Columns - "If You Die, and Go to Hell, Who Cares?" 09.12.01

School's back in session, the President is back from his vacation, Congress is back in Washington...it's gonna be a long fall. Good thing so many good records have been coming out. But then, if the U.S. economy keeps up this beautiful swan dive, no one around here is gonna have enough cash to keep up. While we still can, let's get down to business.

Wrench Records (BCM Box 4049/London WC1N 3XX/UK/ www.wrench.org/ mail@wrench.org) unleashed a wonderful shitstorm of rock 'n' roll this month. They have three new singles: MENSEN Stand Up For Yourself, SUPERHELICOPTER LTD. Indicted and TOKYO KNIVES I Keep Thinking 'Bout You.

Outta Norway, MENSEN prove Scandinavian girls rock just as hard as the guys, but without nearly as many bullshit wanky riffs or the crap attitude and posture (or maybe these girls do that...but it doesn't come through on this records). Though they are wearing the cliché cowboy hats on the cover. Still, the three songs here are rooted heavily in rich, thick melodies carried through by the singer, Mary Currie. The vocals stand well on their own, without trying to sound menacing or tough or any of that bullshit. A totally solid record.

You may recall me raving about SUPERHELICOPTER LTD. in the past. Charlie from Wrench promised me this single would top their past few records. And holyfuck!!! Their new e.p. is a scorcher, a completely blowout total trashfest with guitars on fire with distortion, feeding back and squealing. The drums stomp through the songs as the singer yells over the top of it all just to be heard. Beautiful. Fans of the OBLIVIANS, take note! Supposedly they have a 10" out that's a real crashandburn riot.

And then there’re the TOKYO KNIVES. Featuring Jonas from HENRY FIATS OPEN SORE on drums, my interest was immediately piqued, despite Charlie's assertions that the Tokyo Knives sound nothing like HFOS. Charlie was right. The Tokyo Knives (who were named by/for their Japanese bass player) carry themselves with a steady rock 'n' roll swagger that swings hard. They actually sound like something you wouldn't be surprised to hear on Rip Off. The first song, "I Keep Thinkin 'Bout You" is a real scorcher, not held back by the standard three chord, 4/4 shuffle. These Swedes let it rip, throwing in well-placed riffs to kick the songs into high gear. If this is just the start of this band, I can't wait to see what follows.

A lot of great stuff has been pouring outta the Midwest lately. Here are a number of reasons why the Midwest Can Be Alright...

Todd Trickknee is getting his label off to a good start with a 12" e.p. 920 Blues, featuring unreleased tracks by a number of mostly upstart, mostly Wisconsin-area bands (TEENAGE REJECTS, REDS [not from Wisconsin] SAGER, LEGHOUNDS, MYSTERY GIRLS, DERKS, YESTERDAY'S KIDS, SHUTUPS, STRONG COME ONS, & MISTREATERS). There's a lot of great rock 'n' roll coming out of that area. People from around there have been barking about all the great bands playing in their basements for years. The rest of us are finally getting wind of it...too bad most of these bands have already broken up.

Speaking of Wisconsin bands, make sure you pick up the awesome TEENAGE REJECTS 7" on Rip Off! The three songs on their first (and last? they've already parted ways...) e.p. have the same blunted stupidity/simplicity of LOLI & THE CHONES. Very straight-forward, nothing too challenging going on, but absolutely great. Easily one of the best singles on Rip Off in a long time.

I'm sure you're well aware that the REDS (R.I.P.) have a new album due out on Rip Off soon, as do the KILL-A-WATTS. If the Kill-A-Watts' new single on Yakisakana (51, rue Pierre Renaudel/76 100 Rouen/France/ www.yakisakanarecords.fr.st/ yakisakana.rec@wandoo.fr) is any indication of what to expect, we're in for a helluva treat. Two songs that barely top two minutes (hell, they probably just trip over the one minute mark), flying by in a flurry of hurried, screeching chords and howling vocals. The A-side, "Dig These Kids" has a thicker, meaner sound, while side-B, "Snotty Bastard" is like a bolt of lightning, in and out with high-pitched precision. This is their best yet.

