Friday, January 29, 2010

Review #54: Black Flag - In My Head (1985)


IN MY HEAD

Year:
1985
Genre:
Punk Rock
Sub-Genres:
Hardcore, Post-Punk
Label:
SST Records
Tracks:
9
Length:
37 Minutes (Long)
Style:
Demented/Angry/Weird
My Rating: 7/8

Black Flag was a hardcore punk band (often considered the first of its kind) from California. The band existed for about 10 years and was notorious for it's ever-changing style, non-stop touring, and confrontational performances. However, this was the last full-length studio LP the band ever made. It has a lot more experimental elements to it than earlier recordings. They album itself seems to be a neurotic experience. It's also the last Black Flag record with the mid-'80s lineup with Kira Roessler (bass) and Bill Stevenson (drums). A lot of earlier fans dislike this record, because it sounds so different. Some think it sounded like a bad attempt at heavy metal (an accusation that's been going on since the days of "My War"). Well, we'll see about that...


1. Paralyzed
Opens with two screams fading in. Medium tempo. The lyrics seem to be about paranoia, feelings of entrapment, and not being able to let go of negative feelings.


2. The Crazy Girl
Really weird beat in the verse section. The whole song (as well as the damn album) is filled with guitar-leads at every turn. The chorus section briefly speeds up to a more conventional tempo before slowing down again. "My Target Is Your Eyes" -- this song makes me want to have sex... ual intercourse.

3. Black Love
This song is about "black love"... I guess it's a really twisted version of love. How is it so twisted? I guess we just have to make it up ourselves, 'er something. Hypnotizing lead-guitar swing about your ears and your mind like little ghosts floating around a room.

4. White Hot

The previous song was black, so this song is white, I guess. Gotta balance your colors out, children. Anyways, it's pretty slow, like most of the songs on the record so far. During the verses, the riff is awesome. The chorus section is even cooler with a very bass-and-lead driven section. Beautiful solo during the middle of the song. The lyrics suggest it as some sort of psycho love song (like the previous song, but more detailed). Best song on the record.


5. In My Head

Very complex lead-guitar. First thing I noticed on the track. Hell, you could say that about everything on this record. The lyrics are an extremely intricate description of insanity and paranoia. End of Side 1.


6. Drinking and Driving

A fast song. Lyrically similar to "Thirsty and Miserable" -- a song about a confused alcoholic who drinks his life away and convinces himself that he's living a good life. I heard similarities to "Black Coffee" as well, musically. They made a music video for this song.


7. Retired at 21

Another song on the album that I really like. Really fucking cool riff. This one is pretty fast, as well. Lyrics about some lucky kid with a gun who seems pretty content and gets retired at 21. Love the vocals on this song. One of the best Black Flag songs ever written.


8. Society's Tease

Great, literate lyrics about the flaws of society, the lies within it, and the problems it breeds. Fast tempo, once again. Longest song on the album.


9. It's All Up to You

The grand finale. One of the highlights of the record, alongside "Retired at 21" and "White Hot". Awesome riff. The lyrics are about a desire of freedom from civilization and society. Kira Roessler supplies the backing vocals, which all sound really good. Amazing guitar solos. I like to think of it as the final moment of contemplation in the Black Flag canon.


This was the last original LP that Black Flag released before they broke up. Their final performance was in July of 1986. Though they would continue to release a string of EPs after their breakup, at this point, they had already left behind an epic legacy. From the early punk of "Nervous Breakdown" to the raging hardcore of "Damaged" to the metal experimentation of "My War" to this, they really were one of the greatest hardcore bands ever. This LP is one of their most unique works. The first half is mostly made up of slow songs, and the second half is dominated by the faster stuff. The album has an avant-garde, schizophrenic feel to it. Fits the title (and the song that the title comes from). Many fans were and still are put off by this one, but personally, I love it.


MUSIC VIDEO FOR "DRINKING AND DRIVING"


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review #53: Butthole Surfers - Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac (1984)


PSYCHIC... POWERLESS... ANOTHER MAN'S SAC

Year: 1984
Genre:
Punk Rock
Sub-Genres:
Noise, Post-Punk, Hardcore
Label:
Touch & Go Records
Tracks:
11
Length:
35 Minutes (Medium-Length)
Style:
Weird/Funny
My Rating: 6/8

The Butthole Surfers are an alternative/punk-rock band from Texas. The group formed in 1981 and throughout the 1980s were notable for their extremely bizarre music and shocking stage performances. As you might know, they are one of my favorite bands ever. They are hilarious and weird as fuck, yet enjoyable for their music alone. This is their second LP, and their first release on Touch and Go Records. Also their first record with two drummers, who at this point (and throughout most of their underground phase) were King Coffey and Teresa Nervosa, who referred to eachother as twins because of their similar appearances. While "Brown Reason to Live" was pretty weird, this one is even weirder. Even further elimination of punk conventions on this record, and an extensive use of warped studio magic and fucking around with tapes.

1. Concubine
A slow, very distorted song. Consists of Gibby rambling and screaming like a maniac as lyrics. Ends with a robotic voice moaning something. Trademark Butthole Surfers sound.

2. Eye of the Chicken
This one's hilarious. It's kinda fast, and it has explosion noises, psychedelic guitar-sounds, and robotic Gibby voices rambling on about his father changing his brother's diapers and his mother throwing furniture at him, and some hilarious screaming. I swear, stuff like that is enough to make a person like me squirt milk outta his nose. Short and sweet.

3. Dum-Dum
One of the more mainstream-accessible pieces from the album. The beat reminds me of pirates for some reason... yarggh. Not sure what the lyrics are about, but they go something like "You want the people to be the people to want the people to love you, you need the people to show the facts, instead again, they shot you...", and so on.

4. Woly Boly
This song's name is a play on the name of the popular 1950s rock & roll song, "Wooly Bully". Similar tempo to "Dum-Dum". Gibby sings really fast and incoherently, ranging from actual singing to screaming to singing like he's flailing his arms about n' stuff like some sort of LSD redneck.

5. Negro Observer
Cleaner guitar sounds than most of the songs here. There's the old saxophone in this one... the combination sounds awesome. The lyrics are about a group of aliens who are very big and strong and appear in parking lots, deserted discount stores, low-riders, and singles bars to abduct black people and observe them for unknown purposes. Gibby laughs like a madman.

6. Butthole Surfer
Supposedly the song that was the reason for their name (all by accident, reportedly). It's the most traditional-sounding song on here. Very fun and catchy riff. It's basically about butts and butthole surfers. What else? In the background of the chorus, Paul Leary can be heard shouting "Butthole Surfer, Suck My Dick!". At the end, it sounds like it's going to end... and then... a very fast finale suddenly happens... now it's over -- NOT! The whole fake-ending thing happens about three fucking times. End o' Side 1.

7. Lady Sniff
Another slow, fucked-up noizy song. Gibby sings in a low-pitched sounding voice that sounds a bit like Cookie Monster. The interludes to each verse are punctuated by random humorous sound-clips.

8. Cherub
A slow, spooky song with gothic-sounding lyrics. A bit repetitive for my tastes, but it doesn't suck at all or anything. They made a music video for this song.

