Pop-punk that shrugs off the taint of cleanliness that infects some of that genre, ex-Marked Men/Shang-A-Lang Dirtnap goodness, songs that snap into each other so quickly and sharply that sometimes you think it's just a rhythm shift in one song. Clackety power-pop that often seems to turn on that modern life alienation axis, all medication ("But I can't seem to replace the space that was left behind" on Pills) and distance, the thrum of technology and the croon of distance, like Royal Headache by way of Subhumans songs, or Lost in the Supermarket torn through by the Carbonas.
"I can't keep these demons from crawling in" shouts Nightmare in a full punk tumble, "You say you wanna take me out well take me out" drawls Waste the Day Away. But this focus on emptiness, so perfectly captured in the little trills that burst out of the garage-punk shiver, finding respite on the mellower California with bubbling sunny pop melodies and refrain of "But tonight I'm getting fucked up in California/Drinking whiskey on the beach/And all those kids who were better than me/Well they're probably sitting home watching their TV" This always feels to me like a small album, it's not some all encompassing statement, it's not a blast of noise to rearrange and reconfigure, it's a tight punk picture of some bad stuff and some good stuff, wrapped up in sweet vocal lines and hooky doxologies to our troubles and tenseness and what breaks through.
Livids - Some of Us Have Adrenalized Hearts/Midnight Stains/She Likes Zits/Your House or the Courthouse
It's been over 20 years since the New Bomb Turks dropped !!Destroy-Oh-Boy!!, exploding with needle-sharp wit and furious buzzpunk blap into the early 90s punk scene and Eric Davidson is still fucking killing it. That's the long game, people. Livids has Davidson joined by a bunch of people from other punk bands, the only one of which I know is the guitarist from The Zodiac Killers, and Livids continue to churn out the kind of scuzzfuzz rock-and-roll that bore the New Bomb Turks to high enough heights to be act as shorthand for "Famous enough to be a band you've heard of, small enough for the idea of them being famous to be funny." in the classic Onion article 90s Punk Decries Punks of Today They've recorded enough stuff for a full-length, but in true J Church fashion, have put it out as four separate singles on four different labels. Your House or the Courthouse on Slovenly, She Likes Zits on Twistworthy, (Some Of Us Have) Adrenalized Hearts on Oops Baby and Midnight Stains on Goodbye Boozy.
On (Some of Us Have) Adrenalized Hearts, Eric Davidson clucks out a defiant answer for anyone wondering how people can still twist and thrash this way after two decades of punk nonsense, squealing "I got a way, I got a sway/I got a feeling I ain’t goin’ away" in a moment of terse self-knowledge, once this sound gets stuck in you, you're stuck in that mud, flapping about noisily in a cloudy mix of driving outside passion and shitflinging ape compulsion. "I gotta slay/I gotta wail/I don’t know what else to do." it continues, a rock and roll song that revels in the idea perhaps best expressed by the Alan Moore line in Another Suburban Romance: "Once you step outside, you're outside for the rest of your life"
Theme from Livids on the same single gives more of this idiot trash power. A sixty second propellerpunk howler that bounces between obnoxiousness "You being happy makes us sad!" and self-deprecating goofpunk grin "Our moms think we’re fuckin cool."
The band also generally stays away from some of the more Rolling Stones influence of New Bomb Turks stuff, sticking straight with that garage-punk speed slip, from the grossout geek love on She Likes Zits to the Ramones roller of Spoof Attack, to the bass runs and guitar squeaks of Stop Bleeding, Livids are cracking out furious catchy stuff, a perfect plague-carrier for Davidson's classic yelp, which is supplemented and cross-cut by the backing vocals from the rest of the band, which punch out the middle on stuff like the half-minute Koro kick of Zich on Your House or the Courthouse. Maybe there's nothing here quite as sharp as NBT lines that I've scrawled onto my jacket but this is terrific searing punk rock.