Thursday, November 27, 2014

I Excuse - Burn The Empty To The Ash (Snuffy Smile, 2002)

Snuffy Smile Records seemed to have a small cult following for fans of Snuff, Leatherface and British pop punk. The kind of label where people tried to seek out every release, as difficult as it was for those outside of Japan. Even as a huge fan of those bands and the pursuit of rare records in the 90's, that following didn't include me for some reason. I had some early Snuffy Smile releases and was always hoping for straight up Snuff derivative punk, but I guess it was too original for me. Well, I won't sugarcoat it: the bands weren't that great.

Until I Excuse. Veeerrrrrryyyyy derivative, but of Leatherface instead. With an equally "interesting" singer. The pretty much unintelligible vocals sound like they're going to give out at any moment. Or like he'll need the same voice surgery as Blake from Jawbreaker.

But the key draw of the band is the music. Like Leatherface, the 2 guitarists weave awesome guitar parts together, trading off on rhythm and more intricate melodies. They're not trying to hide their influence and I'm not going to pretend that they're completely original. But the world can't have enough Leatherface or clones, in my opinion. I will say that they do have a slightly harder edge though, maybe akin to Articles Of Faith, who they cover on this album.

Basically, if you want a Japanese take on Leatherface, this is the band for you. I actually prefer listening to their 2 albums over most of the post 2000 Leatherface albums.

I've also tacked on their 2 tracks from the compilation I Hope The End Is Always The Beginning. I did manage to track down all of their other 7"s and compilation songs, so hopefully I can post those at some point.

I Excuse - Burn The Empty To The Ash (vbr 0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Offenders - Fight Back (Bitzcore, 1981/1989)

Since the other Offenders material has recently been reissued on Southern Lord, I thought I'd add the final piece of recorded material from them.

The Offenders' 2 albums are right up there with fellow Texans DRI and MDC in terms of ferocity and technicality. If you enjoy the thick basslines on Dealing With It, then you're enjoying the Offenders' own Mikey "Offender" Donaldson. And to come full Texas circle, he also played in a recent incarnation of MDC before dying in a Barcelona squat a few years ago. I'm curious if it's the squat that was recently demolished nearby.

The fact that they didn't tour as voraciously as DRI and MDC probably kept them from being appreciated for so many years. It's not for a lack of reissues though. Their albums have been reissued in various formats about 4 times before the recent ones, most of the time omitting this 7".

Fight Back was released by Bitzcore in the late 80's and combines their first 7", Lost Causes, and 3 more songs recorded during that period. This 7" contains the only material with their original singer, and their music at the time wasn't quite as hardcore as it became on their next release, the We Must Rebel LP. While not as "classic" as their other stuff, this is still a great punk EP, closer to early SoCal punk, or even The Clash on the last 2 songs. But it still features Mikey's trademark bass tone, some catchy tunes and an early version of one their classics, "I Hate Myself."

I took this from the Bitzcore CD version of We Must Rebel, remastered it a bit and took out a couple weird noises on one of the songs.

They also have a demo from 1983 that was included on the Died In Custody reissue on GTA Records. I believe that's out of print at this point, so if anyone needs that, let me know.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Vindictives - Party Time For Assholes (VML, 1994)

I missed out on the Vindictives when they were around somehow. I'm not sure why. I really liked Screeching Weasel. And I had no problem with, uh, "interesting" vocalists such as Jello Biafra, Blaine Cook or even Fat Mike. I guess their early 7"s weren't really on my radar until they were compiled onto The Many Moods Of The Vindictives CD released by Lookout. I don't remember them playing Milwaukee or Madison either, but I probably missed out on some stuff while I was skating studying all the time.

Plus emo was a bit more in flavor at the time and a lot of the college shows I remember involved sensitive kids clutching their chests and wearing backpacks as a fashion accessory. I doubt they were in their dorms singing along to "Pervert At Large."