9. Mexican Caravan
Favorite song on the album. It's a fast song about sneaking to Mexico to buy heroin. Both Gibby and Paul express their love of Mexico and eagerness to get there. Gibby sings the first two verses, each separated by a unique, sloppy noise-solo. It really takes off when Paul Leary sings the final two verses, though. Gibby just kinda sings, but Paul shrieks them like a fuckin' drunk eagle. It's great, really.

10. Cowboy Bob
An earlier version of this was on "Live PCPPEP". More saxophone. Both the old and this version have their own good points. Gibby's voice is run through either a synthesizer or a toilet-paper roll tube, here. Really badass riff. Paul can be heard screamin' a little, too.

11. Gary Floyd
Paul Leary sings this one, in a non-screaming voice for once (Gibby provides background vocals). Another country-punk sounding song like "Wichita Cathedral" before it. Very up-beat. But, after the song ends, then the album ends. No hidden tracks for you, sir.

This was the last album where Paul Leary got to sing a lot. After that, it was pretty much just Gibby singing. Here, there are still elements of traditional punk, but they definitely were getting weirder as the albums went by. Still, it's not quite as weird as "Rembrandt Pussyhorse" and "Locust Abortion Technician", which followed it. In a way, I guess you could use this record to introduce a potential fan to the band. Enough "normal" stuff and weird stuff to let you know what to expect. Or you could just listen to the first record, like I did. Whatever the case, this is another great installment into the Butthole Surfers library.

MUSIC VIDEO FOR "CHERUB"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Review #52: L7 - L7 (1988)


L7

Year: 1988
Genre:
Punk Rock, Heavy Metal
Sub-Genres:
Hardcore, Grunge
Label:
Epitaph Records
Tracks:
11
Length:
31 Minutes (Medium-Length)
Style:
Rebellious/Fun/Angry
My Rating:
6/8

L7 was a punk rock band from Los Angeles, California that formed in 1985. The band's original lineup was Donita Sparks, Suzi Gardner, Jennifer Finch, and Roy Koutsky. Well, before you know it, the band started playin' shows and eventually Roy Koutsky left and was replaced by Dee Plakas, making them an all-girl band, and one of the first notable all-girl hardcore punk bands. The band later became famous in the alternative rock explosion of the early 1990s. This was their first record, and it was published on Epitaph Records.

1. Bite the Wax Tadpole
Begins with thumping bass-drums and descending chords which then shift to a more exciting riff. The title is taken from the supposed Chinese literal translation of "Coca-Cola". Pretty funny, eh? Mainly the repeated phrases "bite the wax tadpole" and "hide the hole in your head" for lyrics.

2. Cat-O'-Nine-Tails
The "Cat O' Nine Tails" is a kind of whip with various (about nine) ends, often used for severe punishment. The song has a similar tempo to the first song. The lyrics seem to be about a relationship or something like that.

3. Metal Stampede
The obligatory very-fast-song. Starts slow with the phrase "It's a Metal Stampede" repeated twice, while weird cow-noises are made with the guitar. Suddenly, the song goes into a very fast while Donita screams. In the second verse section, she starts singing the lyrics to "Old MacDonald Had a Farm". Another fast chorus after that.

4. Let's Rock Tonight This is a slower song. It's about... rocking, I guess. I like the riff. There's a solo at the end.

5. Uncle Bob
Another slow song. It's got a bit more distortion in the riff than the previous song. It's about Uncle Bob, a family drunk that would come into their (whoever's house it was) house and cause trouble. The majority of the song is a shit-load of guitar noise following the sung verses. End of Side 1.

6. Snake Handler
Slow song. The lyrics are vaguely sexual. Can't tell if they're singing about dicks or actual snakes in that case. Maybe I don't wanna know. Sort of hypnotizing music (like a snake charmer or somethin'). I think Suzi Gardner sings this one.

7. Runnin' From the Law A fast, hard rock n' roll song with great lyrics. It's about a time that the group accidentally pissed off their neighbors from playing their music too loud on a Friday night. The second verse tells about a show they played when a cop got on stage and attacked one of the members, which resulted in her "kicking him in the balls".

8. Cool Out
As the title suggests, this is a more mellow song. Starts soft and quiet in the first verse, and the rest of the song is a tad harder. It's an anti-violence anthem about a psycho who likes to go pick fights and "messes with other peoples' lives".

9. It's Not You I love the riff for this one. It's a break-up song about the song's protagonist meeting a better man who can "fix up her blender" and "don't give a hoot".

10. I Drink
I love the beat for this one, in the verses and the choruses. It's about a girl who gets drunk all of the time. My favorite line is "I puked outside in the parking lot when he tried to kiss me". I thought that was funny.

11. Ms. 45
The hard-rockin' konkloozhunn to the album. It's about a street-girl that nobody dares to mess around with, or else "she'll blow your ass away". The verses are sung very harshly by Donita, and the choruses are sung softly by Suzi. dsfsgfd

So, that's the first record from L7! It's a little punk, a little metal, but totally rock. Most of the album sings about life in L.A. and stuff like that, and some of it is just nonsense like "Metal Stampede". They hadn't quite reached their peak (in my opinion) at this point, but they were already well on their way. The band delivers quite a snarl here for a bunch of girls, far more badass than most of today's male-made music could dream of (I will destroy all radios within a 30-mile radius if I have to hear "Fireflies" by the awful electro-pop band, Owl City, one more fucking time). Some of it's fast, some of it's slow. It's somewhat heavy, which causes some people to lump it in with grunge music. Anyways, if you like L7 or L.A. punk, give this one a spin.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Review #51: Social Distortion - Social Distortion (1990)


SOCIAL DISTORTION

Year: 1990
Genre: Punk Rock, Rock & Roll
Sub-Genres: Post-Punk, Hardcore, Rockabilly
Label: Epic Records
Tracks: 10
Length: 41 Minutes (Long)
Style: Struggling/Rebellious/Love/Happy
My Rating: 6/8

At the beginning of this month, I reviewed Social Distortion's first LP, called "Mommy's Little Monster". It was a great hardcore punk record from its time. A year or two after that record was released, Mike Ness (the band's main member and frontman) started using the money he earned to supply his heroin addiction. By in 1985, he was having problems with the law and frequented prisons, and eventually entered drug rehab. In 1986, after he finished rehabilitation, Social Distortion began performing again. When they began writing songs for their second album, they began to take on a more rockabilly-inspired flavor. Their second album was called "Prison Bound", and it was released in 1988. In 1990, the band was signed to the major label, Epic Records. This is their third album and their first LP to be released on a major label.

1. So Far Away
A fast, hard rock n' roll song. The lyrics seem to be a dark ballad of a working man to his partner who he has to work "blood, sweat, and tears" for because he "lost it all in one blackout summer night". The main chorus is sung "So Far Away" repeated again and again.

2. Let it Be Me
Another song of a similar tempo and feel to the previous, but this one is a more traditional love song in the classic theme of a boy who is in love with a girl who is being strongly discouraged by her parents not to marry the boy and wait for somebody "better", as the hero in the song reminds the girl that "life is going by fast".

