Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Sound of the Internet Rumour Mill Churning

A series of recent photos of all four members of Operation Ivy were posted on the Operation Ivy Website.

Whle the photos are posted along with a disclaimer stating that no Operation Ivy reunion is planned in he near future, i have no doubt most will see it was a watershed moment in the inevitable Operation Ivy reunion. But can you blame kids for indulging in such folly? Really? Everyone else is doing it.

Thumbs Up,

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Jeff Ott Says: Jeff On Hygeine

From My World: The Ramblings of an Aging Gutter Punk, p65.

If you engage in any sexual activity that includes mouth to anus contact, please use a dental dam or saran wrap.

Various Thoughts From Beneath My Screeching Weasel Cap: 22/02/06

So the Buzzcocks have two songs from their forthcoming LP, Flat-Pack Philosophy, streaming on their Myspace page. If you’re inclined to dismiss the Buzzcocks as over the hill and irrelevant, wait up a second. I probably would have done the same thing if I hadn’t seem the live in 2003. Now, I went into the show with very low expectations, so there wasn’t much of a chance of being underwhelmed. I left with my balls sitting somewhere in my abdomen. That night the Buzzcocks kicked me square in the testes. Or they tore them off and force-fed them to me... d'know... whichever analogy suits you is best fine. Before that show, the Buzzcocks’ recorded work never set my world a blaze. I always thought the guitar tones were a little foppish. Mind you, I never questioned their song writing acumen, it was the production values that failed them. You know that old piece of music journalese that gets bandied around… ‘buzzsaw’... 'buzzsaw guitars'. I’m sure you’ve happened up on it. It’s about as hackneyed -- and usually inappropriate -- as adjectives get. But I couldn’t think of a more appropriate descriptor for the guitar tones that night.

Now, I’ve gone and trailed off on a tangent. Just check out their last self titled LP. If you’re expecting to hear melodic, sunny power pop punk that you'd expect from the ‘cocks, don’t. Buzzcocks was a jagged, pithy piece of punk rock. It wasn’t without the hooks of their standards. It was however sans the teenage angst. Not quite angular like the post-punk and no-wave bands that congealed in punk’s wake, yet in no way resembling their definitive works. It’s an album that’s hard to provide reference points for, yet accessible. I know it’d be easier for me to say ‘oh the last Buzzcocks album sounded like X and Y’. Well eat my shit. The point is, these new songs seem to be in the same spirit. Check ‘em… stat!

Speaking of punk rock’s forefathers, I finally saw Don Lett’s Punk Attitude last night. A few things dawned on me. The thought that stuck at the fore of my mind for most of the documentary was ‘fuck I want to buy a shitload of records’. The documentary does a fantastic job of explaining punk rock’s lineage. From proto punk bands like the Stooges and the MC5 and the Sonics, up to where it splintered off into several different sub-genres like hardcore, post-punk, no wave, grunge, pop punk/neo-punk/mall punk. I dug that. You see, I suffer from a neurotic compulsion to put music in context. To be able to able to identify who informs band X and conversely which bands band X inspire. To be able to articulate an ancestry. I don’t know why. I think it’s why I surround myself with music junkies, nerds and pseudo-historians. It’s like some pseudo-science self-medication that I’ve prescribed myself for my insecurities and hang-ups. I don’t know. I should know better than to be so candid about my mental afflictions on the internet. Go fuck yourself.

Thumbs up,

Maximum Rock N Roll Vs. Alternative Press: Letters To The Editor (February/March 2006)

First of all, a few words. Some people didn’t get the purpose of my last MRR vs AP feature. Well, it has long been my assertion that the Maximum Rocknroll letters to the editor, typically, are less logical and more obnoxious than those that appear in Alternative Press. Sure they’re a different breed. But I justify it in terms that I find the arrogantly stupid a greater affront to my intelligence than I do the obliviously stupid. We all did stupid shit when we were young. When I was 15, I wanted to get my lip pierced like Tom Delonge. At least I no longer believer anarchy is a viable socio-economic system and dumpster dive. In that spirit…

‘Justus’ has a few slivers of wisdom on personal responsibility in Maximum Rocknroll #274, p11.

