Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Pissheads - Kill Hippie System



Pissheads. Nasty noisy shit. Roar messes of relentless Shitlickers grit. Clattering rawpunk with thick ugly growls and strangled-short nip-and-tear solos. A reworking of their demo into an tighter, more ferocious beast. Kill Hippie System. ""BEATEN DOWN BY THE FUCKING CUNTS!" on Life. "GUTLESS BASTARDS KILLING THOUSANDS!" on Cowardly Games. This is ugly existence, lived under the pressure of, cudgels and jackboots wait to stomp and destroy, everything affected by the psychology of threat, "GRAVEYARDS BLANKET THE LAND" on Shadows of Power, we're all consumed, this disgusting fascism is not some stray aberration, but an enveloping night. Pissheads wait to explode it all. "LIFE IS A JACKBOOT TO THE THROAT" but Pissheads have boots of their own to kick and rearrange, to strut in through these apocalyptic curfews. 8 minutes, 8 tracks, the walls crashing down around you. Radioactive chainsaws for fucked-off times.


Monday, 18 March 2013

Worthwhile Way - Love is All

Worthwhile Way, in their new release on ADD Records, do a nice line in sweet skippy Japanese punk-pop that frequently indulges in some folky clicks and country twang along the lines of a cleaner (way cleaner), less fucked-up and raw, Tex and the Horseheads or what The Gateway District did on their first LP stuff like The Highway Song, a bubblegum bounce Pretty Boy Thorson and the Falling Angels, a smoothed out One Man Army. Melodic vocals that dance about, serenading, shouting, sometimes Mayu stopping singing to talk in matter-of-fact kinda way, like it's a quick aside to audience. Highlights include the namesake track and it's sweepalong power-pop, the gentle slowly building twist of Birds Sing, Family Song and its drop outs and high-pitched vocal acrobatics and singalong pep, a version of the folk standard The Frozen Logger that's got a kinda low-rent Jake Thackray rise-and-fall feel to it and a Billy Bragg cover almost as good as Discount ever managed with Northern Industrial Town.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Menem - Neoliberalismo



Silly sounding Argentinian snot. Carlos Menem was an Argentinian politician who was president from 89 to 99 and looked like the sort of light-entertainment host your grandmother would carry a torch for, so I guess this band is named in the tradition of Thatcher on Acid, Andrew Jackson Jihad or George Moshington. Opens on a mid-tempo punk stomper La La La that's about wanting to fuck that revs up into a classic dumb tossed-off punk song half way through. La Policia features that classic punk trick of incorporating a cop siren into it's 47 second, except rather than a genuine sound sample it's just someone from the band shouting "NEE-NAW! NEE-NAW! NEE-NAW!" which is pretty fucking great and kinda sums up this record. Nothing particularly new, but punk done with enough goofy energy that you can't help but have fun, even if you don't speak any Spanish. Hardcore songs, less thrashy stuff, 25-odd mostly minute-long songs all packed with sneering/slurred vocals that bounce off each other and sound like a taunt even when you don't know what they're saying, from the scream and pogo bounce of Mordo or Fideos Con Pure and its echoes of Sloppy Seconds' Lois Lane to the infectiously poppy guitar lines of Steven Seagal to the slipshod Oi! of Wacha Embrollera.



Saturday, 16 March 2013

FIDLAR - FIDLAR

This band has been getting some play beyond the low punk circles most of the shit I'm into dances about in so naturally there's been some 'SELLOUT' backlash, some of it apparently that members of the band are kids of one of the dudes in TSOL, but that seems weird to me, because if association with TSOL was a recipe for popularity then putting Code Blue on numerous Valentine's Day mixtapes would be a surefire route to social success, rather than what it was and is, a dumb shitty joke that serves as just another small signifier (and intensifier) of your anti-social needy push/pull self-hatred. Anyway, it was the echoes of Police Truck in Cheap Beer that made me realise what FIDLAR really are: the band that DK would be if Too Drunk to Fuck wasn't satirical. "I. DRINK. CHEAP. BEER. SO. WHAT. FUCK. YOU." in a take on Anti-Nowhere League We Are... The League nihilism so patently silly it feels like a version of that UK82 flashback scene in True Blood where Stephen Mayer hams it up complaining about Thatcher in a dodgy British accent. Fuzzy surfpunk obnoxiousness where the lyrics seem like they were all cribbed from hungover-still-drunk conversations with dudes who know what sacking yourself on a school rail feels like. Sass Dragons-clipped Wassup Rockers ride and roll. Shittydude music that generally avoids being shitty dudemusic (well apart from on the song Whore, which I guess shows that if you're gonna get into the adolescent joy of teenpack storming it's hard not to get into the rampant fuckheaded unreconstructed childish entitlement too) and laced through with those two distinct subgenres shittitude music and shittytube music.


I love though the Thee Cormans spooksound garage-warble underpinning Blackout Stout, the perfect skaterat junkrock anthem on Wake! Bake! Skate! and its chronicle of wasted nothingness existence, poppier dreamier odes to drop-out parasites that hang around that sounds like a singalong where you can't tell if the shake comes from a Rolling Stones swagger or methshot jonesin' shiver. Not every song's a winner but when they're on they can hit that sloppy Nobunny style with an irresistible Cardiel energy and Jackass giggle and the shit is golden like a california lens-flare as you film your dumbfuck buddy nail a tre down a four then stack on a gravel chunk caught in the wheels, call it a day then all go shoot up, nod out and die young like a twat.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Off With Their Heads - Home

Off With Their Heads have been making great gruff punk rock that combines the horrifying despair that builds and corrodes inside too many of us with the explosion of pop-punk joy for a while now. They've always thrived on that dissonance, the gap, (the beauty between?), the sense of brokenness you feel a lot of the time splitting open into a big soaring chorus of Oi!-caught pain where the anguish is ameliorated not by any particular positive step, but merely by the fact that for this second the loneliness and isolation has been collectivised into a fists-in-air sweatsoaked pit singalongs, shit-off-your-shoulder catharsis.

