Columns - "If You Die, and Go to Hell, Who Cares?" 12.20.00

Michigan and Ohio are, again, where it's at.
Where what is at?
The pure energy of rock 'n' roll, that's what.

All the white-belt hipster fucks are tuned into the WHITE STRIPES. How did the WHITE STRIPES all the sudden become the darlings of the In crowd? I don't have anything against Mr. and Ms. White, but really I'm left scratching my head as to why they can sell-out local clubs across the US when there are plenty of bands doing a similar (if not the same) thing. Is it chemistry? Is it the fact that instead of two drunk, pasty loser punk boys howling over a blaring, scratchy guitar and haunting, stomping drumbeat, there's at least one girl as part of the combo? Is their music just safe enough? Not too fucked up, but twisted enough to make the kids come outta the woodwork, clamoring for more! more! more! The White Stripes have become one of those bands that everybody at my work knows about and champions. Call me a selfish fuck, but when a band hits that level–when they become a darling band, an object of wagging tongues and people climbing over each other to be in on the latest HOT HIP BAND, it turns me away. Again, I'm not faulting the Stripes. Fuck, they're just doing what they've been doing. They're just doing the same thing they'd be doing whether their records were on Sympathy or Italy Records.

Regardless of all the hype and bullshit flying around, there's something I must be missing about the White Stripes 'cause they just don't move me. Not like the tortured SOLEDAD BROTHERS and not nearly as much as the new single by LARRY DIRTY on Flying Bomb. Joe Dirty accompanies Larry Dirty and they'll remind you why all the fuss about crashing, bashing two-piece blues-derivative hollerin'. For that matter, check out any of the singles by JUMPIN' BEANS & WILLIE (Ball Records/PO Box 152/Gardiner, ME 04345). You wanna talk about pure howlin' madness, these boys got it in spades. Hell, while you're at it, go ahead and get the JOHN SCHOOLEY'S ONE MAN BAND 7" (also on Ball) and the KING LOUIE 7" I wrote about a while back (on Therapeutic).

There's a lot of great stuff going on in Michigan and Ohio. Everybody seems to slobber all over there tight fitting striped shirts when the CLONE DEFECTS get mentioned. The Defects just finished a US tour, leaving audiences from San Francisco to Chicago feeling all fuzzy inside with a loud reassurance that punk is alive and spittin'. Not that we had any doubts or concerns. I'm sure you've gotten the new CLONE DEFECTS 7", Lizard Boy e.p. (Italy/4530 Avery/Detroit, MI 48208), but just in case, it's four songs that are a bit slower, not quite as fucked as their past two singles. It sounds more like the We've Come For Your Children-era DEAD BOYS (especially the vocals) than the damaged, crashing sounds of their early output. I'm anxious to hear their upcoming LP. It's sure to spend many hours on many people's turntables.

Also be sure to watch for the due-anyday LOST SOUNDS (featuring senior Jay Reatard) LP on Big Neck Records. I heard it was supposed to be out in November. As of 8 December 2000 it still hasn't been seen. Kinda like the Turbojugend fanclub that was supposed to be launched in September. Ah well...if I've learned one thing since getting into punk, I've learned to be patient. Things don't always happen when people say, but they usually do happen.

Back to Michigan...lots of good shit is going on, yessiree. Brian, formerly of the PIRHANAS (who broke up over a year ago) tells me his new band is going well except they can't seem to find a singer. Any belligerent arty types out there willing to step up to the mic? Until they get shit going, you can read the Neus Subjex (PO Box 18051/Fairfield, OH 45018/http://www.neussubjex.cjb.net) to keep up on the bubbling underbelly of the Ohio/Michigan scene. Neus Subjex focuses primarily on the Cincinnati scene (the CPR), but Shawn's reach stretches far across the Midwest. He spews in uncomparable fashion about bands from all over–he's got an especially soft spot in his heart for New York's CRIMSON SWEET. It's definitely worth reading, if nothing else just to be reminded what it's like to read empassioned writing about music that's like a disease which has infected the author's brain.

