Columns - "The Sign of a Good Time" 02.01.03

2002:  The Rear In Yer View
            When Joe nearly died in that “car accident” earlier this year, the first thing that popped into my head was “Hey, more promos for me!”  I soon came to regret this (and not because I’m sensitive and can relate to near-death collisions whilst engaging in kinky acts with “young adults”), but c’mon…you’d think that I would have learned the whole “promos are worthless, cumbersome and generally depressing” fact ‘o life by now.  But, nooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo… I got so much unbelievably horrible stuff this year that it’s actually dampened my ability to see what actually was and wasn’t good.  It has made me a critic who simply can’t critique.  What’s weird is that I kinda need them now.  I am in constant NEED of the very things that are my making my life worse.  Freud, Trickknee, SOMEONE!  Kill the beast!  On top of my immense desire to compound and consolidate the misery that is my life with a senseless and dangerous thirst for free junk, I’ve lost the tools necessary to actually make use of all this shit piling up at my feet.  That’s right:  still haven’t replaced the stereo.  You’d think that someone of my busybody servant sect would simply have to procure another device with which to educate the masses in terms of what does and doesn’t ROCK.  Shit, I’d even buy that argument.  But I can’t buy a stereo.  OF COURSE I CAN’T.  That would be an act of intelligence and could be construed as me making an effort to improve my situation.  Fuck that shit!  The point is this:  I chose to be a bag lady rather than fix the problem.  Why?  Because I suffer for my (and your) art.  To this day, I have yet to purchase a stereo.  I keep waiting to get promo’d one.  So…in all my can collecting and trick turning, I’ve managed to sort through the rubble and find some stuff that’s pretty great.  However, judging from everything above, I’m probably not the greatest source…………………………
Miscellaneous Great Stuff:
Gravy Train!!!! “The Menz EP” CDEP (S.P.A.M. Records)
John Wilkes Booze “The Five Pillars of Soul” CD-R Series (Family Vineyard)
Fleshies “The Game Of Futbol” 10”EP (Adeline Records)
The Fuse! “The Sound Of Youth Rebellion” CD-R Demo (self-released)
Rock’N’Roll Adventure Kids “Live On Berzerkley Radio!” One-Sided 12”EP (S.P.A.M. Records/Soul Not Style Records)
The Top Ten 7”s of 2002-
Honorable Mentions:
The Gangbangs “When All Turns To Shit” 7”EP (High School Refuse Records)
Reatards “S/T” 7”EP (Solid Sex Lovie Doll Records)
Sagger “Mind Wrath” 7” (Goodbye Boozy Records)
Tyrades “Stain On Me” 7” (Rip Off Records)
The Jewws “I Need Your Lovin’" 7”EP (Alien Snatch Records)
10.  Crimson Sweet “So Electric” 7” (Slow Gold Zebra Records)
I really wasn’t a giant fan of the “Foil Beach” EP, but this thing hit me like a ton of bricks (as did “Livin’ In Strut”, a fine debut album).  In these parts, folks like to say that they are breaking the mold and really pushing it.  I like to think that it’s just Rock’N’Roll, and a damn fine example of it.
09.  Subtonix “Too Cool For School” 7” (Vida Loca Records)
This “vanished” (haha, get it?) almost immediately, which goes to show that the Bay Area single-buying public isn’t stupid.  While their album was great, those of you who missed their early sound (found here and on their debut 45) should kick yourselves.
08.  Duchess Of Saigon “Easter Queen” 7”EP (SS Records)
I think that this might be my most-played single of 2002.  I spin it so much because this is a band that I’m not immediately able to deconstruct and say “Oh, so that’s what they’re going for”.  Duh…that’s why it’s so appealing!  Two-piece pop with “a few redeeming qualities”.
07.  The Mystery Girls “Turned On, Tuning In” 7”EP (Bancroft Records)
This band is far too good.  More on them in the “Best Albums” section…ridiculous.
06.  The Intelligence/Popular Shapes “Split” 7”EP (Dirtnap Records)
The fact that a split single can chart this high is beyond me.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that they all look good covered in beer and band-aids.  The Intelligence spins you around with moronoteric bash, while Popular Shapes come off as the perfect mix between LE SHOK and THE REDS.  Of all the Dirtnap releases of 2002, this is by far the best.
05.  Blue Balls Explosion “Going The Wrong Way On The One Way Street In Your Mind” 7” (High School Refuse Records)
My Wisconsinite brethren/informants tell me this band makes a cassette album every month.  Why is it that this is all I have by them?  “Eat My Ass Gravy” is my favorite song title of the year.  I think everybody in WI has been in this band at one point or another too.  Truly great.
04.  John Wilkes Booze “Whiskey And Pills” 7” (Rock’N’Roll Blitzkrieg/Family Vineyard)
JWB has imbedded their sound in my brain:  MC5ish soul/jazz/rawk rumblings mixed with pure midwestern punky combustion.  Da Booze is a unit dedicated to the exploration, education and practice of SOUL.  Please…PLEASE…check out their “Five Pillars of Soul” CD-R series, as it contains some of the most inspiring and refreshing tunes I’ve heard in some time.
03.  FM Knives “Estrogen” 7”EP (SmartGuy Records)
I’d love to give them the triple crown this year (best single, best album, best live act), but my lips are so chapped from kissing their ass all year long that I don’t wanna risk anything.  The #3 hole it is.  My absolute favorite band of 2002, and hopefully yours too.