Home does offer more of the same screaming-in-the-dark for a bunch of it, but it also has some stuff which is straight-up fucking inspirational, Focus on Your Own Family is like a miniature SELF-HELP book bolted to a Rivethead or Banner Pilot or Manix song where all advice starts with "FUCK EM ALL!" and continues "DON'T EVER LISTEN! DON'T EVER COMPLY! NEVER BE SCARED! NEVER BE FRIGHTENED! HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH!" and the bits of the album with this tone are reminiscent of the sharp edges where Henry Rollins' stuff goes from that tight twitching wireball of brokenbone angst to the nuclear-powered punch-a-mountain-in-the-face fightspiration of a line like "I am ready for whatever's coming. I expect nothing but to be let down or turned away. I am alone. Goddamn. The shit hurts sometimes, but I realize what I am, what I have become." ( I was looking for a particular Rollins line to illustrate my point but I couldn't find it but it didn't really matter as EVERY SINGLE QUOTE IS LIKE THAT!) And that jump out of the tormented blue mess of hard drugs and hospitals and hate songs to that kinda (yeah maybe a little) cheesy yeah-I'm-gonna-live-this-life-and-you-are-too swerve  is all the more powerful from coming for a band that's worn suicide in its lyrics like a studdedpunkvest armour.



That is not to say the screaming in the dark, which still happens on this album, is not a useless thing, not an unimportant thing to do, not fucking relevant.

When I was 18 and living in college accommodation depressed I played Johnny Hobo and the Freight-Trains incessantly, a band whose entire oeuvre was about self-destruction and self-hatred, all the sorts tales of brokendown squatparty awfulness that just in their very existence made me feel less alone because of the way they articulated a bunch of the shit I was stuck on, stuck in, and I carved the chorus to Harmony Parking Lot into the back of my bass-guitar with a penknife and made a typo which I was unreasonably annoyed with myself about. I even loved the almost unlistenable early demo stuff with drum-machines, feeling like shit all the time, it made me feel a little better to know that someone else was feeling like shit all the time too, so when the songwriter Pat the Bunny disbanded the band and tried a more positive tack with his next project Wingnut Dishwasher's Union first came out I was not as into it as it was trying to be more hopeful and I didn’t want to be more hopeful, I just wanted to be miserable and nihilistic with someone else so I didn’t really listen to them that much so maybe Focus On Your Own Family could really run cold with some people, come across as too corny, but the interesting thing about Focus On Your Own Family is that it's soaraway believe in yourself mantra is tucked right in the middle of the album. A less confident band would stick the positivity, the rising empowerment anthem at the end and leave the listener on the upwards finish, throwing you back out with a sense of purpose, but that would be triter and less interesting that what OWTH do, which is constantly switch up in their writhing pain, yeah that'd be to cheapen and diminish the documents of impossible/everyday struggle that populate the rest of this album. Cos there isn't a snap-out-of-it moment with bleak shit like that, there are ups and downs and boy are there downs.

Also, the despair and self-loathing that OWTH have dealt with has usually focused on its application, the loneliness and ache that and the ruined relationships and long scorched-earth nights that result from living in a way where some of the time, or a lot of the time, you feel like you'd got something closer to a spikey rebarred concrete lump for a heart, that if a surgeon opened you up they'd find something closer to the grey-green of the Antikythera mechanism than anything resembling a functional muscle that can sustain life, that could ever be used as a metaphor for love or strength or forbearance by even the most optimistic poet you could find.



And here there is that, of course. There is angry disassociation on SHIRTS: "I don't feel like me/whoever that's supposed to me." There is failure and hopelessness in Nightlife "I know I’m sick and I’m not right. I’m so fucking tired of living this life, I made for myself, I’m sorry that I cannot get past what keeps me away from the light." There is a scary sense of a malicious otherness squatting parasitically inside you, pulling you away from life as it seems to run for other people, drawing a borderline between you and what you might call normal or you might , if one was taking it from one particularly seductive sort of angle, you might call 'good' on Always Alone: "Something inside, you'll never know, keeps me from feeling the things that are so/standard for most but not for me". Resignation on the fading buzz of Stolen Away: "I'm not gonna change after everything I've been through." There is a whole lot of discomfort punk thrust into anthems, rock and roll lovesongs terrified that this love is not enough, and half-crooned bummer numbers (stuff along the lines of their Don't Laugh, I'm Totally Serious from All Things Move Towards Their End) all packed to disintegration with the raw squirming honesty of a teary-eyed teenage livejournal post. Hearts sewn to sleeves with dental floss and circled like an A with Snuggle lyrics.


But as well as those moments when it's just hitting those same present painspots, screaming in the alltime dark, and as well as those moments when it's trying to move up and onwards, attempting to light a way forward, there is another way it moves, there's a  digging for the root, a coming together of an expose of the cause of this ugly wonk shit that lives and gurgles, something they've hinted at that before on songs like Janie, which is rerecorded here, ("This is why I cannot tell you what you deserve to know.").

Here it does take that ("I need to find my way back to where I began. Retrace my steps and start again." on Come Find Me, also a song about not doing it alone, asking for help) and as a result of that backwards interrogation it sometimes it feels tonally close to the harrowing beauty of The Mountain Goats' The Sunset Tree and its searching for some source of the torment and depictions of the intense trauma of growing up in a place where kids should never be made to grow up. It's looking for where this hate and woe got its big break

And in that case here that blame is generally lain at the big-ass wooden door of the church.

Altar Boy Blues probably does it clearest: ("There's only one time around and I choose not to blindly follow the same people that abuse. And I've seen it first hand, they tried to cover it up, I was confused.") but then there's the aforementioned Focus On Your Own Family which is a dig at the nauseating bigots at Focus On the Family, but it's not a scathing attack like something like DK's Moral Majority ("God must be dead if you're alive!") or Amebix's The Church is For Sinners ("The church holds out a bloodstained hand to pass around the hat"), in fact it really doesn't mention those bloviating christknackers at all, just the titular shot, it's a best-revenge-is-living-well kinda deal.


