Friday, July 15, 2016

Gang Green - AA Sides


Probably the band I wish I had seen in their heyday the most. And unlike every (other) hardcore fossil on the internet, I consider their heyday to be their late 80's crossover years. If you've ever seen the video for "Born To Rock," that's how I imagine their shows were back then. And apparently their You Got It tour was supposed to look like that, with walls of speakers and skate ramps, but the production costs were too much and that idea had to be scrapped.

Gang Green started out as a 3 piece, playing rough, fast hardcore similar to their fellow peers in the Boston Hardcore scene. At some point, the hard rock bug bit Boston (alliteration and shit!) and bands like DYS, SSD and the F.U.'s tried their own take on the sound, with mixed results. I've never been a fan of any DYS or SSD material really, but I think their rock stuff was especially bad. The F.U.'s morphed into Straw Dogs, but retained some of their later punk sound. Jerry's Kids probably pulled off the transition best, with a fast and powerful followup adding better production and more guitar solos. And The Freeze pretty much stayed constant and awesome throughout their entire career.

But Gang Green will always be my favorite of the bunch. They're basically my AC/DC, covering the essential rock themes like sex, drugs and rockin' out. But add skateboarding and a faster hardcore sound to the equation? Sign me up! It's hard to pick a favorite album of theirs. Of course "Alcohol" and "Skate To Hell" are awesome. But "Bomb" and "LDSB" from You Got It, or "Flight 911" and "Ballad" from Older...Budweiser are just as classic to me.

So I've compiled their non-album tracks here, mostly from their aforementioned heyday. I thought they were following up their 2011 7" with an eventual album, but haven't heard anything about that in a while. They recently canceled a tour of Barcelona where I was hoping to see them. I was working in Pittsburgh one time and they were supposed to play, but that show was canceled as well. I'm not sure if they're the most reliable band. I remember reading about their exploits in Thrasher a long time ago, touring with DRI and getting thrown off planes. But I like to imagine that Chris Doherty still cancels shows due to being hungover or spraining his wrist skateboarding. I'm happy just to have the music all these years.

VA - Drop The Needle: Boston Hardcore Anthology (2013)
   01) Let's Drink Some Beer (Original Version, 1985)
Another Wasted Night (Funhouse Records, 1989)
   02) Another Bomb (Original Version)
Living Loving Maid 12" (1987)
   03) Living Loving Maid (Led Zeppelin)

I81B4U ep (1988)
   04) Bartender
   05) Lost Chapter
   06) Rent
   07) Put Her On Top
   08) Cum In U
King Of Bands (1991)
   09) Thunder
   10) Rub It In Your Face
Back & Gacked ep (1997)
   11) You Tucked It To Me
   12) Deflect And Swerve
I Fear 7" (2011)
   13) I Fear
   14) The Other Place

Gang Green - AA Sides (vbr 0)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Youth Brigade Vs. West Side Story


Haha! I was just looking for a live version of Youth Brigade's "Sound And Fury" because that bass line kills it and found this instead. Genius!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hunger Farm - First Demo/Radio Tokyo (1988)


Getting the job of your dreams, winning the lottery, your baby being born; pft! Not EVEN as joyous as an old sought after release popping up on bandcamp!

I think I already mentioned how I mail-ordered a bunch of stuff from Cargo Records, including most of the Nemesis Records catalog. Nemesis was mostly known for hardcore, but there were a few wildcards on there like Fishwife, Pitchfork, The Offspring and a band who put out a couple of my favorite 7"s: Hunger Farm.

Their music is a little hard to describe, basically an awesome mix of indie rock and punk. A description that would also suit another of my faves: Treepeople. Hunger Farm popped up on an old Flipside Records compilation in 1991 that seemed a good fit for them (and appealing to me) with bands like Big Drill Car, Monsula, Green Day and Bad Religion alongside some of Flipside's weirder roster and tastes.

I never learned much about the band, but I loved everything about their 2 7"s; cool artwork, strong vocals, weird lyics and a great rhythm section. I learned later that they were featured in an old Gullwing skate video that I still haven't seen to this day. (Not sure I'm nostalgic enough to sit through an hour and a half of that.)

They released a CD that didn't quite live up to the 7"s, but is still pretty good. But at some point I found out that they had an earlier demo with a couple of amazing songs. I got a crappy copy of it and eventually tracked down the singer of the band who sent me all their stuff on cassette. Unfortunately, he cut off the beginning of one of those awesome songs. It seemed like I would never get a quality version of that stuff. When JGoon and I talked about starting a label many years ago, a Hunger Farm discography was one of the first things I wanted to release, just so I'd have a decent copy of everything.

