old punks web zine

MP3 Blog Archives Page 10 (song links most likely dead)

Entry 257: 12/31/2011: Article & CD Reviews

Hipsters - Worthy Of Both Avoidance And Study

If only my hoodie were a time hoodie I'd go back to the early 90s and take better notes on my first experience with hipsters. I've luckily not encountered them again up close until recently. I don't know where they come from, what they want, or if they can be taken seriously beyond their pulsating self-absorption. I once flattered myself that I could follow the different lines of alt.popular and underground cultures to their Bohemian sources and have it all make sense to me, even if was senseless to me. Hipsters are a strange cult and I can only make guesses.

What's brought this on was my initial attempt to review the recordings of Electrelane, a UK indie band I like well enough to listen to and review their cds. They remind me of a few bands I know but the internet has them as a part of the wider hipster universe, something I know little beyond what I read skim through and laugh out loud at in public. The Wikipedia article seems authoritative but it doesn't bottom-line it for me in a way I know it wasn't written by hardcore hipsters glorifying themselves. The Urban Dictionary sports over 300 stabs at defining it, so Vague City here we come.

As I see it hipsters are obnoxious, spoiled poseurs. Poseurs know, fear or are sadly oblivious to the fact they're not who they want to be, and they usually wind up being made fun of but are the relatively harmless folk who keep scenes afloat with their money and participation. Hipsters harbor no fears, only ego and id. Hipsters come from Generation Y, where everybody wins a trophy and life is lived in a protective bubble with attention-sapping technology and its attendant sensory and information overload. I'm sure everything they touch they soon destroy. Hipsters both reject and embrace everything around them, and since you can't have it both ways it fails early and often. The greatest lie hipsters tell themselves is that they cannot be fooled, a larf since with a few variations they all look alike, which means they take their cues from the same mindsets and can then be lead by their nose rings if the pied pipers of commerce and ideas know their tunes.

I notice hipsters don't look like they commit exercise of any kind, giving them an asexual body type made ironic by the growth of prodigious lumberjack facial hair and the wearing of trucker hats. Then there's emo hipsters, who are mainly just effeminate. I've never spoken to a hipster or have heard hipsters interact. It must be awesome what they say, each phrase measured, quotable, and worthy of at least a tweet.

The first time I encountered hipsters was in Arlington, VA in the early 90s, at a store called Go! Records, whose only internet memory is a Youtube video for Unrest performing there. For all I know it was owned by Unrest and was primarily stocked with TeenBeat Records (more here). I walked in thinking it was a punk store but young hipsters glided around in expensive alt.clothing while tuneless, precious indie-pop wafted out of speakers. The few record racks were filled with this new kind of music. How did something like this happen under my nose, thought I in my time hoodie? Who are these people and why do I get a strong trust-fund/ Mayflower lineage/ private school/ good grades vibe from them? In Falls Church there was the Art Monk Construction/Lumberjack Distribution store, a room in a warehouse really, which carried lines of late-first wave emo bands with apparently no affiliation with the dominant DC scene. That I understood, and some of their things I actually liked. No hipsters there. They seemed genuinely independent.

Electrelane - Rock It To The Moon, The Power Out, Axes, No Shouts No Calls (cd reviews):

Electrelane: "Le Song"
Electrelane: "On Parade"
Electrelane: "Gone Darker"
Electrelane: "The Greater Times"

I don't claim to be an expert on anything, and that's backed by what everyone yells at me on an annoyingly constant basis. I thought I could write something fairly straightforward about the UK's Electrelane but my initial research is throwing crap at me I both don't know and generally don't care about. This description of Post-Rock kept my attention for eight seconds (cowboy up!) but I did benefit from learning what Motorik is.

I put Electrelane in the indie post-punk category with a broad appeal to fans of The Arcade Fire and the harder dream pop you'll hear in bands like For Against. Their only fault for me is periodic delving into the overindulgence of self-indulgence, which means they're wasting my time by noodling around for some kind of art's sake that translates into the meaningless, the slow, or the too long. As you all know (just kidding myself) I only listen to music when lifting or running. I know a band's over-self-indulgent when they go off on a tangent for so long I drift off and forget there's music coming out of my headphones. Dare I call this pretentiousness on the part of Electrelane? I don't find it precious or cute, which would lead to a yes, and post-rock and I generally live equal yet separate lives, so I'll just vote no on the Electrelane songs that get lost in their own reflections. Thinning the herd I'm left with a nice collection of well-arranged and orchestrated music.

The band formed in 1998 but didn't release their debut until 2001. Rock It To The Moon is almost completely instrumental except for some mumbled words in "Spartakiade", occasional harmonizing, and an easter egg of a vocal ditty hidden at the end of the last track. Is this self-indulgent? A little if not a lot. The template is generally a combination of ambient and loud/fast sections, arranged differently in each song. Some keep my interest long enough to not want to edit them down sans noodling while others don't. "Film Music", "Le Song", and "Spartakiade" are the best tracks, the last one inspired by Sleater-Kinney. "Long Dark" borrows the "Peter Gunn Theme" and the Velvet Underground can also be heard as a direct inspiration.

2004's The Power Out found the band signed to a larger label, Beggar's Banquet. Only four of the eleven tracks are instrumental, and three are relegated to the end. The record has a live-in-the-studio feel, making it more poppy and immediate. Post-punk is the main theme and it's a generally fine listen all the way through with the exception of "The Valleys" with its retro cheesy 60's lounge act feel, which sounds like from another session rejected for good reason. "Gone Under Sea", "On Parade" and the instrumental "Only One Thing Is Needed" stand out.

The next year's release Axes takes a step back to Rock It To The Moon with a predominance of instrumentals and the occasional dip into self-indulgence that kills whatever it is it's planted in. "Eight Steps", "Business Or Otherwise" and "I Keep Losing Heart" suffer thusly. "The Partisan" wins from the get-go with no ambient intro and hard-driving punk energy. The instrumental "Gone Darker" is an impressive piece of art rock based in the approaching sounds of a train. Half this record is a keeper.

2007's No Shouts No Calls is heavily influenced by a success template laid out by The Arcade Fire, and it follows it brilliantly. Electrelane don't necessarily jump the bandwagon - they most likely saw how they can do what they did before The Arcade Fire were even formed in a way that proves they can write impressive, melodic music while not selling out. There's no weak track and they sound larger than a four-piece while also retaining the immediacy of a standard rock band. "The Greater Times" for the win and "To The East" reminds me that if you like this record you'll also go for Pony Up!, whose "The Truth About Cats And Dogs (Is That They Die)" should have won a Nobel Prize.

Yup, there's a band called Electrelane and they have some records out. Whatever it is they do they do well, even if I'm not into it. I'm going to create a personal greatest hits mix from them and consider them the greatest band to come out of Brighton since Dr. Smutglove.

Entry 256: 12/24/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 24 and Video Review


 

 Pappy's elbow deep in holiday spirits, be they eggnog, Mad Dog 20/20, or whatever's kosher for Kwanzaa. Anything to keep me unconscious during this time of giving when all I can offer my barely tolerated ones are stockings of failure and turds of disappointment under the dead tree in the back alley. "Tis better to give than receive" I'll often say as I rob people smaller and weaker than myself, but how that applies to me the other way around is a mystery to all parties involved. Best to achieve a self-induced coma and wake up in time for New Year's Eve, when Pappy drinks himself into oblivion once again in hope of rising again by Easter.

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 24
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

The Feederz - "Jesus (alt version)"
The Automatics - "Hate Your Generation"
Kill Allen Wrench - "My Bitch Is A Junkie"
The Middle Class - "Out Of Vogue"
Pinhead Gunpowder - "Losers Of The Year"
Alien Sex Fiend - "Dead And Buried"
The Nils - "Daylight"
The Wedding Present - "Niagara"
Any Trouble - "(Get You Off) The Hook"
Martha And The Muffins - "Women Around The World At Work"
Mi-Sex - "Computer Games"
The Selecter - "Too Much Pressure (live)"
Ex-Girl - "Solid States Kerock 'N' Roll"

The Fall - Perverted By Language / Live At Leeds (dvd review): The Fall is not only a cult band, they're a cult. They're the Grateful Dead of post-punk, with fans who should be on watch lists for something or other. This two hour mix of this and that will bewilder non-fans but send followers into the bathroom for a little "me" time. Not that there's any quality in the tapings or recordings, but it's The Fall so even crumbs are steak.

The focal point is 1983 and the release of Perverted By Language, featuring the debut of former Mark E. Smith spouse Brix Smith, the beauty to his beast. In this era Smith can be played in a movie by DJ Qualls. A few years later possibly by David Spade after a decade of misadventure. The dvd is a mix of live, video and interview footage. Mark has no interest in making music videos, and it shows. The live stuff is fun for as long as that lasts, which for me averages twenty minutes. It's always nice to hear "Totally Wired", twice. The Fall catalog is a marathon that requires patience, dedication and perseverance. There's a lot of great songs but also a hefty share of filler.

The best bit of the interview is when Smith defends himself against accusations of his songs sounding the same by half saying, half implying that songs that don't sound alike are "Novelty Songs". Perverted By Language isn't the place to start for non-fans. Definitely not. Have a friend make a mix tape of hits that sound the least alike. That's the way to fall into The Fall. If you trip over The Fall you might hurt yourself.

Entry 255: 12/17/2011: Article & Video Review

Crap I Pick Up From The Radio

Short story long I own an old car with a cassette player. I made the switch to cd but some people whom I hope are now dead after a long, painful illness broke in and stole it. Not "it" exactly - the dashboard faceplate it's mounted in, which also controls the heat and air. It cost me $500 just to get a cassette player/faceplate put back in, which has no value to criminals. Ergo, I often listen to the radio.

Mostly it's news talk or sports for the comedy and football stuff (Fox Sports is comedy + news while ESPN is news + a little levity if you're lucky), but when those are dry I put on oldies to see what I can glean from them. For a while I liked K-EARTH 101 but now it's heavily 70s disco, which also can die after a long, painful illness. Now there's 100.3 FM The Sound, where the DJs literally bring in their old vinyl and play what's called Album Rock, a better version of Album-Oriented Rock (AOR). Part of what I like about it is nostalgia for when new wave stations like WLIR FM dared to be different for as long as that lasted. I also like that they play a lot of non-metal rock music based in folk,country, and blues. Here's some crap I've picked up.

For the longest time I was trying to figure out what Bowie/Pop's "Lust For Life" was ripped off from. Nobody I asked had a clue and even the internet was empty. Released in 1977 it's easily the most hip-in-a-good-way song of the modern era. Take a listen and berate yourself for even entertaining the notion I might be wrong on this:

I was listening to K-EARTH one day and sure enough the answer was Diana Ross and The Supreme's July, 1966 Motown hit "You Can't Hurry Love":

Once I had that the internet yielded the info that "Lust For Life" was also based  on the October, 1966 song "I'm Ready For Love" by Martha and the Vandellas. One thing I picked up from K-EARTH was that Motown bands stole from each other like crazy, so the win goes to The Supremes.

When you're young you think whatever music you're into is new, fresh, and derived from nothing more than the awesomeness of something you're lucky and cool enough to have discovered. Later on, if you dig deep and have an open mind, you realize most everything is a newer version of something else, and the interconnectivity of various styles of music would yield flow charts that would explode your head like this gratuitous link to a Scanners video.

A random example of what I pick up from the radio is that "I've Seen All Good People" by Yes has parts that sound like The Grateful Dead. I also forgot how much I liked Southern Rock after hearing "Freebird" all the way through for the first time in literal decades. It's a 9:15 length song, half of it a freak-out of epic proportions. Southern rockers didn't wank their guitars. They went for speed.

Here's the short story long - punk has it's own "Freebird", "The River" by NoMeansNo. By this I mean there's an epic aspect to both that clicks in my mind as being of a same kind. The studio version is more brutal but this live version is better to look at:

While I'm filibustering I'll add this video of the greatest live punk concert thing I've ever seen. It's during "Jack Off!" by the NoMeansNo side-project The Hanson Brothers:

At 44 seconds in guitarist Tom Holliston kicks at someone in the audience. He stops playing, points, steps back and stands with his hands behind his back. Singer John Wright looks over and while chewing his gum with not a care in the world he walks over while the drummer and his brother Rob on bass keep the beat, throws the guy around like he's the threat of a 4 year old, tosses him back into the crowd, casually walks back to the mike and at 59 seconds they all hit it at the same moment like a machine as they get back into the song. I've seen it at least 50 times and I still cackle like a hillbilly. As a team I have no doubt John and Rob would and could have knocked the entire crowd into unconsciousness. Don't tell me it gets better than this because I won't believe you.

One last thing. Punk is predominantly a working-to-upper class white thing. It pretends to be more than a diversion and exercise in the delusions of self-importance. Absolutely nothing proves this point more than this clip of The Staple Singers singing "The Weight" with The Band on The Last Waltz:

The song was written by Robbie Robertson and is oddly enough about visiting the Martin Guitar factory in Nazareth, PA. Listening to it you'd not be off in thinking it's about the worst days of The Great Depression or the late 1800's in the Deep South. When Mavis Staples first sings it hits you that you've never heard such beautiful and powerful singing in all your short, miserable life, then when Pops underplays his part, just by looking at his face you realize you're a pathetic baby who should just shut the f--k up and be happy for how good you really have it. Asshole. Seriously. Hardcore Gospel negates the importance of hardcore punk like an anvil squishing your big toe.

Man Or Astroman? – Time Bomb (dvd review): The time – September 2, 1994, 11:00 PM-ish. The place – the Cas Rock club in Edinburgh, Scotland. The band – Man or Astroman? The running length – 55 minutes. The format – VHS.

