Archive for October, 2014

Things You Should Like #1

Posted: October 27, 2014 in Plugs

This is part 1 of a new section, where I tell you what to like or what to do. That’s right, a dictatorship with a Ramones soundtrack, or North Korea, with co-ordinated pogo-ing. Anyway.

THE AMP SESSION

The Amp Session is an internet-based radio show that plays those unsigned acts who are unfairly getting looked over in the cut-throat music industry. Fighting back against the dull, repetitive nature of mainstream radio, they aim to acquaint you with the most exciting unknown bands currently active.

The Amp Session currently does an online radio show every few weeks and their latest show can be streamed on their website here: http://www.theampsession.co.uk/home-1.html

As well as this, The Amp Session is branching out until the world of gigs to showcase these awesome underground gems.

The first Amp Session Live is going to be on November 15th @ The Good Ship in Kiburn, London, with Peerless Pirates, Rival Empires and The Landed playing.

More info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/344883005680847/?source=1

Be there or be square, dum dums.

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Just Some Punk Songs

I love the simplicity of this blog. Because it literally is, JUST SOME PUNK SONGS. The blogger picks a different song of choice every few days from any era of punk (although it tends to be more classic/’70s based punk), posts the video and writes a bit about it. It is simple, but does the job and gives you something to listen to that you may not otherwise have checked out. There are definitely some obscure cuts on there. Example recent posts include selections from Sloppy Seconds, Half Man Half Biscuit and Captain Everything! As well as this, there are sometimes top tens posted from punk bands or members of bands. The last one included Keep Track of the Time favourites The Kimberley Steaks, with frontman Greg giving his top 10 songs of all time.

Check it out: http://justsomepunksongs.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/top-10-songs-chosen-by-greg-steak.html

DB

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Interview: Larry Livermore

Posted: October 23, 2014 in Small Talk

I’m going to keep this short, because I’m pretty sure you all know this, but Lookout (without an exclamation point) records co-founder Larry Livermore released an incredible book Spy Rock Memories last year, detailing the time he spent in the early-to-mid ’80s in the wilderness of California’s Emerald Triangle and the formation of Lookout Records. It’s an affecting, personal and entertaining read that I cannot recommend enough. Larry answered questions about the book, as well as his future projects and looking back on Lookout records.

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Hello Larry! How are you on this fine Autumn day? What have you been up to during the last few months?

I am at least as fine as this autumn day, sunny, breezy, and a little cool. I have been cooped up in one room or another for the past several months editing my new book. I kind of wish it were done, but it isn’t, not quite yet.

It has been over a year now since Spy Rock Memories was released. How do you feel looking back on it now? Did it turn out like you imagined?

I’m very happy with Spy Rock Memories all around. It’s one of the first things I’ve ever done where I didn’t feel the need to do a lot of second-guessing after the fact. Of course it’s not perfect; nothing ever is. But it told the story I wanted to tell, it looks and feels beautiful, and it’s a great feeling to know it’s in print and out there for people to read should they so choose.

Since its release, what has the feedback been like from the punk community? And more specifically, those from Spy Rock who feature in the book?

Feedback has been mostly positive. In fact, to my surprise there hasn’t been a single (at least that I’ve seen) wholly negative review. The comments I’ve gotten haven’t been specifically “from the punk community,” probably because the book’s subject matter, while periodically intersecting with punk themes, isn’t specifically punk. I think at least half my readers have been more interested in the “back to the land” aspect, or have a direct personal knowledge of or interest in rural Northern California, where the story is set. Nobody who’s portrayed in the book has had any complaints, at least not that I’ve heard of. I recently had the pleasure of attending a wedding where a number of the main characters were present, and they all spoke highly of the book

spyrockcover2rework

According to your blog, you have been working on another book for a while. Can you tell us any more about it? Do you have a release date in mind?

The new book has been “in the works” for some years now, but I actually started writing it on August 29, 2013, and was hoping to have it done within a year. As my calendar dolefully reminds me, I’m already a month and a half past that deadline. It’s essentially about what comes next, after Spy Rock Memories, but there’s some considerable overlap, since “what came next” was Lookout Records, which was already well underway before I left Spy Rock. I was hoping for a December release, but it looks more like spring 2015 now.

In regards to writing about “what comes next” post- Spyrock, am I right in thinking that this includes your time living in London? What time frame are we dealing with in the new book?

