February 2010

Saccharine Trust: The SST Stable

Greg Ginn’s SST label worked as hard as any other independent imprint of the early ‘80s to push the boundaries of what should rightly be considered punk and hardcore. Of course, other imprints like Touch and Go functioned in the same way. But those other labels weren’t earlier so specifically tied to the hardcore idiom – and yes, I know who put out the Necro’s records. SST, though, gave the world Black Flag’s discography.

Beyond SST’s biggest act were groups like the Minutemen that were able to – moment to moment – shift stylistic gears. Taking a listen to the acoustic “Cohesion” after anything else on the band’s Double Nickels on the Dime is going to make that point well enough.

The Suspects: DC Street Punk...

Some punk bands age better than others. That’s just life. So when looking back at the groups that one was weaned on, it’s important to recall that all of this music was at one time interpreted through the lens of those wide, wide teenage eyes. I don’t mean to intimate that youngsters don’t have any taste. And certainly, today with the ever expanding role of self education through the interwebs, there’re some kids that can’t drink as of yet, but know as much about music as your nerdiest friend.

But going back to revisit what one recalls as a lost punk classic occasionally results in some disappointment. Of course, the notes are all the same, it’s just that you don’t always have ten of your drunken, idiot friends around to sing the choruses with.

Classic Compilations: Rodney on the ROQ, Vol. 01

Oh, radio stations. Why don’t most of you matter any longer? Why is it that for anything new or genuinely interesting the left hand side of the dial seems to always a better option? That’s not the way it should be. And while we all understand that money is at least a portion of the story, the fact that it’s become more business than art or fun is problematic. It hasn’t always been that way, though. Wait, yes it has. Damnable Alan Fried and your payola.

Rodney Bingenheimer, though, wasn’t as dastardly a figure. He may have been just as despised by some folks, but whatever drawbacks the deejay’s approach to running his show or featuring bands that he liked was mitigated by his assistance in nurturing a nascent LA punk scene.

Teenage Head Gets Canadian

When one hears the name Teenage Head, if sex acts aren’t the first thing to come to mind, it’s usually San Francisco’s the Flaming Groovies. And that makes sense.

The Bay Area band was criminally disregarded by its hippie peers on the music scene during the latter portion of the ‘60s. It’s kind of understandable seeing as how the extended jams of those Dead styled ensembles was in stark contrast to what the Groovies were trying to work out. But in the band’s adherence to its source material – ‘50s rock and roll, trashy blues and British Invasion groups – the Groovies wound up presaging punk with a few tracks.

Mean Jeans: A NW Pop

It’s funny to think that the Ramones are responsible for such a wide breadth of latter day punk stuffs. The approach that the New York band took to music was a relatively straight forward one. Including the tossed off charm of its garage rock heroes, the Ramones liberally applied girl-group sucrose to its punk to arrive at an undeniably important – and moreover, listenable art form.

Angry Samoans Probably Eat Boogers Too...

Without debate, there are always at least two ways to look at a single situation. There’s the good, the bad and whatever can fit in-between. And while most would agree that being in a band and having a radio station deejay schilling for your scene is a good deal, that’s not the case if you feel that you’ve been shut out.

Back in 1970’s Los Angeles, Rodney Bingenheimer a deejay for KROQ, had settled upon his favorite punk acts from the scene. And, no there’s no reason that he was playing those group’s on the radio apart from the fact that he liked the music, he didn’t really fall in love with the Angry Samoans, though.

Digital Leather: Keys and Gadgets

It’s become a genre somehow. Or maybe it always was and bands like the Screamers and Suicide knew it before everyone else. Regardless, synth-punk, which is as ridiculous as it sounds, has recently been garnering more and more attention thanks to that ‘80s retro schtick that dullards have begun clamoring about. It’s no ones fault that the bottom feeders of culture have latched on to a decade that gave the States some of its most desolate music. That being said, though, there’s a pop strain that runs throughout the work of Digital Leather that few can deny.

The Guns: A Clevo Hardcore

It’s funny that bands, decades dormant, or folks associated with them go ahead and attempt to chronicle the past. This problematic situation leads to some fuzzy recollections and probably even some accidental farces.

That being said, when folks wind up working on projects such as these, it becomes the gospel for people searching through recorded music’s past. And with Cleveland sporting such a rich and long running history, taking a look at a few recollected memories – as well as some compiled demos – can’t hurt too much, now can it?

The Bay's Garage: A Primer (The Newer Folks...)

Garage rock has again reared its ugly, bug-eyed head. In the wider culture, the genre subsided briefly, but the Bay Area’s affection for garage has enabled it to persist from its inception during ‘60s through the present day.

Heir apparent to the capes and catastrophe that the Count Five have come to represent were San Mateo’s the Mummies. In the quartet’s ramshackle assemblage of a few chords was all of the Bay Area’s low rent rock history. The group’s Egyptian inspired get-ups harkened back to the acid eating Count Five: a sense of showmen-ship was as important to the group as its music, which was a mélange of garage tropes and revved up surf-rock vibrato.

Down By Law: Pop as Punk

Coming out of scene so tied to that of Minor Threat’s sound as well as the whole independent Dischord thing must have been difficult.

The second wave of DC punk affiliated groups – by this time, it was incontrovertible that there was as much pop and straight rock influence as to begin a disassociation with hardcore proper – didn’t necessarily fair too well. Off course after Ian MacKaye figured out the Fugazi formula, his band would go on to international fame, but there weren’t too many other success acts from the ear. Nation of Ulysses garnered a bit of attention and so did Dag Nasty. That latter group, though, went through a few singers and didn’t really settle on a sound over the group’s first few albums.

Classic Compilations: It Came From The Pit

The funny thing about punk from earlier eras – or even this one, as evidenced by Green Day – is the fact that the political villains that are roiled in a buncha lyrics have largely disappeared by now. Specifically, the late ‘70s and ‘80s stuff is rife with blatant and somewhat unsophisticated screeds against whatever politician was at the time causing some punkers problems - whether real or imaginary.