3. Story of My Life
The big hit of the album (sort of). They made a music video for it, and it's the song most kids today will think of when you mention Social Distortion. The first verse of the song is Mike reminiscing about when he was an outcast in high school and a girl that he had a crush on at the time. The second verse is about when he had grown up and went back to his old town to find out that "the pool hall he loved as a kid is now a 7-11". The final verse is sung in present tense, looking back on how good times come and go, and time goes by real fast, with every special moment being a chapter in the story of one's life. This song has a more calm, rockabilly feel to it than the two songs before it.

4. Sick Boys
Same rockabilly tempo as the previous song. It's about the "sick boy", a young greaser kid who's always getting in trouble with the law, drinks, rides a motorcycle with his girlfriend, and gets into knife fights. Very happy-sounding song.

5. Ring of Fire
This is a cover of the classic song by Johnny Cash. Of course, the song is harder and done in a punk-rock style unlike the original. It's about a man falling into a "ring of fire", whose flames would only grow more powerful, which means he must have fallen deeply in love. End of Side 1.

6. Ball and Chain
This is another more mellow song. Good to listen to when you just want to relax or get a break from things making you feel down. It's a song about alcohol addiction and trying to run away from the problem but "you can't go nowhere". They did a music video for this song, too.

7. It Coulda Been Me
The riff of this one sounds a lot like "Moral Threat" from the first album, but there's a country harmonica in it as well. It's about Mike looking back at all of the people he knew that left him/died/went to prison, and thinking "it coulda been me".

8. She's a Knockout
Starts with a thumping beat and a guitar solo. This one sounds a lot like a song from the first record as well. It's about a pretty girl who turns heads and gets the attention of men everywhere she goes, but "only I [Mike] can call her honey". I like this song the best on the whole record!

9. A Place in My Heart
Fastest song on the album. It's another love song. Not a ton of things about the song that can't be said about the others, but it's still good.

10. Drug Train
A sort of outlaw-badass sounding song with more harmonica. Sings about the "drug train", a thing that offers excitement and pleasures that can "take you as the heavens", but also "take you to the depths of hell", when you finally end up "in a jail cell or a hospital bed", and the last stop is "a violent crash". A very hot-tempered cautionary tale.

Well, that's "Social Distortion". They waited 'till their third album to make a self-titled record. And most bands do that on day one. But who cares? Anyways, this is usually regarded as their best and most famous work. Personally I prefer "Mommy's Little Monster" a little more. While it's not too diverse, it has a very authentic character to it which seems more "at-home" to rural and blue-collar people than it might to people outside those settings. Aesthetically speaking, it's a very traditional rock n' roll album, with themes that seem straight out of the '50s rockabilly era (and possibly earlier). Still, it's a pretty good record, regardless of what genre you would want to classify it under.

MUSIC VIDEOS


Monday, January 25, 2010

Review #50: Kraut - An Adjustment to Society (1982)


AN ADJUSTMENT TO SOCIETY

Year: 1982
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: Cabbage Records
Tracks: 16
Length: 31 Minutes (Medium-Length)
Style: Political/Rebellious
My Rating: 6/8

Kraut is a hardcore-punk band from New York City that formed in 1981. One of their first gigs was as an opening act for the Clash, and they are notorious for being the first independent band to get their video played on MTV (the music video for "All Twisted"), and quite possibly the first ever hardcore band to get mainstream exposure. The band released three LPs and various singles throughout the '80s, and reformed in 2009, so if you like them, you could go see one of their shows possibly sometime very soon!

This album itself is the most punky LP that they released, as in the mid-1980s they changed their sound to a more metal-oriented one, but here they sound like a typical New York hardcore band with maybe a touch of Oi to their musical style.

1. All Twisted
One of their most well-known songs. Starts with a hard-hitting riff and thumping bass drums. The first verse starts, and Davey Gunner's rough vocals set the mood to the song. This song is actually pretty melodic and catchy for a hardcore song. The song's sings about the "twisted" policemen who seem to be just out to get a quick buck and arrest anyone they can get their hands on. A truly awesome solo takes place during the middle of the song. Best song on the record.

2. Mishap
Shortest song on the album (under a minute long!). Very fast beat, swift riffs, and quick vocals (those are all words for 'really fast').

3. Unemployed
The riff is pretty lead-driven. Davey sings with more melody in this one. Can't find the lyrics for most of these songs, so I dunno what some of these are about! :-(

4. Onward
Slightly faster than the previous track (about the same as 'All Twisted'). Excellent use of vocal harmonies and there's a great solo as well!

5. Don't Believe
Very uplifting riff. It seems to be an anthem to freedom from government behavior-control and anti-war sentiments.

6. Abortion
This one's really fast, too. I'm guessing it's about abortion. I guess it is about abortion. But I dunno the lyrics for this one.

7. Bogus
The intro to this song is slow and loaded with an ominous riff and rolling drums. Suddenly, there's a pause, and it goes into a fast-n'-thrashy bit. Another slow mid-section after that. And then you probably know what happens next. Slow one more time after the next fast part. The end.

8. Matinee
Starts with really fast blast-beats, and then a fast but not-quite-that-fast section with the chant of "I'M FUCKING MY GIRL AT THE MATINEE!!". It seems to be a song about a kid who gets in trouble for having sex and then eventually runs away from his douchebag parents.

9. Arming the World
Starts with a long synth intro, probably done on a keyboard or something. Nice use of variety, there. Then the synths are replaced by guitars and clattering cymbals, as an "ARE YOU READY? WORLD WAR III!" can be heard in the background. The main part of the song begins, and I think it's about fears of Ronald Reagan starting World War III and totally fucking over the country. The song ends with a similar outro as what the intro sounded like. Another one of the best songs on the album.

10. Getaway
This one's a little happier than the song before it. It's not very long.

11. Doomed Youth
Very fast. It's a song about the youth of America needing to "run and hide" from oppression that is to come.

12. Last Chance
I swear I made up this riff before I even heard this song! Dammit. Well, it's still a pretty good song. The lyrics are about the unpredictability of the government's actions towards the citizens, further playing on the theme of Cold War-era fear.

13. Sellout
A happier-sounding song. Basically a song describing a "sellout" as a person who will take orders from anybody else to make a buck.

14. Army Sport
Another very fast song. Pretty cool verse riff.

15. Society's Victim
This is a slow song. Great riff. The title is pretty self-explanatory. A man (or woman) who feels victimized by society. The song catches you off-guard at the end when it sounds like it's about to end, but it bites back for an ultra-fast conclusion.

16. Kill for Cash
Originally from their first 7" single. Starts pretty happy-sounding with a slow pop-punk intro and a solo. Suddenly, things get more aggressive, and the song gets harder and faster, singing about the government starting wars and killing and stupid shit just to make money. End of the album.

This album is really good! It's early '80s hardcore, but it has a lot more melody and diversity to it than some of your average-joe bands of the time. It sounds way better than the majority of "modern hardcore". The lyrics are pretty political, discussing problems on a social level AND on a large-scale level. It's a pretty solid listen, and if you like fast hard stuff, I highly recommend this!

(P.S. -- Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols plays guitar on some parts of this record!)