I don't really have a CD player. I mean, I have one in my computer. I have one in my computer at work. Our DVD player doubles as a CD player and we have a little boombox thing with a CD player. But I don't have one on my stereo. So, I don't listen to CDs as much as I would otherwise. One CD I've made time to listen to is the newest by the BRIEFS (Dirtnap/ PO Box 21249/Seattle, WA 98111). I feel like I wrote about these Northwest lads last month....it's hard to remember. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. If so, they deserve another mention, especially because of their new split 7" with the SPITS. Their song "Silver Bullet" should be hailed at the punk anthem for 2000. The song isn't about downing an ice cold Coors; it's about giving BOB SEEGER what he's had coming to him for 20 years now. It's catchy and clever, to the fucking point. For anybody who has had to suffer, growing up listening to that assholess classic rock diareha, or worse–having good friends and once punk rock peers decide, "Hey, you know, that Seeger guy's not half band," this song is for you. It's about time punk bands stepped up to the task of shooting down shitty music again. Thank you guys. Seriously.

The SPITS deliver two great songs as well. "Pissed Off Baby" is a crunching lo-fi song that hums with blaring distortion and a touch of keyboard action. Their second song, "FIRE!!!" steps much farther in the arty/wavy direction, forsaking easily digestible melodies for haunting, robotic rhythms twisted through keyboards and effects. Another great single from Dirtnap!

The BRIEFS full-length Hit After Hit offers 13 songs that work in plenty of that noisy rock-wave damage that seems to be all the rage these days (and that's fine with me!). It's great and the BRIEFS are sure to be one of the most talked about bands in 2001. Expect the LP to be out soon.

Also new on Dirtnap is a split with SCARED OF CHAKA and FATAL FLYIN' GUILLOTEENS. While not quite up to the greatest of the above mentioned 7", it's not too far behind. Don't pass on this either. Have you listened to SCARED OF CHAKA lately? Sometimes when a band is around for a while, it becomes easy to overlook 'em or pass over their records for something new. Well, this is a great time to become reacquainted. You might be surprised. This is way more trashy and fucking amazingly manic than some of their poppier records. To be honest, I was a little surprised (very pleasantly so). Their second song, "Shake It (Oh Yeah)" is a breathless, teetering, screaming, stomping song that smokes so hard you'll worry your needle is on fire. The FATAL FLYIN' GUILLOTEENS hold up the flip side incredibly well with two mid-tempo songs soaked in ear-bleeding distortion. I think the two SCARED OF CHAKA songs left me winded. I recommend listen to the FFG songs first, to get warmed up for SOC.

And since you're becoming more intimate again with SCARED OF CHAKA, this would be an ideal time to grab their new CD on 702 Records(PO Box 204/Reno, NV 89504) that collects a number of their singles and compilation songs. 702 also recently put out a split with the Bay Area's own LOUDMOUTHS and Australia's unstoppable legends, the ROCKS.

I know you're all over the STITCHES/LE SHOK split 7" on GSL (12031 1/2 Regentview Ave/Downey, CA 90241/BnekkGSL@aol.com/http://www.bottlenekk.com). If not, I gotta ask why. Not only is this a beautiful looking record (mines on gold & pink vinyl), but it manages to get in your face, get in your head and annoy you all fucking day. The STITCHES song, "Cars of Today," is unshakable. They set a new standard for strutting tall with class and still whipping out an undeniably catchy song in less than two minutes. The lyrics are great, the song just rules from every aspect. When was the last time you heard one song on a single and were just like, "Woah, fuck. That song was great! I gotta listen to it again." Well, I guess if you heard the BRIEFS' "Silver Bullet," you might say that. Otherwise, it's probably been a while. Relive the magic.

LE SHOK do what they do best on this record–deliver a piercingly short, to the point song that absolutely doesn't fuck around. You love 'em or you hate 'em. I used to hate 'em, now I love 'em. Such is life. If you hate, 'em, give them another chance. If you love 'em, I'm wasting space writing about them. 'Nuff said.

Hey, did you hear Punk Magazine is making a return? It's true! To celebrate the original punk zine's 25 anniversary, John Holmstrom is getting the gang all together to put out a new issue. In addition, there's going to be an anniversary show at CBGB's (where else?) on January 10th. It's guaranteed the place to be. For details, check out www.punkmagazine.com.

