January 2011

Marginal Man: Chocolate Pudding and DC Hardcore

It’s worth wondering whether or not the whole D.C. scene would have wound up being as well documented and revered if Ian MacKaye hadn’t gone and started Dischord Records, functioning as the endeavor’s center during its formative years in the nation’s capitol.

Lesser bands certainly got a shot at having a record recorded and properly distributed in the underground than if located in other cities. And since Dischord’s gone on to work with more fey indie styled groups in latter years, its early catalog still receives a fair amount of attention. Of course, if Minor Threat didn’t rule and MacKaye hadn’t dedicated his life to music, this conversation wouldn’t be worth having. Anyway…

X: Not Exene, Australian...

Welp, here’s another reason that people need to be more aware of music coming from that down under nation that can’t decide if it’s a country or a continent.

Yeah, the Saints rule. Radio Birdman’s surpassed by few bands dating to punk’s early era. But there’s so much other junk floating around down there. Only problem is – or was at least – was that there wasn’t a good way to expose weird bands to an international audience. X, not the Los Angeles band dummy, released its first long player in 1979, but didn’t have it issued in the States until 1993. So, say what you will about Amphetamine Reptile and its host of like minded bands, the label released this stunner. Who even cares that it was fourteen years too late.

Kleenex - "Nice" (Video)

That's a nasty sounding rhythm section for a band that looks like Kleenex does. But cobbled together from the likes of other top ranking grrl/rawk groups from the seventies, nothing resulting from the collaboration should be surprising. It's just good.

Jolt: Scottish Punk and Pop

Mod revival stuff pretty often gets slagged off for a few reasons. Firstly, the genre as represented by late seventies’ era groups is a bit too reverential to be considered original and artful. But coming out of the punk scene, more than a few of these groups watched countless acts play basically the same song over and over again with only vaguely different lyrics. The other problem people have with that crop of mod related groups is that the RnB quotient being ratcheted up so high and its accompanying attempts at harmonizing renders otherwise tough compositions to flaccid junk. Both of those issues take with the genre are obviously difficult to argue away. But the fact that the Sex Pistols saw fit to plain old rip off the Jam says something about the movement.

Jewws: The Garage Varierty

In part due to the Gories working tirelessly over a few years during the eighties and into the nineties, a garage renaissance reached the punk record collecting public at some point. And throughout the nineties, countless bands plundered punk while combining it with the most revved up and irreverent conception of the genre up until that point.

There’s no way to properly document each and every group working with these tropes during that very specific time period. But groups like the Oblivians and the New Bomb Turks, their collective combination of sixties’ garage swagger and punk’s gap toothed sneer, severed as new templates.

The Montells and EVIL...A Florida Garage Legacy

There’s as much interest in individual state’s garage output as there is for city wide scenes. Examining a state-wide phenomenon, though, becomes a bit more difficult when cities aren’t within five hours of each other. And while your grandparents might find Florida an hospitable place to call home for the last few years of their collective lives, the garage scene down there wasn’t a singular pillar of sound. It had its sundry derivations. But between the Montells and EVIL, there was a bit of similarity. Not too much, though…

Athletico Spizz '80: Is That the DRI Logo?

Athletico Spizz '80 and its front-man Spizz cropped up late enough in the UK punk and post-punk scene to have benefited from learning after watching other groups’ successes and failures. Of course, it’s lone long player from 1980 isn’t too frequently referenced as a watershed moment by anyone. There are, however, more than a few moments on the debut that are worth getting into especially considering the relative renaissance Gang of Four and its cohort has appreciated over the last decade. Spizz isn’t punk or post-punk, but seems to have seen enough to make sense of it all. Kinda.

Notekillers and Thurston Moore's love of "The Zipper"

Again, it’s impossible to be ahead of one’s time, no matter what Thurston Moore has to say about it.

Yeah, No Wave has more resonance among folks who fancy themselves well versed in the historical aspects of American rock and punk stuffs. Much as today, back in the seventies when everyone realized pressing a record wasn’t as difficult as people might lead you to believe, a bevy of low rent ensembles went on sprees, spouting off after months if not years in assorted basements. The result, after punk opened up ears like old perverts do to recently graduated high schoolers, was spewing forth in a run of now forgotten one off singles.

Timmy's Organism: Detroit Stays Weird

Detroit’s Timmy Vulgar’s been in countless bands you should appreciate. He doesn’t seem capable of stopping too long to make a group count as seminal, just briskly moving along to another project. But if that’s how he works best, no one should argue. His latest endeavor as Timmy’s Organism, though, doesn’t seem to be any less successful than previous efforts. That should have been expected, though.

Matthew Melton and Bare Wires: Stuck In the (Bay's) Garage

What follows is completely unfair, but not completely untrue.

The onslaught of Bay Area garage acts has, for the most part, been pretty steady in the qualitydepartment. Granted, it’d be pretty difficult to plain ole stink at a formula people have been working with for the better part of the last fifty years.

What’s weird, though, is that while folks who actually pay attention to music not covered by Pitchfork, Thee Oh Sees, the Fresh and Onlys as well as the rest of that cohort have been around for a pretty good amount of time now. Which makes some random internet outlet reviewing Ty Segall’s Melted something like six months after it was first released and passing it off as new a bit bothersome.

Mirrors: Before there was Punk, there was Cleveland

In attempts to properly figure out when and where punk started a laundry list of injustices are done. There’s no supreme answer as to where this music came from – probably somewhere between 1965 and 1977, though, right? That’s a pretty long span of time for a genre to be founded. So, sticking to later dates makes sense even as it occasionally disqualifies a number of Cleveland based rock acts from inclusion in this history.