Something of blackhearted pop-punk heathen jolt of Crusades, attacking the consequences most, it's that antireligious spirit free of the smug punchability of people who post Richard Dawkins quotes and Amazing Atheist links on their tumblr (cos while I might agree with Hitchens and his ilk on the basic proposition "There is no god." I'm not down with their addendum "And you have to be a smirking cunt about it."). Attacks on the church not as a point of pride, but as a beatendog biteback at the damage caused, a hate fucking earned, a vicious stab, maybe not so much with personal faith, but with the atrocities it causes and conceals with its structures, when it is codified and socialised, the righteousness that blinds its wearer, convinces them of their goodness as they muck about in some obliterative evil works. I'm writing this as white smoke rises from the vatican and my twitter feed clogs up with pope jokes and my Rudimentary Peni patch burns hot against my punx jacket, so you could say that they're incredibly timely in this, but the truth is, the Catholic church is such an endless procession of vile conceited ignorance and venal hate-garbed boogie-dicks that attacks on their colossal hypocracies have been timely for roughly the last 2000 years.

POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE! POGO POPE!
And not just in the well documented self-serving cover-ups, right in the fucking giddy heart of Catholic doctrine is the weirdo notion of original sin, I mean what sort of fucking person looks at a baby and sees them inherently infected with the badness of the world? I don't believe in heaven but if I did there wouldn't be any sort of equivocation over whether a fucking newborn baby that dies is gonna go there, some shit that the Catholic Church only got done with in two-thousand-and-shitting-seven. I mean, jesus christ. That's the sort of just straight-up view-gnarling philosophy that should be kept the hell away from a developing brain and soul. This album screams "You want a fucking confession?" as Ryan Young's voice snarls and groans and aches as the songs, which are maybe a  little cleaner, a little slower, and the songs constructed in a different kinda way to their earliest fucking classics like Die Young or SOS or Sleeping in Carrie's Car, where they just stick to build-up/race-downhill, crack onwards consistently and punkspeed or chunter determinedly or just scrape painfully down the route like a dying man.

Because above anything else, this is an album which constantly goes against itself, sometimes an atmosphere breaking rocketship love, sometimes a trudge onwards, some, sometimes a nasty little shitwicket moaning alone and uncomfortable and twirling up into itself in misery spirals, sometimes reaching out pleadingly for any sort of help offered. It's  sometimes self-immolation, sometimes an immutable fuck-you punched into brick and poetry. It's not simple. Our moods and convictions don't flow in one direction, don't get simply placed into templates or regular orbits, depression ain't a Freytag Arc, redemption is not a problem to be solved. The only constant on this album, it seems, is movement. Away from something, towards something, escape, return. Always searching. Ever ticking over with the struggles and distance "Always upstream/always against the grain" on Shirts, "Gonna be a rough road/gonna take some time" on Focus On Your Own Family.

"It's a long way back to be anything that anyone could love." is how it's set out on the opener Start Walking. This is an album that gives no clue of when, or if anyone will manage to stop, There's less of a wallow, more of a sense of purpose buts it's a tidal ebb 3 steps forward 2 steps back kinda shuffle as this punk rock tears and rumbles on.

It's a fucking life. Is the home of the title a destination, a place to escape from, or the place we're going towards now? The album can't decide. "Please don't make me go home. I'm wanted less than I'm wanted here." on Don't Make Me Go. "Help me find a home" and those big beautiful whoa-oh-ohs that close out the album on Take Me Out. Maybe it's all those things. "Home" is a odd word in English, it's often a tricky thing to get a student learning the language to remember that you can't 'go to home' (that's what I do in my day job), because when you say "I'm going home" home is an adverb, it's not a place, it's a direction, a qualifier to the action.

Probably the Home Off With Their Heads are running with here is something like Pat the Bunny singing an acknowledgement of confusion on Johnny Hobo's Fuck Cops: "I don't know where home is, but I know that I'm not there now." and once when I was I was 18 and all wrapped up way too tight and deep in these sort of Off With Their Heads topics, those particular Freight Trains songs, my mum earnestly asked me if I was doing okay and all I could really hear was that line so I mentioned it and she kinda cried and I felt weird and ashamed and I needed to listen to punk rock because that's how I dealt. How I deal, when shit gets a bit too sharply human. With punk rock like this. As a companion for the journey, a whisper on the way.

“No wonder we cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke: that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from the horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home.” - David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

RVIVR - The Beauty Between

Sometimes the things a band do outside of just making music don't matter too much, like the lead singer of Who Killed Spiky Jacket? is a UFO investigator who contributes to Ancient Aliens and that, while totally damn great, didn't really impact on the way I thought about that album, but it seems that more people have an opinion on the way RVIVR conduct themselves at shows and the shit they say than their music. Me, I probably agree with them on like 97% of the shit they believe, and while they may seem to be abrasive arseholes a bunch of the time, if I didn't listen to music made by abrasive arseholes I wouldn't listen to anything really. Most of the time too, those abrasive arseholes are nihilistic squealheads just obliterating pain and sense in a fuck-you-kill-me cacophony and a whole host of people find themselves able to get down with that or just cleanly cleaving art and artist in the way they see and discuss these acts. It's fucking sad and shitty that people have no problem listening to bands that say and do horrible stupid shit in the name of being childish pricks, but draw the line at people who might occasionally say some stupid shit in the name of trying to make things better. Too many people so pumped on a band being confrontational until a band actually confronts them about some real shit, but the relevancy and problem of RVIVR is clear from the fact that Matt Canino is one of the most prominent feminist voices in punk rock and while he should be given a prop or two for taking a stand, it's fucked up that a dude is that, even if he's obviously part of a band that's built on a level creative partnership between him and Erica Freas and admirably continually attempts to highlight non-straight non-male voices within the scene. That's the sort of conflict that they can't resolve in any interview I've read by them and maybe it's impossible to resolve.