But in my sporadic search for them on the internet, I found that someone has put up all their old stuff on bandcamp, including the 2 demos that feature all of the songs from their 7"s. Now admittedly, the bandcamp versions of the last 2 demos still don't sound too great, but I will rip the 7"s eventually.

This demo sounds great though for a cassette transfer. I did clean it up a little, matching the volumes a little better and remastering it a tad to the volume of their album. I've been wanting a decent copy of the song "Circles" for a while and now I finally have it! If you've never heard them, that's the song to start with. It's like some kind of new wavey, post punk, dream pop punk hybrid.

The singer has some more recent solo stuff up on ReverbNation under the name Trash Martyr that's pretty good too. He sent me a CDr of songs that I'll have to dig up the next time I'm at my parents' place.

Hunger Farm - Radio Tokyo Demo (1988) (R) (vbr 0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Bar Feeders - Wyoming


Used to see these guys in San Francisco. Fast spazzy punk along the lines of FOD, Stikky or old RKL.

And a video full of puppets doesn't hurt either!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Payola$ - In A Place Like This (IRS, 1981)


Here's an 80's album that is ripe for a reissue. You probably (should) know them by their 2nd album's hit, "Eyes Of A Stranger," also featured in the movie "Valley Girl." That song had a similar new wave/reggae vibe to The Police. And like The Police, The Payola$ started out a little more punk influenced. On this, their first album, they tread a nice mixture of new wave, '77 punk and reggae. Maybe a little closer to The Clash.

The band was from Canada, but their singer hailed from England, enhancing songs like the title track and "Jukebox" with his cheeky delivery. "Jukebox" and "China Boys" were redone from their debut 4 song ep. I actually prefer those versions since they're slightly faster, but they still sound great on this album.

I wish they had continued along this path a little more before embracing more of a pop sound. This is really a great album though, probably overlooked by punks for being too new wave and 80's fans for being kind of obscure. They seem to have released some of their later albums digitally, but this one is still out of print in any form.

Payola$ - In A Place Like This (R) (vbr 0)

Notes: So I grabbed a flac version of this from a torrent site. Thanks, Person! It's a really good rip, but quiet, so I cleaned it up a little and remastered it a bit. I also included remastered CD versions of the songs "In A Place Like This" and "China Boys" (in addition to the vinyl versions) from one of their Best Of CDs.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Life Sentence - No Experience Necessary (Walkthrufyre, 1989)


RIP Eric Brockman, singer/guitarist of Life Sentence. Not the inspiration I wanted, but an excuse for an overdue post.

If you were a skater, punk or zoogie (my friend's name for metalheads) in the 80's, you at least knew OF Life Sentence. Their simple logo was ubiquitous (that's right) in magazines, especially when heavy hitters like Metallica and DRI sported their t-shirts. That's about the best music promotion you could get in the 80's.

I bought (or "acquired") both of their generic looking cassettes from the Mainstream Megastore in Milwaukee. I didn't see a huge difference between the albums at the time. They were both fast and melodic, like a tighter, less posi version of early 7 Seconds. I still don't quite understand why one is lauded as a classic and the other seems mostly forgotten. Of course there was a big lineup change between albums, but that began during the recording of the first album!

The band broke off into 2 camps, both using the name Life Sentence. Eric Brockman recruited a new rhythm section and they recorded this, their second album, No Experience Necessary. Songs like "No Experience Necessary" and "Win, Lose Or Sue" are as classic to me as "Problems" and "Punks For Profit" from the first album. I guess older people and those "in the know" didn't like the cleaner recording, or picked sides in the split. I didn't know about any of that stuff at the time.

And it's been a long time since then, so hopefully the band members have some fond memories from those days. And hopefully new and old Life Sentence fans take a listen to this great album.


Notes: So this is taken from the CD version of the album. All the songs were on 1 track, but I separated all of them and remastered the album a bit.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Best Of 2015

It's that time of the year again, when I go through everyone else's best of lists to find bands I should put on my best of list. Just kidding. Kind of.

I definitely have a lot less albums from 2015 than previous years. Maybe I'll be playing catchup in 2016, but I think it was a bit of a slow year for good music. Of course it gets harder and harder to keep up with everything and find really good stuff all the time, but I think the good stuff nowadays is mostly a rehash of older stuff. Not that it can't be reworked or perfected. But I think in 2015 I was content with revisiting a lot of old stuff and trying to get my all-time favorite stuff a little more organized.