Dear MRR –
Has anyone noticed that Sparks is destroying the punk scene? For fuks (sic) sake! sometimes, after drinking 14 hours straight, passing out is something that needs to occur. Don’t get me wrong. I believe a 24-hour plus binge is good for the soul. However, if you do it on Sparks you didn’t earn it!

I recently narrowly avoided prison and found myself on probation here in Michigan for the next year. (I got a sympathetic lawyer to take a payment plan). If it wasn’t for Sparks, I would have been passed out a while before my “unlawful incident.” I beat up a Nazi who had come looking for me. I wasn’t around so he punched my girlfriend. She can hold her own (and did), but when I found out it I went to his house-home invasion, first degree. If not for Sparks, I would have beat his rat ass later. Maybe no home invasion. (Obviously the cops didn’t arrest the Nazi.)

Since all this bullshit, I hear Bretton (the Nazi) raped and beat his girlfriend, I hope somebody gets a hold of this fuck soon!

(Bretton became a Nazi in prison. He has a “Smash Judaism” tat on his chest and a swastika on his arm. He told me he wasn’t like that anymore, I offered to help pay to get them covered, but it seems he was still into them – obviously we parted ways.)

So Sparks may have started off a chain of events that led to a girl’s rape. It’s a stretch, I know, but try to keep an open mind.

Hey! To you annoying drunks who quote Sid and Nancy endlessly while inebriated. Stay away from Sparks! It make you more annoying than thought possible. I was way into Sparks for a minute. It is possible to kick! Even if you have to go to AA, just tell yourself “No Sparks today mate, pass the Wild Turkey.” Sparks is our new heroin (unless you’re Gouka from Japan-those guys can keep up with the Sparks). We need to stop the Sparks before the Sparks stops the punks!

- Justus

Hmmm… just goes to show real punx are more wary of hyper-caffeinated alcoholic beverages than they are of defaming others.

Meanwhile I’m wondering how Jim from Windsor managed to find the time to pen this letter to the editor -- which appeared in AP #211, p14 -- in between finishing his Masters Degree in Theology.

I would like to sincerely thank you for your nearly 20-page special on the oxymoron of “Christian punk.” It’s nice to have a detailed list of hypocritical shit bands to avoid.

Jim Meloche
Windsor, ONT, Canada

I’m grateful too, Jim. I hate those closed-minded zealots. Punx… UNITY!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Record Review: Loved Ones - Keep Your Heart

Kid Dynamite are one of those bands that send certain members of the punk rock fraternity into a tizzy. The mere mention of their name causes their voice to spike to eunuch-like pitches, their eyes to bug out and for them to giggle like a school boy cupping his first tit. I don’t get it personally. But hey, I can appreciate that level of idolatry. I only mention this because the Loved Ones’ bass player Michael Cotterman is a Kid Dynamite alumnus. If this isn’t a prestigious enough pedigree to persuade you to acquire a copy of Keep Your Heart, stat, vocalist and guitarist Dave Hause earned his melodic hardcore stripes in Curse and Paint It Black and drummer Mike Sneeringer is a former Trial By Fire player.

But for those of you East Coast hardcore tragics now shaking like a dog with a tick up its arse, I’m afraid these pedigrees don’t mean shit. Considering their lineage, the Loved Ones don’t bear any resemblance to the band you’re probably envisaging. The Loved Ones play high-energy melodic pop-punk with the nucleus being Green Day-like melodies and chord progressions. This isn’t to say that the Loved Ones are one-trick Green Day mimickers. Certainly, structurally, they take queues from Billie Joe and Co. The undulating harmonies, the punchy guitar tones, even the bass lines plod along at a tone you’d expect Mike Dirnt to generate. But the Loved Ones possess enough pop smarts for their music to stand on its own merits. The harmonies are memorable, the riffs are stimulating and the musicianship is top notch.