But the joy of RVIVR is that their art has always had a nuance and subtlety that their public statements do not, which is interesting as a bunch of punk bands don't do that. For every band like Iskra whose songs talk about Ted Kaczynski like he's a freedom fighter and advocate the overthrow of the government, and then in interviews talk about Ted Kaczynski like he's a freedom fighter and advocate the overthrow of the government (constistency is the key for blackened crust anarcho-primitivists, it seems) but a lot of bands make obliterating didactic records and then seem quieter and more contemplative outside of that. You find bands like Leftover Crack write songs about killing cops and sainting the Columbine murderers but then Stza in person seems kinda bemused by his crustscum fanbase and capable of way more wit and slyness than a man who's frequently allied himself with teenage murderers just on the basis that they hated themselves too, justifying his lyrics in the grey space of poetics and capable of offering a much tighter critique of society than a song called One Dead Cop can (or, let's be honest, really is designed to), but RVIVR write some beautiful goddamn songs capable of drawing terse vivid pictures of particular spaces in society and the struggles and troubles of them inside a two minute punk song, and then in an interview manage to come across like bores who see themselves like self-appointed spokespeople for a huge number of diverse people.



Anyway, an oppressive society does not allow, or attempts to not allow, for differentiation and breadth and depth within those who are non-normative. You are white straight and male, you are allowed to choose your definition, you are punk, you are goth, you are whatever subculture you so desire, but the allowance and prominence given to these self-determinations lessens as the oppressions gather. These oppression attempt to paint women, or LGBT people, or people of colour as monoliths, single entities, so they can dismiss them, file them away, easily assimilate them. This is the process where you get someone like Andrew Pierce making a career by being a gay dude writing for a shitty homophobic conservative newspaper with the idea that "If this one gay dude is cool with it, then obviously it's not homophobic and all gay dudes are cool with it."

Yeah this fucking shitsmeared world doesn't want the glorious rainbow of differing points of view from people who are pushed down by its rulers, but art is one of the ways we reach through that, because art allows a particular point-of-view from anyone, a description of one life that has power in its individuality, the knowledge that this is a particular life, but also as it stands there alone it draws others closer when they recognise something resonant in it. So you can create community, relatable things by creating a singular thing in the knowledge that people will catch bits of themselves in its reflections, probably nots its entire shape, but you say "I FEEL LIKE THIS!" loud enough and people we call out "YEAH! ME TOO!" so we break the distances between us in this opt-in expression of emotion and hurt and awkwardness, and music, songs, are always those opt-in places, cos no-one's forcing you to singalong, so in that place we can even throw-in some "WE FEEL LIKE THIS!" sort of shouts once you drawn enough people to you and then a bunch of people will shout back "YEAH! WE DO!" The distance and function of poetry is such that you can step on into that nice "This is us." rhetoric and you don't need to spend acres of time on qualifications and rewordings and footnotes in the way that you would if you're actually trying to explicate a real entanglement of the social fuckedupness we're all indoctrinated into and pushing against or falling prey to in different ways. You can be righteous in a song. And then step out of it and into the infinitely complex scrum of crosscutting cultural pressures.

Though still, there is a constant attempt to crush these things too into easily manageable stereotype shapes, to push all descriptivist depictions into prescriptivist ones, and that's something you gotta be wary of. Now you can't judge someone too harshly for allowing their words to be snaffled up by this trap which nips and lunges to ensnare from pre-sentience to death, but you've got to attempt to at least acknowledge it, step around it somehow, and while you might want to access the easy instant swell of support that comes from "WE FEEL LIKE THIS!" rhetoric but outside of art, outside of a song, it's just gonna kinda backfire because of the world you're throwing it out into (and the world, which if you seem so up on its particular shittiness most of the time, you should know you're throwing it out into) and people are not gonna sit by and let that one slide easily. You shout "WE FEEL LIKE THIS!" (or even trickier: "THEY FEEL LIKE THIS!") there then inevitably a bunch of people are gonna call out "YEAH! WE DO!" and a bunch more people are gonna call out "THE FUCK YOU TALKIN 'WE', DICK'EAD!?" i.e. if you say something along the lines of "NO MOSHING BECAUSE WOMEN DON'T FEEL SAFE!" whatever the intent, the impact is that you're implying that the women who were moshing aren't 'proper' women, or were just too stupid to know how they felt until you told them how to feel (which also ends up in this particular case feeding into a notion of what it means to be ladylike, and ladylikeness cannot help be a prescriptive paternalistic patriarchal concept.) When you're lacing your stuff (your public statements not your art) with those prescriptivisms it's a dangerous business if you're talking about the way being part of an oppressed group (based on race, sexuality, gender, gender identity or other things) makes you a certain way, because this isn't something like punk where all the meaning is brought from outside and it's really a meaningless thing imbued with power by choice, this is some essential human deep shit that people are getting killed and destroyed behind every day so saying, even by accident, that there is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it is fucking troublesome.

But anyway, whatever RVIVR say around their music, whatever problems they've got there, like I said, I've got no problem listening to bands where I disagree with some dumb shit they say, and this is a great album that for the first three songs at least feels like this is an instant fucking classic. The opt-in certainties of songs are where they are often strong, sometimes amazing, where they let shit shiiine.



The opener The Seam and the way it builds reminds me of the way Bent Outta Shape's Stray Dog Town opens with it's clamorous push-pull of Disappointment Rock, and that's fucking great, because Stray Dog Town is quite possibly the best (or at least my favourite) punk album of the last ten years, spindly and beautiful and snotty and scratched Marianas-deep into my soul. It's obvious that RVIVR are fans of that band (they namecheck their song Rudes and Cheaps on the very next song) and this is a perfect opener, setting out the way things with procede, rumbling on with the bass and drums, the guitar frills stabbing and poking gently, though it's tighter, fuller, less prone to bare shining bones in its construction than Bent Outta Shape's beautifully windborn snip-and-scratch feel, laying the groundwork for the explosion of the song into a few anthemic bleak inevitabilities:

"WHEN THE PAIN BEARS DOWN RIGHT TO THE SEAM 
WHEN YOU SINK DEEP DOWN TO TRY TO BREATHE 
WHEN THE PRESSURE ON EACH OTHER PULLS MORE THAN GRAVITY 
WE DON'T NEED WORDS TO SING"

Then it knocks into this nasty weirdskronk freak out like its a goddamn Colored Rice Men song or something which it bursts out of with a triumphant shout of "WE DON'T NEED WORDS TO SING!" echoing in equal parts the nerve-gas-scrawlnoise-into-chorus-refrain of Dead Kennedys' Chemical Warfare and the huge ramshackle ecstacy of Bomb the Music Industry!'s "WHEN WE'RE NOT FEELING STRONG WE GRAB THE MIC AND SING ALONG!" on Happy Anterrabae Day! and the chaos of inane loving na-na-na's that follow it. That's where this album is at right there. It's gonna kick right into the hurt, the failure of days, it's gonna try and break into itself but fuck if it's not gonna come crashing out of the mork with a "WHOA-OH-OH!", a sung sound which derives its power from its company, its choral possibilities, its pure physical release beyond its definition. It's such a perfect little trick, this album is gonna show you its fist 'fore it hits you in the face with it. It's tell you how it's gonna stunt on you, how it's gonna save your fucking dumb punkgeek head, and then it goes right ahead and does it.



