Saturday, 20 August 2011

Mix Jones #3: Too Much Monkey Business




I actually made this mix a while ago and couldn’t think of some decent cover art for it. Fortunately, the other day I saw the surprisingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which fairly closely mirrors the plot of Groovie Ghoulies’ Outbreak. I also probably could’ve filled this with far more songs about how businessmen wear monkey suits but I cut NOFX’s Pimps and Hookers and The King Blues’ Chimp in a 3-Piece Suit and just stuck to the one. So this is one for all our simian friends.


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Tracklisting:
01. The Dickies - You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)
02. Didjits - Monkey Suit
03. Screeching Weasel - Joanie Loves Johnny [Live]
04. Dead Milkmen - Gorilla Girl
05. Groovie Ghoulies - Outbreak!
06. White Shit - Shitted Out
07. Spizzenergi - Jungle Fever
08. Osaka Popstar and the American Legends of Punk - Shaolin Monkeys
09. Tijuana Bibles - Gorilla Stomp
10. Arson Anthem - Primate Envy
11. Disgusteens - Monkey’s Uncle
12. The Mummies - (You Must Fight to Live) on the Planet of the Apes
13. Zombina and the Skeletones - Ape Man
14. Raooul - Rotten Dead Monkey
15. Rocket from the Crypt - Raped by Ape
16. Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments - Baboon’s Liver
17. Riverdales - Time of the Apes
18. The Mopes - You Look Like a Gorilla
19. Melt Banana - Monkey Man

Time: 49:34

For maximum enjoyment, turn the sound down on this video and let it sync itself to the music as you listen:

So Scratched into Our Souls #8: Oblivians - Bad Man

I've been on a massive garage punk trip for the past month or so. The Rip Offs, The Gaza Strippers, The Didjits, The Mummies, New Bomb Turks and Guitar Wolf have dominated my computer speakers, but I think the song that I have listened to the most, certainly the one that has been scratched deepest into my soul is this Oblivians song.

It's a break-up song, and all break-up songs are country songs, ol' time country, when it was just the blues with a spark more twang. Whether you dress it up in the frenetic whine of pop-punk as so many do (The Ergs' Stinking of Whiskey Blues and The Zatopeks' Mary Lou are two songs by pop-punk bands that explicitly make this thematic debt clear) or shave the bedraggled edge off it in a plaintive folk-pop abomination. All break-up songs are country songs and all country songs, the ones I love anyway, are rough things, where the emotion is stunted and the pain comes through even more from the fact that it's being expressed by someone who doesn't know how to express their pain that much, is uncomfortable with coping mechanisms beyond bottles and barfights, that's what this song is. There's clearly a lot of emotion in it, but it's not always clear which emotion is being expressed and how the singer even feels about it or whether they've even made up their mind yet. You can't really say it wears its heart on it sleeve because its heart is a tricky misshapen muscle beating arrythmically and growling unintelligibly, ventricles at war with one another. This song fuzzes and spits with its own internal conflict, just like any human cunt does.

This song is, for want of a better word, a ballsy song. It's not some heartbroken cry designed to get girls to see how sensitive you are and offer you comfort, but it's not really a righteous fuck you of bitter indignation either with all the transparent pathetic bravado that those sort of songs contain (though there is a bit of that, it kicks it to pieces itself before you can snort at it). I think thematically the song it bares most resemblance to is the refreshing anti-sentimentality of Against Me!'s Cavalier Eternal, a fantastic break-up song that transcends many of the artistic clich├ęs around this particular form.

Girl, I'm sorry but I'm leaving.
We're both at fault, we're both to blame.
And it wasn't the other men 'cause there were other women.
This just isn't love, it's just the remorse of a loss of a feeling.
Even if I stayed, it just wouldn't be the same.





But Cavalier Eternal is a wry smile for the most part, its emotion is couched in a self-awareness, it sets itself up and knocks itself down and takes the next step down the highway with its inner cheeks caught between its teeth, a cocked head, a wink at the road ahead and maybe a wistful blown kiss at the road behind that falls away into laughter. There's no such detachment in Bad Man, it does acknowledge the singer's own culpability in the situation being described just as Cavalier Eternal does but it has none of the acceptance of the situation that Gabel sings of, maybe it's a proto-Cavalier Eternal, cavalier foetal, the roiling mass of emotion that comes before the acceptance.

Over the scratchy stomp he howls in an overly-enunciated backyard Elvis style. I mentioned earlier that there is some bitter indignation, but for the most part it's a mixture of self-loathing and self-justification. I'm leaving. It's not you, it's me. I'm a prick. But by the way, it's you. "And it's on, and I'm gone. That's that." as Biggie would have it, but this guy has too much guilt to let himself out with a carefree farewell like that.


I love the way the song reveals itself like that, changing the direct of the emotion with each line but always emoting fucking hard, yelping and shouting. Just when you think you've got a handle on what's going on with the strained chorus of "I'm a baaaaaad man. I'm a baaaaaad man." it switches up on you again with "But I'm/too good for you."



Like Cavalier Eternal it's a song that ends on the road, but where Cavalier Eternal scuffs its heels knowingly Bad Man is an arsehole Orpheus, pulling out of the driveway in a beat-up car, punching the rearview mirror off lest it be tempted by the trap of a girl who's only fault was to love him and letting out a howl as it roars out of town. FUCK I HATE MYSELF. I'M A FUCKING SHIT. BUT. BUT. BUT. BUT I'M FUCKING FREE. WOOHOO!