Man or Astroman? play mostly instrumental surf garage and have done so since 1992. Their last album was released in 2000, so besides playing around they must have day jobs. I saw them 16-ish years ago in San Diego and liked them for about six minutes at a time since that seems to be my limit for surf instrumentals, or any kind of instrumentals for that matter. This pro-am VHS tape shows them in costume backed by sci-fi film snippets that frame each song. They wear costumes and jump around a lot, sometimes singing but always playing garage surf. The film quality is bad but it’s a lot of fun for six minutes at a time. I recognized the MST3K Theme song, so I sang along with that. Then I walked around a while before coming back for my next six minute shift.

Entry 254: 12/10/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 23 and Video Review

"Co-dependent and drug dependent.
It's like Sid and Nancy, except they're both Nancy."

 Pappy's not a dumb man. At least I don't think so, but I'm no rocket surgeon, and can seventeen social workers and every known standardized test be wrong? Somebody read this article to me and it made me wish I didn't go to community college just to steal antenna balls and eat from the dumpster buffet. I'd learn even bigger words than Joanna R. Davis knows so I can write something just as dumber. Can punks grow old gracefully? Of course they can, just take a gander at yer ol' pal Pappy Punk as the last sketch artist captured me on a bum B&E rap:

She also wrote a Master's thesis on public breast-feeding. Can you really be a Doctor if all you do is take basic, boring subjects and fancy them up like they mean more than rocks and dirt? I needs me some grant money so I can write a paper on the two-tier hierarchies of the standers and sitters at my bus stop. It'll blow the lid off this societal Jonestown Holocaust Apartheid injustice system I endure on a regular-like basis.

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 23
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

Raw Power - "F--k Authority"
Cereal Killer - "Knife"
Padded Cell - -"Different Shades Of Blue"
The Cars - "Funtime"
The Causey Way - "The Smartest Employee"
Camper Von Beethoven - "Take The Skinheads Bowling"
Citizen Fish - "Habit"
Blondie - "X Offender"
Budget Girls - "Tickle Bee"
Cherry Vanilla - "Amanda (Paradise)"
Modern Warfare - "Out Of My Head"
John Cooper Clarke - "Health Fanatic"
Chris Wind - "The Government Is Coming To Town"

D.I. – The Suburbia Sessions 1983 (dvd review): D.I. were a great band but this rehearsal session filmed by someone involved with Flipside magazine is as exciting as watching bored people going through the motions of playing songs in a dingy warehouse somewhere in Fullerton, CA. Which is what it is. The single camera, VHS-quality, likely mono sound made me feel like a ghost doomed to haunt the halls of the mundane. As a fan I liked it but I wished I was watching a concert instead. The extra twenty minutes of interviews and milling about will trigger narcolepsy if you are so predisposed.

Am I wrong to think D.I. are interchangeable with The Adolescents? I consider both post-punk hardcore bands, neither here nor there except I’m constantly relearning that bands and entire genres weren’t what I remembered them to be. So much was called hardcore when it wasn’t once you stepped away from the rush of it. I also say D.I. were a great band knowing they never fully died but rise periodically like the undead to haunt the present. D.I.’s time in the punk rock ended after Teem Goon in 1986. Many bands kept going after their time to record an album here and there and play the oldies but goodies at their shows. It beats shoveling dog poop or is a nice break after shoveling dog poop all day, and I’m all for it, but a sad smile of pity forms on my face when a band says little has changed over the years. Oh yes it has.

Has it ever been determined as to what the letters "D.I." stood for? I remember one choice being “Drill Instructor” but I’ve lost track of the others. Here’s the set list for this archival stroll down memory lane: “Venus DeMilo”, “Instrumental Brenahnew Waltz”, “Loose”, “Reagan Der Fuhrer”, “Richard Hung Himself”, “Purgatory”, “Guns”, Ballroom Blitz”, Hang 10 In East Berlin”, “Spiritual Law”. The time capsule will now close until next time, when we meet again.

Entry 253: 12/3/2011: CD Reviews & Video Review

"Hmmm, this better not awaken anything in me... mmm."

The Dead Milkmen - Big Lizard In My Backyard, Eat Your Paisley!, Bucky Fellini, Beezelbubba (cd reviews):

The Dead Milkmen: "Tiny Town"
The Dead Milkmen: "Nutrition"
The Dead Milkmen: "Big Time Operator"
The Dead Milkmen: "Moron"
The Dead Milkmen: "Stuart"
The Dead Milkmen: "The Guitar Song"

Yeah, 1985 was long enough ago to take a chance on actually listening to a few Dead Milkmen records. Whatever brand of tard silliness they were pushing on the MTV had no appeal to me. Having now listened to their once a year releases equaling four and sitting down to watch their videos I give them credit for being more clever than I remembered. I also take away credit for them throwing every stupid thing against the wall to see what sticks, producing a random mix MP3 experience that falls flat if the algorithm stars are not aligned correctly. Their greatest hits will more than suffice. I'll subject myself to this one more time at the gym and get back to you. In the meantime, try to do something only semi-pud related.

...and I'm back. The Dead Milkmen were in no way an original band and they settled for stupid waaay too often for their long-term reputation, but more than 50% of the time they got it right, and maybe just by default they're the standard bearers of junior edition funny punk. The seniors were owned by The Meatmen (don't throw The Mentors at me, but I might accept The Angry Samoans), whom the Milkmen pay tribute to on a live track called "Milkmen Stomp". Bands they emulated were Mojo Nixon, The Beastie Boys, Camper Van Beethoven, and oddly and repeatedly enough, the aforementioned Samoans, a plus with me at least. The Beastie Boys white funk thing I can always do without.

Let's go to the audiotape: 1985's debut Big Lizard In My Backyard (I make nothing from links but if I see you you owe me a drink) is crammed with 21 tracks, a third I'd jettison for da funk or just being too much of what they do with little payoff. Highlights are "Tiny Town", "V.F.W.", "Big Lizard" and "Nutrition".

1986's Eat Your Paisley! suffers from a repetitive drum scheme and lyrics that might be funny but they don't come across as such on vinyl. "Moron" is decent enough. The next year's Bucky Fellini finds the band remembering to write better material like "Going To Graceland", "Big Time Operator", and "Nitro Burning Funny Cars". It could stand to lose some so-unfunny-it's-still-not-funny tracks such as "The Badger Song" and "Jellyfish Heaven".

Musically Beelzebubba is their most ambitious effort, and not only does it sound great the album is strategically augmented by mandolin, horns and keyboards. "Punk Rock Girl" was huge for them and as a record to listen to front front to end this one is the most satisfying, following closely by Big Lizard In My Backyard.

With a little more quality control The Dead Milkmen might have been a classic band, and to you they might be, but I'm thinking most would agree they're stuck in their time and place, which isn't a bad thing per say, but maybe it wasn't such a great idea to make a video for "Smokin' Banana Peels", and maybe being a funny punk band on MTV isn't the kind of cheese that ages well for all people.

Turn-On, Tune-In, Lookout! (dvd review): A few seconds after I put this on I remembered I generally don’t like music videos. What I generally mean by don’t like is they annoy me until my gums bleed. Here goes. I didn’t mind the Pretty Girls Make Graves video because the stop motion effect was pretty neat and the song is great. Bratmobile’s video was fun because they mixed in Japanese sci-fi movie scenes. It’s nice to see author and raconteur Dr. Frank goof around with The Mr. T Experience as he’s a swell fellow. Did they really have to make a video for “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba”? I guess they did. I’ll admit to liking The Donnas’ self-titled cd but their jailbait-Runaways routine got old, and fast. Watching two we’re-hot-stuff-rock-and-roll-chicks-from-the-dirtball-70s videos was two more than I could handle. There’s a third cartoon one, easier to experience. The Servotron video gave me a seizure. I expected the Pansy Division videos to be both gay-themed and gay as hell, but The Pattern out-gayed them with theirs. The only thing missing was a fake-oak paneled basement photo shoot. Pansy Division’s video for “Bad Boyfriend” consisted of two stuffed animals being shaken about on a couch with a record cover between them. Now THAT’S gay lazy!

This 2003 thingie was adapted from a 1998 VHS tape, which as extras on the dvd include a neat little tour of Lookout! By Nardwar The Human Serviette and a Smugglers Japan tour diary. Here’s the bands and songs: Pretty Girls Make Graves – “Speakers Push The Air”; Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone”; The Donnas – “Do You Wanna Hit It” , “40 Boys In 40 Nights”, “Skintight”; The Pattern – “Fragile Awareness”; “Nothing Of Value”; The Oranges Band – “OK Apartment”; Bratmobile – “Eating Toothpaste”; The Mr. T Experience – “I Fell For You”, “Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba”, “And I Will Be With You”; The Smugglers – “Especially You”; The Queers – “Punk Rock Girls”, “Don’t Back Down”; Servotron – “People Mover”; The Hi-Fives – “I’d Be So Pleased”; Squirtgun – “Mary Ann”.

Entry 252: 11/26/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 22 and Video Review


"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly"

 Pappy’s settled back at home after fighting the good hissy fit against capitalization, hegemoninity, sexyism, state-sponsored hygiene, and welfare benefit disparity. I accomplished all my goals - to be seen and obscene, to scream and be moved away from, and to sociopath socialize with my fellow hu-persons in a utopian zumanity where all are equal in the eyes of the flying spaghetti evolve tuna. My new friend Sheila is still up that tree because she knows the Boneskull Illuminazi Cheapmason Templar Bilderburger Opie Taylor Dei Greys will kidnap her again and probe her for her precious"1 DEAS". Yugo girl! If Pappy had human emotions he'd be cryin' fer ya!

Anyhoot, Pappy rushed home to fill out the paperwork so he can gets the free money from the gubmint's newest program to reward failure - The Americans With No Abilities Act. It's like they knew my vote was for sale.

Washington, DC November 2, 2011, – The Obama Administration is urging Congress and the Senate to pass sweeping legislation that will provide new benefits for many Americans: The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA). President Obama says he will sign it as soon as it hits his desk.

The AWNAA is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.

‘Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society,’ said California Senator Barbara Boxer. ‘We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they have some idea of what they are doing. We are legalizing another protected class of Americans.’

In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) pointed to the success of the US Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Private-sector industries with good records of nondiscrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement ‘warehouse’ stores (65%). At the state government level, the Department of Motor Vehicles also has an excellent record of hiring Persons of Inability (a whopping 83%).

Under The Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million ‘middle man’ positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.

Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given so as to guarantee upward mobility for even the most inept employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability into middle-management positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.

Finally, the AWNAA contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Non-abled, banning, for example, discriminatory interview questions such as, ‘Do you have any skills or experience that relate to this job?’

‘As a Non-abled person, I can’t be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them,’ said Ken Cox, who lost his position as a $70 dollars an hour lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint , Michigan , due to his inability to remember ‘righty tightie, lefty loosey.’ ‘This new law should be real good for people like me,’ Cox added. With the passage of this bill, Cox and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): ‘As a Senator with no abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her inadequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and a good salary for doing so.’

Senator Shaheen (D-NH) elaborated that these are same rights that are currently extended to US Congressmen & Women , US Senators and the current President and Vice President.

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 22
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

9395 - "Ten Witches"
The Stains - Sick And Crazy"
Stalag 13 - "Selfish"
The Adolescents - "Richard Hung Himself " (demo)
The Suburban Lawns - "Janitor" (live)
The Barbies - "Boys Will Be Boys"
Sleater-Kinney - "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone"
Man Sized Action - "Replica"
The Mekons - "Never Been In A Riot"
Eddie & The Hotrods - "Do Anything You Wanna Do"
Jimmy Cliff - "The Harder They Come"
The Ethiopians - "Train To Skaville"
Der Kunftige Musikant - "La Luna"

The Mutants: The Forensic Report (dvd review): The Pope Of Punk (Dirk Dirksen) sat down circa 2006 with SF art-punks The Mutants for thirty minutes of reminiscing about Dirksen’s days booking The Mabuhay Gardens, while also trolling for anecdotes of wacky band hi-jinx. I’m no spring chicken but even I felt I was watching AARP cardholders talking about Woodstock or something similar, not the raging SF punk scene! Well, The Mutants weren’t punks but performance artists playing campy rock while dressing as wacky as thrift stores allowed and generally having nutty fun on stage. They fell by the wayside when hardcore killed the art-punk scenes and replaced them with skinny white kid suburban fight club tomfoolery. The dvd contains a few reunion shows from the middle-ish 80s offering nothing interesting to me musically as I felt a little embarrassed watching The Mutants try to recreate the spontaneous fun of the olde days with forced enthusiasm. It’s probably not as bad as I write it out to be, but not by much. I’m glad they had a hoot but wow did I find their catalog average and their shtick dated and tiresome. I somehow feel I should also add a Rodney Dangerfield-inspired “No offense!”