MUSIC VIDEOS


Friday, January 22, 2010

Review #49: Black Flag - My War (1984)


MY WAR

Year: 1984
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: SST Records
Tracks: 9
Length: 40 Minutes (Long)
Style: Angry/Emotional
My Rating: 8/8

Henry Rollins's introduction to the world as the Black Flag frontman was with 1981's "Damaged". But to be completely honest, it wasn't really Henry's album. When the songs from My War were starting to be performed, THAT was when the true persona of Henry's music was finally revealed. And it scared old fans. This record is one of the last truly offensive moments in rock and roll. And it offended the PUNKS. A generation of music fans listening to fast, loud music -- and now one of their flagship bands was challenging them with slow, quiet music. Henry Rollins would come to concerts and be stabbed with pens and endure other forms of physical abuse from shallow fans for joining the band just before their more experimental songs became a regular thing for the band. And as dark as "Damaged" was compared to their earlier work, "My War" is a shade darker, and actually marks one of the most aesthetically dark moments of the band's music. This album spares no moment for any emotion or mood other than pure, unrefined rage, fury, and angst. This album makes all of the "brutal" angst portrayed by the corporate-sold 'screamo' groups of today look like a joke. It will scare a 13-year-old Avril Lavinge fan. If you've ever felt alone, pissed, angry (yes, those are the same things), or as some other person said "at odds with the world", this album will grab you and pull you into a section of your own brain in which their is a mirror of audio which plays "My War" back to your ears on your head which is also the location of your brain which is where you are when this hypothetical situation is taking place.

1. My War
Take-no-prisoners attitude. My definite favorite song on the first half of the album. Maybe on the whole album. One of the last songs of the band written by Chuck Dukowiski. Starts with an ominous intro, in which you're face-to-face with your inner fears, as you see that weird knife-wielding puppet character in the cover. Just look at him LAUGH at you when you're angry. He FEEDS OFF IT, MOTHERFUCKER. But that's only a few seconds. Seemed like awhile, didn't you? Brief half-second pause. You hear Henry scream with true defiance: "MY WAR! YOU'RE ONE OF THEM!" His high suddenly reaches an aggressive low when he hits "YOU SAY THAT YOU'RE MY FRIEND! BUT YOU'RE ONE OF THEM!" The riff is amazing. It makes me want to do... I don't even know what. I guess something really cool, though. This song is amazing. It's a fast song similar to a song from "Damaged", but the production on this song is a lot less refined than Damaged. On the final chorus, Henry SCREAMS it out.

2. Can't Decide
This song isn't quite as intense as the song before it, to make up for it, the subject matter is a lot more descriptive. In the viewpoint of a troubled everyman, he/she goes through the world searching for something they cannot find, unable to decide whether or not to bottle up their emotions or let them all out in a destructive fit of rage. Not as big on the music for this one (the main riff sounds similar to the intro riff for "Rise Above"), but it's still alright, and the lyrics are legit.

3. Beat My Head Against the Wall
This does the whole slow/fast/slow-type thing that was common in hardcore punk back then. Personally, I like the riff for the slow parts pretty much. The song describes feelings of entrapment pretty well. The chorus goes "Swimming in the mainstream is such a lame dream".

4. I Love You
On the first listen, the song comes off as a seemingly out-of-place innocent love song among a sea of musical anger. But this song has a dark side as well. If you ignore the seemingly friendly chorus, the song is really about the power of love to manipulate one's sanity, as the demons of suspicion and self-hatred get in the way, as we hear the tale of a lover who carries around his knife, preparing to get revenge on a woman who he suspects is hurting him.

5. Forever Time
Pretty dramatic, pounding intro, succeeded by a high-pitched scream. Not a ton I can say about this song -- I'm not quite sure what the lyrics mean, but I'm sure it means something very interesting that the writers understood clearly.

6. Swinging Man
This is where the album really starts to lose it. This is the buildup for the grim underside of the record on Side 2. It's a chaotic, noisy mess of a song from the lyrical viewpoint of a psycho. Really weird tempo, that alternates between kinda fast and very fast. The whole thing in the end gets really disorganized and out-of-sync in the end and the end really leaves you not knowing to expect next.

7. Nothing Left Inside
This is the beginning of a HALF of an album which was revolutionary in its time. Starts with a slow beat... okay... then, what's this? An ominous, droning, almost metal-ish riff. The music may be more downbeat, but this song along with the two after it have a hell of a lot more to say. You realize that the slowness is here to stay. You either like it or you don't. By the middle of the song, Henry's vocals become more urgent and less neat. The song echoes of feelings of overall emptiness and loneliness.

8. Three Nights
This is my favorite one from Side 2. Starts with simple, repeated beats of the drums. A down-tempo bass-line soon ensues. Henry can be heard mumbling things in the background. The lyrics seem to suggest someone is going insane from isolation, and can't shake the feelings which compel him to kill. Possibly one of the darkest lyrics on the entire album: "My life is a piece of shit that got caught on my shoe". When someone says something like that, they have to be for real. During the solo, Henry can be heard screaming and hissing in the background. Damn, he was MAD. In the end, he furiously proclaims "STICK ME", repeatedly, in voices that seem the closest to the audible embodiments of fury and hatred. In the very end, you can hear the springs in the furniture (bed?) Henry was sitting on creaking back and forth.

9. Scream
Something about the bass-line on this one. It seems to say something. We've already heard the two slow-ass pieces of raw poetry. By this point, they already know what they're doing. At this point, we're just looking back before we move onward once more. The opening line is "Supposed to act my age, Supposed to act mature... I've got better things to do than listen to you". The verses are punctuated by seas of screams. In this song, Henry refutes and rejects the ideas of "keeping it together" and acting mature. Why do that when it reeks of insecurity with your own emotions and societal pressure to put on a "safe face"? Henry knows this. The closing line of the entire album is "I might be a BIG BABY... But I'll SCREAM IN YOUR EAR... 'Till I find out... Just what it is I am doing here." -- the song concludes with a barrage of screams that don't seem to forgive. Ends pretty simply with a final repeated shredding of the same chord on Greg's guitar.

Even after listening to this more than a few times, part of me still says "WOW..." after listening to even that final song. Such sincerity and true emotion hasn't quite been shown by any other band since this record. Even Black Flag couldn't top it (if they'd even bothered trying). An interesting thing about it is that there's the mysterious "Dale Nixon" playing the guitar. Well, that was actually just Greg Ginn. This record was recorded during a time in the band's history in which Chuck Dukowiski had just left, and Kira Roessler (she was hot back then) had not yet joined. The first half of the album is comprised of fast, hardcore stuff similar to "Damaged", but with a more introspective mood. The second half is something entirely new (at the time), and was said to inspire numerous sub-genres of rock music, some of which even went mainstream (such as grunge). This album is completely solid from start-to-finish. Isn't my "perfect" album, but for what it is, it's perfect in its own right. It doesn't miss anything. If you want to really FEEL something through the music, listen to this.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review #48: Nüklear Fear - Nüklear Fear (EP) (2009)


NüKLEAR FEAR (EP)

Year: 2009
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: None
Tracks: 9
Length: 21 Minutes (Medium-Length)
Style: Angry
My Rating: 5/8

Nüklear Fear is a new hardcore band from Dallas, Texas (a state which seems to produce some pretty good punk rock). If their MySpace was created the same time as the band formed, they've only been around for not even a year, but they already seem like they know what they're doing. In November, they released a new self-titled E.P. for free download AND for mail-order, so it's relatively easy to get ahold of this band's songs. More of their work will be featured on various punk compilations. Their sound is influenced by American and British punk rock such as G.B.H., the Reagan Youth, Agnostic Front, Motörhead, and the Circle Jerks. As a result, their sound is a thrashy, messy style of hardcore punk. Yet, there's a certain freshness, here. This band sounds like they could've written and recorded their songs back in 1981, which isn't a bad thing at all.