Then comes another beauty in LMD, more of that tight bass rumble under a song that spraypaints its name in water, from rain to piss to holy water (there's a bunch of rain in this album, from the start of LMD to Rainspell to end of Party Queen, which is what you probably get when you live in the Pacific Northwest.) tying them together in a complicated dance of renewal. Eschewing the simple metaphor of cleansing power, acknowledging it but tying it together with the reality of a sudden downpour on a grim October afternoon trudging home from your dead-end job when all you want to do is fucking die.

"YOU WAKE UP IN THE STORM
TIRED OF SCREAMING SINCE THE DAY YOU WERE BORN
BUT THE SKY AIN'T PISSING HOLY WATER
IT MAKES YOU WET AND IT MAKES YOU DEAD THERE'S NO ONE COMING FOR YA, NO!"

That's what a lot of the best lyrics of this album often do, slice past a cliche while dragging it along with it, revivifying it by twisting it, breaking it, mocking it, then flipping it right back at just fucking bellowing it, biting comic book lines, sillily dancing up on simple pop/pulp-culture frivolities (LMD = Life Model Decoy, Marvel androids) and the way those four-colour hero-and-villain/robot-and-alien stories can hit you deeper than you'd maybe like to admit in the way that dumb little punk bands have done from The Traits' Nobody Loves the Hulk to  Screeching Weasel's 99 to Rancid's Sidekick to The Boonaraaas I'm In Love With Hulk the Monster (FUCK YOU THE TRAITS!) to Rev Norb's entire career.

That cut-cliche glass sharpness is present again on the following number, Spider Song, with its tales of social networks exploded and friends slipping away which thrown out through Freas' voice which, throughout this album, is a fucking screaming wonder. This is he first song they previewed off this album, which I listened to probably 30 times on Youtube before I'd heard the album, all run-up drums, tickles of guitar and simple truths like "THEY JUST NEVER CALL ME IT'S NOT LIKE THEY'RE DEAD / YOU CAN LOVE SOMEONE AND JUST NOT STAY FRIENDS" that push past the punxunityfriendsforever platitudes that a lot of singalong music deals in.



It's after that the album takes what might be it's first bum note, or at least it is for me, on Old Dogs. I'm probably something of a cliche with regards to my punk tastes a lot of the time (FAST AND LOUD! LOUD AND FAST!) and while I'm sure some people would find a 100% pop-punk album without any breaks to be something of a chore I just can't get with the way this album keeps dropping its momentum for these down-tempo onea. It's why I couldn't really dig a vast majority of that Apologies, I Have None album last year that so many seemed into (despite some really interestingly put together lyrics) as it felt like an album full of slow enders which, without the counterpoint just sort of wobbled around in a torpid untethered denouement and I just ain't about that.

For instance, Spider Song, the praises of which I will sing to anyone listening, is apparently adapted from Erica Freas' solo album and while she is obviously a fucking fantastic songwriter I haven't heard that album and I don't want to. Well, I heard one song and couldn’t be bothered to listen to anymore I generally find chilled-out coffee-shop acoustic stuff boring as hell. It’s only really interesting to me when it’s weird and creepy like the Vindictives acoustic album or Doc Corbin Dart’s Patricia. Liking a punk song does not mean you’re gonna like the same song when it’s acoustic, The Measure (SA)’s version of The Moment That You Said Yes is one of my favourite songs, I couldn’t make it through more than a minute of the Soltero original after I discovered it was a cover. I find ONSIND pretty damn boring but Calvinball’s cover of Heterosexuality is a Construct is fucking great. Shit, even when I love an acoustic song like Dylan’s Desolation Row I’m just as likely to jam Rev Norb’s Desolation Twist rock and roll cover. I’m a pretty fucking simple person and I’m generally in this for the speed and noise and shouting. Quietude is for people who aren’t in the mood to kick their thoughts to pieces with feedback and Gauze songs, I don’t find myself feeling like that too often, (though I did really like a bunch of that first Waxahatchee album.) Liking a punk song doesn't mean you're gonna like the same band playing half-speed, in fact that's the chief way I fall out of bands. I don't need a breather, I don't need to breathe, spent too long in quiet places listening to my own exhalations, contemplating all that turnaround mucky shit that eats at me, that RVIVR know of and sing about, and I want that slime scumblasted out of my brainstem by a song like the Big Lie and its squeaking horns and quickshuffle dances, I don't want to fucking wallow here.

So yeah, Old Dogs, not into it. While gets bigger and louder as it trudges along, it never really speeds up and the solo it goes with at about 2:20 isn't the kind of breathless little spurt of guitar squeak that the real punk songs on this album are stuck full of like firecrackers in burnt-out car shells, but more kind of a hard rock snorer where the guitarist leans back and gurns like they're taking a big dump. Not down with that. That's kinda how I feel about most of the slower songs on this album, Old Dogs, Paper Thin, Ocean Song, Hunger Suite Pt I: Go Away, Hunger Suite Pt III: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. They've got some nice moments here and there (love the split-second about 70 seconds into Ocean Song where it makes like it's gonna drench itself in noiseguitar but sadly it's a fake-out) but they just kinda plod plod plod and too often bring to mind things I do not often wish to have brought to mind by the music I love: the aforementioned hard rock, the occasional heartland lick, the odd grungey bits, all different little parts of things that either leave me cold or I've brickheadedly set myself against with barbs and poses just cos you gotta.



