June 2009

The Templars in Alternative Pressings

Beginning in the early ‘90s, perhaps due then to the mounting shift in media and how it was dispersed, a more unified and recognizable uptick in skinhead rock and roll began. Even before the Dropkick Murphys were able to inject enough palatable punk into their formula, there were bands moving about in the traditional skinner presentation of punk. With it’s odd amalgam of soccer style hooliganism – which in the States seems out off place – punk, reggae and mod stuffs, the early ‘90s gave the US some bands  the surpassed the musicality that Iron Cross and some earlier Boston bands recorded with. Of course, some of the skinners involved in all of this probably should’ve taken a guitar lesson, but not all of ‘em.

Raving a Frustration with Tyvek

It’s hard to keep track of the release that Tyvek have been shilling out over the better part of the aughties. Each single seems to be dispensed from some disparate, tiny imprint and only in sparse numbers. And oddly enough, last year’s Fast Metabolism, which I understood to be a full length, is only considered an extended single, by the band. Either way, that disc clocks in at about twenty five minutes where Tyvek’s first proper (?) full length, a self titled affair on Siltbreeze, is just ten minutes longer. It doesn’t matter since both are pretty decent even if ten years on it’s a distinct possibility that no one will recall any of this.

The Dictators: A New, New York

I was recently chastised by an editor who figured that I should insert my opinion more obviously into my writing. Well, chastise is probably too strong a word – requested, told…something. Anyway, with that in mind, I gotta say that I find the Dictators to be average at best. They New Yorkers are obviously important and brought together the early and latter part of the ‘70s hard rock and punk scenes. But that doesn’t mean they had great songs. And although members acknowledged the fact that their purposefully dumbed down lyrics were laughable, it didn’t make ‘em any better. And I guess that’s my biggest problem with them. I enjoy a joke – and I enjoy dumb songs – but when the guys making ‘em are actually dumb, it becomes problematic for me.

Flat Duo Jets: A Flat Duo on Occasion

Dexter Romweber has remained a featured name in independent music for about twenty years at this point. By beginning to rework country, folk, rockabilly and unconstrained rock and roll during the early ‘80s made him a lynchpin in the record collections of folks that would go on to reinvigorate garage during the ‘90s – Jack White likes dropping his name. And while Romweber hasn’t – and probably won’t ever – reach the level of renown his progeny has, it doesn’t matter. The guitarist and growlin’ singer sees no reason to augment his take on a darkly gothic Americana.

Talking 'Bout the Milkshakes

I’m gonna go ahead and guess that Billy Childish – in addition to poems and stories or whatever else he writes – has probably penned around a thousand songs, if not more. And even if all of those songs stunk, it would still be a pretty remarkable accomplishment. The thing is, most of ‘em are good enough to inspire even the most sedate housewife to throw down her vacuum and cut that rug in lieu of sweeping it. Childish might not get the acclaim in the States that he deserves, but he is without question a jewel in the crown of that majestic England.

Dunwich Records: 30 Primitive Punkers

While Dunwich Records might not be on the radar of most American rock enthusiasts, the legacy of sprightly singles from the mid to late ‘60s that the label released, when compiled, can be viewed as a sort of lesser Chicago Nuggets disc. Taking its name from The Dunwich Horror, an H.P. Lovecraft tale and later a ‘70s camp horror film, the label sounded British – to my ears at least. And since the States were amidst the throngs of the Brit Invasion, it probably wasn’t a fluke. The fact that a lot of the groups represented here also have more than a slight sonic tie to the Stones, the Animals and the like didn’t hurt too much either.

Made in South Bay: Hardcore You Probably Don't Know

This compilation - which got posted over at the Maximum Rock 'n Roll site a few days back - is pretty confusing. It seems by the title that everything here should be South Bay related. We'd allow for any Bay Area deviations, East, North, whatever. But there's a band on here from way south. Los Angeles south - according to the internets, at least. Not a big deal, but try to dig up some info on any of these bands and see how frustrating it becomes. A few of these tracks really function only to document a specific moment in time. But a couple minutes of this seven minute single are more than listenable.

01 - Genetic Damage: Badge Means You Suck

Deerstalking with Billy Childish and the Downliners Sect

Even though Billy Childish has alone been able to record more under his own name than most bands over an entire career, the Medway native found himself amongst a trio that he dubbed Thee Headcoats. And from the late '80s through the early '00s, the band easily dispensed the rawest take on garage even amidst its ballooning brethren by the end of the '90s. The Downliners Sect, who hadn't recorded music since the '70s, aren't necessarily the first band that one would have dreamed up an affiliation with Childish's trio, but in 1996, the two groups collaborated on two discs, the first offering being an album entitled Deerstalking Men.

Wire x John Peel

Coming together through a variety of art related schooling opportunities Wire arrived just moments after punk had become the big thing in the UK. The Sex Pistols and the Clash were on the charts - although a number of retailers and publications refused to print or display the former's name. But the approach that Wire, comprised of Colin Newman (vocals, guitar), Graham Lewis (bass, vocals), Bruce Gilbert (guitar), and Robert Grey (drums), took to the medium wasn't the one being plied on radio stations and in dives across the nation. Instead, the group merged a futuristic detachment from life with some stripped down - even for punk - instrumentation to arrive at what folks would eventually describe as post punk.

Kraut: All the Punk that's Fit to Print

I think hard hardcore probably gets a bad rap sometimes in addition to being used to relegate some bands into a tiny pen and keep 'em there. Kraut the band - not the genre or some derogatory term for Jerries Germans - worked with faster tempos than some of their contemporaries and they were unquestionably included on New York Thrash, which also included an early line up of the Beastie Boys. But I'm gonna say that the inclusion of Steve Jones on some of the band's early work disallows from that categorization. Jones, who is probably one of the most criminally underrated guitarists in rock, trafficked in '60s tropes most of the time, only getting punked up as a result of some dullards that he was in a band with.

The Plugz Do it Themselves

The name Tito Larriva probably isn't the most recognizable in music. It's not for good reason, though, that he remains a rather underground figure. Taking part in bands as far flung as the Cruzados, the Gun Club and the Flesh Eaters should have made him a star. And considering that his guitar playing was on par with anyone from the LA punk scene regardless of what epoch is being discussed makes the case for Larriva that much stronger.