No, actually, the third book will deal with London. So although a certain number of Lookout-related events took place in the UK, I’ve kept discussion of them to a minimum in this book.

Aside from the book writing, are you still writing any new music?

I wrote and recorded a couple new songs with the Potatomen a year or two ago (actually, more like finished a couple songs that had been in progress for some time already), but nothing much ever came of it. I think they might be released someday, or maybe not. Other than that, no. I noodle around on the guitar or piano from time to time, but that’s about it.

A couple of years ago, you released a compilation showcasing all the hot young stuff in pop-punk today on Adeline Records- The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore. Do you think it helped increase exposure of said bands? And do you have any plans to do another compilation in the future, or was it a one-off?

They’ve asked me a couple of times to do a follow-up to The Thing That Ate Larry Liverrmore, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I’m sure it helped the bands involved to some extent, but as I said in response to a related question just the other day, I think most of those bands, regardless of how great they are – and they are great – are not likely to get the kind of exposure they would have if they’d been around in the 1980s or 90s. The specific question I was asked (this was at a book reading, actually) was which of today’s bands I would sign if I were still running Lookout, and I pointed to that compilation as being a pretty good illustration. But I followed up by noting that if Lookout had issued that same identical compilation in 1994, it probably would have sold 50 times as many copies as it would today. Not because of any fault on Adeline’s part – they did an excellent job all the way around with it – but because the demand for that style of music just doesn’t exist on the level it once did. At Lookout, we sold most of our records to kids – teenagers and young 20-somethings. People of that age nowadays are, for the most part, simply not interested in pop-punk.

Looking back in time, what is the part you miss the most about running Lookout Records?

Well, it’s nice to have a little excitement in one’s life from time to time, and there was certainly no shortage of that during the Lookout days. Also, it was nice getting in to almost any show I wanted for free, and having complete strangers treat me as if I were “somebody.” But seriously, I think perhaps one thing I miss the most is having the ability to make a difference in people’s lives. For example, today if I see a great band who really have something to offer the world, I’m limited to wishing them luck, whereas back then, I could say, “Hey, do you want to make a record?”

The Lookout Roster included such pop-punk greats as Screeching Weasel, Green Day and MTX, but is there a band you regret not having signed, or missed out on?

Well, it depends on what you mean by “missed out.” There are bands we could have worked with that would have made us millions of dollars, but weren’t necessarily Lookout-sounding bands. Or who might have fit in at Lookout at first, but later went on to evolve into very different bands. AFI, for example; their first record was standard East Bay pop-punk, and they really needed a label to take a chance on them, so it would have benefited both them and us. Maybe if they’d been on Lookout they wouldn’t have wound up going goth, you never know! But as it was, they released their first album on a label that went bust, and it was at least a temporary setback to their career. They did well in the end, though! I recently ran into Davey AFI at an event and apologized for dropping the ball on that occasion. He was cool about it. The Offspring, too. In 1992 they’d been a band eight or nine years and were going nowhere, so I thought Lookout might be able to help them, but in the end Epitaph was able to pull them out of the doldrums, so to speak! And Rancid, I really do regret them leaving for Epitaph, because they were an East Bay band with a Lookout pedigree. Once again, though, they did rather well for themselves the way things worked out. You know who else I think we could have done well for? Jawbreaker.

Did you find much of a similarity between the punk scene you were involved with in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s and the scene you part of in the ‘60s?

In terms of energy and excitement, maybe, although it’s important to bear in mind that the 60s scene was far larger, and perhaps more driven by a quixotic idealism that rather quickly turned to cynicism when young people realized that all their fantasies of a more perfect world were not about to materialize. At the same time, there was not nearly as much of a DIY spirit, at least when it came to music – there were many other independent enterprises: underground newspapers, food co-ops, political movements, etc. – but the music was largely marketed by corporate entities and the masses of fans tended to see themselves as consumers rather than producers.

Final question. As I’m asking you these questions for a blog, and you are a blog-writer yourself, do you think that blogs are now more relevant than print fanzines (as you used to write for in the ‘80s/’90s) for today’s generation? Do print zines still have a place in punk rock?