02. The Mistreaters “No More” 7” (Goodbye Boozy Records)
This is so goddamn good it’s scary.  Everything is perfect.  “No More” is the best Rock’N’Soul haunt I’ve experienced since early COMPULSIVE GAMBLERS.  “Bye Bye Bye” ain’t no slouch either:  a moody alcohol rumble that makes you want to cry AND punch a hole in a wall.  Far and away, the best I’ve heard by this band.
01.  The Final Solutions “We Are The Final Solutions” 7”EP (Therapeutic Records)
Without question, the most brilliant and rude single released this year.  Take the all the finest “Killed By Death” spasms and mix with REATARDS/LOST SOUNDS disgust…BAM!  The Final Solutions!  It’s Jay all the way, even if he’s behind the drum kit.  This might just be the finest record Jay Reatard has ever played on.  I don’t even feel nervous saying that either.
The Top Ten Albums of 2002-
Honorable Mentions:
Numbers “S/T” CD (TigerBeat6)
The Baseball Furies “Greater Than Ever” LP (Big Neck Records)
Various Artists “The Necessary Effect” Screamers Tribute 2xCD (Xeriod)
The Coachwhips “Get Yer Body Next Ta Mine” LP (Show And Tell Recordings)
The Leg Hounds “S/T” and “Date Your Daughters” CDs (Bulge Records)
10.  Epoxies “S/T” LP (Dirtnap Records)
I tried really fucking hard to squeeze this out of the Top 10.  Why?  Because these tunes torture me:  every tune on this album so catchy it’s annoying!!!  There’s something to be said for that, although I’m not sure if I see that as a good thing or a really, really bad thing.  I can’t honestly say that I dig this anymore because it’s pissed me off so bad.  I loved it the first 200 times I heard it, but my brain refuses to turn it off! 
09.  The Pretty Girls “S/T” CD (Trap Door Records)
This record is all over the place, successfully blending elements as far apart as New York Dolls strut to UK-modish soul.  Featuring folks from FM Knives, The Yah-Mos and far too many other great Sacramento bands to mention.  It’s a shame that so few have checked this out…please do. 
08.  Lost Sounds “Rat’s Brains and Microchips” LP (Empty Records)
You already have it…what more do I need to say?  Please go here for real “art-damage”:
07.  The Spits “S/T (II)” LP (Slovenly Records)
These guys make Sham 69 look like grad students. 
06.  Radar Secret Service “Stop Communication” CD (On/On Switch)
If The Spits are the dumbest band around, Radar Secret Service is probably the smartest.  I will go on record as saying that this might be the most important record released in 2002, if only because it made me think that buying a Gary Numan record wasn’t that bad of an idea.
05.  The Mystery Girls “S/T” CD (Trickknee Productions)
They could’ve gone to Hollywood, fucked “dirty bitches” with Fowley and BOOM…instant fame and riches.  But no…they’re peddling their small-time horseshit to literally tens of people night after night.  I guess it’s his loss.  Far and away, this is the finest Rock’N’Roll record of 2002.  I need it on vinyl………………..
04.  The Piranhas “Erotic Grit Movies” LP (In The Red Records)
I’ve never eaten ceiling tiles before, but I’m sure glad that Jamie knows what they taste like.
03.  The Hunches “Yes. No. Shut It.” LP (In The Red Records)
Out of nowhere, The Hunches burst into 2002 and pretty much destroyed every crowd they played to.  They’re monsters live, but the fact that they were able to capture it on wax this perfectly is something to marvel at.  The singer bled on me, but said he was sorry.
02.  A Frames “S/T” LP (Dragnet Records/SS Records)
Again, we come to the issue of list position:  I really wanted to put this at #3 so I could just write “3…3…3…3…3…” for my little blurb.  No such luck.  Throughout the year, I’ve had the incredibly difficult duty of describing this album to people who haven’t heard it, either in record reviews or conversation with like-minded folks.  I don’t think I’ve given a good explanation yet, and I doubt that I can give one here.  All I can say is that this is a truly amazing record made by a truly amazing band with a truly amazing sound.  The ads say, “Post meets KBD punk”, and that works for me…Essential.
01.  FM Knives “Useless And Modern” CD (Moo-La-La Records)
Read my review…shit, read ANY review.  You’ve heard the comparisons, you’ve got the record (or you will when Broken reissues it) and you know the score.  FM Knives are a perfect band in my book and this CD made my year.  No album even came close to touching this one in 2002.  I STILL HAVE BOTH OF MY NUTS!
2003 Wish List
-This band is scheduled to release records on In The Red and Broadway Jungle in 2003.  Prepare…
-A full-length coming on Kill Rock Stars.
-Supposedly releasing their debut 7” on Just Add Water in 2003!
-SHUT THE FUCK UP WITH YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RECORD!!!  SO I SPOKE A LITTLE EARLY!!!  I’M SORRY!!!  Honestly, they are going to release an actual studio recording sometime before 2247.
-FM Knives, A Frames, Mystery Girls and John Wilkes Booze…gimme more!
1)    Sorry this is late…I didn’t get the memo.
2)    Hit List is over (at least for 2003)…if you are so inclined, visit to see the new zine from the old folks.  There’s definitely a shift in focus to “more popular” acts being covered, but I still do record reviews there.  Readers of will have little or no use for it…
3)    Starting with the March 2003 issue, I will have a column in MaximumRockNRoll.  It’s basically a rip off of Icki’s old column that ran in MRR and BG, so feel free to check that out.  If Joe wants to post them here, I imagine it’d be OK.  Also, band folks and label folks:  KEEP ME INFORMED!
Mitch Cardwell
1405 Rose St.
Crockett, CA 94525

© 2003