But but but, there's a skip button for a reason and then we go right into another goddamn great one, Wrong Way/One Way with its guitar lick that brings to mind The Tattle Tales' So Wanna Kiss You and its great goofy Rancid pisstake video, Freas and Canino's voices bouncing off each other and coming together in another big cliche-spat-so-it-matters chorus ("WRONG WAY ON A ONE WAY STREET!") and then exactly the sort of guitar that works with this band, that carries the song up to a sharp peak and then bringing it slowly down into one of those refrains and a quieter moment (which, built into a punk song and not asked to sustain themselves actually really work) before it screams back upwards again into such a beautifully that's so built for those cathartic basementpunk moments of screamed transcendence that the drop-out for the inevitable audience-participation throat-devastation holler is just a place for you to shout your own name (seriously, the record holds an unintelligible clash of shouts from the band and the lyrics on their website just read <YOUR NAME HERE> at that point, so cool), reaffirm your own fucking existence and identity in those shitty places that made you get a hold on it in the first place, which continues on the rise-and-fall of Rainspell which has some quieter cool fucking lines, pain-as-armour smirks like "LET OUR HEARTS HOLD TO THE GOOD PARTS / AND OUR WOUNDS SCAR IN GOOD LOOKING WAY" and then just an incredible moment, a shiver-everytime perfect second when the echo of a singalong rises up as Freas sings, getting that specific(place)/general(punxfeel) gap perfectly down.

BUT WE ALL KNOW 
HOW A SOUL GETS ENTANGLED
LIKE IN THE BONES AND IN THE BODIES OF ALL THE PUNX AT VVK

I don't where or what VVK is. But I know exactly what VVK is.

Yeah, so those slower bastards really aren't my deal, and they're thrown into starker relief by how bloody incredible each fast one is. The three part Hunger Suite (though it is pretty cool to see them trying something bigger like that) has a couple of slow half-numb beasts enveloping the searing second part Bleed Out which rips with an almost hardcore, almost Katie Katty fury on lines "SO NAIL YOURSELF TO YOUR OWN SINS / AND STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM MINE / WE'VE ALL GOT SOME BLOOD ON OUR HANDS AND AN ANGER INSIDE"



They really are prone too much to the plodders though, that RVIVR relentlessness that works so well with their breakneck punk smashers just works against them when they bring it down a notch and get mellower, moodier, because it sounds not like an engine pushing these songs out into the black shooting past limits and dangers, but an uncomfortable around-town rut. Their sound just doesn't work slow most of the time. They're not Flipper. Yeah, I get the idea of dynamics, of intercutting fast and slow, or maybe offering some respite from these rapid cascades of crust-pop joy, but the album just has too many of them, and all they really do is drag and tire.

Then you've got Elephant Song which is just a rattling bit of ambient oddness in the vein of the last half of Andrew Jackson Jihad's We Didn't Come Here to Rock or the opening uneasy windscrape of Unclarified by No Statik on Everywhere You Aren't Looking, actually the sort of respite and lull I might be able to get behind. The beauteous threat and swell of amplified warehouse echoes, the field recording feel like a microphone dragged behind you in one of the dirty places this album kicks with. Then goes into Party Queen which is kind of a ending 1-2 that reminds me of The Hold Steady's Crucifixion Cruise/How a Resurrection Really Feels. The slowest spaciest number of the album, before a bigger builder that seems like something of a perfect summation of what has come before. In contrast to the other slower songs (maybe just because the final song is a fitting place for it), Party Queen fucking nails it in the way it climbs up, fills out, drags everything of the album, the chugging bass, the tight militaristic drums, the blunt yelps of Canino's voice, the soar of Freas's, the unheard millions that seem to sit just outside the line ready to blast in on each chorus, those spiky-sweet guitar fills, the Marvel comic catchphrases, echoes from The Seam and Big Lie and sticks them all together before successfully collapsing in on itself with the shoutalong of the album's title. The Beauty Between. The Beauty Between the lies, as Big Lie has it; the beauty between the cracking seams; the beauty between the tired cliche and the physicality of its truth; the beauty in between the hopes and dreams of a scene and the shittiness of its problems; the beauty in between restrictive binary notions of gender; the beauty in between the moments we live for and the moments the moments we live for live to erase and fight with; the beauty in between a punk song and its antecedents; to cop a comic book line, the beauty in The Bleed; the beauty in between a specific basement and every basement show; between comic books black-and-white morality and life's aching complexities; between saying some fucking dumbass shit and singing some beautiful true shit, between two, ten, twenty, three hundred people screaming punk songs and their own fucking name all tied together by a split-second of punk rock ascension.

It's not a perfect album, but it's got enough perfect songs that I'll come back to it again and again. It's not a perfect album, but it's one which makes you believe for a while that such an album can exist. That reminds you, even if it's a scene that deserves and needs to be critiqued frequently and deeply, that the art and noise at the heart of punk rock is worth something, that a punk song played at the right time, for the right wrong kid, can hold a life from falling apart.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Pregnancy Scares - s/t 7"



Ugly hardcore punk that rips and wails, bursting apart with squeaks and fissure whistles, where the noise feels like a byproduct of the fury rather than an environment from which the songs need to escape. Cross-Eyed Man begins with a natty catchy riff that slowly gets dragged down into the dentistdrill squeals and flails of anger, Facelift milks its simple riff longer and throws it into a brick wall, Picked Apart bounces before it explodes. These are songs that feel like they're constantly in the motion of falling, or at least running downhill with legs buckling under them. On Deranged Records.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Isterismo - Follia Verso L'inferno



Hailing from Japan, singing in Italian (the title is translates as something like Folly Inwards or Interior Madness), Isterismo play that crasher crust that the cool kids love! It doesn't quite have the relentlessness of D-Clone though it approaches that level of uncompromising viciousness on tracks like Distruttivo Rabbia. It feels like there's slightly more texture to the noise though, the crackle of tape-degradation run up into brain, the rocketnoise pulled apart and stretched a little, the chatter of engine turnover swilled around withunderwater iceberg reverbations. The mid-tempo opener Nuova Mundo rolls about in that bombination, the bass swelling ominously underneath, Giustizia Assurdita builds in the clatter and throws ripping guitar solos out through the noise to emerge battered and scratched but still squealing as it wails about war-profiteering, Trascendere Istinto (Instinct to Transcend) screams in agony through the vocals and the music, begging for positive progress against a nihilistic inevitability, Perdita opens with a dramatic burp and then just tears. An album of dirtily constructed chaos prowess screaming about despair and rage and cosmic loss in a cacophony fit for those aching endless pains and the insane world which they live and fester in.