However there are the odd exceptions. ‘Over 50 Club’ and ‘Benson and Hedges’ are crunchy punk rock numbers that aim to satiate the Kid Dynamite enthusiasts I mentioned earlier. This isn’t the limit of the Loved Ones’ hardcore proclivities. From the maudlin wrenching and cursing of ‘Sickening’ and ‘The Odds’ to the fist-pumping jingoism of ‘Living Well (And Get Dead)’ and ‘Jane’, thematically, their certainly is a hardcore aesthetic abounding on Keep Your Heart.

Four thumbs up.

Make Up Your Own Mind:
Suture Self

Various Thoughts From Beneath My Screeching Weasel Cap: 20/02/06

There are a couple of videos up on You Tube from a Screeching Weasel concert circa 1993.

The sound and video quality are pretty poor and the setlist seems to be similar to the live set featured on Thank You Very Little. But the highlight of the videos is an impromptu interview with Ben Weasel. For most of the interview, the interviewer rattles off a list of banal questions, to which Mr Weasel replies with terse, usually one word, responses. That is until the interview is hijacked by a pair of greasy weasel fan boys who seem to be milling close by.

A transcript of my favourite exchange reads like this:

Greasy Weasel Fan #1: I mean, you got some songs that are like the boy-girl thing… then you got some deeper stuff like Science of Myth, I mean what are you trying to accomplish man?

Ben Weasel: To get everyone in the world to think like me.

It's witticisms like these that remind me why I love Ben Weasel so much.

Meanwhile Ben Weasel's former colllaborator, Danny Vapid is gearing up for his next outing. Red Scare records, announced via their Myspace page that they’ll be releasing the forthcoming Methadones’ LP. The working title is purportedly 21st Century Power Pop Riot. Now, I grew up on Danny Vapid’s music. Hell, Screeching Weasel were THE BAND for me. They were the soundtrack to my adolescence. I have a Riverdales tattoo. But there’s something about the Methadones that just doesn’t agree with me. Musical gripes aside, I grew up on tunes like ‘High School Psychopath’ and ‘Riverdale Stomp’. Danny’s penchant for social commentary on the Methadones just grates me. Maybe it’s a credential issue. Maybe I’m so used to the cartoony, cyncical, barbed-tongue, dejected adolescent caricature he and Ben Weasel carved out for themselves in Screeching Weasel and the Riverdales. I just find it difficult to take him seriously when I’m used to songs he penned about girls and some drug addict he used to know.

It’s been reported that the Falcon have finished recording their new LP. If you haven’t checked out the Falcon already, I suggest you do so. Their EP God Don’t Make No Trash on Red Scare was one of the wittiest and catchiest pieces of punk rock I’ve heard in a while. Anyway, in case you don’t know, the Falcon consist of two members from the Lawrence Arms, one from Alkaline Trio and a former member of Rise Against. Just by looking at their pedigree, you should be able to estimate what they sound like. They come highly recommended.

Speaking of the Lawrence Arms, they've been streaming songs off their new LP 'Oh! Calcutta!' on their MySpace page. If you’re partial to bands like Pegboy, Alkaline Trio, Leatherface, Hot Water Music and Dillinger Four, I suggest you check them out. If these songs are anything to go by, 'Oh! Calcutta!' could be an early contender for album of the year.

Speaking of possible albums of the year, the Queers have updated details about their forthcoming album via their MySpace page blog. Joe also mused about the impending release of their live album, a planned Queers tribute record and a tentative tour with one of Australia’s most seminal, prolific and underated punk bands, the Hard-Ons. Feck! Talk about your wet-dream inducing bills. If you aren't familliar with the Hard Ons' catalogue, I compel you to become so, right now. Most of the later prog-metal shit isn’t useful for much other than preventing your glass from leaving unsightly stains on your coffee table. But their earlier LPs like Yummy are about as tuneful and raw as punk gets.

Thumbs up,

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Record Review: Randy - Randy The Band

Randy’s music is rooted in 70’s punk rock, without ever lapsing into irrelevant revivalism or aping their progenitors. Their tongue-in-cheek, fists-in-the-air bravado is fun and infectious and is never in danger of turning off those in the audience without the predilection for smashing the fucking state.