On a related note, Norton Records (http://www.nortonrecords.com), in their effort to dig up every unturned stone of rock 'n' roll, have unearthed four old LOU REED tunes and presented them on a great 45. These are old REED songs; we're talkin' 1958, back when he was recording with neighborhood friends as the JADES. In addition to a pair of '58 JADES tunes, Norton give us two songs REED recorded in 1962 as LEWIS REED. All four are spunky doo wop influenced rock 'n' roll songs, in fairly standard late-50s/early-60s style.

More of those rascally boot-a-likes have shown up lately. You might remember a few months back I mentioned the 15 7" reissue/bootlegs that surfaced looking exactly like the originals. These new ones–LA PESTE (Better Off Dead/Black), the LUBRICANTS (Activated Energy/Trans-Formation Vacation), the MAD (Eyeball) and the HOLLYWOOD SQUARES (Hillside Strangler) are likely done by the same folks. At $7-$10 each, these 7"s are pricey, but nearly as costly as the originals. And they all sound really good.

If you've been looking for the ZERO BOYS Livin' In the 80's reissue on Panic Button, word is, it got delayed due to a mastering problem or something. Don't worry, it'll be out soon.

For those wondering, yes, the GIZMOS material (the first three 7"s anyway) has been reissued (legitimately) on vinyl. An Italian label is responsible (possibly Hate Records, though as of press time I haven't been able to confirm nor deny this fact). Also be on the lookout for the new double CD of GIZMOS material on Gulcher Records. This monster collects hours of pre-GIZMOS recordings and demos from 1975-77.

Lunar Lab (PO Box 71357/Pittsburgh, PA 15213) has unleashed 10" of the dreaded LEGIONAIRE'S DISEASE upon the world. Eight songs of blissful, raucous Texas killer punk from the boys whom you probably know best for their amazing song, "I'd Rather See You Dead." Well, you get eight songs from the same session and all the songs really stand up to their well-loved screaming classic. I know there are lots of reissues floating around, but this record is really worth going the extra distance to find. The liner notes offer an amazing look at the band. Read 'em and you'll understand immediately why there aren't bands like this anymore.

All has been mostly quiet on the comp front. Gnome Records recently released First Belgian Punk Contest, Volume 2, which includes the full sets recorded at the First Belgian Punk Contest (of 1978) of MODERN WORLD and the RAZORS. The sound quality is supposedly better than the sound on the original First Belgian Punk Contest LP, but since I haven't heard it, I can't verify this. Limited to 500, naturally.

Get Back Records out of Italy has released a vinyl version of the VIBRATORS independent singles collection on Anagram.

Besides running one of the best mailorders around, Jim from Underground Medicine also runs Rapid Pulse Records (PO Box 5075/Medford, CT 06460/umedpunk@aol.com). Jim hears a lot of music, good and bad, so you know when he puts out a record, there's a good chance it's gonna smoke. He's put out two new hot 7"s. The RITCHIE WHITES gain instant notoriety by having Toby from the MOTARDS taking on bass guitar duties. But past infamy will only get you so far in the world today, so it's a good thing these boys deliver the goods. Two slower, swaggering melodic songs (Walkaway/Stop Me Before I Kill Again) that have a hint of sneering attitude. It's the kind of record that makes you think they're probably better live, when they can really unleash all their on stage charm. The songs don't quite leap off the vinyl, going for your throat the way I like. Still, this record has spent more than a few turns on my record player.

The other 7", a four song e.p. by the STRAP-ONS has a chomping bite that reminds me a bit of the STITCHES—at least vocally. The singer has a similar, too many cigarettes snotty roughness. Overall all, the songs are lean, mean and right in your face. This record is best listened to loud, when you're feeling particularly rowdy.

Now! Records (1615 Sixth St. NE #2/Minneapolis, MN 55413) offers the world yet another new DIALTONES 7". This one features on original, "Oh Baby Doll!" and one BOYS cover, "Not Ready". By now, you should know what to expect from the DIALTONES–rousing DEVIL DOGS-like rock 'n' roll. If, for some weird reason, you aren't familiar with the DEVIL DOGS, I'm sending you to detention to do some serious fucking homework.

Speaking of the DEVIL DOGS, people are a buzz with word about ANDY G & the ROLLER KINGS. Andy G. is of course the one and same from the rock 'n' roll powerhouse that was the DEVIL DOGS. Early reports tell that the ROLLER KINGS have earned the hype being generated. Look for a release soon on Sympathy.