The Amazon product description has the technical skinny on The Forensic Report:

Dirk Dirksen Presents The Mutants: Forensic Report features: The Mutants "Interview Segment" The Mutants' performances from the DNA lounge in 1989, and "The On Broadway" in 1984. Songs: Insect Lounge, War Against Girls, True Story, A Light, Think, Think, Think, The Color of Imagination, Lesson in Time, Opposite World, Twisted Thing, Give and Take, Love Song, Tribute to Russ Meyers, Furniture."The late 70's provided a giant stage for American underground bands trying to create a new rock and roll. In San Francisco, The Mutants emerged as one of the great art school punk bands of the era with their unique seven member strong high octane, alcohol fueled melodic punk assault. Each performance was treated as a special event, which the band packed with truly memorable tunes from their enormous catalog."-Mel Cheplowitz , Publisher of Shredding Paper magazine and DJ at KALX "Seeing the Mutants live was like being invited to a secret John Waters movie about punk colorfully and melodically crashing into New Wave, with a dysfunctional locomotive designed by Johnnie Cash on angel dust. Why couldn't the Sex Pistols or the Doors be this much fun? Because the Mutants could be so flamboyant and conceptual, it's easy to forget the musical power of their songs. This is partially connected to how the vocals of sweet toughies Sally (Webster) and Sue (White) harmoniously combine with those of Fritz (Fox). Frank Zappa denied ever using LSD but the Mutants did. Something to Think, Think, Think about - Look out for the furniture."- Dave (Dog) Swan, the host of cult cable program Doghouse

The stories mosey along amicably but you might think here and there “Well, I guess you had to be there”, especially the night when tubs of rotting fish were thrown at the audience and then back on stage. Someone says of the band that they were an “art rendition of a punk band”, which might confuse people as most don’t think of wacky girls-boys chorus singing while wearing costumes as punk. They’d fit better under the new wave banner except for a short time it was arty to be punk so that’s how they remember it. Listen to the 1976 comp Live At CBGB’s and tell me how punk that was. Yeah, yeah, semantics... I fart in your general direction.

Dirksen tosses in a few old pieces of film shot at the Mabuhay plus numerous still pics, so parts of the opening interviews are at least visually interesting. Did I like the performances or the songs? No. Would I recommend this to anyone under 45 who doesn’t like off-Broadway musicals? No. Would I try to convince anyone who loves this that it’s not the greatest thing ever? No. It’s not my thing but I didn’t form an opinion beyond that. It’s nice when senior citizens tell their stories. Oral tradition is important.

Entry 251: 11/19/2011: CD Review & Video Review

"Did you have a Prince Charmington doll when you were a girl?"

"Everybody had one. I used to dress mine like Sid Vicious Charmington"

Bat Cat

Here's some records I don't have much to comment on except to make some comments (on them):

Bullets To Broadway - Drink Positive (cd review):

Bullets To Broadway: "Down And Out"
Bullets To Broadway: "Happily Ever After"

Nashville's Bullets To Broadway (interview here) were Kevin, Heather, and Matt from the most excellent Teen Idols joined by two people named Geis and Gui. From their label comes this: "BULLETS TO BROADWAY's sound is a pleasantly aggressive style of punk rock that blends Descendents with Screeching Weasel with NOFX, but you can still hear the catchy melodies a la Teen Idols and you still have Heather's great harmonies and back-ups." Sure, why not.

I like each song well enough but nothing kicked my arse into the next town like I hoping for. Every song has the same high level of high quality that never scores "single" status in a way to make you look up from your task at hand. Heather's harmonies are always a treat. I miss the tight punk greaser concept of the Teen Idols.

Off With Their Heads - All Things Move Toward Their End, From The Bottom, Hospitals (cd reviews):

Off With Their Heads: "Theme Song"
Off With Their Heads: "Keep Falling Down"

Forming in Miniature-apolis, MN in 2002, Off With Their Heads (interview here) is a nth generation hard-hitting roots punk/hardcore outfit with a rotating roster and a sound you might remember from bands like Dillinger Four and Against Me, bands I never got and didn't feel the lesser for it. Listening to these discs I quickly went from "This is pretty good" to "Yup, I got the point" to "Ok, bye now". At this point I'm sure I should stay away from any newish band that claims to be working class punk rock. If history is a guide.

The Great St. Louis - In Your Own Time (cd review):

The Great St. Louis: "Louis Mooresy"
The Great St. Louis: "Head Down"

What I just wrote about Off With Their Heads please apply to The Great St. Louis except add Social Distortion to the mix. Somebody recommended this because I'm a Leatherface fan and if I squish my eyes close and make a wish I do hear it in the later tracks as melodic walls of guitar interplay and simple drum pounding. Stronger songwriting beyond hitting the same levels of power and harmony would do this band good.

Charged G.B.H. On Stage: City Baby Attacked By Rats (dvd review): Hey, a pleasant surprise for once on an old live show, this from 1984, and I’m not even a fan beyond “City Baby Attacked By Rats” and whatever else sounded like it. They became just another punk metal band and I exited stage left. The surprise is the decent filming, sound, performance level and enthusiasm. Clocking in at 110 minutes you’ll pogo till you plotz and question all your preconceptions of hair gel and its holding properties. It’s much more punk than wank-a-doo so it held my attention. Bonus footage of the band doing absolutely nothing on tour buses and backstage is awesome man!

Entry 250: 11/12/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 21 and Video Review


Misheard At The Last Joe Paterno Press Conference

“I was informed coach Jerry Sandusky took part in child anal rape in our shower facilities. If I’d known it was actually child anal rape-rape I might have gotten more involved.”

“Jerry told me he loves kids. Who doesn’t love kids?”

“Jerry also told me he was keeping wayward kids on the ‘Straight and Narrow’. I didn’t know he was being literal.”

“Jerry said he knew ten was kinda young, but when he said ‘but look at that ass!’ I remembered winning is a Penn State tradition.”

“I complied with the letter of the law by informing my superiors of Jerry’s serial rape of young boys on the Penn State campus. I’m no lawyer so I can’t say if an AARP member banging children too young for pubes is right or wrong.”

“Thousands of our loyal fans rioted last night in support of school-sanctioned pedophilia. Even I am speechless on that one.”

"Jerry would walk around campus mumbling "F--k those kids". I thought he was just angry at the players and students. I didn't know he was chanting his mission statement."

“Pedo State University? I don’t understand.”

 Pappy’s finally home after stopping off at a few more Occupy Yeah Whatevers to stock up on drugs, gourmet food and donated funds. It was getting too crazy even for yer ol’ Pappy Punk, who don’t mind playing Touch & Go with the ladies but wanted no part of the carnivals of sexual assault they had going on at the various Mortvilles that make up Occupy Yeah Whatever. I didn’t know it was possible to act out Lord Of The Flies, Animal House, Animal Farm and Goonies all at the same time, but these waste by-products of middle and upper class white families were up to the (mentally) challenge(d). Pappy knows he’s a loser and that’s part of my charm. These snowflakes are all winners and they’re demanding prizes for being speacial, each and every one. As Pappy learned a looong time ago, scream therapy isn’t therapeutic if half your mind is stuck at age five.

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 21
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

The F--k Ups - "Bacon And Eggs"
Blurt - "The Fish Needs A Bike
The Celibate Rifles - "Jesus On TV"
Big In Japan - "Dig That Stupid Sound"
The Blank Students - "Background Music"
Girl Trouble - "The Track"
Fingerprintz - "Going, Going, Gone"
The Bush Tetras - "Too Many Creeps"
The Adicts - "Chinese Takeaway"
The Beatnik Termites - "Ode To Suzie And Joey"
Kevin Short - "Punk Strut"
The Waitresses - "No Guilt"
Laurie Anderson - "Let X=X"

Electric Frankenstein – Live At Camden Underground (dvd review): I’m surprised a band so obsessed with studio quality control and graphic arts cleverness would allow this piece of garbage to be released. Live At Camden Underworld sports crappy sound, visuals and playing - the trifecta of entertainment craptitude. Another surprise is that Punkervision produced this. Their Leatherface and NoMeansNo/Hanson Brothers dvds were frankly awesome.

I don’t know what genre Electric Frankenstein is exactly, but I do know when they decide to carry a tune they’re the hardest hitting proto-punk revival band on the planet. Sadly for me I find a lot of their catalog to be some kind of trucker-punk cock-rock inspired by the worst album tracks of the MC5 and for all I know Black Sabbath. As indicated above this December 2000 UK show is sloppy and don’t sound too good either, so the tuneful and not-so-much-so fairly much sound the same, only with less noodling on the songs I like. If you squint you can see waves of tour sweat stench drift at you from your television. The lighting alternates between red and bright.

For those drunk punks who rock, here’s the set list: Right On Target / I’m Not Your Nothing / Already Dead / Friction / Perfect Crime / Listen Up Baby / Annie’s Grave / Get Off My Back / Hate Machine / Up From The Streets / Demolition Joyride / Blackout / Rocket In My Veins / Action High / Devil Dust / Time Is Now / It’s all Moving Faster.

Entry 249: 11/5/2011: CD Review & Video Review

"Called Somebody A Doosh"

Los Reactors - Dead in The Suburbs (cd reviews):

Los Reactors: "Dead in The Suburbs"
Los Reactors: "Pregnant Girls"

What you need to know about Tulsa, OK's Los Reactors can be found here. Suffice to say they're a typically great Killed By Death (The Nuggets of the underground punk era) band of the late 70s and early 80s, combining the best of punk, garage and power pop to release two regional lo-fi singles to local underground acclaim and eventual rediscovery. Dead In The Suburbs collects the singles plus live and rehearsal material to yield fifteen tracks of electric piano-enhanced garage punk mayhem. Fans of The Screamers and Count Vertigo take note.

Keyboardist and singer Joe Christ died in 2009 after a heart attack. His singing is typically "snotty" and I'm always curious how much of that is affectation. Otherwise it's a mix of Jello Biafra, Fred Schneider and Wayne County. Also otherwise the music is melodic garage punk psych wave blah blah blah and all of it fast, fun and furious, with current events solidifying their time and place. They formed in 79 and disintegrated in 83. Great stuff and an "A" rating for this all-things-considered genre.

Jayne County and the Electric Chairs: Man Enough To Be A Woman (dvd review): Oh lordy did this 2005 release stink up the room. First I noticed this was on Cherry Red, punk rock's dumpster. Then there was the Holidays In The Sun banner behind the stage and I knew this was going to reek something awful. The show is from 1996. With the exception of his/her one hit "If You Don't Want To F--k Me Baby F--k Off" each song was the same generic exercise of each band member playing notes at the same time. It's literally "I'm gonna sing and do my thing. You guys just keep up. It doesn't matter just play something, anything." Jayne/Wayne's looking like Al Lewis, Edith Massey and Divine all at the same time, and the outrageous factor hits a solid 1.4 in Amish country. A set of music doesn't get more nondescript than this.

Jayne's a hoot though, and the book Man Enough To Be A Woman is a personal favorite. Check out Jayne's blog. That's quite a thing, ain't it?

This Netflix reviwer sums it up nicely: "Pretty much any dvd of 70's-80's punk rock bands playing live shows in the mid-late 2000's is going to be bad. This included. Not a lot of movement or energy from the band at all. Bland."

Here's the set list so you'll know what you're fast-forwarding through: I Hate Today / Night Time / Wonder Woman / Paranoia Paradise / Bad In Bed / Are You A Boy Or A Girl? / Man Enough To Be A Woman / Rock & Roll Resurrection / If You Don't Want To F--k Me Baby F--k Off / Reprise / 2nd Reprise / Brainwashed.

Entry 248: 10/29/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 20 and Video Review


Happy Halloween!

 Pappy's been occupying everywhere until he's been forced to leave by mobs of patchouli stenched vegans and defective rich white kids with trust funds and the complete Apple line of consumer electronics. I've only been practicing their mottos of "(Other People's) Property Is Theft", Poop Where The Day Takes You, I Don't Wanna Work I Wanna Bang On My Pickle Bucket All Day, and Love Is Free, even if it's the kind of involuntary "tough love" practiced but not preached. Maybe Pappy's "too real", too honest and too sociopathic for those who live life as theory but run for the hills when the poop literally hits the fan (sorry, I wasn't looking where I was doing my business) and spreads the truth over a two mile radius. I do feel this woman's pain. I have a 3rd grade equivalency diploma and nobody will hunt me down to offer $20 an hour for whatever I feel like doing whenever I feel like doing it:


 

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 20
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

The Jam - "Start"
Bad Religion - "Anesthesia"
The Bollweevils - "Repeat"
Scream - "Ultra Violence - Screamin'"
Amy And The Angels - "I Hate Being In Love"
The Barracudas - "Summer Fun"
Go Team - "Huddle Formation"
Link Wray - "Jack The Ripper"
The Rezillos - "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight"
The Partisans - "I Never Need You"
The Pretenders - "Mystery Achievement"
The Vapors - "Sixty Second Interval"
Spooky Dance - "Spooky Dance" (special Halloween treat for you kiddies)

Jimmy Eat World: Believe In What You Want (dvd review): I liked their 2001 release Bleed American well enough to rent this early 2000’s giggity giggity gig, and they do a great job recreating highly polished studio album tracks as a standard four-piece emo pop rock punk band. I don’t have patience for sitting down to watch video concerts so I hung around for a few songs before shuffling through the rest of this 52 minute set at the new 9:30 Club in DC. I’ll call it the new club until the day I die and it should be called a hall or something else size appropriate.

The 20-something crowd, more women than men it appears, knew every word and a sweaty good time was had by all. A full array of cameras were used to film this, including either a crane or the camera on wires you see on football games. The sound’s great and the stage seems too big as they’re spread out far apart. The band themselves look and dress like their fans and have not an ounce of rock-star appeal amongst them – which isn’t a bad thing by any means.

Along with the show is a nice documentary on the period they were dropped by Capital Records and regrouped to DIY their next record, Bleed American, picked up by DreamWorks to the financial gratification of all. The guys in the band are pleasant and down to earth, and at least on camera there’s no bad attitudes or drama meltdowns. It’s easy to cheer them on as they believe in their dreams and reach for the stars (did you just vomit a little in your mouth like I did?)

 

Entry 247: 10/15/2011: CD Reviews & Video Review

Today's juxtaposition of picture and words: If a man is alone in the woods and says something and there is no woman to hear what he says, is he still wrong?