1. Time of Judgement
Starts with the riff repeated a few times with thumping bass drums and bass-guitar, until the whole thing goes into a thrasher. Terrorist, which I think is the name of the band's vocalist, barks the vocals like a dog. A punk-rock dog.

2. Raining Death
Slow intro which gradually speeds up. In the middle of the song it does the slow thing again. The chorus is a repeated chant of "raining death!".

3. Anxiety Attack
Can't think of much to say about this one. It'd be nice if I could find lyrics for these songs, y'know. Uhh... this song is fast.

4. All We Know
I really like the vocals on this one. Sounds a little like a young Ian MacKaye, here.

5. Confusion Their Conclusion
This one has a good riff. The riff sounds similar to Flipper's "Living for the Depression", but this song is much faster.

6. Genocide Nightmare
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7. Kill Hardcore
Shortest song on the record. But why are we supposed to kill hardcore? And with what? A gun? A knife? Or maybe "kill" in this case is an adjective. It's hardcore for killing people. The only line in this song is "KILL HARDCORE", turns out.

8. No Need for This
Is this a love-song? The singing is so fast that I can't really tell. But maybe it is. dfgd

9. N
üklear Fear
Usually, in most hardcore bands, the band will actually have a song named after them. Such is the case with N
üklear Fear. And that's the lyrics to the song: "NüKLEAR FEAR!". It's repetitive, but it's got a really cool flow to it, for some reason. I like it. Longest song on the record, being actually over two minutes long. Favorite track on the album.

Hidden Track
Five minutes of silence... at about seven minutes into the final track, you hear the word "--four", as the SECRET SAWNG starts. It's not quite as fast as most of the songs on the record, but still pretty fast.

While the songs should appeal to any hardcore fan, the album production might not. I personally love the production, but it's really murky and lo-fi; it sounds like it was recorded live to a single tape-player. And maybe it was. But I do like these songs. It always makes me happy when I find out about a great new rock n' roll band. This is one of these. They've only begun, too, so try to support them if you can or if you live near them in Texas, because I think things are looking pretty good for 'em at this point. They know how to write a song, and they have a great sound, so I suggest you check them out. I'm going to provide you with the links to this EP and their MySpace page below:

DOWNLOAD THE ALBUM
http://www.reverbnation.com/nuklearfear

OFFICIAL MYSPACE
http://www.myspace.com/turnyourbacktxhc

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Review #47: The Offspring - The Offspring (1989)


THE OFFSPRING

Year: 1989
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: Nemesis Records
Tracks: 11
Length: 32 Minutes (Medium-Length)
Style: Political/Violent
My Rating: 7/8

One night, two teenage punks from Orange County, California named Keith Holland and Greg K. were going to go see a Social Distortion concert. However, when they got there, there was a problem -- they weren't allowed in because they were under 18! When they got home, the two decided to start their own band called "Manic Subsidal". Of course, this band later was renamed "the Offspring" in 1985. Now, a few years passed, and by 1988, they recorded a demo, released a single, and had a full lineup. In 1989, they were signed to Nemesis Records and went to the studio to record their first LP! While it wasn't initially that successful, it was still a classic in its own right. The Offspring are now more known for their alternative-influenced brand of pop-punk, but just over 20 years ago, they played fast n' furious hardcore. With that said, a lot of more mainstream Offspring fans might (and some have) be offended by this album, because at this point their lyrics were more dark and gruesome; fuck, earlier prints of this record had a song called "Kill the President". Of course, they just HAD to re-release the album with a "cleaner" album cover and by 2002 "Kill the President" was taken off (why would you take that song off while BUSH was in office?). I dunno if that qualifies as selling out. Maybe there's a more personal reason for it all. But still, this documents an LP's worth of their early sound, and the songs won't be too catchy for everyone, but fans of "Ignition" or even "Smash" should enjoy it somehow. On to the songs.

1. Jennifer Lost the War
Starts with a soft beat, and then gets harder after the beginning. Pretty cool lead-guitar work in this one. The song compares life to a battlefield, in which ordinary people "are all just soldiers", as young children are killed and raped, yet we don't take matters into our own hands to go after the people who do these things. I think that's what it's about.

2. Elders
Faster than the previous song. It's a song about when we're young, we're told that we'll grow up into a specific mold of a "grownup", when in reality most people grow up with few opportunities for the future, and we see that they weren't as great as they made themselves to seem. The song tells authority to "just be straight with us" about the future. Vocal harmonies used in the chorus section.

3. Out On Patrol
Hands-down favorite song on the album. Starts with quiet, beautiful acoustic guitar that EXPLODES into a roar of pounding drums and fiery distortion. In between the lines during the verses, there's this cool little swift set of notes that are played. Sounds so cool. That part makes me think of the little alien bursting outta the guy's body on the cover. The song is pretty much some sort of anti-war tune, telling the tale of a solider who dies in a war from a mine, and realizes that nothing can save him now. The "It's Your Life" line that's repeated at the end is punctuated by a group chorus of "ohh-ohh-ohh". Some weird foreign phrase yelled at the end.

4. Crossroads
This one starts with a very lead-driven lengthy intro. After the first verse there's a solo. Not sure what this one's about. The tempo in this one is similar to "Jennifer Lost the War".

5. Demons
Very swift, rolling drum intro. Metal-ish rhythm guitars, here. The song is about a ritual of summoning a group of demons. A person wearing Egyptian attire is sacrificed in a blood-ritual. Two-thirds through the song, the tempo slows down during the bridge, before speeding up again.

6. Beheaded
Another horror-themed song. A song about an insane kid who axes-murders his entire family by chopping off their heads, splashes the blood all over his body and collects the heads in a burlap sack, adorning his room with them on bamboo poles. There's another slow bridge-section in this one.

7. Tehran
Another anti-war song. It's a criticism of the Iran-Contra and Middle-Eastern wars that were taking place during the 1980s under Ronald Reagan and George H.-W. Bush. Asks the question of whether or not this is all worth the amount of people that would be killed for it all. A great song that's still relevant to today's politicals (more than it was back then!).

8. A Thousand Days
Not my favorite one on the album, but it's still alright. Very poetic lyrics that I can't quite decipher in the time that the song plays for.

9. Blackball
An earlier version of this song was released on a 1986 single along with "I'll Be Waiting". This version is definitely more polished, with more accentuated drums and soforth. Really compelling lyrics about "black-balling", an organization practice in which certain people are excluded by chance for receiving a "black ball" rather than a "white ball"; basically a process that unfairly excludes people just 'cause. I love the chorus riff.