If you didn't know, Ben Weasel was the original guitarist for the Vindictives during one of Screeching Weasel's hiatuses. Hiatusi? Haitians? He recorded 5 or so 7"s with them that were released by the band, and later compiled onto a CD entitled The Original Masters. But The Many Moods CD, released much earlier, had his guitar and backing vocals recorded over by his replacement. In your face! Although the difference is really hard to notice.

Their next major release after the 7"s, and the first I picked up, was this CD. 25 songs. 25 cover songs. And..........all on 1 track! Needless to say, it wasn't a favorite at first. I warmed up to it after really liking the compilation on Lookout. Plus, it is an eclectic choice of songs to cover, not just obvious stuff.

The Vindictives released their first proper album on Cold Front Records in 1999. It didn't really pack the same wallop as their old stuff. They also released a complete cover of the Ramones' Leave Home album. I've never been a big Ramones fan, and I don't really need to hear any more Ramones covers, so I've never sought it out. For me, their essential stuff is this CD, the Lookout CD and the Curious Oddities And The Bare Essentials compilation CD, which contains most of the EPs and compilation songs that they recorded after their self released 7"s. They recently remastered most of the material on those last 2 CDs and it sounds great. You can pick that stuff up here.

As for this CD, all versions are currently out of print. Fortunately for you, I've split up all the tracks.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Check Out: Teledrome

Well this is fitting. I've been listening to pretty much nothing but new wave and 80's stuff the past week and these guys play a retro style of punky new wave. There are touches of Jay Reatard/Lost Sounds, but this is mostly throwback, keyboard heavy synth rock with some authentic guitar flair. I mean, look at that dollar bin 80's cover art?! Perfect!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Check Out: Martha

Martha - 1967, I Miss You, I'm Lonely

Catchy stuff. They have a few eps out so far, and their debut album should be out very soon. Looking forward to it.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Ya Ya - Scarred (Scotti Bros., 1984)

So Revenge Of The Nerds is one of my favorite movies. The last time I was in SF, I was lucky enough to catch of showing of the movie at the Castro Theater during Sketch Fest. Oh, and also in attendance for the movie; almost the entire main cast of the movie (!) who also did a Q&A before the screening.

If you're a fan of the movie, then you're surely familiar with songs like "Are You Ready For The Sex Girls," "One Foot In Front Of The Other" and of course the Lambda Lambda Lambda Rap. But the movie also featured a short sample of 2 awesome songs during the beginning party scene at the Alpha Beta house. Those songs were "Are You Ready?" and "Don't Talk" by the band Ya Ya.

"Don't Talk" remains one of my favorite 80's songs. Like the album, it's a great mix of new wave and 80's rock. This album features plenty of guitar solos, keyboard flourishes, great vocal melodies and slightly electronic sounding drums. It's a slightly cheesy sound that "real" rockers might dismiss, but I happen to love. The intro to "Talk To Me" sounds like it's from an 80's workout tape. I wish I knew of other bands to compare them to, but they definitely occupy a similar space with my faves like Night Ranger, Def Leppard, Loverboy, Aldo Nova and Rick Springfield.

Besides 80's soundtrack buffs, Ya Ya seem to be infamous amongst hard rock/AOR aficionados for the singer's tenure in another venerate hard rock band, Fastway, which featured ex Motorhead guitarist, Fast Eddie Clarke. Lea Hart left as vocalist of Ya Ya after Scarred, later replacing original Fastway singer, Dave King, on their 1988 album On Target. That same year, Ya Ya released their 2nd and final album, and while not as good as this one, it has a few really good songs. Fastway fans seem to have a similar opinion of the "new" material with Hart, but the only album of theirs that I really like is 1988's On Target. I prefer the cheesey 80's sound to their more blues rock beginnings.

