December 2009

The Korps: A D.C. x Boston Mess

People sometimes forget that there was a great deal of punk stuff cropping up in Washington D.C. at about the same time that New York and Los Angeles were both erupting. Of course, folks recall Minor Threat and the Bad Brains. There was more than that, though. And in part the scene benefited from a label that was ahead of the curve for releasing independent music.

Skip Groff ran Limp Records out of his Yesterday and Today Records storefront, in Maryland. The imprint’s first pressings were from D.C. locals including the Slickee Boys and its cohort. A bit further along, though, Groff saw fit to issue a disc from a band that comprised members of the Afrika Corps. After relocating to Boston, though, Kenne Highland and Ken Kaiser shortened their band’s name to simply the Korps and set about recording an album.

Rudimentary Peni: A SciFi Themed Punk

What a confusion. Outsider Art seems to be nothing more than a phrase affixed to inaccesible art made by weirdos. The fact that its become something of a buzz word as well as a good way to cash in is a bit detached from the hospitals, nut houses and back roads where the ‘artists’ first crafted works culled from garbage heaps, left over stuffs and whatever traditional art materials were sitting around.

The Aughties: A Decade in Slabs of Punk (4/4)

Tyvek – Fast Metabolism (What’s Your Rupture, 2007)
These Detroit natives at some points forget that there’s supposed to be melodicism inherent in rock songs. Not always, but even when it seems as if Tyvek is faltering, its not. And that’s why the group has been able to consistently maintain its footing in the ever evolving underground music community. The fervor with which these guys play the wrong notes at the right times seems otherworldly. It is. But despite all that, “Frustration Rock” might be the best song released during the last decade. That’s no joke.

The Aughties: A Decade in Slabs of Punk (3/4)

The Bodies – Addicted to You (Radio Records, 2004)
The North Bay of California isn’t well known for its punk stuff. More frequently, hippies work out some patchouli jams from that particular part of the country. Of course, wherever there’re hippies, there’re probably some punks sitting around decrying their nemesis’ existence. Right or wrong, that’s how it is. The Bodies, regardless of whether or not they were the folks sitting around lamenting the ‘60s thing, were able to maintain a small, but consistent label as well as releasing a string of singles, mini-LPs and full lengths that rivaled pretty much everyone else trucking in early ‘80s styled punk stuffs. Addicted to You isn’t that long, but in its aggression, topical subject matter and well constructed tunes, listeners should be able to find as much pleasure here as in bigger, more bloated bands.

The Aughties: A Decade in Slabs of Punk (2/4)

The Baseball Furies – Better Than Ever (Big Neck Records, 2002)
One of the smaller, but consistent labels that maintained a presence from the ‘90s through the early portions of the new millennium, the Big Neck roster was populated with garage fan(atics) and punk enthusiasts who didn’t see the difference between subgenres. That being said, not everything that the label released wound up being as cohesive as this Baseball Furies album. Comprising mostly punk stuffs, there’s a quick step swagger that should tell listeners that these guys weren’t strangers to classic hardcore ensembles from just prior to the genre’s codification. The Baseball Furies would eventually follow this disc up a few years on, but it just wasn’t the same. For a brief moment in time, the group was able to capture the abandon that punk was intended to have. Unfortunately, it was fleeting. Coping this disc, though, might send listeners back to their teen years.

The Aughties: A Decade in Slabs of Punk (1/4)

Trying to round up the best of any one genre during a single year is almost counter intuitive. And working to distill an entire decade is almost just plain impossible. With there being so much stuff referred to as punk today, the endeavor actually becomes ridiculous. But nevertheless, what follows is a sort of short list of important, enjoyable and in some cases forgotten recordings from the last ten years that might not actually be the best, but are all worth a listen.

The inclusion of a number In the Red Records releases seems unfair. It might be, but the fact points to the imprints dogged tenacity at releasing high quality work. And while the label surely released a few clunkers, there’s more gold in there than in most label’s back catalogs

Murder City Devils – In Name and Blood (Sub Pop, 2000)
The first few Murder City Devils’ full lengths garnered the group enough of a following to eventually be affixed to the Sub Pop label. The Seattleites’ relationship with such a venerated outlet enabled the garagey group to tour with some proper support, even if the venues it frequented never grew in size. Regardless of that and the amazing songs cobbled together on this organ based ensemble’s disc, the release would be its last. Recently reforming for a west coast tour and an appearance at Chicago’s Riot Fest hasn’t hurt the group’s legacy. And maybe during next decade’s end round up, I’ll get to mention a reunion disc.

The Crowd: A SoCal Punk

The dearth of alternative music outlets that cropped up in Southern California – both venues and labels – went a long way towards defining how independent markets in the biz would function in the coming decades. That’s not to say that the New York scene didn’t possess the same sort of culturally important signage off into the future, but the bands working the Los Angeles scene went on to define touring routes and musical genres in ways that ‘70s New Yawkers just didn’t.

One of the innumerable labels that grew out of the punk scene – in addition to the omni-venerable Bomp! – was Orange County’s Posh Boy Records. The clever moniker aside, the imprint was responsible for releasing everything from Social Distortion to ‘90s bands like the Offspring, who should rightly be considered the end result of tumult that the punk scene had sought to create.

King Khan x BBQ x Inivisibility

It’d be easy to take umbrage with the ridiculous personas that both King Khan and BBQ have worked to create over time. And in moves similar to the Black Lips, it seems that not too long a period of time goes by without hearing about one of these guys running into some legal trouble. For whatever this duo’s shenanigans seem less contrived then its Atlanta based brethren. None of that, though, is actually the point of any of this. It’s, hopefully, the music. And in just three albums time, even if the release dates have been spread out over the better part of the ‘00s, the King Khan and BBQ Show has been able to amass a unique persona in a genre that glorifies weirdoes.

The Flakes: An (East) Bay Garage

The Bay Area has a pretty dense and deep history within the realm of garage stuffs. It’s not easy to round up all the groups that have contributed to the genre over the years. And while it might be unpopular to say, the Grateful Dead, during the mid ‘60s, were one of the most exciting bands of the genre. Get over it, Pig Pen was the man. And while he wasn’t too adept at any one thing, having such a powerful group of players behind him made the Dead (circa ’66-‘68) an incredible act despite its subsequent drowning in self congratulatory soloing.