From Flying Bomb in good ol' Ypsilanti, Mich. (PO Box 971038/Ypsilanti, MI 48197) come MHz and what I believe is their debut 7", Action Figure. This three piece take off with the title track, a loud and fast ride on the express train into the second song, "Schizoid Man." Both songs are ablaze with heavy distortion, distinctive of the Ghetto Studios/Jim Diamond sound. "Schizoid Man" and the song on side B, "Like A Switchblade" take a more calculated approach to plummeling your brain with their hulking music. "Action Figure" is a direct assault, like a boxer who lunges at you, swinging left-right-left-right until you're down for the count. The other two dance, jab, dance, dance, duck, jab, jab, jab and BAM! Either way, you're out before you know what hit you.

With members of a number of notable Detroit bands, PAUL E. ESTER & the CRUEL SHOES make a helluva name for themselves on their excellent first 7", Eyeliner (Rapid Pulse/PO Box 5075/Milford, CT 06460/ www.undergroundmedicine.com). The first song, "All Your Friends Hate You Now" has an amazingly catchy chorus, which the singer spits out in a wonder snarl that's pure Detroit. The guitars are sharp and deadly as a box of Gillette razors, doubling up on each other to slice through chords with a howling buzz. "Eyeliner" sounds almost like a DEAD BOYS outtake, with vivid lyrics sung with an air of disdain, killer guitars and solid rhythm section, all working together. Then, just for yucks, they throw in a cover of "Train Kept A Rollin'," which works much better than you might think. They do the song justice, adding their own touch of fireworks to the classic. Dare I say these five guys might have one of the best bands in Detroit right now? Since that CLONE DEFECTS album has gone MIA, check this out for a real dose of snarling Midwest punk. This is one you've gotta get this month!

Solid Sex Lovie Doll is an Italian label who has released ultra-limited 7"s by bands such as the DIRTBOMBS, the LOST SONDS and WALTER DANIELS. Well, King Z is at it again with a 7" (limited to 400 copies) by the KNAUGHTY KNIGHTS. Who are these Naughty Nights, you ask? Well, they're from Memphis and feature a truly stellar line-up, consisting of: Jack Oblivian, Rick Crook (REATARDS, LOST SOUNDS) and Shaggy (PERSUADERS). King Z promises four firecracker hot songs, pretty much what you'd expect from such a group of southern gentlemen. They're gonna go quick... (Solid Sex Lovie Doll c/o Federico Zanutto/Via Rualis 101/33043 Cividale (UD) ITALY/ solidsexloviedoll@hotmail.com)

Showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, Sympathy continues to release a big mess of fine rock 'n' roll.

Foremost, LES SEXAREENOS are back!!! Their follow-up album, 14 Frenzied Shakers isn't quite as over-the-top, breathless as their debut album, but wow! they absolutely deliver on the promise of the title. In addition to their own finely penned raucous numbers, they throw in a few killer covers, including "Don't You Know Yokomo" by HUEY SMITH.

The DEL-GATORS feature members of the SPACESHITS and Les Sexareenos, so you know you're in for a good time! Their debut 7", Mudpit is out on, you guessed it, Sympathy.

On your first listen, you're likely to think the STUCK-UPS are a limey band. The simple garagey music and accented female vocals sound just like any number of girl garage punk bands from the U.K. Yet, this trio of girls comes from the soggy northwest city of Seattle, Wash. I attribute this album's heavy English accent to the fact that it was produced by Sir Billy Childish.

The first CANDYGIRL 7" (now out of print) remains one of the all-time best power pop records and is hands down one of my top ten records of the past few years. Thus, I've been biting my nails, waiting for the TINA & THE TOTAL BABES LP. This project band features Tina Lucchesi (BOBBYTEENS, TRASHWOMEN, etc.) fronting a band made of some of Minneapolis, Minn.'s best and brightest. Critical in this equation is the genius songwriter Travis Ramin, guitar player of the SHORT FUSES and mastermind behind CANDYGIRL. He's one of the best songwriters around today. Ramin is accompanied by Jacques Wait (who played with Candygirl and the Short Fuses), as well as Johnny O'Halloran, who plays bass from the MAGNOLIAS. This is sure to get all the kids hot and bothered.

LE SHOK finally have a new record out. This one's a 6" titled L.A. To N.Y. (Kapow). As the title suggests, this includes a track recorded live in Los Angeles (a SCREAMERS cover no less) and one recorded live in New York. In true Le Shok fashion, about 100 copies of this record come in a stunning anodized aluminum cover. They also have a 7" called S&M due out very soon.