10. I'll Be Waiting
Also originally on the 1986 7" single (albeit, in a different version). Starts with a slow percussion section with a lead-solo. The thumping bass drums can be heard, and then it's more thrash-style music. Basically about feeling alienated and fatigued by a society that feels like it's filled with fake, boring people with "nothing to say". The song's protagonist looks to a day "when he feels alive". Kinda how I feel a lot.

11. Kill the President
It makes me so mad that they took this song off recent printings of the album! Well, if it wasn't the Offspring, maybe it was the actual president -- pig! The song starts with some funky drums which turn into fast beats. The song pretty much gets to the point -- a world with leaders would have fewer wars, less oppression, and that "the world that they're saving will always be theirs", meaning that corrupt politicians usually act on THEIR best interests rather than their nation's. Good song with a good point. Barack Obama isn't immune to this eternal chant, either.

Well, that's "the Offspring". Two of the songs, "Blackball" and "I'll Be Waiting" were from an older 7" single, and "Tehran" was later on the Baghdad EP as "Baghdad". It's a pretty solid listen. Fast, intense hardcore, but it's more melodic than early hardcore. And I'm not huge on that most of the time, but it works in this case. The production values are pretty low, which I actually like. Good old days of analog recording. The album mostly tackles social issues, but there's a few more off-the-wall songs as well. Some songs about personal issues, too. If you don't find this album "accessible" enough as an Offspring fan, start with "Smash" or "Ignition" and then try listening to it. 'Cause it's really good.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Review #46: GWAR - Hell-O! (1988)


HELL-O!

Year: 1988
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore, Thrash
Label: Shimmy-Disc Records
Tracks: 16 (17 on International Editions)
Length: 38 Minutes (Long)
Style: Funny/Demented/ViolentWeird
My Rating: 7/8

GWAR is a thrash-metal band from Richmond, Virginia that formed in 1984. The band is certainly not in the popular spectrum, but they have become notorious for their shocking stage antics and behaviors. GWAR is composed of a group of intergalactic warriors who were for quite some time trapped beneath the ice of Antarctica. They say that when hair-metal became extremely popular, all of the hairspray used by those bands opened up a hole in the Ozone Layer big enough to melt the ice that GWAR was trapped in, though they were still banished to live on Earth (GWAR fans, if I've got the story wrong, please correct me). But while they're primarily known as a metal band today, this record is a piece of their punk rock beginnings. Dave Brockie, who has always played the role of Oderus Urungus, was previously in a hardcore punk band called "Death Piggy" early in the '80s. GWAR was different, back in this point. Oderus Urungus had just become the new frontman, as Johnny Slutman left a few years prior. Their costumes were nowhere nearly as elaborate, they had human faces rather than masks, just wearing weird medieval/sci-fi looking battle armor and sometimes facepaint. They didn't get their more realistic-looking costumes until about a year or two after this record came out. It's considerably less heavy, but the signature thrash sound is still somewhat present.

1. Timè fôr Deäth
Silence... sounds can be heard slowly getting louder... must be the wind. When the guitar and the drums start, you know you're in for SOMETHING. The vocals flow really well, and the lyrics are pretty much GWAR's warning to the world that they are there to exterminate human beings. This song is somewhat slow.

2. ÅEIÖU
This one's a little faster. The chorus-section comes before the verse, which is pretty much the group saying "A-E-I-O-U". The song is an argument of whether the vowels belong to Gor-Gor (one of the many characters in GWAR canon) or Satan. Who it belongs to is never really solved. The verse riff is really cool. The song at the ends speeds up to a clash of insanity.

3. Americànized
There's a solo in the beginning of this one. It's a song making fun of Americans with large egos due to the country that they live in. GWAR tries to kill them.

4. I'm in Löve (With a Deåd Dog)
Slightly less slow than the previous song. A song about being in love with a dead dog named... "Pookie." At first the song's protagonist claims that "he doesn't want to cum inside of you" (the dog), but then he goes into great detail of his sexual desire for the dead dog. You can hear the dog barking in the background... I thought it was dead! The song speeds up with a lead-section at the end in which you can hear the dog get hit by a car on the road.

5. Slütmañ City
Another slow song. Even though this song is called "Slutman City", both Johnny and Joey Slutman had left the group by the time this record came out. It's about Oderus Urungus escaping the antarctic ice to see the evil in the world which he desires to destroy, rape, and kill "because it's fun".

6. World Ô Filth
A very fast song. The lyrics go on further to describe the misanthropy of GWAR. Quieter guitar-leads can be heard in the background of the song.

7. War Toy
The song opens with something sounds like "tounge in my anal cave". It's a relaxed-tempo song about Oderus Urungus's new sex-slave, "the War Toy". Favorite line of the song: "My Nipples Explode". Pure poetry. Har har har. "Nipples Explode..." hawhasajdhsajkfhdsjfhsdkjgfd

8. Cåptain Crünch
Another slow song. Really cool bassline. Not sure if this one is about the cereal Captain Crunch or not. Probably is, though. It's about killing everybody and having necrophillia with them when they're dead. End of Side 1.

9. Püre as the Årctic Snôw
Side 2 starts fast. GWAR sings about how they came to escape from the antarctic ice and how "the system sucks", telling us to come down with them or else we'll be drowned in a sea of pus. I heard a pretty hilarious scream in there towards the end.

10. Je M'Appelle J. Cöusteaü
Almost sounds like they're using bongos for percussion in this one. Maybe something else. Not plain ol' drums, though. It's a song about the French explorer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The lyrics are really intricate and well-written.

11. GWAR Theme
This was the song that got me into GWAR. I actually heard an early lo-fi version of it on the Shimmy-Disc Video Compilation, but that was enough to get my interest. Starts with a soft, slow beginning with a few shrieks in the background. Beautiful acoustic guitar-sounds that you just can't get out of shitty modern production values. After the first verse, the songs speeds up into hardcore-mode, where the first verse is repeated in a less coherent fashion. Really cool song. The song is another song chronicling the beginnings of GWAR's foray into planet Earth, proving that even though they're a bunch of sadistic, murdering, masochistic rapists, they are total anti-heroes if there ever were, for they kill and rape stuff that SUCKS. Favorite song on the record.

12.
Bône Meal
Only about 45 seconds long! Weird beat and a short poem about turning burnt corpses into "bone meal" for GWAR's forces to eat.

13. Öllie North
Another very fast song; except the vocals are really hard to understand. Just awesome legit GWAR screaming. The second half is slower than the first half. A great song.

14. Techno's Song
Starts with a brief moment of punk noise. Techno Destructo is one antagonists of GWAR, who can out-fight, out-fuck, and out-fart any members of GWAR. He takes the Cosmic Control Tape(?) into his grasp and forces the band to play a song he wrote while on the toilet about how great he is.

15. U Ain't Shit
This one's okay. It's a fast song about a bored person who "needs a good kick in the butt" and learns to rock because "U ain't shit until you learn how to rock".