Print will always have a place in many aspects of culture, including punk, but I think they’ll be more of a boutique/specialty item, much as vinyl records have become. Both print and vinyl are wildly impractical and inefficient, as well as being far more expensive means of transmitting information, but obviously they have a strong appeal to a certain sort of connoisseur, and will always be with us to some degree. But I suspect upwards of 90% of all information will ultimately be conveyed digitally, until or unless space aliens or a nuclear war or some massive solar storm wipes out the entire electronic data base, at which point print and vinyl will prove to be highly useful artifacts after all.

 DB

Buy Spy Rock Memories here: http://dongiovannirecords.com/product/90-spy-rock-memories

Read Larry’s blog here: http://larrylivermore.com/

So who names their band after something sperm-related? The Spermbirds were maybe first, but Sloppy seconds might have come second! I don’t know if either changed the shape of things to come though, how many bands are named after something sperm related?(To be fair: Aren’t most things sperm related in some way?). I remember when John Travolta said “Sloppy seconds” in Grease and just went “wow”. Today’s pick, destroyed, is one of most political incorrect albums I can think of. Perhaps the more politically correct and liberal types would claim that the songs on the album are satire as an excuse to enjoy the unacceptable, but the songs are so clever and seemingly well thought out as satire, that if some of them weren’t satire, they’d actually just be stupid. Anyways, if not satire, the songs are most certainly written from characters. I think there’s something interesting and author-like about a band that can create characters in their songs, and especially when the characters are not only quite unlikeable, but also sometimes downright disgusting. A reason I consider their material satire is that they’ve both written songs like “Lynchtown, USA” and “Jerry’s kids”, a song written from a dumb Southern lyncher; “we’ve got shit for brains and guns for hire” and a song written about the religious right’s connection to racism using the symbol of a child molesting priest. Not counting their 7’’ collection, Destroyed was their debut full length. Their second album Knock Your Block Off was not sloppier, but definitely less controversial. It did, however, still have the same cleverness. Their third More Trouble Than Their Worth definitely tried to spike up controversy again with songs like “you’ve got a great body, but your record collection sucks” and “Why Don’t Lesbians Love Me?”. Their last album till now Endless Bummer sometimes fell into the category of being shocking just to be shocking. I feel like there’s a significant different between the songs “If I Had a Woman” and “Achy Breaky Skull” even if they’re on the same subject; however, the album also had songs that almost could be seen as moralizing like “This is Your Brain on Drugs”

Destroyed was released in 1989 on Toxic Shock. The record cover and title is a parody of KISS’ Destroyer. Steve Sloppy is sporting a Misfits shirt, I wonder if that was before it was cool. The inspiration from the album musically seems to be coming from the Ramones, as well as the Misfits, Elvis Presley and more 70’s rock stuff like the Sweet and Alice Cooper. And of course stuff like the Beach boys and 50’s doo wop stuff. And I guess I can hear some Sex pistols in here too. Lyrically there are a lot of references and samples from movies, mainly horror movies. Here it is: the most politically correct analysis Sloppy seconds will ever get, probably.

1. “I Don’t Wanna Be a Homosexual”: The opener of the album had its title parodied in the Screeching weasel classic “I wanna be a homosexual”. The song opens with a sample from the John Waters movie “Female trouble”, that might be just as interesting as the song itself. The sample, from the 70’s, reverses a lot of society’s views on homosexuality, the straight character is told by his aunt Ida that “Queers are just better” and that she worried that he will end up in a life of the sick heterosexuals who have children and celebrate wedding anniversaries. Anyways, the lyrics to the song are pretty homophobic, and there’s something ridiculous about having a John Waters sample on a homophobic song, especially when the sample isn’t used ironically. The story is about a guy who tries to convince the world that he isn’t gay. The most interesting part of the song, that there isn’t a time in the song where the protagonist is being accused of homosexuality, it’s all part of his fear of being accused of being gay. It could be interpreted as him actually being a closeted homosexual or a straight person not handling the attention homosexuality get in the world (or he could be a sufferer of gay OCD, which does seem likely because of the way he obsesses about it) and this song was written in the 1980’s, so I wonder how this character would’ve reacted to the world today.