Monday, 4 March 2013

Sad Boys - s/t 7"


Following up their fantastic demo from last year, Sad Boys first vinyl release is more of that poppy Number Two-clip pogo-punk. Bouncealong music that mixes its get-up-and-flail joy bits with despair. It's got weirdo freakouts about minor things that just kinda bother you on Tiny Hands and a motherfucker of a portmanteau in song called Hagluecinations (stick it on a mix with Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue and Adhesive Lung) that goes "Aaaaaaah! HAGLUECINATIONS!" and is filled with the swirl of radio fuzz. Frolic! and EIAPOS (which I'm guessing stands for Everyone is a Piece of Shit though it's not explicated in the lyrics) are lyrically dark as fuck, Frolic! being a blank, nihilistic, not amoral but unmoralistic facedown of some awful kinda GG Allin kinda shit, kinda Jim Carroll Band kinda lurch and dig, and EIAPOS being a self-loathing attack of physical angst, bodily discomfort and mental push-and-struggle pull-and-combust slicing like the suicide bellow of an Off With Their Heads , but these songs are dissonantly matched with music that isn't an angry nasty pick at itself like something like Crazy Spirit, but something closer to a goofy Oi!Driver PUNXANDSKINSBEERANDOI! shout with added squeal and sharpness. Sad Boys take all that dank city darkness and channel it, not through storming crust monstrosities or odd Electric Storm in Hell noise, but through screechy pop-punx that draws from the region rock tumbledown energy of stuff like Twat Sauce or the Spawn Sacs/Driller Killer split, the infectiousness of Screeching Weasel's Supermarket Fantasy, and a little bit of Astrid Oto thrash, creating into something silly as shit and punk as fuck, frivolous and unsettling, lighthearted and tongue-out obnoxious in its execution and voidblack in the place in bounces from, a superevil punxflyer festering knifepierced meatheart scrawled in Stabilo, a dayglo abomination, coming with a 4-panel step-by-step HOW TO POGO insert that should be essential reading for all aspiring reckless idiots.


Sunday, 3 March 2013

Who Killed Spikey Jacket? - Who Killed Spikey Jacket?

"I THINK CONFORMITY TO NON-CONFORMITY IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF CONFORMITY." - boring dickheads everywhere.

Yeah! Punk rock! Non-conformity! A relentless drive away from anything that other people might enjoy until you end up in such a weird abandoned hole of emotions that you find yourself getting emotional listening to Lotus Fucker songs that sound like someone conducting experimental unanaesthesised bollock surgery in a chainsaw testing lab.



"THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO THINK IT IS PUNK TO DRESS UP LIKE SOMEBODY'S DAD. OR LIKE A SEXY LUMBERJACK WITH A RATTAIL. THESE PEOPLE ARE WRONG. THEY MUST BE STOPPED AND THEIR IDEAS DESTROYED." - Who Killed Spikey Jacket? from Who Killed Spikey Jacket? by Who Killed Spikey Jacket?, important worthy saviours of unimportant worthlessness (PUNK!)


This is a strip for my friend Mitch's punk comic strip Nothing Nice to Say that I helped out with writing dumb jokes for a while and people fucking HATED IT or outright didn’t get it and chimed in with “YEAH! CONFORMITY TO NON-CONFORMITY IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF CONFORMITY!” as if the point of the strip wasn’t that that sentiment is the most unoriginal entry-level shit ever. As the creator of something you’ve got to take a lot of the blame when people miss the point of something so widely, so it probably should’ve been sharper, or maybe just the strip’s readership is made up of those people who blindly hate punkcore stud-and-spikes gutterpunx while all wearing flannel and drinking the same beer, considering we made fun of crusties like a week later and people went “I LOVE IT! A STAGGERING RETURN TO FORM!”

I mean, yes the Casualties are obviously in the 99th percentile of stupidity, on a plateau with Ayn Rand acolytes, trailers for the movie 21 and Over, people who think Bob Dylan got better when he went Christian, and almost everything I did before, well, before starting to write this article, but tedious motherfuckers who spout that trite-as-shit line about conformity to nonconformity over and over again like it's a startling fucking insight are obviously way way worse than everything ever, because I love trite silly dumb things, but I fucking hate trite silly dumb things that are masquerading as intelligent cutting insight.

I think I must've lost it in a harddrive changeover at some point within the last few years but I totally had a picture of these guys (they were called Citizens Punx) flipping off a wall they'd spray-painted the words GEORGE BUSH on and it was the fucking best. Goddamn I wish you could see its glory.
"I THINK THE PUNK UNIFORM IS JUST ANOTHER UNIFORM! I THINK CONFORMITY TO NON-CONFORMITY IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF CONFORMITY! I THINK THE PUNK UNIFORM IS JUST ANOTHER UNIFORM! I THINK CONFORMITY TO NON-CONFORMITY IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF CONFORMITY! I THINK THE PUNK UNIFORM IS JUST ANOTHER UNIFORM! I THINK CONFORMITY TO NON-CONFORMITY IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF CONFORMITY! I THINK THE PUNK UNIFORM IS JUST ANOTHER UNIFORM! I THINK CONFORMITY TO NON-CONFORMITY IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF CONFORMITY! I THINK THE PUNK UNIFORM IS JUST ANOTHER UNIFORM! I THINK CONFORMITY TO NON-CONFORMITY IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF CONFORMITY! I THINK THE PUNK UNIFORM IS JUST ANOTHER UNIFORM! I THINK CONFORMITY TO NON-CONFORMITY IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF CONFORMITY!" they trundle on talking endless reams of unthought while all generally resembling what Jeremy Clarkson would look like after a month in a downed plane.



