Sunday, May 27, 2007

Slant 6 / The Make Up

Slant 6 / The Make Up split 7" (Time Bomb, 1995)

Washington DC is one of America's legendary punk rock cities. Though there was a pretty great weird/DIY punk scene in DC/Baltimore/Bethesda in the late 70s, as every school child knows, it twas hardcore that made DC important for more than being the Belly of the Beast. When hardcore faded, the DC underground pioneered what was to be known as emo. And then there was Fugazi, one of emo's early icons but so much more to legions of youth. It is really too fucking bad that with all that history, the legacy of pioneering punk, Washington DC of the 90s was unable to turn out many truely memorable punk bands. In fact, I'd go so far to say that of DC's 90s punk bands only Nation of Ulysses (and various spin-off), Bratmobile (if you count them as being from DC), and Slant 6 produced anything worth listening to a decade or so later.

Slant 6 were three women who had a good punk sound, lasted for a couple years, out out one really really good album (Soda Pop Ripoff), one okay album and a single or two. The cut here comes from a split they did with the Make Up, a spin-off of the Nation of Ulysses. Say what you will about the Make Up and what you will say will undoubtably be based on what you think of their front man, Ian Sevonius. Me? I think they guy is one of the great punk entertainers of the era, a guy behind a successfully done, high concept punk band (NOU) who made three fantastic records. He did a great little single as the Cupid Car Club (posted here some months ago), and then formed a "soul" punk band, the Make Up. I saw the Make Up live once and all their failings (weak rhythm section) was more than made up for by Sevonius's skills a lead dude. Their records never lived up to the live act and their side here is not excpetion; HOWEVER, Young Vulgarians is still a keeper, especially for fans of Sevonius. --Scott S

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nervobeats - Carjackin'

Nervobeats Carjackin' EP (In the Red, 1991)

Strange to think back on the utter profusion of garage-type labels that littered the landscape of the 90s, some of them putting out world-class shit on a regular basis and others just sort of dog paddling in circles. If I had to sit down in say 1993 and try to separate out those labels that would still be dinking around 10 years later I don't know that In The Red would have been one of my picks. I mean, they were largely a singles-first label at that point and CDs were getting pretty crucial and they didn't have the Rip Offs or Teengenerate or the Devil Dogs in the stable, ya know? Just a bunch of 45s by obscure little bands like the Dirty Lovers, or the Nervobeats.

But In The Red was tricksy. It's records like this one by the Nervobeats that laid the foundations for the global rock empire they have since become. To look at the goofy cover and the lack of all-star rep within the ranks would give some pause, but it turns out this thing is one of the more underrated garage EPs of the early 90s. All four tracks switch it up with actual songwriting talent combined with perfect 'period' production chops to really deliver on that presumed lack of promise. I mean, I passed this record up a half dozen times before I finally pulled the trigger at some online mailorder a few years back and I'm glad I did. See it, snap it up. Then you get the other two tracks. In The Red, of course, dusted the competition and even survived passing on the first White Stripes record to lay some of the best rock 'n roll records of the last ten years on you and I. Actually, I had $10 on them to outlast Estrus and it looks like I'm winning.

This is the only EP these lads waxed under this name, although two members later show up in Rocket 455, another worthy that might make it up here later this year. -Ryan W.

More here!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hung Dover

Hung Dover EP (Very Small, 1993)

If you know anything about 90s punk rock, you probably know the name David Hayes. Co-founded Lookout Record with Larry Livermore, responsible for bringing in much of the talent that made the label a legend, walked away when he felt too perved out by Livermore, started up Very Small Records and put out a lot more records, including some great compilations (and a load of Sacramento bands). Meanwhile Lookout was making bank for Larry. Though David was to see none of Lookout's riches he soldiered on, putting out records in a half drunk/totally DIY way. Then one day, he said "Fuck it. I am through with records, the Bay Area, everything." He packed up and either moved to Florida or Spokane or Vegas - I am not sure where he wound up first, but his kiss off was this record of scraps that his label hadn't used. (About a year later, David got bit again by the record label bug and started Too Many Records...)

Here you get Stockton, California's Captain 9's & the Knickerbocker Trio, Sacramento's Pounded Clown, and Portland's Elmer (there are also tracks by the Horny Mormons & 3 Finger Spread, but you can hunt those down yourself). Capt. 9's were one of the best meat & potatoes garage punk bands of the time. Over a couple recording sessions they produced enough for three classic records. Pounded Clown were a Sacramento institution. They had a horn section, were influenced by the Dickies, were one of the most fun and most bizarre live spectacles, and served as an incubator for bands such as Cake, the Lizards, and Los Huevos. Elmer was the late great Jim MacLean's cow-punk band. Jim was formerly of Sewer Trout.

I think David only made a few hundred of this one and gave them out to friends and supporters.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Wild Breed - Live at Tom Guido's Fuzz Club

The Wild Breed Live at Tom Guido's Fuzz Club EP (Belly Lint, 1991)

An analogy can (and will, watch!) be made that the Mummies were the Sex Pistols of the garage punk revival of the 90s. There are individual records that might be better than the Mummies Never Been Caught Lp, or some contemporary 45s that perhaps in isolated instances might top their Skinnie Minnie discus, but in toto the Mummies are the ones who fixatedly drove that filthy white hearse straight up the asshole of rock 'n roll history and blazed the brightest path to follow for the hordes that were inspired by their anti-tightass revolution. And thanks for that. But, then, it stands to reason that there are other bands that had the same basic idea but just didn't flare off to such a spectacular extant as those guys, and these groups would be analagous to all the great worldwide proto-punk outfits that shadowed the Pistols in '76; Yer Bob Story, yer Hurriganes, yer Low Numbers, yer Kursaal Flyers, etc.

Enter the Wild Breed. A Bay Area band blessed with the unmistakeable vocals of David Nudelman (and also at one time the unstoppable MAL), the Wild Breed are sort of a 60s band I suppose but their take is totally, uh, contemporary. Some of the songs on this EP fall apart but not this one. Jeez, sounds like a Czech bootleg of some Polish arty garage band from 1973...right? But this is LIVE from Tom Guido's (pre-Purple Onion) travelling DJ club/extraganza that usually ended up camping at the Chatterbox in San Francisco but settled in wherever it could before he got the lease in North Beach. The Bay Area used to, like, be the City That Was Built on Rock 'n Roll, Grace Slick no lie! Upcoming will be other like-minded legends such as the Vanilla Whores EP and possibly a peek at the seldom-seen full-length Fuzz Club Ep 'released' by Guido years after the fact. Stay tuned.

The Wild Breed have several other records for you to purchase, NONE of which are at all easy to find since they were 300-500 press back when that meant something. If the going gets tough, you can certainly make do with the recordings of their successor unit 3 Stoned Men. And Tom Guido is still walking the Earth, just spotted him hassling a record store clerk for Cowsills records. "Cow-thills you hump!" -Ryan W.

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