Some purists might charge Randy with being gentrified punk rock. A focus on anthemic gang vocals, simple power chords and thumbing noses at authority are all hallmarks of early punk bands that also exist in Randy’s music. Much like NOFX, the Briefs, Bouncing Souls and Snuff, their polished production and emphasis on melody differentiates them from their precursors.

While I don’t think Randy mean to belittle or parody their forefathers, it’s equally difficult to take their hat tips seriously or find them disagreeable. Lyrics like ‘we’re doin’ all that we can, stickin’ it to the man’ capture the essence of punk and perform it with enough skill and gusto to make you forget they don’t belong to the first wave.

To describe Randy as neo-70s punk is a pretty broad pigeon hole to place them in. This is because it’s difficult to pin down a concise set of references. On ‘Evil’, Stefan Granberg croons in with a distinctively Danzig-like intonation. ‘Promise’ and ‘Bahnhof Zoo’ are sharp power-pop numbers that evoke comparisons to Stiff Little Fingers, Undertones and the Buzzcocks. ‘Teenage Tiger’ is a balls-to-the-wall rockabilly number. On ‘Losing My Mind’ Granberg’s vocals waver like that of the Dead Kennedy’s Jello Biafra.

Three thumbs up.

Make Up Your Own Mind:
I Raise My Fist

Record Review: Ghost Mice - Europe

Ghost Mice’s Europe is a concept album that centres around the band’s holiday in Europe. While tuneful and imaginative, the album suffers because of the monotonousness of both the lyrics and the music.

Ghost Mice play folk rock similar to the Mountain Goats. That may sound like lazy journalism, but it’s hard not to contrast Chris’ nasally intonation with that of the Mountain Goat’s John Darnielle. But the comparison is more than apt when you also consider Ghost Mice’s penchant for chimey acoustic guitars, the literary nature of their lyrics and their boisterous melodies.

However, Ghost Mice don’t draw from as broad a musical palette as the Mountain Goats. Each song seems tedious, even before sitting through Europe once. Structurally, each song is similar to the last and the band’s refusal to include a chorus in each song precludes them from ever hooking the audience.

Lyrically, Europe is wearisome and often cloy. Each song on the album represents a country or sea they crossed during their journey, detailing the events of that part of the journey, making te album a musical slide show of sorts. While it’s hard to fault the band when they’re so earnest and genial, but it feels like they’re trying to romanticize their D.I.Y. ethos and the nature of man at times. The lyrics become a little too stream-of-consciousness, at one point they evoked recollections of that episode of the Family Guy where the Griffins met Randy Newman and he earned their wrath by improvising a song about Lois eating an apple in excessive detail.

Two thumbs up.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Record Review: Kidnappers - Neon Signs

The first Kidnappers LP on Alien Snatch was like a kick to the balls. Like a mid-fi Teengenerate, Ransom Notes and Telephone Calls was about as tuneful and catchy as garage punk comes. Neon Signs is their Rip Off Records debut, and veers from garage punk territory into the realm of power pop.

Influences that were prevailing on their first LP like Teengenerate, Loli and the Chones, Zodiac Killers et al. have been eschewed for reference points like Paul Collins’ Beat, Pointed Sticks, Undertones and the Exploding Hearts. In fact, Goodbye Again liberally appropriates the intro to the Exploding Hearts’ Throwaway Style. I guess it just wouldn’t be a Kidnappers album without accusations of plagiarism.

This isn’t to say Neon Signs is a record that’s easy to pigeon hole. There’s still a garage punk panache about it all. Beat-It’s vocals still sound decidedly muffled and mid-fi. ‘Talk To You’ kicks in with an abrupt ‘yeah!’, the kind I could see Pelle Almqvist high kicking the air to, strobe light flashing in tandem.

For mind, there are no stand out songs like on Ransom Notes and Telephone Calls. There are no Chuck Berry-played-at-78-rpm pop gems like ‘Teenage Fever’, ‘Marky Nimrod’ or ‘Maximum Rock N Roll’.