Out of nowhere, I found myself in possession of a sharp 7" e.p. by Knoxville, Tenn.'s BITTER PILLS (Domesticity/PO Box 763/Knoxville, TN 37901). These four lads rip out four songs carefully styled after '60s mod monsters, tempered with a swampy, slightly trashy recording. They nail the sound and feel of the tormented, twisted teen garage songs of the '60s, sounding like they'd be right at home tucked in between the MOXIES and J.D. ROGUES on Teenage Shutdown. The A-side is a bit stiff, but by the time they work their way to the flipside, everything gets a little more loose. Hopefully we'll be hearing more from the Bitter Pills.

The CUTS have moved back to the Bay Area, thankfully. One night this summer, shortly after their return, they played a show at the Cloyne Court Co-Op on the UC Berkeley campus. The Cuts were joined by the FLAKES (who put on an amazing show and are still one of my favorite Bay Area bands) and an unknown group of kids from Texas called the MIRRORS. Although my show attendance has dropped to the point of truancy, I still get out once in a while and often catch one or two bands I'd never heard of who completely knock me out. Such was the case with the Mirrors. Out of nowhere these lonestar kids start pumping out raw, hot, humid songs, fueled by a mean organ and a guitar player who works surf riffs into thunderstorm psych/rock songs like nobody I've ever seen. They left me breathless. After the show all the members of the band commented that they played more high-energy rock 'n' roll that night, since it was a college crowd. Usually, they said, they play more psychedelic stuff. I bought an album to see for myself.

Sure enough, the album, The Green Dream (Pop Quiz/2005 Saber Ct./League City, TX 77573/ www.popquizrecords.com) is full of psych, some of it dripping and droopy, awash in echo, fuzz and wah-wah action, some of it feverishly red hot. This album sounds as if it were lifted straight from '67 or '68. Definitely not a record for those of you who think the MC5 and STOOGES sound like hippies. The cover features a pixelated eye, with the colors reversed, so it looks all fucked up and…well, psychedelic. The Mirrors draw from a number of influences. They definitely have a STONES-like bluesy grit, but then dive headfirst into the heavy, swirling sounds of bands like OS MUTANTES, the ELECTRIC PRUNES and the SEEDS.

Completely switching gears, DS-13 have a new album out on Havoc Records. The consensus among most hardcore kids is that DS-13 have been on a steady decline since their first single came out. Not having followed them that long, nor that closely, I'd say this album is among their finest recordings. I love how the songs work in just a teeny touch of a more melodic element, but still blister your ass raw with straight ahead, no bullshit, non-wanking hardcore. In addition, DS-13 have some of funniest, most inspiring lyrics I've read since...well, since the last HENRY FIATS OPEN SORE record. I said it once, and I'll say it again. Those of you who say you like hardcore—but just the old shit from the early '80s—are missing out. There's a lot of stunning new hardcore coming out, built on a foundation of early '80s hardcore appreciation. It's worth checking out, especially if you're fucking sick of bad bar rock being passed off as punk. This is the real deal.

Having been put together as a project band in 1998, the HOT POCKETS got together, wrote and recorded sixteen songs in five days. They played one show in Groningen, Holland at the infamous Vera Club a few months later. A few days later, they recorded another seven songs. End of story...or so it seemed. Due to popular demand, they played five shows (in five countries) and recorded once more. Not much of a career, as far as bands go. But then, these guys got together with the intent purpose of making some of the best rock 'n' roll music Europe—and the world—has heard. While I wouldn't go as far to say they're the best, I will say these guys make some truly great music. It's often the bands that are formed purely for fun, with no real intentions of going anywhere, that make the best music. They have the right motivation: fun. The Hot Pockets' new album Mess of Fire (International Trash/www.internationaltrash.com) is the result of that last recording from 1999. You'll probably have a good idea of what to expect if I say that these guys are influenced by the DEVIL DOGS, that they do a NERVES cover ("Hangin' On the Telephone") and that this album was originally on Screaming Apple. They swagger, shake and have zero metal influence in their sweat-inducing rock stomp.