However, the closest he ever gets to saying he isn’t gay is that he doesn’t notice other men when they walk beside him, but just because he doesn’t notice all the dudes walking next to him doesn’t mean he isn’t attracted to men. He also claims to only want to “find a girl” just to show the world he isn’t queer. Most of his defenses against his alleged homosexuality are mostly based on somewhat silly gay-stereotypes or the idea that his hormones are one-directional. He is not into either Judy Garland nor is he into French art festivals. He did, however, pierce his ear which is something he regrets. This seems like a critique of homosexual stereotypes or stereotypes in general. In the end he goes to see a psychiatrist, because he is starting to believe he actually is gay, and he feels “getting a real professional” is the only way to rid this problem. The psychiatrist, however, is apparently winking at him and he is gay too; now everyone is a potential homosexual. The song describes homophobia as not only hatred towards homosexuals (“I guess that it’s ok, if other guys are gay”), but an actual irrational fear of homosexuality. The song has a great guitar solo and great gang vocals, it’s incredibly catchy, so catchy it’s almost a shame that you must be kind of an asshole to walk around singing it publically.

2. “Come Back, Traci”: The song is about actress and former underage porn star Traci Lords. The song reflects on the pains of discovering your favorite porn actress was actually 15 and lied about her age. The creepiest line might be “Now I just sit here and play with myself”, because that somewhat suggests that the protagonist, even if everyone else ignored Lords and pretends that she never happened, still masturbates to her. The song could also be a comment on how people have erotomanic infatuations with celebrities and people they see on the screen, whether they are in porn or just star in movies. The song itself seems a bit inspired by “Jailhouse Rock” and Elvis Presley, even if it mostly is a standard punk rock song. It also has the great pun: “Oh Lord, I miss Traci”.

3. “Take You Home”: This song is pretty mean, it’s about not wanting to drive someone who is drunk home. It gives some compelling arguments though; the narrator being drunk is a pretty good reason to not get behind the wheel, which would only end in a real life game of monopoly. The song has some clever lines like “you laid in your own bed of vomit, now you can just lie there on it” and “So there’s a rock-hard sofa in the cold garage/a yellow cab or a black and white Dodge”.

4. “Black Roses”: “Black Roses” is way more interesting lyrically and musically too, I guess. I’m sure it could interpret many ways. But the way I see it it’s about abortion. And the more I read it the more obvious that is. It seems to be about the protagonist’s girlfriend or fiancé getting an abortion without informing him, “you were late, but you never told you were/you didn’t want to say until you were sure”. The protagonist seems rather vengeful and unforgiving about abortion. I’m sure this is a sore subject, as no matter how pro-choice one is it might be tough to lose your offspring without being informed. The lady in the song is also Catholic. And the song also touches on Catholicism and abortion, where this is considered a huge sin. From the references to the family bible, the confession, the rosaries and “Hail Mary’s”, we see the that the protagonist will never forgive her for what she’s done, no matter if Catholicism calls for confession and repentance , that’s not the way he sees it. No matter if god forgives her, she still has to live in grief and guilt. (This song is rather stereotypical of Catholics!!!) The black rose is a symbol with several meanings. Most used is probably the meaning of death. The protagonist almost gets this “out for blood” attitude towards her, with the almost paranoid delusion that either her or him are gonna die, and it’s not going to be him. There is of course also a contrast between the white wedding dress and the black rose. Not only is it the contrast of a wedding and a funeral, but also the symbol of purity and virginity vs the symbol of death and decaying. Instead of a happy traditional wedding, there will be a horrible death. When he dies he will be sure that she is dead before him. The chorus might be the catchiest on the entire album. This is one of the most “pop “songs on the album.

5. “Running from the C.I.A”: A Ramones-esque song about being wanted from secret services and government agencies across the world. “The KGB and IRS have all got my home address”. The frightening part about the song is that the protagonist of the song isn’t a freedom fighter or an activist outside the law, but a rapist. There’s both a reference and a sample from the sci-fi movie “Mars needs women”: “Mars needs women, but Mars can wait, cuz I ain’t going to masturbate, no way!”.

6. “The Horror of Party Beach”: This is maybe the most Misfits inspired song on the album, with a weird surf guitar in the chorus and about the attack of monsters. “Run like hell for all you’re worth cuz monsters walk the earth”. The song is a reference and has a sample from the movie with the same name.

7. “Blackmail”: This is my favorite bass line on the album. The song is sung from the point of view of a creepy voyeurist who sees all their neighbors’ secrets and blackmails the neighbors. Some of the secrets include infidelity, BDSM, wrecking Porsches, smoking pot, 12’’ inch dildos, abortions, homosexuality, secret affairs, drug-dealing and murder. My favorite part is “I was looking through your closet when I found your water bong/your stash of Turkish hash and a 12 ‘’ rubber dong” and of course the chorus “Everyone has secrets, but sometimes you get caught so if it’s just between us my silence can be bought”. It might also have a reference to the movie “Rent-a-cop”.

