. Tia has this way of playing guitar that seems to rely heavily on downstrokes, and her guitar ended up sounding almost exactly like a bass, even though I found out later that it wasn't intentional and it was maybe just a happy accident of the room's acoustics. Most two-piece bands that I've been seeing lately tend to play really distorted and over the top, but Queening tend to pick their spots a bit more carefully and in the end they were more intense than other bands that play three times as loud. The drummer, Jon, has a very basic set-up without any cymbals, just a high-hat and kick drum with a couple of toms and some kind of really deep snare which practically sounded like a tom. I think if I had to pick a comparison for Queening it would probably be something like The Warmers but more scrappy, or better yet The Yips, though even that's probably not accurate. Anyway, they released a brand-new single last weekend (I guess they'd just finished assembling them the night before the Popeye's show), plus they're on tour right now and they're definitely worth your time if you get a chance to check 'em out.

After Queening played, Stefan sat down and played a solo set of mostly Estrogen Highs songs plus a couple of covers, with Medication's "Don't Die" being one of them. Having the Estrogen Highs songs laid bare like that really brought out the riffs in the songs-- I'd never paid attention to how intricate the guitar part is to "I Remember Everything", for instance, and it transformed one of the riffs to "Kaleidoscope" into something more like a Mark Sultan riff (like "Waddlin' Around" or "Shake Real Low" perhaps). There was also one new song, "The World Is Flat", which so far has no real surprises. It's being said that the next Estrogen Highs LP is coming out on Trouble In Mind (back-up: was mentioned by Lisa and Bill in a blog interview earlier this month)...

Queening -

"Dry Spell"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Keeping The Kitchen Neat

"Gerrymander Bob combines great casual harmonies, beer-swillin' fuzz guitar, beautifully rough production, occasional distorto violin, and melody-- like the hummable kind-- ending up somwhat reminiscent of Camper Van Beethoven (if they were great)." --r. griffin's somewhat over-the-top review in Seven #2

There weren't a lot of indie rock singles coming out of CT in the late '80s, and many of the ones that did come out have been forgotten-- deservedly so in most cases. The first Gerrymander Bob 7" was one of the few good ones. It's definitely one my favorite CT indie rock singles from that period, meaning the five or six years that led up to the whole Nirvana/Sub Pop "breakout" in '91 or '92 or whenever it was, back when "indie rock" was still pretty underground in this part of the country and even if you were a really lame band like Miracle Legion or Dumptruck the best you could hope for was to be listed in CMJ and get played on college radio every once in a while.

This single has also been an experiment in just how far I'll go to make a post, since every one of the four copies that I own skips like hell. When I first started making a rip of this 7" for the blog about three years ago and had it skip, I thought "no big deal", and just went to Brass City Records to get another one. They still had the same copy from 1989 that I had scrawled "Local -- Nice Single" on the front before tacking it up on the wall (back in the '80s I used to handwrite reviews in marker pen onto the shrinkwrap of some of the records, for my own amusement), which obviously encouraged no one to buy it. But that copy skipped too, as did the next two copies I found, which by now had me thinking "fuck it, I guess every goddamn one of these is messed up." I tried a bunch of different things-- new needle, extra cleaning, different tracking weights and speeds-- but nothing I did ever got any of them to play all the way through.

For now I've gotten bored with sitting on this record for so long, so here's three of the four songs, even though each track has at least one skip in it. That should be enough to help you figure out that this is a pretty decent single, though. There's a minor funk quotient involved and some oversized bits of guitar wankery here and there, but I'm still calling this the greatest single of its kind to ever come out of that particular era of Connecticut. I realize that "Really Don't Mind" is listed on the sleeve as "Don't Mind", but the label shows it as "Really Don't Mind" plus that's how the chorus actually goes, so that's what I'm sticking with. As for the other two songs, "Keep Me Down" has a nifty hook and sounds to me now like Velvet Crush mixed with (aha!) a little bit of Prisonshake, even though it sorta pre-dates either of those bands. "Dirty Feet" is kind of a weird rocked-out howler and is the one that has the violin on it. It also sounds like it was mastered wrong.

After this single the band moved to Philadelphia or New Jersey somewhere, released another 7" that was a half-step down from the first one but still pretty good, and then a CD on Shimmy-Disc of all places-- which was in more of a Those Melvins/Big Train direction-- and that was it as far as I know.

Gerrymander Bob -

"Really Don't Mind"

"Keep Me Down"

"Dirty Feet"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Here's To The Future We're Pissing Away

Screw Record Store Day, seriously. At least, screw the "if someone else wants it, then I want it too" mentality that has people lining up outside record stores hours before they open, then going onto eBay before noon to bid $40 on the already-overpriced $8 single that they didn't get. Screw the major labels trying to turn their moldy $3 used bin-cloggers into re-pressed "collectibles"-- I mean, aren't these the same idiots who were trying to bury the mom-and-pop stores and telling us all along that vinyl wasn't worth shit anymore? And now here they are, trying to leech off what everyone else has already accomplished by going ahead without them.