Just Add Water (PO Box 420661/San Francisco, CA 94142/ www.justaddwaterrecords.com) teams up with the BOBBYTEENS to bring you a beautiful-looking CD of their singles and comp tracks. Included are the songs from their two singles on Super*Teem, the split with the BEE KNEES, "Do You Wanna Touch" from the GARY GLITTER comp/tribute, songs from the I Wanna Go Home, Treat Me Right and Hot City Boy 7"s, plus four unreleased songs. Three of the unreleased tracks ("Secret Date," "Gimmie, Gimmie" and "You're Too Young For Me") feature Karin "Supercharger" Singletary on drums and, as far as I can tell, the first Bobbyteens recordings. The CD is worth for those three tracks alone!

Moving on to the reissues, compilations and bootlegs...

Taking their tradition of releasing absurdly limited records into the new millennium, the ABSENTEES have released a whole album of slop punk called Neighbors Against Narcs. Like their obscenely expensive original 45, this is on UG Records and is supposedly limited to 100 copies. And sure enough, it sounds almost exactly like their material from the late '70s. That's either good or bad, depending on how you feel about their music.

After months of silence on the reissue compilation front, this month I got word of four new LPs collecting rare punk, hardcore and powerpop songs of varying quality. Following up the great Killed By Hardcore comp released earlier this year, Killed By Hardcore, vol. 2 delivers an album erupting with killer punk/hardcore from around the world, including: ZMIV (Holland, HEADCLEANERS (Sweden), INDIGESTI (Italy), E-13 (USA), IKKA SHINJYUU (Japan), MECHT MENSCH (USA), YDI (USA), RIISTETYT Finland), SUBURBAN MUTILATION (USA), INOCENTES (Brazil), BETONG HYSTERIA (Norway), INSTANT AGONY (UK), NO LABELS (USA), VORKRIEGSPHASE (Germany), FADER WAR (Norway), TARGET OF DEMAND (USA), TMA (USA), AGENT ORANGE (Holland), E.A.T.E.R. (Sweden), KURO (Japan), EXTREM (Australia), KORO (USA), DISARM (Sweden), THE ABUSED (USA), CANI (Italy), and CHRONIC SICK (USA). Limited to 1,000.

At the other end of the spectrum, a new compilation called Powerpoppers boasts 14 power pop songs from the '70s/'80s, none supposedly comped before. I'm glad to see Australia's BOYS finally make it on to a comp. Joining them are: 021, TEENAGE FILMSTARS, LES CALAMITES, the VIPS, the REACTION, SPEEDBALL, LOW NUMBERS, WEEKEND, STRANGEWAYS, ADVERTISING, and the CLERKS.

The Bloodstains series returns with Bloodstains Across Europe, vol. 2. It contains 15 tracks, all from rare European records. Included are: the SQUAD, RUNNING DOGS, DREAM POLICE, GANGSTERS, ROTZKOTZ and others. The first European Bloodstains comp was great, collecting some of the better (and rarest) Euro punk records. Unfortunately, it doesn't look as if this one will quite live up to its namesake.

Lastly, No One Left to Blame, which was previewed on Gift Wrapped Crap Internet radio (www.antennaradio.com/punk/giftwrappedcrap) not only blows the lid on some true rarities, but it's got some really great punk songs...now there's a novel idea! You can end your frustration at trying to pin down what JACKIE SHARK & THE BEACH BUTCHERS (whose 7" tops many want lists [and price lists!] these days) sound like. They have two songs here. Knocking the EAT out of contention as the first punk record to come from Florida, CRITICAL MASS' debut 45--released in 1976—is among the highlights of this album. The song here, "Silver Screen" is a great swaggering, snarling tune not unlike something that would've come from New York City around the same time. Maybe these guys caught the NEW YORK DOLLS on their ill-fated Florida tour. You also get the FINGERS, DV8, MANIKENZ, the COMMANDOS, and lots more.

While not too many reissue albums have been coming out, CDs and CD-Rs of rare punk songs have picked up the slack. You all are surely aware of Chuck Warner's great Hyped 2 Death series (www.hyped2death.com). Well, long time collector Chris Plummer has put together his own series called Everyone A Classic (www.velvetplumms.clara.net/punkrock). Each volume is limited to 300 CD-Rs and features fifteen tracks. The first three volumes sold out long ago, but you can probably still get volumes 4 – 6. Check the website for track listings.