Finding a good copy of this album proved to be a long pain in the ass. I acquired about 3 different vinyl mp3 rips from various blogs over the years. I picked up a near mint copy of the record hoping to convert it myself at some point. Then I found a bootleg copy of the 2 Ya Ya albums on CD on ebay. But it turned out to be a vinyl rip as well, with a glitch in "Don't Talk"!! I finally found a FLAC copy of the official CD (well, official Russian press I think). I gave it a light remastering and that is what I present to you. Probably the best sounding version of the album that you'll find. You're welcome!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Soap The Stamps: A mini documentary about late 80's UK Hardcore

"A look at the musical noise explosion that was British hardcore, the punk-inspired sound, following the obsessive fans and musicians who turned the rural satellites and drab suburbs of the UK on their heads."


So a channel in England has been running a short documentary series about the "glory days of the UK's best underground music scenes over the last 25 years, featuring key artists." I can't say I'm too interested in most of them, but when the Stupids posted a message on Facebook about a hardcore episode, I took notice.

Unfortunately, it seems that you can only stream the show here if you live in England.

However, some kind soul posted a TVrip of it in DVD format. It's a big file, and a private site, so I've converted it to a smaller avi file for your viewing pleasure. Thanks a lot to the original uploader. I don't want to name names since I don't trust "the man" when it comes to download sites.

I actually haven't watched it yet, so I hope my converted file quality is decent. I'm waiting for a spare moment to really savor it. I think the Stupids are featured prominently (if it was just about them, I'd be fine with that), but hopefully it mentions some of my other favorites from that time period, like HDQ, Visions Of Change, Exit Condition, Jailcell Recipes or Bad Dress Sense.

And here's a supplemental article including an interview with the documentary's main subject, James Sherry, and a photo gallery from the period:

Music Nation Episode 4: Soap The Stamps.avi (340mb or streaming)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Almost 14 Million Views!

I guess that means you might have already seen this, but if you haven't, I apologize to your ears.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Descendents - Still Hungry: Enjoy Sessions 85-86 (Cleaned Up)

While I'm procrastinating on my Best Of 2013 list, I'll share this gem with you.

My favorite Descendents album is Enjoy! It may have the worst production and it has 2 songs dedicated to farts (not exactly a minus IMO), but it also has some of the best proto pop punk ever recorded. I also happen to prefer Ray Cooper's guitar playing and having future Dag Nasty bassist, Doug Carrion, onboard doesn't hurt either. It seems like they had so much fun on this album, between recording farts, blasting out songs like "Kids" and "Hurtin' Crue" and the funny vocal wails they'd do to mimic screaming guitars.

In the mid 90's, a bootleg 7" called "I Don't Want To Get Bootlegged" began turning up in shops. I remember buying it at Earwaves, playing it when I got home and thinking, "Holy shit! This is now my favorite Descendents record!" The 3 unreleased songs were amazing. They were harder than any previous Descendents songs, more in line with "Hurtin' Crue." And "Green" (titled "Red" on the 7") sounded beefier as well. For some reason, that song sounds a little quieter than the rest of the Enjoy! album. I started putting a song or 2 from that 7" on every mix tape I made from then on. Those 10 year old (at the time) rough demo songs still blew away most of the other current pop punk songs I was adding to those tapes. I've never understood why they haven't seen an official release, but I'm sure SST has something to do with it.

Eventually the full (or is there more?) Enjoy! session became available on this bootleg CD, including demos of 8 songs plus a live set from San Diego in 1985. I've omitted the live tracks since I really just care about the studio songs, and apparently there's a better sounding version floating around the internet. I've taken out the background hiss and remastered it a bit to boost the volume. There are a few places where the volume drops out, but this is still a great sounding bootleg and this is the best version you're likely to find. I've also corrected the unreleased song titles (named Song 1-3 on the 7" and incorrectly on the CD). According to Discogs, Milo provided the correct titles for a magazine at some point.


01) Shattered Milo
02) Wendy
03) Promise
04) Kids On Coffee
05) Enjoy
06) Green
07) Sour Grapes
08) Vidi, Vici, Veni