August 2010

Plastic Idols: Punk, Not Steers or Queers

In recently mentioning Indiana’s Dow Jones and the Industrials while describing the odd Midwestern aesthetic combining hard rock, nascent punk stuff and weirdo synth experiments, it seemed as if it sprung from that area specifically. And it may have. But that’s just another one of those proclamations like “So and so were the first punk band.” With that in mind, a band kicking around Houston towards the end of the seventies didn’t sound too detached from whatever was going on in the breadbasket.

S-Haters - "Research" (Video)

Tangentially tied to the Rudimentary Peni crew, S-Haters worked a similar musical territory. If that's your steez, take a listen. As a warning, there's some of the worst drumming ever recorded on this track. But the fact that the East Bay Ray cribbed guitar lines can over come that is a testament to the offering...

Debris: Surprising, Early Seventies' Weirdo Punk

After my griping about the way in which reissues have been framed to take in the CLE scene as an apt reference point, Debris pretty much removes any discontent which may have been touted around in my heart.

Again, the angle by which writers and labels talk about Debris’ Static Disposal seems like bunk. It’s all Beefheart and Stooges references with the pervasive Ubus being dunked in for supplemental explication. Appropriate? Surprisingly, yes.

The Twinkeyz: Sacto N(o)ew Wave

Honestly, I get insulted when acts from the mid-seventies find themselves compared to the Cle – Akron axis of bands (Ubus, Devo, et al). For the most part, no other cadre of groups, working so early in the decade, issued a consistent catalog. And Sacramento isn’t any different. Certainly, Ozzie has a place in record collector’s hearts. More over, Tales of Terror were a good band. But that was a bit later.

Either way, though, the Twinkeyz aren’t a bad group. But really don’t warrant the kind of enthusiasm the internet has poured forth. And certainly being contrasted with CLE bands doesn’t do the Cali group any good. Yeah, there’s a sort of robotic persistence of vision, but that’s subverted a bit by Donnie Jupiter’s vocals.

Code of Honor: Beyond Hardcore

It’d be cool to uncover some random hardcore band from the second wave of it all and find out that there was some all important group of dudes running around the country doing damage – but for the right reason. Code of Honor isn’t it, but might be kinda close.

Coming out of the same scene that gave the world the Dead Kennedys, Code of Honor were apparently raised on the most visible of punk groups and a huge number of BYO albums. It’s not that Code of Honor apes a Youth Brigade thing – and thankfully, because this San Fran based act is dramatically more entertaining. But it’s not to difficult to hear the same type of hardcore 7 Seconds was working out in Las Vegas all over Code of Honor’s few releases.

Dave E. and the Cool Marriage Counselors - "Searching Through Sears" (Video)

Dave E. from the Electric Eels goes in on a few songs for this here single. "Searching Through Sears" doesn't sound like it was ripped from the Eels' back-catalog so much as updated a few years on. Unquestionably less related to straight punk (understand that liberally) than his earlier works - but just as good. Cleveland's finest in action...

The Desperate Bicycles and Disseminating DIY Culture

The folks behind SST Records and Dischord could easily be figured as the first proponents of DIY ethics being applied to underground music in the United States. Of course, each nation has its own history of such things. And in the United Kingdom instead of Greg Ginn and Ian MacKaye, the people behind Rough Trade records and a band called Desperate Bicycles were responsible for the concept of self made, produced and distributed music.

SEXton Ming: An Out of Tune (Beat) Blues

The clutch of artists the first comprised the Medway Poets and eventually the Stuckists (an obtuse art movement that some find surprisingly endearing), endeavored projects in just about any medium imaginable. Obviously, writing was a tremendously important part of the collective, loose as it was. However, the associated people eventually figured that music was a decent way by which to dispense its prose and poetry. That might not have been the impetus for Billy Childish, the scene’s most visible, popular and enduring figure, but in the case of Sexton Ming, there’s a greater focus on lyrics than music.

Lech Kowalski's D.O.A.: A Punk Invasion

Assembling random grainy footage doesn’t always make for a great film – even in retrospect.

The most enjoyable moments from Lech Kowalski’s first foray into the realm of feature length documentaries, the 1980 film D.O.A. suffers as a result of it covering the subject matter which makes it interesting. There can’t have been too much help in getting materials and travel expenses arranged for Kowalski and what appears to be a relatively hefty crew for such a film.

Jim Basnight: Jump When Opportunity Pops

Yeah, yeah…Seattle, the Year Punk Broke, whatever. There was music up there decades prior to the media frenzy that ostensibly shaped what ‘indie’ was to become during the ensuing years. That being said, there’s a decent chance that working through some linear history of that scene, those Sub Pop groups would come somewhere after Jim Basnight in a proper progression of history.

Black Flag: Damaged after Four More Years

I’ve gushed – in the past and will continue to do so – about the importance of Black Flag as not just a band, but as the people who helped solidify viable touring routes through the States. The band released its own music – as well as the work other important figures, like the Minutemen. And while there are unquestionably a number of people who hail the earlier recordings from Greg Ginn and company, sans Henry Rollins, Black Flag existed longer with the East Coast native on vocals than without him.

That alone should solidify Rollins’ import even if he’s a muscle bound, over read, disposable figure at this point.

End of the Legacy: The Ramones on Film

The history of rock and or roll is littered with sad sack tales of unfulfilled dreams, missed chances and the like. Of course, the Ramones never attained a mainstream sort of  success associated with the upper echelon of the rock cognoscenti like the Stones or whoever else. But the band coming out of some borough that wasn’t Manhattan still received international acclaim and could easily be pegged as the reason that punk eventually spread out across the globe.

Masshysteri: Swedes Rule

The Refused, despite the fervor expounded around the globe after the recent reissue of its supposed opus, is still really, at best, average. Come on. We should all be in for some political rhetoric – and scene politics – but that band wasn’t all that imaginative. And what’s worse, it could be blamed for the slew of subsequent groups copping hardcore as source material and winding up releasing what amounts to pop records.

Youth Brigade and the BYO Seen Through Film

When discussing the early and most important independent punk imprints in the States, BYO (Better Youth Organization) is usually glossed over. And basically the same can be said when discussing the emergence of hardcore – Youth Brigade, comprising the Stern brothers who ran that aforementioned label – instead focusing on Minor Threat, Black Flag and the Bad Brains.

Of course, today, Dischord still functions as a proper label. And so do a few other early day imprints. And while the Circle Jerks still tour, there aren’t too many other folks apart from them and Youth Brigade who are on the road still. The story of how and why though wasn’t the stuff of legend in the same way Ian Mackaye’s life has been mythologized.