8. “So Fucked Up”: The end of side A and mostly about partying and drinking, maybe it’s a parody of party culture, I don’t know. It’s pretty catchy, but not noteworthy in anyway, I’ll sum it up: “All I need is a reason, just give me some excuse/Cuz all I need is a reason and a substance to abuse”.

9. “Germany”: The most Beach boys inspired song on the album. The song is about a guy that apparently gets cheated on by his girlfriend, dudes on Sloppy Seconds albums always end up in trouble like this! He then decides to steal her money and run to Germany and get his revenge by sleeping with hookers and spraying her name on the wall. It’s a super catchy song with some rad surfy guitar and harmonies. The most interesting part about the song might be that it was first out in 1988, on a 7 inch, I believe. But then in 1989, it was released on this album and for eternity these naughty boys of punk could laugh about that this song would be seen as the song where this girl’s number is sprayed on the wall and she is the best “deal” in both of the sides, but the same year as its release, the song becomes dated. The wall is down; there aren’t two sides anymore. Surprise, Sloppy seconds!

10. “Janie is a Nazi”: The song continues in Germany where the last song left off. It has a sample from some Nazi rally and “Sieg heil”’s This song is about a girl the protagonist used to go out with that used to be cool, but now she is a Nazi skinhead with swastika and iron cross tattoos. Instead of being with him, she’s heading for her own decline and fall. I don’t need to say more than: “Well, she still looks cute when she wears her leather boots/ But now she wants to put them through your skull/ And I miss the way things were/ ‘Cause I ain’t bangin’ her/ I’m just bangin’ my head against the wall “ The chorus is also super catchy.

11. “I Want ‘em Dead”: In a lot of ways this is the most awful song on the album. It’s about wanting other people dead, because “It’s better them than me”. The ways these people should die according to the song: cancer (the stuck up topless dancer), bonfire in hair, the electric chair, a leap from a windowsill, overdose on sleeping pills, a dive with hand grenades, a slit throat with razor blades and AIDS. The end seems inspired by Doo Wop music, which is a strange kind of music to such gruesome lyrics.

12. “If I Had a Woman”: Ok, this is the most awkward song ever. But the question to be asked is, does it go into the mind of domestic abusers? Does it reflect reality in any way, or does it just reflect on misogyny in general? What’s even more shocking about this man’s view of women is his hold back. He describes a woman as having the personality of Darth Vader with the mentality of a sixth grader, he describes his hate for her in the same way he hated a woman in the past. His big fear is that his hate for her will turn to love or sympathy. What he really wants is for a woman to just be a pair of legs or just a fertile egg or a hole to crawl into. What might the most interesting part of the song is that the “I” person is not a domestic abuser or performing violence against women (as far as I can see) as he always ends up in a predicament where he feels sympathy or love for the potential victim. It’s just a deep longing for him to find a woman he truly hates, that is just a hole and just a pair of legs that he can abuse and lash and tear limb from limb without feeling guilty.

What also could be worth asking with the art versus society idea is: Does the song, even if it’s clearly satire or written from the point of view of a clearly disturbed person, endorse violence against women? Are the people listening to the song finding it funny to sing even if they don’t feel the same way as the character? First off, it obviously isn’t the responsibility of a song to save the world from evil, but it could be interesting to reflect on how many men in the patriarchic world actually secretly have the same attitudes as the guy in the song, either towards women or towards other men. Or how many women have that attitude for that matter. It also makes a duality of the people listening to the song of people laughing and shrugging their shoulders at domestic abuse or violence against women and on the other hand make people think about how power effects the balance of a relationship and how power often is the reason why violence exists in the first place, and how the idea that this man can actually restrain himself from violence because he sadly (according to himself) sees these women as human beings. It’s almost like a South Park episode. It’s just so over the top, but nonetheless such a real subject and where reality isn’t necessarily that stretched from the satire. Musically, the song actually seems to be inspired by the Beatles and actually coming close to them melodically, even it’s mostly has a three chord structure. The verses also always end on “I’ll still have my pride” and the end of the chorus rhyme with it with “Then I guess that I’d be satisfied”.