Not that I didn't enjoy Record Store Day anyway, even if I took my time getting down to Redscroll at around 8pm... meaning all the high-ranking Record Store Day "exclusives" were long gone already, leaving nothing but a few random clunkers. I flipped through the box of RSD leftovers anyway, just for laughs, and I may have even visibly flinched when I almost touched an Eric Clapton record by accident. In the end, the only sort-of RSD record that I ended up buying was an extra copy of the new Iron Hand 7", which had been given a special hand-numbered sleeve (limited to 35 - I skimmed through all of them and pulled out #27 (pop punk)) just for Record Store Day, which also happened to be the same day as the Iron Hand record release show that Redscroll was sponsoring later that night.

photo swiped from Redscroll's blog

Waiting for the Iron Hand/Confines/Gowl show to start (Vaccine were also on the bill but had to drop out when their drummer got an infected leg or something) gave me some extended time to browse through Redscroll's used bins, especially the ones in the neglected back room where they happened to have every AC/DC LP up through "Flick of The Switch" for maybe three dollars each, including "Powerage" and "If You Want Blood". Now that's a fucking GREAT RECORD STORE! Redscroll improved the size of their used selection recently, so now they're definitely worth the drive from out-of-state or somewhere, though the store is still only about 4 yrs old so don't go there expecting to find any Huns singles or anything. What you will find is that they still don't sell much garage stuff (though that's slowly changing), so when they do get a used copy of something from X! or Die Stasi, they usually put it out for only a couple of bucks. The extra time I've spent in Redscroll and Brass City Records over the past two weeks has been worth it in more ways than I could've figured; as a for instance, now I know someone's been going to every store in CT and turning in all their used Daybed records.

I've seen Gowl a couple of times this year. Trying to figure out what Gowl are doing is funny, because they seem like straight-up grind with cookie monster vocals most of the time, but then they have these Melvins-like sludge-metal parts, and there's even a song midway through their split tape w/Stone Titan where they sound like fuckin' Montrose. Live, they're a bit different-- the guitar player holds back a lot, so the bass almost becomes the lead instrument, which is sorta cool... Confines is another band that I've been waiting to see for a while now, or ever since I first heard their demo, which was probably my favorite HC demo of 2009. They weren't quite as out-of-control as I had figured based on that whole made-up "mysterious guy hardcore" thing (which means what, they put a black and white picture of a house on the front of their demo?), but they still delivered. Their songs totally rip, but they still take the time to add some crunchy hard rock riffs-- not like metal or even mosh parts necessarily, but parts where they drop into a rock beat while still keeping the tempo up. The singer was flat-out nuts most of the time-- I kinda wish more people had taken his lead and had done a bit more moving around, just not me, I'd rather not get stepped on.

Iron Hand's set was vicious, probably the hardest set I've ever seen them play. Usually I mostly watch Ross' drumming whenever I see Iron Hand play, but this time it was different, as I don't think I've ever seen Brian sing as good as he did on Saturday. I still can't always pick up on what song they're playing because it's mostly just one big twin-engine roar that goes right over my head, but now that their record's out I'm getting better at it. I think "Phobia" is my favorite song on the EP, but they've put up the title track ("Usurper Divine") as a free dowload on their Bandcamp page, so that's the route that I'm going to take here. There's another Iron Hand song-- from their upcoming "Liquid Assets" 7" on Safety Meeting-- that you can grab for free also, providing that you can get your hands on the Safety Meeting 2011 sampler which was part of the Record Store Day swag that Redscroll was giving away. How 'bout that, some real Record Store Day goodness.

Confines -

"Phoning It In"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Head Is Hard As A Rock

I thought about posting "Smash Hits!" right now, but full-length LPs can be a bitch to rip, so I went looking through my boxes for the Teengenerate 7"-ers instead. As a single,"Sex Cow"/"Bad Boy" maybe isn't totally essential to own, since both songs are on "Smash Hits!" anyway-- which Estrus just reissued literally like a couple of weeks ago-- but all the songs on those early Teengenerate 7"-ers were real game-changers for me as far as what a truly kick-ass punk record could sound like. Like Feedtime a decade earlier, Teengenerate were one of those bands that put a different idea in my head about what sounded cool to me and what sort of stuff I should start tracking down. Or maybe I've just been sheltered all my life, who knows. The guitar solo on "Bad Boy" is one of the greatest fucked-up things ever, by the way.

Teengenerate -

"Sex Cow"

"Bad Boy"

Friday, April 15, 2011

It Makes No Sense For Me To Even Try

Chinese Millionaires were one of my favorite bands of the whole mid-to-late '90s "retro punk" phase, though this single's been sitting in front of me for a week now and I'm really at a loss to explain why I used to like it so much... not that I still don't think it's a great single, just that I've gotten to the point where I'm starting to run out of adjectives for this type of stuff that aren't some variation of "rok" or "rock n roll" or "rawk"... must've lost my focus along the way, I guess. I suppose this means 15 years from now I'll be wondering what I ever saw in that Brain F≠ single... anyway, some great dinged-up rock n roll here ("rawk") with crappy lyrics: "I'm your Automatic Boy/And everything you love I will destroy/Yeah yeah yeah", which you can either look at as being generic or being true to the form (fake-KBD lyrics aren't supposed to be smart, right?). Like R. Griffin once wrote, "Buy a Crime bootleg, it might cost a bit more but it's the real thing"... except then you'd miss out on the shitty Rip Off Records packaging and the smart remarks on the shiny-side label... man, I wish all my records were this cool.

Chinese Millionaires -

"Heart on a Chain"