The Bongos - Drums Along The Hudson / Numbers With Wings / Beat Hotel (cd reviews):

The Bongos: "In The Congo"
The Bongos: "Glow In The Dark"
The Bongos: "Three Wise Men"

So like there as was once this band once in the 80s, The Bongos, and they had this song that went like "(Booda dooda doodoo dooda booda dooda dooda booda) In The Congo, In The Congo". That was like the whole song I think. On a less serious note that's all I knew about Hoboken, NJ's The Bongos, so I listened to their 1982 debut LP, Drums Along The Hudson, itself a collection of singles and an EP going back to 1980. I was impressed by it to say the least. It distills elements of the NY art punk scene from then and a few years earlier into a very satisfying and eclectic collection of indie pop tunes. You'll hear everyone from The Feelies to No Wave to even a little devo-style nervous energy. It's a distinct product of the northeast tri-state area. Then they signed with RCA for an EP in '83 and an LP in '85, both of which goes through the jangle pop motions. The Bongos were good when they were hungry and lazy when they got fat. And dat's dat.

Drums Along The Congo saw The Bongos as a tight three-piece led by singer/ songwriter/guitarist Richard Barone. It opens with [Booda dooda doodoo dooda booda dooda dooda booda] "In The Congo" which  is pretty much a perfect power pop song with a distinctive Glenn Mercer (Feelies) guitar wig-out in the middle. "The Bulrushes" opens and closes with a flourish of The Byrds but its entirety is mid-paced electrified acoustic Feelies third album strumming with a bop-your-head-twice-to-the-left-then-twice-to-the-right rhythm. I hate to drop a Feelies bomb again but on "Clay Midgets" there's another Mercer-break in the middle. Once again a great simple pop tune. "Video Eyes" was the only track written by bassist Rob Norris and the drums pound while the guitar cuts. There's a Devo feel to the singing. Another winner.

Barone then channels Roy Orbison and Richie Valens for "Glow In The Dark", a track with nicely understated horn accompaniment. "Telefoto Lens" pounds and adds bleeps and bloops while reminding me of Fingerprintz on a good day. How's this for obscure? "Certain Harbours" starts with a repetitive bass line that mimics the opening lines of Stiff Little Finger's "Suspect Device". Then some James Chance No Wave kicks in followed by Mission Of Burma determination. Nice. "Speaking Sands" is a nervous pop version "La Bomba" in most things but name. "Burning Bush" is a peppy instrumental with pounding drums that will make you dance or something approaching similarity. "Automatic Doors" moves closer than before to Fingerprintz and fails a bit in its insertion of a tiny amount of asexual funk. "Hunting" is a little too paisley underground for my tastes but I see its merits. "Zebra Club" is a catchy slow Byrds number with some Feelies added.

"Three Wise Men" fakes slow and then goes full-frontal Feelies pound-a-thon with a James Chance meets Bow Wow Wow workout. Genius really. "Mambo Sun" is an adequate remake of a T-Rex song that charted via novelty. The album closes with "Question Ball", which features real bongos as to avoid a lawsuit.

They added a fourth player when signed with RCA. The only track worth hearing on the Numbers With Wings Ep is "Barbarella" and Beat Hotel is over-produced pap with one decent track, "Come Back To Me". Definitely check out the debut album. It's pretty near perfect. If The Bongos quit after that they'd be legends now like The Nerves.

Half-Cocked (dvd review): Besides for a few non-failures in the realm of low-budget black and white cinematography, 1994’s micro-indie film Half-Cocked is as engaging as watching organic waste composting. It gets the same rave customer reviews as other $712.76 productions of similar interest which makes me think there are two camps of people who support these endeavors: the friends of those involved and the no-budget indie film industry that has to pretend turds are diamonds in the rough in order to not give up all hope on their own futures. Half-Cocked is fairly unwatchable but at least director Suki Hawley uses a tripod whenever possible and the camera doesn’t shake like it’s being held by a junkie.

What made me slump over and repeat “Really? ….really?....Really?…” was reading the film is a parody of the white, post-industrial urban decay indie rock hipster zeitgeist of the early 1990s, and a hilarious one at that. There’s not a single joke in the script and if situations were set up as parody they sure didn’t come across as anything more than one more numb, senseless scene piled on top of the last. The plot doesn’t start until the mid-point and by then, if you’ve made it this far, you’ll have little left but the desire for it to end. At first it seems to be about Louisville, KY slacker do-nothin's doin’ stuff and sayin’ stuff like Jim Jarmusch might if he lost the use of half his brain in a tragic tightrope walking accident. Then the real plot kicks in when Rhoda and her flophouse-mates steal her brother’s van and pretend to be a band with the equipment within as they drive a loop of the region, meeting all kinds of loser-esting people and getting into an assortment of jams and jellies.

The non-actors aren’t all that horrible but what they do and say add up to not much. The film has some semi-famous folks in it, so there’s that, and the soundtrack was a hit with the indie grunge kidz. Androgynous Tara Jane O’Neill is Rhoda and she seems creatively accomplished. James Canty, Steve Gamboa and Ian Svenonius (Nation Of Islam Ulysses) are in it, and Ian’s the best character in the film – a driven, self-obsessed, Lou Reed-esque nobody with dreams of fab glory. Four members of The Grifters also star. Do not watch Half-Cocked while standing or operating heavy machinery.

Entry 246: 10/15/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 19 and Video Review

"Equalia. Where everyone is equal but we're in charge. I mean, somebody has to be, right?"

 For me it's Day 6 of Occupy Wall Street in New York City. After camping out a week with the Wall Street bums of Toledo, a kindly gent with two front teeth and a fedora told me the real action was to go east old man, so there's I went. I've never seen this many hippies, trustafarians, private school millionaire's kids, union goons, paid protestors, anarchists, addicts, sex fiends and tin foil paranoids since the 2008 DNC convention. Pappy felt so at home he (me!) soiled himself. Sadly Pappy feels at home with alarming regularity these days. Anyhoot, I've never been so happy. I'm copping feels, feeling cops, sharing other people's belongings, dancing for pennies, projectile vomiting to great acclaim, and generally being me as an expression of the zeitgeist of these existential times. I've lived my entire life thinking nobody wanted everything handed to him for nothing and to punish everyone who tries not to be a total parasitic loser as much as I do. I was wrong. As a society we truly are f--ked. Pappy and the roaches will prevail. Yes we will.

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 19
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

The Angry Samoans - "They Saved Hitler's Cock"
Marginal Man - "Artificial Peace"
U2 - "Boy Girl"
The Lyres - "Help You Anne"
Rancid - "Maxwell Murder"
Five Iron Frenzy - "Beautiful America"
Editors - "All Sparks"
Le Tigre - "Deceptacon"
No Trend - "Tear You Apart"
Red Zebra - Don't Put Your Head In A Bucket"
Mick Farren - "Let's Loot The Supermarket Again (Like We Did Last Summer)"
The Ramones - "Touring"
John Cale - "Paris 1919"

The Knack: Live from The Rock N Roll Fun House (video review): A few days separated watching and reviewing Rock N Roll Fun House because I wanted to be sure I couldn’t think of anything as ineffectual as this sixty minute promotional film. I imagine a Knack press conference for this where every reporter’s question was “Why?”

Released in 2002 as both a live cd and a promotional video, so much post-production went into the vocals (and possibly the instrumentation) that it’s as live as a Gregg Brady/Johnny Bravo concert. Filmed in a Long Beach film studio on a white set with white pedestals, a few rows of fans on bleachers in the back are a studio audience to what had to have been a long and involved shoot. I wasn’t there but the live concert feel was most likely non-existent. The set list is “Pop Is Dead”, “Baby Talks Dirty”, “Oh Tara”, “Can I Borrow a Kiss”, “Another Lousy Day in Paradise”, “Good Girls Don't”, “One Day at a Time”, “It's Not Me”, “Siamese Twins (The Monkey and Me)”, “Harder on You”, “Sweet Dreams”, “Seven Days of Heaven”, “That's What the Little Girls Do”, “My Sharona”, and “(Havin' a) Rave Up”.

The idea was to recreate the kitsch feel of Shindig! and Hullabaloo, which might have worked for a music video but doesn’t translate to a concert, especially when the musicians are far apart and three of the four are sequestered on pedestals. At one point Berton Averre and Prescott Niles crowd together on one pedestal like they’re breakin’ the rules, but besides professional and money considerations it’s as if the band’s only together because of a court order. The drummer’s a hired gun and as happy as a clam.

The show begins with singer Doug Fieger appearing against a simple backdrop in a long white wig as the host “Jimmy Lemon Jello”, based on Rodney Bingenheimer but looking closer to Cher. The songs are competent yet sterile, thanks in part to the production, finding and keeping The Knack 23 years removed from cultural relevance. They should have played a sweaty set at The Whiskey to reclaim their glory days and prove they still had it. Instead Doug chose to be unfunny and faux-live.

In the icky-poo department we’re reminded by the filthy fifty year old Fieger how creepy his lyrics can be, the lowlight his repeatedly singing “no f--kame f--kame today” (from “(She’s So) Selfish”) like he’s the perp of the week on Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit.

Poorly conceived and executed, Live From The Rock N Roll Funhouse is best best not seen or hopefully soon forgotten.

Entry 245: 10/8/2011: CD Reviews & Video Review

"We'll meet tomorrow, at the Sutherland Library, on the rooftop - don't worry, there's no books up there."

House Boat - The Delaware Octopus / Processing Complaints / The Thorns Of Life (cd reviews):

House Boat: "I Work On The 13th Floor"  
House Boat: "Quivering"
House Boat: "Real Life Is A Metaphor for Real Life"

This is what happens when you combine new century pop punk (juvenile edition) with melodic and powerful roots punk (semi-commercial edition). More specifically band members of The Dopamines, The Ergs, The Steinways, Off With Their Heads and Dear Landlord came together, like anchovies and string cheese, to form House Boat. Influences appear separately and combine to create a new sub-genre I just named "Roots Punk Pop". I own that and if you even think it you must send me twelve internet monies.

The results are pretty good and they grew on me over time. Only two tracks stood out as "singles" ("Real Life Is A Metaphor For Real Life", "Barkmarket F--kery") but every song on these three releases run from pretty good to very good. The energy level and harmonies stand out for extra notice. The downside of consistency, sometimes regardless of quality, is a sense of sameness, and sometimes I sensed certain tracks were doing the same things only in a different order (which I know everybody does, but still). This cd from Roxy Epoxy is a perfect example. Oddly if not hypocritically enough I demand this in some bands but I hear enough talent in the members of House Boat to think they could have hit a few more out of the park originality-wise.

Their sound has developed since their debut in 2009 and I'd start with their best, this year's The Thorns Of Life, which for some reason steals the cover art of Screeching Weasel's Television City Dream. Some tracks are pop punk, others roots punk and a handful straightforwardly imitate Chixdiggit! An all-ages show mindset is evident for whatever that's worth.

Carnival In The Night (dvd review): 1982’s Carnival In The Night (Japanese title “Yami no Carnival”) moves so slowly and contains so little plot and dialogue you can watch most of it by fast forwarding, which I did as the only way to get through its 108 minute running limping time. It’s a punk film only in the Mudd Club/ Max’s Kansas City sense as the characters vibrate with a Johnny Thunders look and energy (or lack thereof). Years back they could just as easily have been beatniks. The few instances of music in the film are either arty rock or public domain “Nite Club” dance music. There’s a few memorable scenes and images you realize are worthwhile but they’re buried in slow, senseless and meandering stabs at shock value cinema verite.

In the universe of Carnival In The Night the bustling daytime gives way to a barely populated underground evening of sex, drugs, alcohol, rock and roll, hustling, gunplay, violence, murder, genocidal dementia and death wishes. The lead character is Kumi - singer, mother, and nightly passive-aggressive nihilist. The punk club you first see her is littered with a handful of degenerates either unconscious or coming out of it for another round. Wherever she goes you meet other losers like the map creep, the male hustler, and her violent pal who assaults a stranger for yuks. There’s a well-dressed little girl who traps crows to sell on the street but she’s out of place and doesn’t fit in. The film contains a few set pieces of violence that probably make a statement on Society, as all art does. I meant that as a joke.

These people are pathetics, not victims, and are ultimately as dangerous to the larger culture as cockroaches. Their lives must really suck, if you can call what they have lives. Still, the seedy underbelly of a conformist society will shock and amaze you! Just kidding again. I am glad something became of Roger Corman’s unused 1960’s film stock.

Entry 244: 10/1/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 18 and Video Review

"Ask yourself if this is the right moment for humor, Mr. Atwood"

 I'm as mad as a crusty punk pushed into a tub of soapy water. I didn't know refusing to work or pay taxes while demanding everything I want be given to me by the society I claim to want no part of was a real live political movement. I didn't know I was a freedom fighter and an intellactual, an interlectural... I mean super smart person! But that's me, Pappy!  Gandhi ain't got crap over yours truly! Ha!!

I was squinting at the intervision box at the library yesterday and between furious sessions of "Me Time" Pappy found this patch for sale:

Then I found this essay from Bob Black, who I swear I've seen on every short bus that's ever driven by. He was sent a "bomb" made out of five firecrackers? Then he called the cops? An anarchist did this? Pappy's excuse is laziness, repeated brain trauma and alcohol poisoning. If I had enough book smarts to make up this much convoluted BS I'd be using it to make some real money, not just pity money welfare and sticking my fingers into the return slot of vending machines.

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 18
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

The Weirdos - "Destroy All Music"
The Necros - "IQ 32"
Sweet Baby - "She's From Salinas"
The Fondled - "Wouldn't Want To Be Your Girl"
Radio Birdman - "New Race"
Tenpole Tudor - "Real Fun"
Love Of Diagrams - "Trouble"
Cowboys International - "Thrash"
Fashion - "Sodium Pentathol Negative"
Wazmo Nariz - "Checking Out The Checkout Girl"
The Merton Parkas - "Tears Of A Clown"
Desmond Dekker - "King Of Ska (1964 version)"
Armitage Shanks - "Are 'Friends' Electric"

X- Live In Los Angeles (dvd review): This Week In Professional Nostalgia features X and their faithful website xtheband.com. I like them well enough and they deserve the accolades they get but I never intentionally put on their music. I appreciate them in passing. I do know that when she hits 65 Exene will be Edith Massey. Place your bets now. John Doe will age like Iggy Pop, Billy Zoom will die with a frozen smile on his face and DJ Bonebrake has an unfortunate name that’s actually real.