13. “Veronica”: Lately suicide has become a hot topic for discussion both in the general media and in the social media. Like “Black Roses” this is one of the songs on the album that one could to some degree find understandable. The song isn’t really made to make the protagonist look like a horrible person, even if it is one of the harshest songs on the album. The song is about a man who has lost his girlfriend to suicide. The song starts off as a sad song where he mourns her passing, but quickly turns into actually being mad her into the end where he tells her that he hopes she burns in hell. The song is very well written both musically and lyrically; the following verse is brilliant: “I miss Veronica beneath the mistletoe/no happy Hanukkah, cuz she’s six feet below/And though I breathe a heavy sigh, my hands are cold and dry/Cuz I miss Veronica, but not enough to cry”. There’s something terribly honest about this man’s bitterness and I’m sure that kind of feeling is normal when it comes to suicide, and something that is also a taboo. It’s an extremely complicated and sad issue, and I don’t think this Sloppy seconds song has any answers on the difficultness of the problem and I don’t know if it brings clarity into how survivors of suicide feel, but the character of the song is quite believable even if what he says is disgusting. There’s also a reference to the 1938 movie “Jezebel” in the song. “Underground” on Knock Yer Block Off sees suicide from another point of view.

14. “The Candy Man”: Like so many bands, Sloppy seconds always includes a cover on their albums. Early they would cover “Vacation” by the Go-Go’s, “Where Eagles Dare” by the Misfits and “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by John Denver. On More Trouble Than They’re Worth they covered “V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N (in the summer sun)” by Connie Francis; on Endless Bummer they did “Action” by (The) Sweet. Their one album with only originals was Knock Yer Block Off, where they do have a song called “The Ice Cream Man”. “The Candy man” is the cover from this Destroyed and is a Sammy Davis jr. song from “Charlie and the chocolate factory”. This song even has children singing on it.

15. “Steal Your Beer”: I don’t know if this song is autobiographical, but it paints the picture of the asshole rock band that goes to someone’s house and wrecks the place, sleeps with their daughter, make long distance phone calls and drinks all their beer. A little rock n roll classic there.

16. “Time Bomb”: I have no idea why there are so many great songs about time bombs! With its intro that is quite similar to the Cockney rejects’ “The Greatest Cockney Rip-off”, it introduces the disturbing story of someone with a time bomb and a chainsaw that is out to kill. Like so many others on the album an anthem for the sick minded. It’s like a creepy horror movie.
The bonus track on the original album is a cover of “Serious” by Alice Cooper. It’s removed from the newest reissue (copyright issues?), so I found it more interesting to write about the B-side to “I Don’t Wanna Be a Homosexual” and a bonus track on the reissue called “Human Waste”.
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“Human waste”: Like “The Mighty Heroes” “Human Waste” is about heroes and people that form your lives. The song is describing the decadence of the world because heroes are gone or weren’t really the heroes they were supposed to be. The version on “I Don’t Wanna Be a Homosexual” is an acoustic folk-y one. The disappointment of the protagonist in the song might come from the idea of having heroes in the first place. Because once you see some people as larger than life, you forget that they are human too whether they are Elvis, a Green Bay Packers player or your parents. If you hold someone else to a higher value than others, the same could go for political leaders or religious leaders your disappointment and anger will only be bigger if you realize that they are only human and not the larger than life beings you thought they’d be. Just to bring Freud into this, this could be because of the idea of the primal father that I think he mentions in Civilization and its Discontents. The primal father represents the father in a family, but also the father from history that lays down the law of how everything is supposed to be and that a child identifies with. The disappointment of parents is also probably the first disappointment a child will ever have. Heroes that people have also represent the primal father. The song has references to “The Village of the Damned” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”.

So now Freud is mentioned too, this article has just about everything a pseudo-intellectual analysis needs. Next pick won’t have much of that; it’s The Undertones’ self-titled album.

First Four LP cover art

Doe are an indie-punk trio from London and First Four is their debut LP, comprising of, yes, you guessed it, their first four EPs. As a result, the album is unavoidably a little disjointed and segregated in nature, but once you get past this, you realise that this is a collection of largely very good songs and that Doe display a clear progression from EP 1 to 4. Doe are indebted to ‘90s indie rock and pop-punk in the same way as contemporaries like Cayetana, Lemuria and Swearin’. These are the best examples I can think of where the band is clearly influenced by that particular time in music history but does something interesting with it rather than pointlessly copycat-ing in the name of nostalgia. I’m pleased to say that Doe are definitely in the former bracket.

