March 2010

The Sillies: Outta the Motor City

Detroit, much like Cleveland and the rest of that Midwest cohort, has seen the ups and downs of America’s economy wreck and ravage a once vital landscape. Of course, working in factories probably wouldn’t have sat well with the first wave of weirdoes outta either of those towns. But regardless of that fact, the lack of viable opportunities spurred on a creative caste that not too many other places sported.

Eater: A Teenaged Punk

Most of the first wave British punk bands worked to engender some sort of political consciousness. It might have just been a plain disgust for those in power as opposed to any sort of cogent statement or directional hints, but it was nonetheless pervasive. The Clash and the Sex Pistols are easily the two most famous proponents of that. And while the Damned were more concerned with scene politics and stabbing, there was something semi-mature about the group despite its first album cover bearing each band member being covered in cake.

Classic Compilations: A Farewell To Arms

Originally issued by Selfish Records in 1986 and rereleased the following year on Nuclear Blast Records, A Farewell to Arms attempts to document a nation wide musical movement. In the West, most of these Japanese bands that contributed work to this compilation aren’t the biggest names in hardcore. That doesn’t mean that each group represented here has ceased to carry a huge cache around. No, this disc isn’t going to change your mind about the genre, but it lends some insight into how hardcore spread across the globe and has been funneled back into the States.

Lip Cream

Suburban Lawns in Spring

I remember being ten or so and getting to stay up late on New Year’s Eve so as to watch the ball drop and hear drunken parents in the next room have a good time. Seeing as old people standing around on the street in New Yawk wasn’t too appealing to my decade’s old eyes, my friend(s) and I opted to watch Saturday Night Live. The evening’s musical guest was a Seattle group named Nirvana that I’d heard a single from on my local radio station. It was probably the first time I witnessed the group perform live – it was good evening.

Twofer: Anti Flag x Miss TK and the Revenge

For Blood and Empire
(A-F Records, 2006)

Anti-Flag has been doing approximately the same thing for more than a decade. At the onset of that time, it toured consistently to build a fan base that appreciated the fast nineties styled punk pulling from an earlier time. The band’s been relatively consistent over time, and it’s a testament to their beliefs that the group still has something to say after the innumerable releases. Overt political messages don’t generally make for good pop music based upon the fact that some segment of the listening audience will be offended at some point. That’s why our Pittsburgh friends aren’t MTV stalwarts. For Blood and Empire actually seems to increase the political message as well as the inclusion of different styles of punk it trucks in. Pretty much each track bounces off of some branch of punk which easily makes this the band’s most radio friendly release to date - except of course for the lyrics, which are relentless critiques of the government, the press and American society in general. So, this record will not take AF to the general ear holes of Americans, but the band is now releasing records through RCA. Even with this, it maintains the group’s vision of what a band should be, which is admirable. Maybe the distribution will help. Maybe millions more will hear what they have to say. Or maybe they’ll just become lazy millionaires and start releasing dance punk records.

Dow Jones & the Industrials Git Synthetic

Looking back at bands from the past and trying to cobble together some semblance of a proper discography should lead to a stylistic understanding of the group. In most cases it works. But in those scenarios where bands just do as they see fit as opposed to following any general trajectory, it reveals a thought process – skewed perhaps – that’s as interesting as the music itself.

Having previously commented on Dow Jones and the Industrials, some might find it obtuse to revisit the subject. Examining just the tracks that the band contributed to the Hoosier Hysteria! disc seems reductive, even if it represents the majority of what the band recorded.

Redd Kross: A Teenage Punk

Admittedly, it’s alright to slag off some punk bands as mere hacks. Whenever that argument rears its head, at least a bit of credence needs to be understood. Of course, Steve Jones, from the Sex Pistols, is one of the better guitar players to make a pop record – right, I said it – over the last forty years, but no one seems to recognize his talent. Regardless, there’re as many talented folks playing within the confines of punk’s genre restrictions to count high and lows. But what gets glossed over even more regularly than musical talent is the fact that even some of the younger, dumber bands to ever exist were able to cobble together some semblance of cultural relevancy.

A minute with Mike Hudson and Frank Mauceri, 4/4

How’d you get into all these bands in the first place?

FM: I collected records and I liked this odd stuff. I’ve collected punk rock records since I was twelve or thirteen years old. It was ’78 or ’79 when I started collecting. As soon as the first wave punk records came out I got them. I don’t know why I gravitated towards those. I think I read a Jane Scott article in the Plain Dealer about it and was just curious, so I picked up the records here and there when I could.


Given the journalistic landscape in Cleveland, even if that’s how Frank found out about the scene, why’d you decide to start your paper, the Niagara Falls Reporter, elsewhere?

A minute with Mike Hudson and Frank Mauceri, 3/4

FM: Mike’s right. The press wasn’t positive. After the initial wave in ’76 or ’77, things tailed off. Underground music - punk rock - was pushed to the side and forgotten about. It wasn’t until the second wave that people really got interested in the whole thing.

Stuff like radio was really hard to deal with. College radio was just coming on strong at that point in time. Trying to get air play larger stations wasn’t actually possible. In Cleveland, that was kind of disappointing, because WMMS, the most popular and most hated station, was pretty cutting edge in the early ‘70s. They were playing a lot of crazy stuff – they were way out there. At a certain point, they really turned coarse and started playing arena rock, album rock, corporate rock. It was really disappointing to a lot of people in town at the time.


A minute with Mike Hudson and Frank Mauceri, 2/4

Frank Mauceri: Persistence has a lot to do with it, because there was no defined sound in Cleveland. You couldn’t really say that all the bands sound alike. It’s not like Seattle during the grunge years. There was that sound that people just expected. Cleveland didn’t have that, so there has to be something driving it.


I agree about those bands not sounding the same. Do you think that there were commonalities, though? Maybe Pere Ubu’s the exception.

FM: I don’t think Ubu is an exception, because even if there’s not a common sound, there’s a common attitude. There’s a common interest. The attitude is a cynical, smart ass outlook that’s unique to Cleveland. To build a music scene on a common attitude is a lot different than other scenes, which generally just built on a common sound. It also gets mixed up with a sort of beatnik, literary thing.

Harley Flanagan and the Progression of Hardcore

Music from New York City very frequently presages genre movements in the rest of the country and even throughout the world. Wherever hardcore actually came from, one could make an argument for New York being its birthplace. While we all think about that, what follows is a quote that Harley Flanagan, drummer of the Stimulators and lead singer of the Cro Mags, left in the comments section on Killed By Death Records:


Classic Compilations: Another Shot For Bracken

The ‘80s have seen a renaissance of crappy music spring up as an homage of late. And while it’d be relatively easy to malign the entire decade – what with its pop and synth nonsense – there was as much incredibly enticing stuff coming out over that ten year period as in subsequent times.

You just have to dig for it.

None of this directly leads to an examination of Another Shot for Bracken (1986), but the compilation, which was released through 7 Seconds’ record label, grants listeners a wide ranging taste of what was going on in the underground. Of course, not every genre is represented over the 17 tracks here, but there’s more than just hardcore.

Alien Kulture x Politics

Just further proof that there's no end to the parade of unknown rock acts from the past. They're political and they like aliens. But it seems that the band was formed specificlly to combat the wash of racist sentiment that the National Front was spreadin across the UK. So while it's entertainment of the highest degree, there was a point to it all.