Morten Henriksen and the boys known as the YUM YUMS have a new 10" out on Alien Snatch Records (Mörikeweg 1, 74199/Untergruppenbach, Germany/http://www.aliensnatch.de). Seven strong power pop songs that live up to the title of the album Funzone. The YUM YUMS are so great because they capture a boisterous, loud pop sound and beef it up with a steaming hot injection of pure rock passion. Great songwriting + great production = an amazing record. If you have one pop-leaning bone in your body, you should track this down. Oh, just for trivia sake, Henriksen was part of the VIKINGS and it shows.

Is it just me, or does it seem like Estrus has all but dropped off the face of the Earth? Maybe they just aren't putting out as much as they used to...anyway, I picked up the noisy IMMORTAL LEE COUNTY KILLERS 7". If you pick up this single, you'll be treated to two songs of howling, damaged blues by a simple guitar/drum combo. I guess it's not too much unlike the WHITE STRIPES, BANTAM ROOSTER or the SOLEDAD BROTHERS. Actually, I'd say these guys fall squarely in between those bands. Not quite and blown out as the SOLEDAD BROTHERS, not as stylish as the WHITE STRIPES. Inludes a cover of PUSSY GALORE's "Revolution Summer." Great artwork.

So I've been hearing all this fucking hype about the SUPER BEES. I missed 'em at the Grind, I missed them when they played in San Francisco. When I ran across their 7" (Cabez De Tornado/203 1/2 Acacia/Huntington Beach, CA 92648) I had to pick up a copy. I had to see what the hype was all about. With songs like "Teenage Animal," you get an idea of what you're in store for and the SUPER BEES come through. Lots of perfectly killer riffs that rev-up their high-charged rock 'n' roll.

Here's a correction regarding my Las Vegas Shakedown report from a few months back. I got my facts all wrong and I don't even drink, fuck:

I'm the guitar player in The Dirty Sweets. Just wanted to correct ya on a few minor details. We are from Austin, TX not Arizona. And The Dirty Looks are from Seattle, not Chicago. Anyway, I had a good laugh about the whole thing and I appreciate the comments. Hopefully we will have a single out early in the new year. Keep your ear to the ground and your eyes peeled.
Shawn Carpetbagger

Thanks for the correction Shawn.

And I don't know how people got the idea that Underground Medicine put out the TOXIC SHOCK LP released this past summer. You're all mistaken. Umed had nothing to do with it, other than getting a few copies to distribute. Stop bugging Jim about it. He doesn't have any. He's not going to get anymore. Go look elsewhere.

Rip Off Records has joined the fray with a hot-looking website (http://www.ripoffrecords.com) full of information of all your favorite bands. Ha! While you're there, be sure to get the lowdown on the upcoming second album from the ZODIAC KILLERS. Mimi and I got to take part of the bloody cover shoot–I'm the guy near the front of the stage with the stump where my right hand used to be. More bands need to forgo the Karo syrup/chocolate syrup route and just go for the real blood. It looks much more real and absolutely adds to the ambience of a photo. You know?

About once a year I say this and here it is again this year...I know most of you don't give a fuck, but the new LUNGFISH album, Necrophones is out. I still love LUNGFISH. There are few bands better suited to completely wrap yourself in at the loudest possible volume and just drown. Well, the STOOGES, but if you're looking for something not quite and electrifying, or electrifying in a much different way, give 'em a shot.

-->THIS JUST IN! A VICTIMS (Australia) LP has surfaced. I haven't seen nor heard it as of writing this, but I saw a few copies for sale through a couple distributors. They're out there...

One last thing, I promise. On Gift Wrapped Crap Radio (http://www.antennaradio.com) a few months ago, Paul Routenberg did an amazing show of all non-comped Dutch punk from '77 – '84 (or thereabout). Among the songs were three killer fucking tunes by PANIC SPECIALS...who is, as I understand, a later incarnation of PANIC. These songs were from their second album, Wat Kan Het Leven Tock Mooi Zijn. Can anyone help me track it down? Thank you in advance...

That's it. Now go listen to good music really fucking loud.

PO Box 11906/Berkeley, CA 94712/USA • icki@mindspring.com

 
 
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