Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review #71: Teen Idles - Minor Disturbance (EP) (1980)


Year: 1980
Punk Rock


Dischord Records


9 Minutes (Short)


My Rating:

Ian MacKaye didn't invent the D.C. punk scene, but he certainly did revolutionize it. Before he made it big (in the underground, at least) with Minor Threat, he played in a band called the Teen Idles. And before that, he was in a band called the Slinkees. The Slinkees played one performance. At this time, Ian was just a bass-guitarist. However, most of the songs they wrote at that time were still used when the Teen Idles formed. So, this was Ian's first recorded band. Once again, Ian played bass, Nathan sang, Geordie played guitar, and Jeff drummed. Their mission was to return to what they believed punk rock was really about. Around the time that the Teen Idles formed, New Wave music was creeping into the punk rock scene, and was famous for its flashiness, use of synthesizers, and all-around glitz and glam. They wore mohawks, shaven heads, leather jackets, and stuck thumbtacks into the bottom of their shoes to make their appearance more intimidating and rugged than the pretentious New Wave style. The music was hard, fast, and short. For this reason, they were pretty influential in the early hardcore scene, even though they lasted for a total of less than a year! In that short lifespan, though, they did manage to squeeze out one 7" EP. Let's hear what it sounds like...

1. Teen Idles
A fast, short song. Describes feelings of teenage boredom, hating school, going to concerts, and being a bored teenager (wait, I just said that).

2. Sneakers
This one's about kids who act like they want to grow up too fast. The first line refers to a sixteen-year-old girl "going on thirty two", smoking a cigarette, wearing lipstick, and dating an older man -- even neglecting the song's protagonist when he tried to say hello her. The song encourages kids to "let their teenage ignorance last" and just have fun being a kid 'cause it doesn't last forever. This song has a really cool riff. There's a solo, too.

3. Get Up and Go
This is the kind of song I want to play for my parents. It sings about the fact that you don't HAVE to learn 'music theory' and learn all of this complex stuff to play in a band -- the band sings that while some kids would rather do that, they'll just "get up and go".

4. Deadhead
This one's very fast with a slow section in the middle. It's a song about a hippie kid who does drugs and listens to the Grateful Dead, while the band sings about how the 'deadhead' will soon be dead and goes on to call out his musical tastes as being "really lousy". End of Side 1.

5. Fleeting Fury
Starts out with a happy, slow intro, but it ends in a few seconds and makes way for a FLEETING FURY of fast punk rock! The first verse of the song sings about the old days of punk rock and the "cries of freedom in the United Kingdom". The rest of the song is based around how punk rock has become for many little more than an image that has "lost its sting" and how a lot of punks want to be seen in the public eye acting mean and tough.

6. Fiorucci Nightmare
A song singing about "an asshole's dream", and snobby rich people who spend their money on expensive fancy clothes and "learn their fashion from a magazine". My favorite line of the song is "do you really think you're in our dreams?" -- who WOULD want to be like THAT? Shortest song on the EP.

7. Getting In My Way
This one's about a person trying to find his way home at night when he gets beaten up by a mugger.

8. Too Young to Rock
This track's taken from a live performance. You can hear the crowd cheering at the beginning. It's a song about the anger of kids who are too young to see their favorite bands at concerts ("it's hard to rock when you can't see the band"). The chorus goes "we're too young to rock", a sarcastic jab at how they feel that age is all that matters to the clubowners. Because it's live, the sound quality is significantly worse than the rest of the album, but if you know the lyrics, then this one rocks just as much as the other songs! The record's title, "Minor Disturbance" comes from a line in this song.

If I didn't say it already, another interesting thing the band did as well was the fact that they did a very cool thing and started their own label. This label is called Dischord Records, and it's still around today. This EP was the first Dischord release ever. Maybe in this review I gave Ian a little too much importance -- well, the other band members didn't go on to anything else significant except for Jeff Nelson; he became the drummer for Minor Threat when they formed and helps Ian MacKaye run Dischord Records today. He also played in a short-lived band called "Egg Hunt" with Ian in the mid 1980s. He has played in lots of other bands as well and currently plays in one called "Fast Piece of Furniture". And we all know what sorts of things Ian did next -- A LOT!! At the time that this 7" record came out, along with "Pay to Cum" by Bad Brains, "Nervous Breakdown" and "Jealous Again" by Black Flag, and "(GI)" from the Germs, there was another new sound coming around, more powerful than the sound of punk rock from the mid '70s... this sound still lives.

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