X – Live In Los Angeles is 67 minutes of interviews and live performance from X on their 25th anniversary. The set list is: 1. Your Phone’s Off The Hook, But You’re Not 2. In This House That I Call Home 3. We’re Desperate 4. Beyond & Back 5. White Girl 6. The Unheard Music 7. Los Angeles 8. True Love 9. I’m Coming Over 10. Blue Spark 11. The New World 12. Nausea 13. Johny Hit And Run Paulene 14. Motel Room In My Bed 15. Sugarlight 16. Because I Do 17. Devil Doll 18. The Hungry Wolf 19. Year 1 20. The World’s A Mess, It’s In My Kiss 21. Soul Kitchen. There’s also two acoustic tracks with John and Exene: “See How We Are” and “True Love”.

X “in retirement” play around a few times here and there and are now on a full tour. It has to be something you do both out of love and financial sanity. John Doe (as an example of how these things work) cranks out highly reviewed albums on a regular basis but do you really think it puts jet fuel into his Lamborghini? I think not. And being Billy Zoom all day is a great thing but it doesn’t keep him ankle deep in the tooth polish and old guitars. I found this show to be professional and fun, but that’s about it. This is from 2005 and it might be L.A.’s The House Of Blues. 1978 at The Masque it ain’t. No band can go back in time so what you have here and in all cases like it is a nostalgia show. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I always larf at reviews of nostalgia shows that tell me the clock is spinning backwards.

Entry 243: 9/24/2011: CD Review & Video Reviews

"My vinyl... Meat Is Murder by The Smiths. 1984, Van Halen,
 both missing."
"Are you sure"
"Of course I'm sure. They're clearly in order."
"Tears For Fears, Depeche Mode, Thompson Twins...
what order are you using?"

"Sweetness."
"Men Without Hats is sweeter than Echo and the Bunnymen?"
"But more importantly where are Devo and
 The Talking Heads in all of this?"

The New Rochelles - It's New (cd review): Lawn Guylind's The New Rochelles (interview here) are the next big thing in legitimate punk pop, and while they're poaching the sound of others their pedigree is flawless and they easily create the melodic and powerful wall of noise needed to be a top-tier band of the genre. You can buy their new collection for as little as $3 at their label site. I did and am now a member in good standing of this modern "digital" age. Hazzah for our paperless future overlords!

Here's two videos they shot for pocket change on Coney Island. Fun stuff and they devote as much time and seriousness as music videos deserve:

I'm torn between considering this a great album on its own or a very good try at honoring their influences as a freshman effort. "Watch Out For The Skunkape" and "Quit Giving me The Stinkeye" are the best tracks, and the other ten are also fun and frenetic, but I'm flashing back to how Teenage Bottlerocket skirted greatness until coming into their own on 2008's Warning Device with the full integration of punk pop god Kody Templeman and, for me at least, the song "Pacemaker", which took a turn into Rancid territory for the better. Probably the biggest influence on these tracks are Chixdiggit!, both in subject matter and harmonics. You have some Bottlerocket and Lillingtons tribute too ("Who Will (I Will)" and "Truth Serum") and Dee Dee Ramone love when "S.L.O.T.H." bows to "Wart Hog". The Queers get their due on the opener, "Go Go New Ro!"

It's New is more than decent and but in this age of ADD it's up to them to hit the next one out of the park with some tracks that mark their own turf and also bloody the ears with musical hooks.

The Gun Club: Fire of Love (dvd review): Here’s a crappy set of shows from a band I generally find crappy. I gave their debut album a decent review but only kept “Sex Beat” on my computer jukebox. Live, according to what this Cherry Red dumpster diving relic from the mid-80s reveals, they’re barely cohesive or coherent, making every song the same hike through psychobilly swampwater. Lead singer Jeffrey Lee Pierce is either filled with repressed energy or he’s a zombie – either one works. He looks like a gentile Jon Lovitz so I take him a little less seriously than maybe I should. The sound and visual qualities keep pace. I’ve been to shows as bad as this and have seen people respond like it’s the greatest show on earth, which makes me wonder if the quality control portion of their brain has been deactivated either chemically, physically, or mentally. Or if it's just me, which we all know is impossible.

Chelsea: Live At Bier Keller (dvd review): 47 minutes of low quality crap from the sewer in the alley behind Cherry Red, where videotape goes to die. The live set of Rolling Stones-influenced Hollywood Rock as visualized in London is bookended by dressing room shenanigans with the young, dumb, and full of warm beer members of Chelsea, who may or may not have been an odd choice for I.R.S. Records. The only track that stands out is the closer, “Right To Work”, so I’m thinking this is a very early show since the band looks sixteen and they don’t play “Urban Kids”. According to their website they had an upcoming gig fifteen or so months ago. Here’s a band history and keep in mind, Gene October has always championed the underdog, not to be confused with Underdog, who was an actual dog albeit in cartoon form.

Entry 242: 9/17/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 17 and Video Review

How mad is Ed Anger? Madder than, so mad he could, or mad as...

a cat with kitty litter between his toes / Pig-biting mad / the Pilgrim who slipped off Plymouth Rock / a tomcat with his tail in a light socket / Santa Clause stuck in the chimney / Hillary Clinton with an empty tube of cellulite cream / a computer nerd with a busted mouse / a feminist with a busted Harley / the Birdman of Alcatraz with a dead parakeet / General Custer at the Little Big Horn / a bullfrog with a charley horse / Uncle San with bubble gum in his beard / Batman with a run in his tights / Hank Williams with a smashed cowboy hat / Dumbo the Elephant with an earache / a high school graduate trying to read a newspaper / my bull terrier at a cat show / an astronaut who just dropped a moon rock on his toe / Hillary Clinton at a travel agent’s convention / Hiawatha with a leaky canoe / a Mexican with his shirt caught on barbed wire / a doctor with a dent in his Ferrari / Ross Perot without a bar graph / a GI who had to walk a mile for a Camel / William Shakespeare with a leaky pen / President Clinton after she found a Playboy magazine hidden in Bill’s room / I could chew up a hand grenade and spit the pieces in somebody’s face! / a pit bull with a toothache / a skunk in a perfume factory / a pig at a barbecue / a little girl with mud on her dress / Davy Crockett watching a Mexican hat dance / Christopher Columbus with a leak in his boat / the Wright Brothers with a busted propeller / a Frenchman who’s forced to use deodorant / Newt Gingrich in a gay bar / Henry Ford in a Chevrolet / Alexander Graham Bell getting put on hold / Albert Einstein with a busted calculator / a monkey with a rotten banana.

That's how mad Ed Anger is!

 I woke up this afternoon bright and early for my cup of court-mandated decaf and something crunchy I found in the couch before hitting the streets for my daily run. I never intend to run but most days I get caught and therefore I skeedaddle. The Man's always trying to keep the old punk man down. But not Pappy! I may gots the lumbago, neuralgia, gout, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and progressive supranuclear palsy (and that's only the ones my alzheimer's lets me remember!), but if there's one thing I have going for me is scamper power. That and a debilitating body odor. What they remember most is my staccato cackle as I distract 'em with the old prospector's dance before hobbling away double time. Being me is a full time job, but somebody's gotta do it!

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 17
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

Minor threat - "12XU"
Wire - "Ex Lion Tamer"
Gang Of Four - "I found That Essence Rare"
Not Sensibles - "I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher"
Morris And The Minors - "Emily"
Patrick Fitzgerald - "Buy Me, Sell Me"
Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper - "Jesus At McDonald's At Midnight"
Horror Planet - "It Wasn't The Fleas"
US Chaos - "We Got The Weapons"
Hot Water Music - "God Deciding"
Four Letter Word - "Unconditional"
The Bangles - "Hero Takes A Fall"
Die Idole - "Helden" (cover of Bowie's "Heroes")

N.Y.H.C. (dvd review): Welcome to Thirty Minutes Too Long Theatre, this week featuring N.Y.H.C., a whimsical stroll down one litter filled alley of New York’s underground hardcore scene circa 1995, smack in the middle of punk’s lost decade. Thugcore meets Jersey Shore as a parade of multi-ethnic ne’er-do-wells take off their shirts to perform intricate dances of violence in generally empty circles of hate while bands of equally shirtless hooligans bang out heavy metal riffs without cock-rock solos – basically rap rock that calls itself hardcore punk. It’s well made but bogs down in exploring every frickin’ angle of a scene that’s a slice of a microcosm, but it either intentionally or unintentionally exposes its subjects to ridicule, so as a plus it kept me guessing as to its intentions.

New York’s hardcore scene is cretinous like no other, descended from The Gangs Of New York, Low Life and Angels With Dirty Faces. Is it any more “real” than other hardcore scenes? Only if you think bad is good, a brand of nihilism promoted by pretentious intellectuals. The lead city band was Agnostic Front while the Cro-Mags ruled Long Island. Agnostic Front had a similar nazi problem as Sham 69, but generally the scene was a focal point for the shared feelings of a multi-cultural group of kids looking for a soundtrack for their lives – Hatecore. N.Y.H.C. was shot in three weeks and focuses on a subset of bands – 25 ta Life, District 9, No Redeeming Social Value, Krishna band 108, Crown Of Thornz, and Madball, all of whom were actively playing and willing to be interviewed at length. Murphy’s Law singer James Drescher, Agnostic Front’s Roger Miret and the Cro-Mag’s John Joseph are interviewed to give their perspective on the larger scene and history, so there is a balance of big and small, and the film doesn’t deserve the flak it’s gotten. Joseph was pushing his life story for cash even then, finally releasing an autobiography in 2007.

Rick Healey of 25 ta Life is the focal point of N.Y.H.C., looking like Jesus with dirty dreds and his body a canvas of tattoos and piercings. There’s a balance of normal and freak about him that makes him the most interesting of the bunch, most of whom come off as street-wise illiterates. Healey sings like the cookie monster vomiting, which I enjoy at the comical level of why even bother of having actual lyrics when it’s phonetically impossible to understand them? Even funnier would be having Healey slowly repeat lyrics with each word being an incoherent garbled retch of a sound. There’s the usual parade of stories about broken homes, death, drunks and alcohol that make up the understanding portion of any documentary about weirdos. Boo Hoo. The only thing I’d find interesting is how they chose Hardcore 4 Life over anything else. How full-bore Krishnas got into that scene is a doozy of a tale. Damn you, ghost of Ray Cappo!

A few funny scenes were: someone in VOD’s pants fall down while mowing the lawn on Long Island, one stoner in a band can’t count backwards a few numbers, and the singer in District 9 tells a story about how his kool punk rock vest wound up on a neighborhood bum. You may find these people fascinating but they’re proudly violent and I suspect 99% of them have no moral code beyond what they make up as they go along. N.Y.H.C. is as much a cautionary tale as it is a promotional piece.

You can watch the whole thing on YouTube. 33 seconds in you hear the first threat against your safety if you don’t like it. At 4:30 you see a great example of the Hatecore Kata on display throughout N.Y.H.C. It’s like break dancing except it’s all about hate. Here’s the only dance of hate I approve of:

Can’t you just smell the seething lust? N.Y.H.C. is worth seeing for as long as you can handle it. The production values are decent and they mix it up well. I lasted my usual 60 minutes and skimmed the rest. It was different yet more of the same. Forty hours of film was shot and they were going for feature length (86 minutes) prestige, so they had the will and the footage. There’s a full-length commentary from the filmmakers that’s not worth sitting through as they’re not commenting but constantly reminding each other of what they did that day in their personal lives. A second disc has a lot more footage. I don’t find anything particularly punk about grindcore, but since everything is punk, I guess it is. Yup.

Entry 241: 9/10/2011: CD Review & Video Review

Millionaire Kicked Off Plane For Pants Failure

Money Quote From Comments: "I remember buying a Green Day album when I was 10yo... I'm 27 now... pull up your pants gramps."

The Thermals - More Parts Per Million / F--kin A / The Body, The Blood, The Machine / Now We Can See / Personal Life (cd reviews):

The Thermals: "A Passing Feeling"
The Thermals: "Remember Today"
The Thermals: "A Pillar Of Salt"
The Thermals: "You Dissolve"
The Thermals: "Not Like Any Other Feeling"

Recently I was exercising regularly to Portland lo-fi indie punks The Thermals and all was well until I switched from random play to sequential. That's when the preachy anti-religion rants of Hutch Harris played in bunches on one cd especially and I thought, great, another fanatic who doesn't realize he's as annoying as the people he hates the most. Look at the cover of The Body, The Blood, The Machine. It's a collage of non-clever images. Collage is to art what the Easy Bake Oven is to cooking. I get it - religion bad. Do I really need to hear an album that might as well have been titled To Serve God - It's A Cookbook? Damn I'm clever (I wuvs me). The answer is no. Atheism is a religion as much as religion is a religion. It's a faith based on science as opposed to a science based on faith. I want to hear it from a shampoo-averse know-it-all as much as I do from the Westboro Baptist Church. Thank you Hutch for knowing the answer to the great existential question, and thank you again for spelling it out for me in all negative terms. Hutch's other favorite lyrical obsession is romantic disappointment. What I do know is that women who date men who don't bathe have low self-esteem and don't make for good relationships.