Three Thumbs Up.

Make Up Your Own Mind:
Street Where I Live
How Long Will I Live

(Please note these aren't direct links to the songs. Open the page in a new window. Download the songs from there. Something about external linking to Lycos or some other shit.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

... He's An Asshole, He's A Jerk, You Just Hate Him Cause He Don't Have To Work

My friend Adam sent me this picture a few days ago. I'm not sure how he came across it. I'm guessing he happened upon it during some covert snooping around the Nothing Nice To Say image cache or something similar.

Yeah, Mitch Clem didn't really give me permission to bring your attention to this drawing and i don't know if he'd condone it. But yeah... visit his site. I like a lot of his comics. He's also put me onto some great music. He also shares my disdain for Family Circus and my infatuation with Roxy Epoxy

Jeff Ott Says: Jeff On Currency

From My World: The Ramblings of an Aging Gutter Punk, p84.

Jeff: cool, whose face do you think should be on the 1$ (sic) bill?

Vanessa: Billie Joe's

Jeff: right on

Maximum Rock N Roll Vs. Alternative Press: Letters To The Editor (January/February 2006)

Alex lets Tom know just what he thinks of him and his corporate crony backers in Maximum Rock N Roll #273 February 2006, P9.

Hey MRR and readers –
Over the past few months a lot of punk, punk bands andpunk zines have joined the internet site known as I joined it myself until I realized how lame it was. Now it seems that more than 50% of the DIY punk scene has a page on this corporate site, how lame is that? Do I really need to explain why it is so lame? Every corporate asshole and his mom is on this site. It is financed by some shitty advertisements. The shittiest bands on earth have their page. It supports everything we’re against. It sucks, plain and simple. It’s like the whole DIY punk scene has turned into an internet version of the Warped Tour all of a sudden. Seeing all my favorite bands go on this site I feel really bad for what the punk scene has become. What happened to saying, “fuck you” to corporations?

I don’t blame anyone, this shit is addictive, and is a very good and quite genius marketing plan.

Now please read this. This part of the “ Terms of Use and Agreement”. You can see it on their site, even before being a member.

“Proprietary Rights in Content on owns and retains all proprietary rights in the Website and the Service.”


If you still don’t get it, it means that everything that is on the website legally belongs to MySpace, and to become a member, you’re giving them the right to do whatever the fuck they want with your bands (sic) songs and pictures.

I don’t know about but for me it feels really shitty to know some corporate website owns songs by some of my favorite DIY, so-called “political” punk bands.
Thanx for reading.
Ratcharge fanzine

Hmmm thanks for the legal advice Alex.

On the other hand, Matthew via the internet lets it be known just how much the feature on Fall Out Boy affected him in Alternative Press #210 January 2006, p.21.

Oh, AP, thank you so much for allowing all of your readers to finally understand how difficult it can be, being part of such a groundbreaking band who are changing music forever. Uncovering the trauma behind Fall Out Boy is something we’ve been salivating over for years now. I don’t think these kids today know the pain of playing music for a living; the pain of having someone post a nasty blog about you on the web; the pain of selling millions of records. It hurt like a papercut in the armpit. Is FOB looking to add a violin player in the mix? I’ll play for Peter Wentz day and night, to let him know that one of us really cares. Oh, yeah, the exterminator costumes were so sexy; plus they really captured the experience of having your heart exterminated and sprayed with chemicals, as I know the FOB gang have felt all too often.
Matthew Ball
Via Internet

Sounds like Fall Out Boy lead a tragic existence. Also makes me feel guilty about making snide remarks on my blog. Really makes you think.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Punk’s Not Dead… You Just Need To Poke It With A Stick (A Caffeine-Fuelled Manifesto)

Welcome to my blog.

I often hear people bemoaning the death of punk, or at least that it’s shit nowadays. They lament that what was once a progressive, innovative genre is now a gentrified, sugar-coated abomination. That what was once an exciting and urgent sub-culture is now a shadow of its former self. That the genre that was once a legitimate outlet for the bored, disgruntled youth and political dissenters has now become a catalogue for brands targeting affluent, insolent trust fund mall shits.