Some stuff I still need to listen to more from this year:
Negative Self - ST (ST is right, total How Will I Laugh worship.)
Meat Wave - Delusion Moon (Not sure I get all the Hot Snakes comparisons, but I dig it.)
Meatwound - Addio (More meat, only meatier. Heavy, noisy hardcore.)

* Albums *

BEACH SLANG - THE THINGS WE DO TO FIND PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIKE US
Maybe if the Foo Fighters had a touch of Dave Grohl's ubiquitous punk past in their music, they'd sound something like this. This is what a rock album should sound like. Heartfelt, urgent, sentimental. But it's not a nostalgic look back at the way things were. It's a renewed hopefulness from a fellow 40 (something) year old who's grown up, but not used up.
BUSINESS MODELS - ROOM
Alright, this actually came out a few years ago, but I just found out about it recently, even though I'm a big fan of Man Without Plan. So this is basically MWP with a 2nd singer. I believe the bassist/singer and drummer were from other well known bands, but it's Barclay's signature voice and guitar licks that reeled me in.

CHRISTIAN FITNESS - LOVE LETTERS IN THE AGE OF STEAM
Andy Falkous from Mclusky and Future Of The Left goes solo-ish with this new band. As caustic and witty as ever, but maybe a little more memorable than FOTL.
CHVRCHES - EVERY OPEN EYE
I'm still not sure if I like this better than the debut. It's a little more solid, but maybe missing the hits of Bones. But with their mix of 80's, electro, keyboards and female vocals, I'm not complaining.
DAILY RITUAL - DAILY RITUAL
These punks from Singapore sound they they belong in Portland, or Southern California circa 1981. A little Observers, a little TSOL. More solid and catchy than a lot of the other bands going for this sound.

KRISTINE - KRISTINE
I liked Carly Rae Jepsen's album this year, but a synth loving Greek woman named Kristine has created an even better throwback to catchy 80's pop. I came across this singer's work on youtube and through collaborations with retro new wave instrumentalists. Put this next to your old Madonna, Bananarama and Jets albums.

NIGHT BIRDS - MUTINY AT MUSCLE BEACH
Okay, a lot of modern punk bands get a little stagnant after 3 or 4 albums, but Night Birds keep getting better and better. They achieve that classic punk sound, mixing melody, urgency and memorable music.

PLEASURE LEFTISTS - THE WOODS OF HEAVEN
This album makes me miss the goth room of the 80's night at Cat Club, which we'd frequent often in SF. Dark and dancey post punk from this female fronted band.

RADKEY - DARK BLACK MAKEUP
Somewhere between the Misfits and Naked Raygun, but less punk, more rock. Great deep vocals, driving rhythms and tons of melody.
RED DONS - THE DEAD HAND OF TRADITION
I'll probably always prefer the Observers, but the Red Dons never disappoint. I debated seeing them again the last time they were in town, but I'm so glad I did because they're just one of those bands that bring it live. And on record, more of that catchy Wipers influenced post punk.

ROYAL HEADACHE - HIGH
This album was pretty hyped up this year, and for good reason. Catchy, garage punk with a touch of mod and Motown.

SLAVES - ARE YOU SATISFIED?
Sarcastic, aggressive, pounding punk. Like a mix of Nomeansno and Blur.

TURNOVER - PERIPHERAL VISION
Somewhere between dream pop and slick 90's emo. Very lush and layered sounding, but loud enough not to put you to sleep.

WARM SODA - SYMBOLIC DREAM
These guys continue their catchy power pop sound. If there was a benefit show to save the teen center in the movie "Over The Edge," Warm Soda and Sheer Mag would be a good fit.


* Eps *

THE BOMB - AXIS OF AWESOME
A shame to see them go, but they've had a good run and are leaving on a high note. Great melodic punk with Jeff P's trademark vocals and whoa oh ohs!

THE KIMBERLY STEAKS - CHEMICAL IMBALANCE
More great Lookout! Records inspired poppy punk. "Ticking Over" is a jam and there's a fun cover of "I'm Into Something Good."


* Reissues *

SUBURBAN LAWNS - SUBURBAN LAWNS
Great old new wave from this male/female fronted band. Hectic, jerky, off kilter stuff that will make you scratch and bob your head. Includes the 5 songs from their Baby EP as well.

TENEMENT - BRUISED MUSIC VOLUME ONE
Yeah, not really digging the newer direction of Tenement. I miss their old pop punk sound. Luckily there's this, a collection of their earliest (and best!) material. Maybe I'll give Predatory Headlights another chance sometime.