Hutch had this to say to American Progress:

"I grew up Christian, I went to church every Sunday and attended Catholic and Jesuit schools growing up. I actually played an active role in my Christian youth group in high school, I went to a church camp and went to Tijuana to build houses for homeless families living in tents. I found so many positive things in Christianity, but eventually the hypocrisy of organized religion and my own lack of faith led me to abandon the church. I do not believe in God, but honestly, I wish I did."

He might as well have said "I grew up thinking Superman was real. But he isn't. I wish he was though, 'cause the world needs him now more than ever."

Hutch also broke the Oldpunks First Commandment ("Thou shalt not define The Punk Rock or claim a definition exists") when he said "Punk rock is about processing the evils of the world with intelligence, not how drunk you can get or how many tattoos you have. Does Hutch also know the secret punk rock handshake?

As far as their music goes, Thermals tunes are consistently creative and powerful. Musically they're golden. It's all a matter of if you want to be talked down to at all for your own salvation good. After The Feederz everything else is impotence. 2003's More Parts Per Million was recorded on a 4-track cassette machine with Hutch playing every instrument. Cue Masters Of The Obvious and Paul Caporino, who in the 80s cranked out tape after tape recorded in his bathroom while taking dumps for all I know. "An Endless Supply" sounds like a MOTO tune but generally it owns a debt to The Strokes. There's not a clunker in the bunch and it's overflowing with manic energy and original songwriting. 2004's Effing A (I don't spell out curses. Sorry those who keep it real) has Hutch backed by other musicians and the sound is fuller but no less urgent. Some of the pacing is slower but these tracks are blessed gifted with strong hooks. They've inched a bit towards The Killers (and I mean that in a good way).

2006's anti-Christ cd saw person X leave to be replaced by Kathy Foster, formerly of the loovly group All Girl Summer Fun Band. This album has more electric piano, a nice upgrade, and the melodies and power are still there - I just don't like being preached condescended to like this, even if it's more my own good. 2009 saw Now We Can See and except for an exception or two it lacks the fuzzy wall of noise quality of their past work. The Weezer influence is striking and I laughed the chortle of knowing the universe has my back when I read they recently opened for Weezer in Seattle. 2010's Personal Life continues from the last but adds a little more abrasiveness. Again the thing's filled with positives.

If I delete the songs that annoy me lyrically I'm left with an impressive catalog of music I can only praise say good things about in a secular fashion. If you like lo-fi indie punk The Thermals will be your favorite new band. God bless The Thermals!

Angelic Upstarts Live: Solidarity (dvd review): I never found the Angelic Upstarts too pleasing and at the wrong time of my formative years I picked up a single by them that was reggae. Like, I know, right? I keep ten songs on my 'puter and as I listen to them again I wonder why I even have those. They were (and I guess still are) second-wave street punk with skinhead influences whose concerts were slugfests rivaling Sham 69 shows and they received most of their press for their hard left politics sweetened by a hatred of Nazis – a big plus in my book. Anyhoo, as we all know, both sides of the issue were filled with violent people and the inevitable ensued. Nobody won but I hope the Nazis got it worse than they gave.

Solidarity was recorded in 1997, the middle of nowhere as far as punk years go, at the now demolished Morecambe Dome. The film quality is ok but there’s multiple cameras and decent sound. Mensi, the singer, speechifies about politics between songs and the crowd gets into every one even though they generally hit the same stride. A punk girlie dancer comes out during the third number to bump, grind and generally freak out for a while. She’s wearing a fishnet top with no support if you know what I mean, and I think you do. I saw things. Back to the show, Mensi screams and curses repeatedly that the government should give people jobs and then pay them. This brings on the expected cheers but if he yelled “Everybody on the dole and give them all the money they want!” the front five rows would have ripped off their own heads and tossed them on stage in tribute. The rest would have commenced masturbating.

Entry 240: 9/3/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 16 and Video Review

"You mess with a friend of Flinkman... you're messing with Flinkman"

 Where was I... oh yeah. Yer 'ol pal yours truly, unbeknownst to hisself, cleaned his glasses with tissues filled with lotion, coating the lenses with goo and making everything look milky and glary. I screamed "I got the cataracts!" and reached for my first aid kit of back alley vicodin and Tenefly Viper. Three days later I woke up in the worst part of East St. Louis, by which I mean to say East St. Louis. As I had twelve dollars and thirty cent in my pocket I was voted mayor of East Boogie where I ruled the wasteland with a mangled, rickety fist for two days until Cisco went under. Not the computin' company but the wine I bought to keep my subject's minds all milky and glary like my glasses. I skedaddled home hobo style in time for the Subhumans show at the veteran's home laundry room. And that's how I became King Of Punk and saved X-Moose, the straight edge reindeer, from a life of sobriety. The End.

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 16
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

Husker Du - "From The Gut"
Moving Targets - "Less Than Gravity"
Black Randy and the Metro Squad - "Sperm Bank Baby"
Killer Pussy - "Teenage Enema Nurse In Bondage"
Crispy Ambulance - "Deaf"
Velocity Girl - "Sorry Again"
Dimestore Haloes - "Hate My Generation"
The Beltones - "Juvenile Delinquent"
Manic Hispanic - "If The Vatos Are United"
Suicidal Tendencies - "Suicide's An Alternative - You'll Be Sorry"
Articles Of Faith - "Up Against The Wall"
The Apers - "Put Down The Hamburger"
Rasputina - "Rasputina Rock And Roll"

Patti Smith – Dream Of Life (dvd review): I made it through the first ten minutes of Dream Of Life before skimming through other sections of this 109 minute arty artiste artfart celebration. The first ten minutes might be the best because Patti’s opening monologue/poem/narration is concise and informative, but I imagine any random ten minutes would have gotten the film’s point across nearly as well. Dream Of Life isn’t bad, it’s just surreally laborious.

Produced in 2009 in cooperation with NY public television, it’s a ten year project whose length was most likely inflated to reflect that long road. My guess is there’s thirty minutes worth of attraction. It’s visually nebulous and lingers way too much on peripheral voyeurism, and Patti Smith talks at you, not to you, and it hit me that every sentence out of her mouth is either a poem or desperately wants to be thoughtful beyond mere pedestrian words.

She’s a bit off, and by that I mean distracted and focused at the same time, so it doesn’t bother me that she’s consumed by the idea of “ART” and that every word and action must serve “ART”. Patti’s the kookie cow who produces art milk with every moo so most everyone wins, but what keeps her from being absofugglutely pretentious is that hers is a positive personality and she’s more than paid her dues by caring for Fred “Sonic” Smith during his slow and painful decline. Her name-dropping comes off not as bragging but as statements of experience. I held my breath until she made her first reference to Arthur Rimbaud. Patti came through almost immediately.

Much of the film has a grainy black & white sheen, and it fades in and out randomly, replicating how in a movie the protagonist’s been drugged and you see through their eyes, including the lids opening and closing. Dream of Life is more mundane than it is boring, and the artistic editing is more of an interesting idea than something you’d want to look at for more than ten minutes. There’s some old interview and concert footage mixed in, which helps, but during scenes like where she visits her elderly parents I felt like I was stuck visiting a friend’s grandparents and slowly melted into their plastic couch covers.

For fans only, and even then, just enough to get the point.

Entry 239: 8/27/2011: CD Review & Video Review

Finally, A Punk Rock Ode To Ron Paul
And Be Sure To Visit The Creepy
Ron Paul Revolution Mini-Mart

Click on Tim Smith's face for a compilation of my
favorite tracks by The Cardiacs.

Neo Boys - Band Intro:


Neo Boys live at Smegma Studios 1979

Neo-Boys Discography (download now)

I luckily (and sadly only recently) tripped over the all-wymmynz and short-lived Neo Boys while watching a film about the early Portland DIY scene. Above is a link to their short but sweet discography - two EPs and comp tracks. It's nothing you've haven't heard before if you're already familiar with the back-to-basics folk punk stylings of Liliput, The Raincoats and The Slits, but each track is a greatest hit and they fell under the tutelage of Greg Sage of The Wipers and you can hear it in powerful tracks like "Poor Man's Jungle" and "Running In The Shadows". They even cop a little Minutemen in their 1982 track "Cheap Labor". Great stuff, great stuff. Download it and, as Petros Papadakis ("My Wife!!") always says, act like ya know.

Here's random net-snippets on the Neo Boys:

"The Neo Boys were Portland’s first all-female rock band. Though they were still basically novices on their instruments, their enlightened political stances and sophisticated demeanors are still in time with today’s standards. Vocalist Kim Kincaid, guitarists  Jennifer Lobianco and Meg Hentges, bassist KT Kincaid and drummer Pat Baum, became outspoken feminist fixtures in the local underground scene. Hentges eventually migrated to Austin, where today she is still a very popular performer."

"Touted as one of Portland, Oregon’s first all-female punk bands (check out the history of Portland rock here), the Neo Boys have a very small, but quality output and have had more of a regional influence on some of today’s musicians (see below). Their band name comes from the Patti Smith poem of the same name and one of their earliest gigs (which was apparently pretty shaky, according to the band) was opening for Television.

The Neo Boys’ first release, a self-titled 7”, was produced by Greg Sage (of the Wipers) along with the Neo Boys and was released on Sage’s own label Trap Records in 1980. In ‘82, their only other recording, the EP Crumbling Myths, was released on Joe Records. They played in a smooth, minimalistic punk style, with a cool pop sensibility and rolling, strong basslines. To boot, their independent-spirited, feminist outlook is extremely commendable. Having already made mention of their excellent basslines (check out “In Disguise”), one of my favorite songs from them is the mellow, surf-like “Time Keeps Time.” It particularly makes them sound like the West Coast American equivalent of, say, London’s Raincoats."

"The Neo-Boys, who came from the ashes of Portland’s first all-girl punk band (Formica and the Bitches) had two proper records in their day: A self-titled 7” on Greg Sage’s Trap Records in 1981, and the Crumbling Myths LP on Joe Records in 1982. They also had a couple of songs on the classic early PDX punk comp 10/29/79, a live LP that also included the Wipers, and Sado-Nation."

The Birthday Party: Pleasure Heads Must Burn (dvd review): I’ll be the first and third to admit there’s bands I don’t get to where I know I’m not qualified to say if they’re even good or bad. There’s entire genres alien to me, such as free form jazz, death metal and 98% of no wave. This differs from styles I can’t stand, like disco and heavy metal. Those I’ll say suck bird excretions, disco always and metal if pushed. The Birthday Party is anti-music and if they float your boat, good for you, but I don’t get it and thankfully for my psychological profile never will. I lack or need the head injury required to get into this band that deliberately broke all rules of how sounds are usually grouped together to form a recognizable whole. I like The Resident’s Mark Of The Mole and The Shaggs so I know I have weirdness in my veins, but here I’m scratching my head. Watching The Birthday Party: Pleasure Heads Must Burn my mind wanders toward the excellent “Shreds” video series on Youtube, and seriously, I'll give you one internet monies if there's a difference between these two videos:

The Birthday Party - "Deep In The Woods"

Pleasure Heads must Burn is sixty minutes of live music, a video and tv appearances from the 82-83 era. I skipped through it looking for something I could hang my musical hat on but nothing stuck. They were trying so hard to not do anything a normal listener would expect from musicians I thought of sports teams that deliberately tank at the end of the season so they’ll finish in last place and get the #1 draft pick next year. That and Judas Priest shredding.

Entry 238: 8/20/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 15 and Video Review


Chairy has a cousin

 As is my way, the other day Pappy (that's me!) was dispensing his usual sage advice to random punky youth as loudly and incoherently as he could when he (me) was told to, and I quote, "Take a nap grandpa". First alls, that's MISTER grandpa to you, and seconds of all, pappy loves naps. How can you insult me with something I loves? You might as well tell me to take a large bowel movement (I wish!) or soak my dentures, which I really should do anyways and thankee very much for the reminder.....what was I talking about again?... That's right, pudding. Yer old pal Pappy Punk loves pudding.

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 15
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

Snufflex - "Shut Up & Gimme"
The Cosmopolitans - "How To Keep Your Husband Happy"
Crash Course In Science - "Cakes In The Home"
Artificial Peace - "Artificial Peace"
ISM - "I Think I Love You"
Isocracy - "Hippie Man"
Sig Transit Gloria - "Please Die, Valentine"
Planes Mistaken For Stars - "Copper & Stars"
At The Drive In - "Star Slight"
Basement 5 - The Last White Christmas"
Sisters Of Mercy & Ofra Haza - "Temple Of Love"
The Yachts - "Yachting Type"
Max Wall - "England's Glory"

Flogging Molly – Whiskey On A Sunday (dvd review): I never paid attention to Flogging Molly because their name came up around 1997 and I’d already had my fill of whatever it was The Pogues and The Dropkick Murphys were doing with punk and traditional Irish music. Flogging Molly were marketed and labeled as a kiddie punk band, which this 2006 documentary disproves with the band’s sincere representation of Irish music and proves mostly by the age and trendy posturing of their fans. Whiskey On A Sunday is well made but it hits the same points in a cycle that quickly grows tiresome if you don’t hang on every word of the band members, who curse frequently and stand defiant to all naysayers real and imagined.

Dublin born singer Dave King is my age, and all kidding aside that’s elderly. On his band opening for major acts he says “We all believe in each other. You know, we believe in our music, and therefore we fear nobody.” That’s oddly defiant considering who the hell brought up fear? He also says “Punk. That label means nothing to me”, also defensive for its own sake, and ironically punk as fugg!!! They’re more than fine musicians but I don’t think Flogging Molly is worthy of a 106 minute documentary that focuses on what members of a moderately successful rock band have to say as if they’re imparting crucial wisdom unto the world.