It's basically Bruce Springsteen's The River if he never knocked the girl up and managed to force himself into Born to Run but without the girl by his side because she just represented too much of that town full of losers he was busting out of.

Time was in a vacuum, when I wanted to be free.
But now my adolescence has all but left me.
I could have stayed another day, but it would be wrong.
And you would just grow tired of me, before too long.

I say no. I must go.
I'm not the one you want, though I know you think so.
I'm a bad man.
I'm a bad man.
I'm a bad man.
But I'm
Too good for you
My Suzie, true.

Time was an obsession, but that was just for me.
You can tell by the sound of my shoes that I am gonna leave.
Even if you plead with me, and say you were so true.
It's too late for long goodbyes, honey, we are through.


Friday, 19 August 2011

The Holy (Jeans) Trinity

So after a triumphant manifesto for how I would never give up the fight of excavating and sharing new music, I promptly found myself kinda burnt out on writing long pieces on how punk music is the best shit ever, and now with my triumphant return, I choose not to focus on some new brave one-chord wonders, but write some brief bollocks about possibly the three most famous punk bands in the history of ever. Great work, Joe!

I remember some years back, on a forum I was on, someone asked for advice on how to write a presentation for school on 'the history of punk rock' and this was followed by a flurry of music nerds (myself included) all scrambling to show off how much they knew about lineage of this bastard little musical form. New York Doll mentions were trumped by MC5s which were trumped by Stooges which were trumped by Velvet Undergrounds. People mentioned the stripped down rock and roll of Who tracks like My Generation. Early heavy metal was namedropped. Some people obviously swinging for the fences drew a think between the philosophy of punk rock and that of free jazz. It was chaos, until one clear thinker, one wise prophet whose name remains lost in the mists of time and my less than perfect memory, came into the thread and posted the words that I will never forget. "Fuck this noise," they said, "All you need are The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and The Clash."

And they were completely right.



So yes, yet again I am going to dance around that eternal question of "What is punk rock?" as if you weren't already bored of a thousand discussions of it, alright sick of me myself repeatedly saying "Yeah, it's kind of a stupid question and there's no real answer to it because what punk rock means to you is as personal as the pimples on your arse but I'm gonna try and answer it anyway."

Punk rock, in all its forms, can always trace something back to these three bands. That punk band you like, yes that one, think about it. Does it have right-on left wing lyrics? Does it play fast and loud? Does every member of the band seem constantly pissed-off at the world? If so, then it owes something to these three groups. Simply speaking: The Ramones defined the style of the music. They codified the fast, short, simple, aggressive rock songs. The Sex Pistols' essential attitude is the template for the fuck-you swagger of a lot of punk rockers, swearing on TV, generally looking like a tabloid writer's wet-dream of moral decay. The Clash politicised punk, gave it a purpose beyond the cheap shock tactics of swastikas and spit, channeled that energy into a progressive mold. Look at any punk band and you'll find at least one of the three, sound, soul and speeches. You're gonna get at least one, probably two, possibly three. (This is basically my FUCK YOU! GET PUMPED! idea traced all the way back)



Now this isn't all they did. The Clash also were one of the first bands (along with the Damned and The Jam) to move away from that rigid musical template and bring in other influences while retaining that essential punk energy, The Ramones also expanded their sound although to a lesser degree but are mainly unfairly recalled as stylistically monotonous and uncompromising. The Sex Pistols enshrined self-destruction in the punk toolset for good or ill, but right at the generally recognised year zero, the pissiness, politics and pure adrenaline noise are the most important foundation for all that follows.

So when people say "Where did punk come from?" and that scramble starts again, to equate it with the amphetamine thrill of the beats, the anti-authoritarian simplicity of Woody Guthrie, it's cool if you just wanna say "Fuck this noise. All you need to know is The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and The Clash." and from there you can go wherever you want.

Like I said, the the sound, soul and speeches, three different types of posturing, three different types of progress, all twisting round each other, interacting with kisses, bites, gunshots and frottage, linking in perfect and smooth and tearing apart with great fleshy rips. Kids angry, packed with snot, music fast, noisy grot and fuck you if you think if this is our lot.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Mix Jones #2: Wageslave to the Rhythm


A mix for anyone struggling paycheque to paycheque.

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Tracklisting:
1. NOFX - Go to Work Wasted
2. The Ramones - The Job That Ate My Brain
3. Cock Sparrer - Working
4. Against Me! - What We Worked For
5. Off With Their Heads - Die Today
6. Teenage Bottlerocket - Bloodbath at Burger King
7. Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon and the Toadliquors - Hamlet Chicken Plant Disaster
8. The Vindictives - Assembly Line
9. The World/Inferno Friendship Society - Canonize Philip K. Dick, OK?
10. Dear Landlord - Begging for Tips
11. The Clash - Career Opportunities
12. The Blank Fight - John Henry
13. Patti Smith - Piss Factory
14. The Queers - Born to Do Dishes
15. MDC - I Hate Work
16. Mischief Brew - The Lowly Carpenter
17. The Showcase Showdown - Rip ‘Em Off
18. Hard Skin - Stop Working
19. Billy Bragg - Between the Wars
20. Oblivion - Day Job
21. Dead Kennedys - Take This Job and Shove It
22. Chixdiggit! - Quit Your Job