Doe do not have a bassist, but they do have boy-girl vocals, catchy-as-fuck choruses and, most importantly, brilliant pop songwriting. It’s lo-fi, but not overly so. The songs have hooks galore, but it’s not cheesy. The songs early on sound a little amateurish, but by the time you reach EP 4, everything is gold. Doe sound like a mix of Weezer, Lemuria and Riot Grrrl; indeed, high-tempo rawk song “Nowhere Girl” could have been a lost Bikini Kill single. I like as well the variety throughout this LP: mixing up fuzzy, mid-tempo janglers like “Work in Progress” with the indie pop of “Let Me In” with the slow-loud rocker “Julia Survived”. I put “Julie Survived” from the latest EP down as the highlight of this collection; you can clearly see how far the songwriting has developed by this point. When Doe release an album proper, shit is going to hit the fan.

Listen here: http://specialistsubject.bandcamp.com/album/first-four-lp

Wasted Daze- Morningcide

Posted: October 17, 2014 in Reviews

Morningcide cover art

Coventry’s only punk rock band Wasted Daze are back with a new album called Morningcide full of skate-punk sing-a-longs. In fact, in my review of the band’s last ep, I may have boxed them into that particular sub-genre a little too much. I mean, they are ostensibly a skate-punk band, with their ‘90s Fat-wreck chords (un-intended pun) and their NOFX-like flirtations with ska, but there is a little more to them than I originally suggested. For one thing, there is hardcore. Generally, not proper hardcore, but melodic hardcore, and it’s always burning below the surface. Although Wasted Daze do slip into full-on scream mode in “Carrion” and the brilliant “Skella-whore” when the aggression comes to the forefront: “No retreat, no surrender!!”.

There’s a classic pop-punk influence in parts of Morningcide, although it’s never fully realised. Having a number of songs based around particular girls and their stories (“Stephanie Browne”, “Jennacide”, “Hannarchy”) is like something The Steinways or Barrakuda McMurder would have done. And the melodies of pop-punk are evident to varying degrees, such as on the sleazy “Stephanie Browne” or most obviously with the catchy-as-fuck “Neon Lights” (which also featured on the band’s last EP). Having said that, lyrically they’re pretty far from the whiny, nerdy or Ramones-y aspects of pop punk; Wasted Daze are angry and they mean business (hence the hardcore influence). Like The Queers before them, Wasted Daze are not afraid to offend. Sometimes, this works brilliantly and is fun in nature (“Woooooohhhhhh, Skellawhore!”), but other times, it can be a little crude and distasteful (“Stephanie brown you’re a sexy little bitch/
I wanna suck your toes I want to drink your spit”). Meanwhile, there’s also the band’s unexpected brief experiments with ska, as with the opening track.

So, Wasted Daze still sound like they could have been from Southern California circa 1996, but with enough depth and texture on Morningcide to prevent them becoming a caricature.

Listen here: http://wasteddazecov.bandcamp.com/

Shallow Cuts is the newest addition to the No Idea roster, featuring members of Dan Padilla, Madison Bloodbath and Dear Landlord. There is a little bit of Dear Landlord in the catchiness and group vocals running through their debut 7” Storm Watch, but it definitely veers away from the more traditional, Lookout-recs pop punk of DL. Shallow Cuts play mid-tempo melodic punk rock, with enough variety and hooks over the four songs to suggest they may be on to something here. There is definitely a ‘90s punk rock influence running through the 7” and Shallow Cuts wouldn’t look out of place on a Punk-o-rama compilation, or playing alongside Lagwagon or Bouncing Souls. The opening chords on first song “89 Suzuki” are pretty great. And the vocals work as well. There are only so many bands that can gruff and growl, right? They remind me quite a bit of Dave Smalley’s singing in Down By Law’s more mid-tempo songs: perfect for this kind of music. Anyway, here’s a challenge: try to dislodge the hook of “it’s a mean world without you in it, the razors are sharper/ It’s a mean wooooooooorld” from your head, and you are a better man than I.

Buy the 7″ here: http://store.noidearecords.com/collections/new-on-no-idea/products/shallow-cuts-storm-watch