16. Rock & Roll Pärty Töwn
Starts with a soundclip of a girl saying "It got so BIG!". Heehee. This one's a little slower. It's about a hot chick who has sex at a rock n' roll party. I'm jealous, though, 'cause chicks today just want to listen to shitty pop music and shitty corporate rap music. Whatever happened to music with BALLS? Well, nonetheless, this was supposedly one of the first GWAR songs.

17. Black and Huge
This song is only on non-American versions of the record, which kinda sucks. It's about the plight of a giant black penis that's "looking for a stupid white chick", but unfortunately, it can't seem to get out of its cup. That's the end of the record. Actually, the record is already over if your version of the record doesn't have this song on it. Which means you've been hearing something that's not even actually there for the last two minutes. Which means you're insane. Which is cool.

The cover-art depicts GWAR pushing a bunch of skinheads into a ditch. Skinheads would frequently antagonize GWAR at their early shows. Their loss. Anyways, this record is chock-full of human-slaying, human-raping, necrophillia, bestiality, anuses, and really funny noises. GWAR are fucking badasses. Not long after this album was released, their music would take on an even more metal-based flavor, and their costumes became less low-budget, and they eventually all had masks (though Balsac the Jaws of Death always had his mask). What the fuck, if you buy this album, you might be inadvertly stimulating ALIEN economies! Which would mean that maybe someday the aliens would have more money to destroy Earth with... wait. No. Nevermind. This record is good, though. The style is somewhere between hardcore punk and heavy metal, with even a little noise thrown into the mix, so there's a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy. Hell, the first song's vocals sound like they're being rapped. Maybe they are. I dunno. fljgfdkjglfdkjgdfrt8ujretiejh;lyrkj;lkglkfnvv jdbfsjhadewq87eqagwdbdhvahjsbfksdj ;lkgl;dfkgegjdfnjfngf

VARIOUS GWAR VIDEOS FROM 1987 INCLUDING MUSIC VIDEOS FOR EARLY VERSIONS OF "THEME SONG" AND "TIME FOR DEATH"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Review #45: Minor Threat - Minor Threat (EP) (1981)


MINOR THREAT (EP)

Year: 1981
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: Dischord Records
Tracks: 8
Length: 9 Minutes (Short)
Style: Angry
My Rating: 7/8

Minor Threat was one of the many bands formed by Ian MacKaye, and probably the most influential of them all. They unintentionally set off a movement called the "Straight Edge Movement", in which members pledge to abstain from alcohol, drugs, and sex, which still thrives today, though Ian himself played no role in creating this movement. This EP is considerably more melodic than a lot of hardcore from the time period, so it's no wonder that Ian MacKaye would become a leader in the post-hardcore genre that began in the mid '80s. Nonetheless, this is a really good EP, and anyone who likes punk rock (period) should like this, so give it a shot.

1. Filler
This a fucking song I can relate to! It's about a friend of Ian's who left him to live alone with his girlfriend and religion. The song itself has a good riff, a fast pace. An ode for all of us who lost a friend to "the easy way out".

2. I Don't Wanna Hear It
Starts with a quiet bass, and then EXPLODES into another fast song with a great riff. It's basically about a person who is constantly being told corrosive bullshit and lies who "doesn't wanna hear it" and ultimately tells the person to shut up.

3. Seeing Red
This song is about conformist people who laugh at anyone who's different and judges them by their looks rather than their minds.

4. Straight Edge
Ah, the song that started it all. When this song was first written, punk rock was laden with sex, drugs, and alcohol. And yet, we've gone half-circle: it's no longer being yourself, it's another damned trend. It's "cool" is pick on people who use substances or anything to temporarily make them feel good, and another pillar of how "holier-than-thou" punk rock has gotten today. As for what this song meant in 1981, it probably wasn't very popular. A punk NOT wanting to smoke, drink, or fuck? What the hell? I'm sure Ian took a lot of crap for that, more than today's "Straight-Edgers" do. I'm certainly not 'straight edge', but I can respect Ian for making the decision he did. And it's never good to let sex, drugs, or alcohol control your life. I think that was the point of this song. Shortest song on the album. End of Side 1.

5. Small Man, Big Mouth
A song about an insecure dude who "competes for the boys" in order to prove his worth to society. The riff changes briefly in the middle of the song.

6. Screaming at a Wall
The song that got me into Minor Threat (I heard the Beastie Boys cover of it). It's fast and crazy. Ian barks his vocals like a really intelligent doggy, and the "screaming at a wall" section has a really fitting riff. I'd imagine hearing this song live and being in the middle of a pit or something would have to be one of the most intense moments of one's life. Two-thirds through the song, there's a slow section of the song before the song speeds up one last time. My guess is that the song is about a stuck-up, exclusive, "in-crowd" member of society (or even the punk scene!) who spits upon the song's lowly protagonist, who longs for the day when that social structure either crashes down or kicks out the antagonist, unless the protagonist someday "has to use his hands".

7. Bottled Violence
Another anti-alcohol song. It's about a guy who gets drunk to feel confident with himself and goes out to concerts to get in fights and beat up people. Very short.

8. Minor Threat
The slowest song on the album, and it's pretty good. Starts with the riff, then Ian says "play it faster", as the beat starts, and the message seems to be REAL prominent message of Minor Threat -- "Don't waste your time acting like a grown-up". "I might be an adult, but I'm a minor at heart". Those are words that I hope I stay true to after I'm 18. There are fast sections of the song, but before ya know it, it's over.

Well, it's only under 10 minutes long, but this EP has a fucking lot to say! It asks a lot of questions that people were afraid to ask at the time, and though it condemns what was the prominent rock-n-roll attitude at the time, it's still a very rebellious, edgy record. Minor Threat left a huge legacy when it only lasted for 3 years! That's hard to do nowadays. Ian went on to form the first emocore band, and another successful post-hardcore band called Fugazi that was popular in the indie scene during the '90s. SDSFDSKMKNkdjgdfbngbdf fgjnfkjdgfdg8ruyr8it45tkjng;;fkg dfnsdkjfsdklf jskdakjhfasjkdhsayd8HAUIHDAIHS (translation: I like this record)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Review #44: The Ramones - Ramones (1976)


RAMONES

Year: 1976
Genre: Punk Rock
Label: Sire Records
Tracks: 14
Length: 29 Minutes (Medium-Length)
Style: Happy/Funny/Weird
My Rating: 7/8

The earliest punk rock bands actually formed throughout the late '60s and the early '70s in New York. Examples of this are the Patti Smith Group, the Stooges, and the Velvet Underground. However, if described in a more popular point-of-view, the Ramones, as said by many, were the first punk rock band. Formed in 1974 in New York, they were America's answer to an age of boring, overcomplicated, pretentious rock n' roll. While originally intending to simply in a sense recreate the old fashioned rock music of the '40s and '50s, they ended up giving birth to entire genre called "punk rock". Simple beats. Three-chord riffs. Amateur vocals. At the time was rebellious, challenged social norms, and was universally despised by conformists adults of the previous generation and authority figures. For wearing your hair in a weird style or color with a jacket with buttons, pins, and/or spikes on it, you could be arrested or beaten. Back then, "punk rock" was weird music for weird people; they way it should be in a cooler world. Not long after they formed, other punk bands started forming all over the place as well, such as the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Blondie, the Damned, and the Runaways.