Remember those beautiful, limited replica reissue 7"s that came out a few months ago? Well, there's another batch due out by mid-September. This time, they aren't so concentrated on ultra-rarities. Again, you have to act fast, these are limited to 300 copies. Here's a rundown: the B-52s "Rock Lobster"/"52 Girls"; the CONSUMERS "We're American" 7" (1980); IMPERIAL DOGS "This Ain't the Summer of Love" 7" (1978; Los Angeles); the MISFITS "3 Hits from Hell" 7" (1981); NEON BOYS "Love Comes in Spurts" 7" (1973, pre-TELEVISION band featuring Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine); the PRIMITIVES "The Ostrich"/"Sneaky Pete" 7" (1964; pre-VELVET UNDERGROUND Lou Reed goof stomp); RAMONES "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" 7", RAMONES "We are Punk Generation" 7" (Japanese-only 7"s); SHRAPNEL "Combat Love" 7" (1979; New Jersey); the SINS "Mood Music" 7" (1982, California); the SLEEPERS "Seventh World" 7" (1978, San Francisco); SONICS RENDEZVOUS BAND "City Slang" 7" (1978, Detroit); TELEVISION "Little Johnny Jewel" 7" (1975, New York City); WEASELS "Beat Her with a Rake"/"I'm the Commander" 7" (1977, Los Angeles).

Though the CRAMPS have kick-started their own label (Vengence Records) and jumped aboard the USS Mordam, this month they're the victim of no less than seven bootleg LPs: 1976 Demos (their first demo session); Fetishism (live in Toronto, 1982); Frank Furter & the Hot Dogs (live CBGB's 1978); Surfin' in the Dark (London, 1984); Tales From the Cramps (alt. takes from their debut album, produced by Alex Chilton, plus demos recorded by Chris Spedding and Richard Robinson); Voodoo Rhythm (1983 demos, rehearsals, live tracks); Wild Psychotic Teen Sounds (twelve song from 1979, produced by Chris Spedding).

The BUZZCOCKS also have a new live record out. This one is brought to you care of our friends at Get Back Records in Italy. This double LP, Small Songs With Big Hearts was recorded live at the Rainbow Theatre in London on Nov. 9th, 1979 (the day I turned five years old!). Packaged in typical Get Back quality gatefold sleeve.

And the RAMONES also have yet another live album out. This one is called Eaten Alive, Vol. 1. It's from a show in Utica, New York, recorded in 1977. 18 songs on dinnerplate 180 gram vinyl.

San Francisco's BREAKOUTS, whom you may remember from KBD #9, KBD 7" #5 and Back To Front #6, see their 1983 LP, No More reissued. Same story with the late '70s joke punk band the MONKS.

Dionysus continues to reissue some of the better punk from the late '70s, including the DOGS' classic Slash Your Face 7". An original recently sold for a stupid amount of money on eBay. Do us all a favor and just grab this quality reissue instead. Dionysus also just released a 7" by Pennsylvania's the CLAP. This e.p. contains the Clap's two singles, one of which is a live recording from '81.

Last month I mentioned how Paul Collins of the NERVES teamed up with the YUM YUMS to record a new song (it's available on MP3.com). Keeping the ball rolling, Penniman Records, who brought us such amazing records as the FUN THINGS reissue, just released a Nerves 10" titled appropriately 25th Anniversary. Though it's fairly pricey, this record collects the Nerves' original e.p. (with the original version of "Hangin' On the Telephone") with two extra studio tracks, "Paper Dolls" and "One Way Ticket." Now let's hope someone reissues the first BEAT LP legit before it gets bootlegged.

You may have heard, but just in case...the indispensable FLEX U.S. Hardcore/Punk discography has been updated and is being reissued! Burkhard has not only added records which were not known of or otherwise omitted from the first edition, but he's also updated the book to include thousands of records that have come out since the first book was published in 1992! The new book is going to be about the size of a phone book and has an initial print run of 1,000. Pre-orders are being taken, and so far more than half the books have been sold. For ordering details, go to: www.fuzzlogic.com/flex, or email Burkhard: flex-magazine@telda.net.

That's it this month. Until next month, remember to keep your music loud, fast and fun.

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

 
 
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