I’m surprised a number of customer reviews for Whiskey On A Sunday state they’d watched the thing repeatedly and learned something new each time. All I found was standard-issue rock band sound bites easily processed the first time. Not that anyone was stupid, and King is a thoughtful guy, but if a band I truly lurved was given the same treatment I’d still lose interest in what they had to say about every god damned thing.

The editing and filming are nice, and if you hang on each word from Flogging Molly’s collective mouth I guess this is be a phenomenal documentary. Whiskey On a Sunday isn’t about anything per say beyond touring and talking, so once I got a feel for it there was no reason to not fast forward to check for something new and different.  I may have missed a part where the drummer talks about his feelings on mayo or mustard on take-out sandwiches (or something like that), so send me a correction and retraction if you feel so inclined.

Entry 237: 8/13/2011: CD Review & Video Review

"I'm sick of this s--t"

"Yeah, but it beats getting hit in the head with a dull axe"

"Yeah, I wonder about that... Ah, let's go home.
Our checks are probably in by now"

Adolescents - The Fastest Kid Alive (cd review):

Adolescents: "Inspiration"

It might just be that I don't agree with their politics but I at least can't accuse The Adolescents of false advertising. Middle age men Steve Soto and Tony Cadena are still teenagers in both mind and spirit. Back In The Day ( 2011 oldpunksglobalcorp Inc.), 1981 to be exact, their self-titled debut LP was as classic and vital as anything from the California scene, with a trifecta of hits ("Kids Of The Black Hole", "Amoeba" and "Richard Hung Himself") that defined SoCal punk's take on youthful alienation. Then the band splintered both in sound and membership while taking a turn to the political, your standard 1980's MRR leftist stew of revolutionary marxism applied to the teeth-gritting hardcore kid generation. It's one thing when the youth sing anthems of youthful political understanding and aspirations but another when 48 year olds go full frontal George Orwell and call their hatreds "love" while pretending to be all peace and love baby but oh yeah everything will have to be destroyed in the process and F-yeah won't that be fun. The Fastest Kid Alive is what happens when the hippie and suburban nihilist generations merge.

In the works for years, The Fastest Kid Alive sounds best when it reminds you of other bands and earlier hits. The surf sounds come courtesy of associations with Agent Orange while other tracks like "Inspiration" and "Can't Change The World With A Song" recall "Kids Of The Black Hole" and "Amoeba", which were kinda the same song anyway. I'll toss in D.I. for historical inclusiveness. The tracks sound consistently yet generically decent - a backhanded compliment but it does teeter between being better sounding than many other new releases yet also missing a layer or two of grit and originality you might be warranted in expecting.

The politics of the cd are found in various song titles, "Wars Aren't Won Wars Are Fought", "Babylon By Bomb", "Can't Change The World With A Song", "No Child Left Behind", and my favorite, "Peace Don't Cost A Thing", which reminds me of a fantastic rich white kid anarchist newspaper article that deduced "If there were no laws there would be no criminals!" See, the problem of crime is solved with language, and if the evil USA had no military the world would revert back to its utopian, peaceful, mostly Amish ways. Exactly.

Spizzenergi: Where’s Captain Kirk? (dvd review): Cherry Red bought the rights to footage from the first UK Holidays In The Sun festival in 1996 for eleventeen dollars, and I’ve seen clips in their various releases. A new set by The Boys was pretty decent but the rest so far seem ill-rehearsed and not too exciting, as is this one from lingering 70’s oddball Spizz (Kenneth Spiers) and his ever-changing roster of band names and members. My favorite will always be Athletico Spizz ‘80 for no other reason than the name and graphics made me think they were from Italy, wore ugly cycling spandex and were possibly their version of The Dickies.

Where’s Captain Kirk is a middling affair of nostalgic noodling with the aged Spizz backed by the old and young, plus two female backup singers. When this was recorded in 1996 Spizz had the face of old etchings of The Mad Hatter. He seems game enough but the show’s rote and long after the fact. Tracks include "6000 Crazy," "Mega City 3," "No Room," "Soldier Soldier," "We Want the World," "Central Park," "Red and Black," "Energy Crisis," "Spock's Missing," "Where's Captain Kirk?" and "The Model." “Where’s Captain Kirk?” will always raise a smile and I did enjoy “6000 Crazy” and “Soldier”, but the set only had me thinking “Isn’t that nice that they’re playing these songs. How nice for them, and for me for that matter.” I can't say anything was played particularly well. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to catch a live show (dvd would be great) from the newly reformed Department S and then I’ll know if I have any tolerance for bands of this ilk reforming to play live.

Entry 236: 8/6/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 14 and Video Review

 Pappy's been thinking. You can stop laughing. Pappy's got the mind of a man half his age. Horribly injured and malnourished maybe, but still sharp as a, uh, what's that thing they use to tack things up? Anyhows I was thinking how this bad economy has affected yer ol' pal me. The bastards are cutting off my unemployment after 1,196 weeks. There's less spare change on the ground so me and my barely tolerated ones are suffering. The food bank is a slam pit these days so Pappy has an advantage there. Things are so bad there's not even the usual backwash in open beers I find on the street. I've been looking for work but luckily I always sees it in time and hide until it's gone. I contribute what I can (nothing) and expect only what I need (everything). Isn't that the American Dream? The Agnostic Fronts once screamed "There's no justice, there's just us!!" Pappy thinks "Us" means "You" should give "Me" stuff. Now THAT'S the American Dream! Isn't this supposed to be the land of the free? For me, Pappy?

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 14
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

David Bowie - "Panic In Detroit"
The Smiths - Shakespeare's Sister"
Soul Asylum - "Religiavision"
Agent Orange - "Bloodstains" (Darkness Version)
The Jetsons - "Genetically Stupid"
Johnny & The Self Abusers - "Saints And Sinners"
Kursaal Flyers - "Television Generation"
Liliput - "Die Matrosen"
Klark Kent - "Away From Home"
Fischer Z - "Going Deaf For A Living"
The Migraines - "Start Procrastinating"
Detention - "Dead Rockers" (live)
Jah Division - "Dub Will Tear Us Apart"
 

Goldfinger - Live At The House Of Blues (dvd review): I'm showing my middle age by saying this 2004 release is ska-punk for children - or your much younger brother - or childish adults who confuse stupid with clever. I realize that more than half of all punk since the beginning of the hardcore era has been aimed squarely at teenagers but by the 90s punk had long kissed goodbye its lo-fi, DIY kidz-doin'-it-fer-da-kidz mission statement. Professional musicians cranked out professionally produced slabs of market-tested teen anthems for kids who think punk, metal, and rap are basically the same and exist mainly as background noise in extreme sports video games. I watched Live At The House Of Blues thinking "Hey, here's another average, generic third wave ska-punk tune. Maybe it sounds better on cd." The fans are into it though, but their enthusiasm rarely wavers so you wonder if a sugar, Red Bull, beer and a "I'm having a great time having a great time" mindset is also at work. Haven't we all seen people at shows whose over-the-top fun-time excitement seemed almost completely unrelated to what was happening on stage?

Goldfinger were in the center of third wave ska - which tried too hard to be authentic (first wave is even more authentic) or punk (second wave please). Whatever it was, it had little appeal to me, who always loved second wave and came to love (if not deeply respect) first wave. I can't say I don't like Goldfinger's music. For what it is I'm sure it's quite good. It simply does nothing for me.

The show opens with Goldfinger's young, shirtless, tattooed road manager prepping the crowd by cursing repeatedly. Then a random hairy guy wearing only a banana hammock runs out and shakes his booty for a bit. The band then comes on and act all ska-punk nutty for the entire show. Then the show ends and the kids file out to be picked up by their parents in the parking lot. Or drive home in their first car, used to say the least.

Entry 235: 7/30/2011: CD Review & Video Review

"Once you go Jack, you never go back"

Bruce Campbell Bonus!
The Heel, first seen in Crimewave and mastered in Jack Of All Trades

Gang Of Four - Content (cd review):

Gang Of Four: "A Fruitfly In The Beehive"

It took Gang Of Four sixteen years to release a new album of original material, and its occasional sturm und drang barely compensates for an album that's ultimately adequate and can be blamed for trying too hard with average material. As someone who loved Entertainment yet fell down laughing at their "I Love A Man In Uniform" sell-out and subsequent long march in the desert of irrelevancy I'm not going to let them declare victory just because they're making an effort to recapture the energy of ye olden days.

There's two types of new wave music scholarship - punk and post-punk. In the beginning punk and new wave came from the same family of underground inspirations. Eventually it was swallowed up by the larger disco culture. I stand in the punk camp while people like Simon Reynolds are elbow deep disco revisionists. He wrote that Frankie Goes To Hollywood was "punk's last blast", which reminds me there's a book about Boy George called Like Punk Never Happened, which makes Hulk angry.

For one and a third albums Gang Of Four were a punky new wave band. Then they became a white-funk-disco band. Then they ran out of ideas, tried again in the 90s to be more like Wire, who were also out of ideas, hit the reset button in 2005 by re-recording their own songs note-for-note in an act of self-neutering capitalist capitulation, and are now back with a compromise between early Gang Of Four energy and Wire's artiness. Again, the problem is the results sound more template than inspired.

Original members Jon King (vocals) and Andy Gill (guitar) utilize a rhythm section for hire and I might be not far off in assuming they weren't allowed to contribute much beyond what they were told to do. Four contributors are better than one or two when the one or two aren't fully rounded musicians. Here's the band on Letterman performing "Never Pay For The Farm". It's two old guys trying too hard and two young guys paying the bills:

I listen to and sample each track repeatedly and what often starts out in my mind as not too shabby quickly becomes standard issue forced songwriting. The only song that sticks out to me is "A Fruitfly In The Beehive", possibly only because it's a simple, pleasant melody that's not trying to over-sell itself.

Punk and Disorderly (dvd review): If you’ve seen one cheap UK punk video you’ve seen all 37. Cherry Red, the Ocean Shores Video of low-grade archival punk, breaks all the rules and takes it to The Man with Punk And Disorderly, sixty minutes of second wave oi and rooster-head punk that goes by in a flash, especially if you hit the fast forward button. Cherry Red doesn’t do much with their warehouse of original footage as far as presentation, but at least by not trying the final product doesn’t stall for time and pretend it’s a documentary of some sort. Logically the only market for this is video store rentals and Christmas gifts from worried yet indulgent parents to their (oh god please let it be a phase) rebellious teenagers. In a one hour clip reel you get 22 songs, one Cockney oi poem and six “punk is all things good and decent” interview snippets, so strap in and punk out!

Most tracks are live. Vice Squad is fake live and maybe so is Chaos UK. The promo video for the Toy Dolls once again makes me shake my head and wonder if all their fans are fifteen years old either chronologically or in maturity. VHS quality visuals and bad stereo sounds abound. I didn’t watch one song all the way through and never intended to. I know what punk bands look and sound like, and if I don’t see another living caricature teenage snot rock punter act his rage while thinking he’s funny a merry old soul will be me.

The Business: “Suburban Rebels”
BGH: “Generals”
Petter and the Test Tube Babies: “Moped Lads”
Vice Squad: “Stand Strong, Stand Proud”
UK Subs: “Crash Course”
Major Accident: “Middle Class Entertainment”
Mensi: “Heath’s Lament” (poem)
Sham 69: “Tell Us The Truth”
Buzzcocks: “Ever Fallen In Love”
The Exploited: “Dogs Of War” and “Punk’s Not Dead”
Chaos UK: “No Security”
English Dogs: “Left me For Dead”
The Varukers: “Soldier Boy”
Disorder: “Life”
Attila The Stockbroker: “Blood For Oil”
Abrasive Wheels: “Burn ‘Em Down”
The Lurkers: “I’m On Heat”
The Destructors: “Forces Of Law”
The Toy Dolls: “PC Stokes”
One Way System: “Stab The Judge”
The Adicts: “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
Chelsea: “The Right To Work”

Entry 234: 7/23/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 13 and Video Review

Amy Winehouse Found Dead

A Relieved World Looks Up Quickly Then Goes Back To
Whatever The Hell It Was Doing

"Sorry, VIPs only"

"We're on the list"

"Yes you are"

 Pappy's been in a self-induced coma for the past two weeks. Good thing I was sitting on the toilet the whole time and have the metabolism of a turtle. Did I miss anything?

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 13
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

The Didjits - "Dad"
The Business - "Out In The Cold"
The Urinals - "Ack Ack Ack Ack"
Swell Maps - "Read About Seymour"
The Fall - "Bingo Masters Breakout"
Killing Joke - "Requiem"
Dark Day - "Nudes In The Forest"
Thomas Dolby - "Europa And The Pirate Twins" (alt. version)
Young Marble Giants - "Searching For Mr. Right"
The Hated - "Knocking On Your Door"
Bikini Kill - "Capri Pants"
The Electric Eels - "Agitated"
Black Velvet Flag - "Institutionalized"

Channel 3: One More For Our True Friends (dvd review): This 2008 release is a pleasant trip down memory lane with a bunch of pleasant guys sharing pleasant memories of being, and still being, in a SoCal punk band. Back in the day I thought of them as a standard Posh Boy band, which I forget exactly what that meant, but it might have been that they signed second-tier bands. Posh Boy was famous for not having their band’s best interests at heart. For another reason now lost in time I also thought they were the west coast equivalent of Kraut. I did like their first two records, especially “What About Me?” and “Catholic Boy” from the classic American Youth Report comp. Enough about me. Why don’t you talk about me for a while?