And if the Ramones were the first punk rock band, then this is the first punk rock album. It's called "Ramones". 'Cause that's the name of the band that made it. It's not called "Penises", or "Vaginas", or "Little Pieces of Hair on the Floor". It's called "Ramones". And it should probably stay that way 'er something. All of the songs on here are really simplistic. Like pop-songs, but in a less-stupid way. Or in a more-stupid way. Up to you, really. The songs are repetitive riffs and beats with oddball lyrics about sniffing glue, obsessive fans, Nazis, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. Still, unlike their peers and admirers, the Ramones made light of any situation. Where a modern punk band would whine about something, the Ramones would make a cartoonish joke of it. The songs are very catchy.

1. Blitzkrieg Bop
The most famous Ramones song ever. Begins with the riff and beat, and then the classic chant of "Hi-Ho! Let's Go!". A lot of World War II-related lyrics, as common in Ramones songs. The funny thing is that this is my least favorite song on the whole album! Well, it's best to save the best for later, anyways. It's a good song, but let's go and see what's next...

2. Beat on the Brat
NOW we're talkin'! This is like an official badass anthem. The lyrics are simple: "Beat on the Brat, Beat on the Brat, Beat on the Brat, Beat on the Brat With a Baseball Bat!". The verse riff is awesome. The chorus asks the question "What can you do with a brat like that?". The song was supposedly inspired by a time that Joey Ramone saw a mother chasing her child around with a baseball bat. Funny story. Longest song on the record.

3. Judy is a Punk
One thing I never got about this one: the title is "Judy is a Punk", but in the actual lyrics, they say "Jackie is a PUNK, Judy is a RUNT". Maybe those are interchangable terms. Hell, maybe we need some RUNT-Rock. This song was based on two real-life highly-obsessed fans, Jackie and Judy. It was cited as "prophetic", for in the chorus, the line is "Perhaps they'll die, oh yeah..." -- the two did indeed die in a plane crash. Shortest song on the record.

4. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
The obligatory love/pop-song. It's a little slower than the last few, and the main line is "Hey little girl, I wanna be your boyfriend". A lot of "ooh-ooh-ooh"s goin' on. Sounds like something fitting for a beach in the evening. The song eventually fades out.

5. Chain Saw
This one's based on the horror film "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (a good movie, I might add!). Begins with a soundclip of an actual chainsaw, until the "wowowow"s and riff and beat break in. They pronounce "massacre" different than me. In Ohio, I say "mass-uh-ker". They say "mass-ah-kree". Maybe they're doing it the right way. Makes more sense, to be honest. Ends with Joey going "Oh No, Oh Yeah, Oh No, Oh Yeah..." as it fades out.

6. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
They say that this one's based off of the phenomena of bored New York kids being left at home and turning to glue-sniffing in order to "have somethin' to do". As for the song itself, I like the instrumental mid-section a lot. This one ends abruptly rather than fading out...

7. I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement
This one has a cool riff. It's about a guy not wanting to go down to the basement because "there's something down there". What the hell could it be?? Nice bass.

8. Loudmouth
Hah! "You're a loudmouth, baby. You'd better shut it up. I'm gonna beat you up." That's pretty much the whole song. A compelling argument for shutting up any loudmouth.

9. Havana Affair
My favorite song on the album. Supposedly it's based on the Bay of Pigs Invasion that took place in the 1960s. But the song is pretty catchy, with the chorus line "baby baby made me loco... baby baby made me mambo..."

10. Listen to My Heart
Good use of hand-claps. Seems to be a more serious-sounding song, and it's a love-song at that. The song's protagonist reminds himself to protect himself from pain and "next time, to listen to his heart".

11. 53rd & 3rd
This one is supposedly about Dee-Dee Ramone (the group's bassist) when he was a male prostitute. Dee Dee actually sings in this one; he sings the lines "Then I took out my razor blade,
then I did what God forbade, now the cops are after me, but I proved that I'm no sissy". This song is a little slow.

12. Let's Dance
This is a cover of a song by Jim Lee written in 1962. It's a pretty fun, up-beat, fast song. I can actually hear an organ in the background in one part, but I'm not sure if it's really there or if I'm just hearing things. Or maybe it's a harmonica. I really don't know.

13. I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You
The song seems to be a sort of song about a man who is being chastised by an admirer that he doesn't love back. There are little subtleties in the bassline here that make this one enjoyable. Even a weird one-note solo! Ends with a powerful group yell.

14. Today Your Love, Tommorrow the World
A satirical Nazi love-song. Ends with the repeated chorus, "Today Your Love, Tommorrow the World!".

Well, there you have it. The one that started it all. Well, not really, to be honest. There were more than a few punk rock bands before this. And I'm not obliged to rate this record 8/8. I give it a 7/8. They weren't the first band ever to do this kind of music. I'm not going to lie. I'd rather listen to '80s to mid '90s post-punk, 80's hardcore, or noise-rock. They musically have more to offer than this. But they would have never existed if not for this. The Ramones made punk rock big. They solidified it as a movement. They were different and proud. They made simple music cool again. Fuck, they were even conservatives! As weird as they were, the Ramones virtually found their way into the hearts of just about everyone who loves rock & roll. And something definitely can be said about a band who manages to set off an entire world of music with thousands of followers with thousands of ideologies bound together by one thing only: rock and roll.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Review #43: The Homostupids - The Edge (EP) (2008)


THE EDGE (EP)

Year: 2008
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: P. Trash Records
Tracks: 3
Length: 4 Minutes (Very Short)
Style: Angry/Weird
My Rating: 6/8

The Homostupids are an American hardcore band that formed in 2005. Their records have a very rough, noisy sound with virtually zero production values. Because of this, they could also be categorized as "noise rock". The Homostupids, however, refer to their band as a "music band" (probably one of the most accurate descriptions one could give any band) and remind us to "buy all of their shit". I probably should. So should you.

1. Ron Items
Starts with some sort of vocal thing being yelled. The music may be abrasive, but there's still subtleties to pick out. They're actually playing pretty good songs, but the sound quality is ultra lo-fi. Well, the song's riff is more down-beat (rather than up-beat). Lots of clashing cymbals. The song is a minute long.

2. Weekend Er
My favorite song on the album. Why? 'Cause I like the riff. Pretty solid vocals of what I can make out. There's a nice slow section in the middle. Longest song on the record, being almost two minutes long. End of Side 1.

3. Back With the Wolf
More harsh screaming vocals. To a certain degree, the song's melody is bass-driven. Still, it seems like it ends sooner than normal. But that's the end of the record.

The time just flies by, but the songs are pretty good. They're not ultra-fast like a lot of hardcore songs, but fast enough to slam to. The sound quality makes me these songs were actually performed live. Hey, it's possible. Either that or performed into a single microphone. Vagina. Anyways, they released a NEW LP last month, called "The Load", so if you liked this record, I recommend you check that out as well. The band has a blog and a MySpace as well. A certain picture on their MySpace caught my interest:


















Uhh... I think you're supposed to... color it... or something.

Anyways, here's the links to their Blog and MySpace. Have fun, childrens.
http://www.homostupids.blogspot.com/
http://www.myspace.com/homostupids

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