I say two things to these naysayers;

1) Yeah, but you listen to bloated prog-rock, pretentious jazz punk and homo-eccentric electro clash. I find these respective genres just as grating as mall punk.

2) Look harder.

When people speak of the glory days of punk, they invoke the NYC-CBGBs boom of the mid 70s, the emergence of British power pop-punk in the late 70s, the SST & Alternative Tentacles hardcore punk explosion of the early 80s, the evolution into Discord and Touch and Go records post-punk, the East Bay-Lookout Records-pop punk glory days of the mid 90s and then they trail off about the eventual descent into oblivion.

There are still records being made in this vein today. Good records too.

In the last ten years Dillinger Four have released three LPs of the most distinctive and witty punk rock ever to be committed to wax. Rip Off Records has built a stable of artists who play some of the most fun, trashy and god damn infectious garage punk you’re ever going to come across. Where Rip Off excel above other labels is they have crystallized a scene and all but acquired a monopoly of the genre. Down in Florida, No Idea records have done the same thing. Over the last decade there’s been a scene slowly materializing. Where current trends have been eschewed for influences like Crimpshrine, the Young Pioneers, Husker Du, Jawbreaker, the Replacements and Pegboy. Y’know? You remember when punk rock used to be honest? Not honest as in a business sense, honest as in you knew the band sang with conviction, openess and sincerity. I know that sort of thing is intangible and subjective, but that’s the impression I get when I listen to Fifteen, Black Flag, Jawbox, Leatherface, Descendents, Screeching Weasel and FYP. With no regard for style, distinctive, full of emotion, wit, and most importantly, humour. And there are bands still making music like this. The Soviettes last year released one of the best punk rock records ever. Rip Off records just signed the Kidnappers who play some of the fucking catchiest rock n roll that’s ever going to pass between your ears. The Modern Machines continue to release distinctive, original and hooky punk rock and are being largely ignored for it. Dirt Bike Annie recently capitulated, but up until a year ago were putting out punk rock that was impossible to categorize, yet bounced around inside your head for weeks after your heard it. The Weakerthans are still kicking around and producing some of the most beautiful and criminally-underrated Indie rock/Alt-country. Before a critical mass of the band was killed in a car accident, the Exploding Hearts released a power pop LP that deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as the Undertones, Buzzcocks, Barracudas and Pointed Sticks. And that isn’t me being romantic. I fucking mean it.It’s the kind of music I get giddy talking about. My eyes widen, voice rises an octave and my leg shakes as I enthuse over it. But then again, i'm weird.

Over the course of this rant, you’ve probably acquired a grasp of the staples of my musical diet and the shit I’m going to be talking about. I should make one thing clear here. I am by no measure an authority on punk rock. I’m not that conceited. Fuck, I’m sure there are thousands of bands I am oblivious to. And that energizes me. I am not doing this for the scene either. I’m not sure what that really means, or whether the genres I’m going to be focusing on are coherently intertwined. Besides, I’m too far removed from the production of this music to have a vested interest in its success. What I have noticed is that there are very few resources out there in internet land devoted to pop-punk, Midwestern punk, folk-punk and garage-punk.

My name is Steve, I live in Australia, I'm 23, I’m an aspiring music journalist, I have a coffee addiction and I own every Screeching Weasel record ever released. That’s my angle.

This blog is merely an avenue for honing my writing skills, building a portfolio and a way of rationalising spending hours on end listening to music.

In a few weeks I'm going to be drafting my dear friend Lucky Ben Seventeen into the fold here on Wreck Kids. He's in much the same position of me. Budding journalist who spends unhealthy amount of time and money on music. And i love him like Ben Weasel loves money. Not only does Ben have an incredible knack for writing, an unbridled enthusiasm for music, an encyclopaedic knowledge of punk rock, but he is also the best exponent of the word 'faggot' i've ever encountered.

So stay tuned, jerks.

Thumbs up,