One More For Our True Friends focuses mainly on main band members Mike Magrann (vocals, guitar) and Kimm Gardner (guitar), whose friendship started in the second grade. Straight outta Cerritos (Auto Square) CA, they had one foot in the OC scene and the other in the LA scene. Theirs is a typical hardcore story: played house parties and moved up to club gigs; toured locally until they worked up the nerve to hit the road for real; lived broke and meal-to-meal at gigs large and nonexistent; felt happy to get any airplay at all. Their pay for one show was a pasta dinner. What’s maybe atypical is that Channel 3 are smart and well-adjusted adults who lived the life but weren’t consumed by it. Recent footage on stage takes up a fair amount of film time, spiced with a few old reels of footage and what Target Video filmed of them in San Francisco. Six minutes of this footage is added as a bonus.

With a running time of 74 minutes it lingers an extraneous fourteen minutes, but besides that One More For Our True Friends is well filmed and edited. I paid most attention to the Posh Boy parts (Robbie Fields contributes memories from a phone interview) and of their stay in Austin, TX with The Big Boys. Minutia and Los Angeles hardcore history trade punches until the end, with band trivia winning in a split decision. A nice little film about a slice of Cerritos (Auto Square) punk history.

Entry 233: 7/16/2011: CD Review & Video Review

"Tootie... you're in trouble"... it's Mindy Cohen, Facts Of Life."

Backseat Virgins - Born Again and Carl (cd reviews):

Backseat Virgins: "Food"
Backseat Virgins: "All Day Long"

Backseat Virgins: "Bye Bye My Darling"

They were a band from Birmingham (Alabama!), they just had an... sorry, that's all I got. Started in 2002 and probably now defunct Backseat Virgins blazed no new trails but they did manage to record two swell cds for Insubordination Records - 2008's Born Again and 2009's Carl. The first is a bit raw and the second a bit polished but both feature killer melodies and sweet male-female harmonics. It's both a plus and minus they're a sampler of their faves and influences but what they lack in consistent originality they more than compensate for with cleverness, enthusiasm and almost never directly ripping off anyone.

Created by local all-around music dude Randy Rapid and his harmonic muse Ezerine Speight, Backseat Virgins didn't record one dud of a song. They sound like the sum total of Randy's listed musical interests, an A to Z of the best punk pop bands and their forefathers. Bands that come to my mind are Teen Idols, Even In Blackouts, The Mr. T. Experience, The Queers, Squirtgun, The Groovie Ghoulies, etc. etc. etc. The only blatant homage is "The Brain That Came Back Alive", a lost Lillingtons track. As a fool for the farfisa organ I also love its occasional appearance in these songs.

Listen to the samples, buy their records, enjoy their songs, eat a tuna hoagie. In that order. "Food" is easily one of the best pop-punk songs of recent times.

The Clash’s London Calling: Rock Milestones: The Clash Years (dvd review): This decent overview of The Clash trips out of the gate due to being packaged incorrectly as an analysis of their third album, 1979’s London Calling. The video itself is titled Rock Milestones: The Clash Years, but the box adds and emphasizes The Clash’s London Calling as being one of “The essential albums of all time”. Netflix offers fifteen of the Rock Milestones series and this one is informative and lively. My standards are probably lower than others because reviewers are incensed there’s no new footage of The Clash and they only appear in old clips and interviews. Boo Effing Hoo.

For what they are these off-label impulse purchase band histories are usually a productive way to waste an hour, and while the best Clash history is Westway To The World you can get the same basic story told efficiently and effectively in either this dvd or The Clash: Tory Crimes And Other Tales. Maybe if this was a VHS tape people wouldn’t expect Citizen Kane where Rosebud is Combat Rock.

On hand to talk all things Clash are Pat Gilbert – MOJO journalist, Don Letts – somehow affiliated with The Clash, Mick Gallagher – Clash keyboardist, John Robb – journalist/musician, Garry Mulholland – music journalist, John Aizelwood – writer/broadcaster, John Giddings – booking agent, Simon Humphrey – music engineer on the first Clash album, and Chris Salewicz – author.

Much of the footage is from the punk film DOA, The Punk Rock Movie, the US Festival, Rude Boy, and The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder.

Entry 232: 7/9/2011: Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 12 and Video Review


Why I Drink

 Pappy remembers when all punk 7"s cost $3 and six-band hardcore shows were 5 buckaroos. Pappy remembers when everyone looked both ways before crossing a pit and said "pardon me, gent" when cracking a stranger's head with an elbow when he weren't lookin'. When being a friend meant lending a few D batteries for the barely-working boom box that got us through cold nights drinking warm beer in the woods. Pappy remembers extending a hand to a friend - sure, mostly to steal his s--t, but also to pick him up after stage-diving headfirst. We believed in something, that America's punk scum clubs were shining cities upon a hill and its citizens more than their glaring failures and anti-social pathologies. Much more. Our American punk dream died with Kennedy. Phil "Scabby" Kennedy. He's the only one of us who had a car.

Here's Pappy Punk's Geriatric Dance Frenzy Vol. 12
(download zip file at Rapidshare)

Volcano Suns - "Jak"
The Lunachicks - "Jerk Of All Trades"
Buck - "Hex Me"
The Dils - "You're Not Blank"
Atomic Boy - "Time Bomb"
The Dropkick Murphys - "Barroom Heroes"
For Sale - "Hanging By A Thread"
Meat Joy - "Matthew 10:36"
Beat Happening - "Our Secret"
I, Ludicrous - "Preposterous Tales"
Jilted John - "Jilted John (LP version)"
Airship - "Get Out And Take Your Mother With You"
Barchen Und Die Milchbubis - "Ich Will Nicht Alter Werden"

The Dwarves – FEFU (dvd review): As I run a clean whorehouse I’ll paraphrase the meaning of FEFU – Kisses, Eat, Hurt You. 1996 brought us (you and me) two edits of a music video for “FEFU”, a clean and ribald version both featuring The Suicide Girls, a midget, and gallons of fake blood. The song itself is a combination of anthemic stadium rock and trash hardcore bordering on grind. It sounded commercial but when they revved up Dwarves-style I seemed to enjoy it. Strippers do nothing for me along the same lines of I don't get excited about pictures of food so seeing punk rock strippers bump, grind and try to seduce the camera with their best Zoolander faces (Magnum, Blue Steel, Le Tigre and Ferrari) made me feel bad for all parties involved, myself especially. Seriously, they’re still covering naked girls with fake blood six years after Blood, Guts & Kitty?

There’s also a “Making Of” documentary to remind you of how long and boring the creative process can be, and a short film I’ll clean up as “Kisses, Eat & Eat”. What else… four songs from 1989 in what might be a surprise show at a bowling alley lounge, two interview pieces weighing in at 28 minutes, a promo for a possibly existing film about the Dwarves titled “The Scum Also Rises”, Blag Dahlia playing solo electric and acoustic, and a trailer for a badly acted amateur film called “Misogynist: The Movie”.

So, what we have are two versions of an expensive music video and filler from a box of VHS tapes in the Dwarve's communal garage. Is it worth it? Not really. The Dwarves deserve better than low grade film stock inventory. I did learn that HeWhoCannotBeNamed has no problem with nudity as he is in touch with himself often.

Entry 231: 7/2/2011: CD Review & Video Review

Today's quote out of context with unrelated picture: "I am not one of those who thinks him a hypocrite; I think rather that he shares an illusion common amongst the narcissistic glitterati of our time: that politically fashionable virtue cancels private vice.  The drug addled Hollywood celeb whose personal life is a long record of broken promises and failed relationships and whose serial bouts with drug and alcohol abuse and revolving door rehab adventures are notorious can redeem all by “standing up” for some exotic, stylish cause. These moral poseurs and dilettantes of virtue are modern versions of those guilt-plagued medieval nobles who built churches and monasteries to ‘atone’ for their careers of bloodshed, oppression and scandal."

Controller.Controller - History and X-Amounts (cd reviews):

Controller.Controller: "Rooms"
Controller.Controller: "Watch"
Controller.Controller: "Magnetic Strip"

[Editorial comment] There's hardcore punk records I'd like to review but I don't since I can't really think of anything to say about them except they're fast, loud and good and/or great. Reviews elsewhere for said recordings are also at a loss so they tell you the band member's names, what other bands they've been in, where they're from, what they allegedly stand for as a cultural/political/economic force, and that this new record kicks punk rock ass. What I review now winds up being only what I like and feel has elements worth exploring. I'm still so gosh darn punk I scare myself. Yeah, that's right.

There's a group of bands I like and admire because their music is muscular, angular, driving, unpredictable, abrasive, melodic, and fronted by strong female singers with distinctive voices. These groups are (so far) Pretty Girls Make Graves, The Organ, Love Of Diagrams, and Toronto's Controller.Controller. Genre categories are mixed but I settle for indie post-punk, influenced most recently by Sleater-Kinney and in the past by The Slits, The Au Pairs and Liliput.

Pretty Girls Make Graves are the best of these bands but Controller.Controller shared a similar template and released two great records, 2004's 7-song cd History and 2005's full-length X-Amounts. They dabble a few times in electronics but it's kept mostly separate from the rocking numbers. "Future Turtles", "BLK GLV" and "..." sound like an unrelated minimal wave band and are odd little diversions. They don't sound bad as their own thing but Controller.Controller songs are eclectic enough without these out of body experiences. Sometimes there's a dance feel heard before with the over-rated Franz Ferdinand but they default to the stronger, harder, faster, and more sonically dramatic.

Listening to both recordings I can only say they're consistently good and if you like the sample songs above the rest will please you just as much. "Rooms" stands out maybe not as the best song but in how singer Nirmala Basnayake (Canada's Poly Styrene!) channels PJ Harvey. Controller.Controller broke up in 2006 but will live forever in the minds of band members, friends, family members, creditors and searches on Google (or its non-union Mexican equivalent).

D.I.Y. Or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist (video review): Part inspirational cheerleading and part college thesis made flesh, DIY Or Die is a simple endeavor made more interesting than it is by the involvement of counter-cultural luminaries Jim Rose, Richard Kern, Mike Watt, Lydia Lunch, Popeye MacKaye, Foetus, and Ron Ashton. Broken into sections titled Purpose, Integrity, Commerce, Self-Definition, Adversity and Giving Back, there’s a healthy balance between self-aggrandizement and the mundane realities of making a living on the strength of your talents and stick-to-it-ive-ness.

The thing starts off cringe-worthy with talented musician Madigan Shive making a speech: “DIY. Do it yourself. It means answer your own damn questions. Live your own damn life. To me it means nobody falls off the conveyor belt. It means you have to stand up, and jump, and you have to embrace the falling of life. That’s what it means. It means, I think, survival. It means you have a career.” Keep in mind she was raised on communes by hippies who called her “Running Pony” until the age of six. All well and good, but what the hell is the practical application of such posi-speak? At the end of the day it’s a meaningless answer to a meaningless question.

The core problem with the DIY movement is that it acts like nobody ever did their own thing until the punk zines of the 70s. DIY is a modern self-congratulatory concept that’s really no bigger than the idea of niche talent and small-scale economics, populated mainly by individuals who couldn’t be richer and more well known even if they whored themselves out. Richard Kern does both underground and corporate work, so how much he earns is up to him. Fugazi, who record crunchy grooves for suburban youth, marketed themselves at what I think is ultimately near the limit of their sales potential. Signing with a major wouldn’t create any more sales than they already made on their own. Lydia Lunch operates in her own micro-world of anti-art, while Jim Rose is no threat to Cirque de Soleil. Poetry is always going to be a money loser and being a published author is itself meaningless artistically and financially.

Commerciality is also a non-starter for most DIY endeavors because many people can only get by in the comfort zone of their expectations of both themselves and the market for their talents. I laugh when artists complain about corporations trying to entice them into creative slavery. They solicit artists because they think they can market DIY things to a larger audience. Artists can always say no, and some may be flattered a company thinks you have what it takes to be bigger than you are now. But no, the DIY narrative is of struggle, oppression, and keeping the option open of not really having failed because you didn’t sell out your integrity.

Ian MayKaye’s appearances keep DIY Or Die grounded with his downplaying and demystifying DIY away from a cult and more towards simple realities of choice and scale. Artist Courtney J. Ulrich confesses “It’s really the only thing I know how to do”, and the film ends with the nicely phrased “If nobody knows who you are, at least you knew.” Jim Rose is cut-and-dry as a realist living hand-to-mouth as an alt.culture sideshow ringmaster. There’s less obnoxious self-importance than I expected in this film, but sometimes it shines through. Lydia Lunch talks like a drunk at 3 AM sharing her deepest convictions, so I don’t know if she’s insufferable or just putting on a good show for the cameras. What to make of “I really think I’m more of a journalist”?

The only true art snob in the mix is dancer Liza Matlack, who passed away from cancer, so I’m a prick for even mentioning this. She says art is “taking whatever life is and making it better”, and that “We’re doing it so we can live.” She looks down on workers like bus drivers and then adds “You can add art to being a bus driver.” Liza performed interpretive dance. Bus drivers get people to and from their jobs and shopping. Which is really more important. Seriously.

Art is many wonderful things but it’s also decorations. Music is fantastic but it’s also only entertainment. Books and poems are neat but they’re also only ways to fill up your leisure time. Why is a painter any more talented than a baker or diesel mechanic? What insight into the world do artists have than non-artists? Real artists, forget performance art and painting a toilet yellow and filling it with Hershey’s Kisses, possess talents. Talents are creative aberrations which bestow no intrinsic insight into anything besides whatever their talents produce. Talent doesn’t make an artist better or smarter than non-artists.

I like decorations and music and reading materials as much as the next nimrod so on one level I understand if artists need to feel special in order to create rewarding diversions for those of us who actually do s—t and pay the taxes artists depend on for their government assistance checks. [I had to write that even if I only feel that way on alternate days].

I didn’t mind watching DIY Or Die but it’s not much more than affirmations for the underground creative classes. It was cast well, so I enjoyed it on that level. Did I mention the production values were DIY? I guess I just did.

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