Everyone conforms. There's no way you are entirely different from everyone, because if you were that'd be awful and you'd be as actually desperately alone as you sometimes feel, the fact that while you are yes unique in your particulars there is a whole lot of squealing babies painted and crushed the same way you are is something that should keep you the fuck alive, rather than something to be ashamed of. The grouping of shitty peoples, illustrated in singalongs and those played-out sentence constructions like "Is it just me..." or "That awkward moment when..." that ring with the terror of imagining yourself doing something no-one else has done. Conformity is chill, be cool with it, it won't make you a nothingness to be part of something, it won't break you or erase you, it'll just twist you a little, annoy you a lot, save your life once or twice if you're lucky like that. Conformity comes up in all of this, you're you, you just get to choose your scene, whether you wanna roll goth or punx or hippie or steampunk or whatever style, you might not find a particular aesthetic appealing, but to deny that you have an aesthetic at all is a boldfaced fucking lie, and when it comes down to it I'm picking the shimmy of idiots who look like deranged extras from a Jack Womack novel, over the idiots who look like Ron Swanson without the inner peace, because that's just the way my idiot head leans.



And yeah I was obviously some burning dickhole who got huffy about and earnestly sneered about 'fashioncore' or something, and I can't even fucking remember what bands I slapped with that label, and even more embarrassingly I clung onto that "Fashion is dumb and worthless" shameful stupidity for way longer than I should've until I was called on that bullshit and on the inherent misogyny that lies behind it (CLOTHES ARE FOR GIRLS! BOYS LIKE SERIOUS THINGS LIKE BOOKS AND MUSIC AND VIDEOGAMES) but I was entirely entirely in the wrong because fashion is awesome, and though this seems like the most inane fucking observation point, it bears repeating for just how long it took for me to get it knocked into my driedshit skull, the clothes you wear make a difference to the way you feel, whether you're painstakingly studding jackets and sewing patches, or just picking out your favourite band shirt, you feel better, silly and stupid as it is, I feel punker when I'm wearing the crappy jacket I've scrawled Hickey and New Bomb Turks lyrics on and sewn Rudimentary Peni patches to, feel better, feel attached to something bigger than myself, not better but at least less shakily fragile. I find myself walking tougher, find myself giving more money to homeless people, find myself sitting tighter and more secure just cos I've got a Wankys patch on my pocket.

Because as punk prophets, stud buddhas (studdhas?), WHO KILLED SPIKEY JACKET! sing on their 12" that Total Fucker put out at the end of last year and Noise Punk Records are distributing in the UK and Europe, "They say we all look the same, that's cause we're a fucked-up gang." Because they are fucking ridiculously silly and unafraid of being that way, pogo-punk is the goddamn best as it's just the idiocy of streetpunk deliberately shot up its own arse, flowering goofy fuck-you sentiments out of these speed-strung icons. Two-dimensional two-chord monsters. Streetpunx are cartoon characters, pogo punk is streetpunk with a sense of its own ridiculousness, cartoon characters who know they're cartoon characters, attacking without reason and without rhyme that isn't DRUNK and PUNK or BRAIN and INSANE or POGO DANCE and BONDAGE PANTS. Here every sneer might burst into a smile and every chorus is delivered like an Itchy and Scratchy hammer attack and if that self-aware cartoon nature wasn't explicit enough from the album or the fact that the band's name is a nod to a film about how cartoons intersect with reality, WKSJ's album cover is three cartoon punks stomping all over the world and vomiting out every aspect of society and their logo imposed above in a bitten Disney font.



"There's only one true love in this world, and that is chaos" the spoken word interlude on the romantic crooner Leather Loves Studs tells you. "PUNKS ARE ROWDY! PUNKS ARE BAD! YOU ARE JUST A MOM AND DAD!" snaps No More Pigs. The liner notes are a glorious collage of punk jackets, dudes with pink hair sticking knives in car tires, bad graffiti and of course jackets sporting endless shining studs adorned with frankly incomprehensible slogans like Distjej's INTERCOURSE IS VIVISECTION and the names of bands that were stupider and better than you could ever hope to be (Special Duties, who wrote completely perfect punk songs like You're Doing Yourself No Good and could never decide what they were angry at and why so just decided to be angry at everything for every reason like in Bullshit Crass where they diss Crass for being rich appropriative capitalists in the first verse and then for being dirty worthless skint hippies in the second). It also includes step by step instructions on how to look cool in punk photos and how to CHAOS WALK, which is like the WKSJ punk rock equivalent of that scene in Tank Girl where all the mutant kangaroos pray by dancing around to jazz, but with The Damned's Smash It Up as the orison. And it's hilarious and gleeful and daft and just so much punx.

The original punk clothing is actually way weirder and more art school than the which was kinda codified by the time UK82 rolled around. Somewhere in there a diktat was issued in the form of a shittyass punx flyer or incompetent zine or something. STUD YOUR HISTORY! STUD YOUR LIFE! 


That sort of no-compromise scratching of lines in the concrete over sad little bullshit that teeters right on the edge of meaningless most of the time is great, it's why most of the time I'd much rather listen to a straight-edge band like Kurb Stomp who shout songs about beating down people who drink beer (BAR SMASH! STRAIGHT EDGE STREET FIGHT!) than someone who sings a serious song about the societal problems of alcohol addiction, why Play Fast or Die is a better album title than Play It How You Like, why I listen to Prince and Kool Keith and Ke$ha and Hank Williams but still singalong to Vision's eternal declaration of 100% punkness Close Minded (EVERYBODY TELLS ME I'M CLOSE MINDED! IF IT'S NOT PUNK ROCK THEN I'M NEVER GONNA LIKE IT!). A mish-mash of superlatives and exaggerations, hyperbole cut sharp and shining, is the way this party runs. Songs about Oi! being awesome (OI! IS A WAY OF LIFE FOR PUNKS), cops sucking (POLICE TRUCK WHAT THE FUCK), substance abuse (ADHESIVE LUNG), punks looking punk (PUNKS DRESS PUNK) or some combination of those things (SPIKE YOUR HAIR WITH BEER!), it's the energy of The Disclapties or Tom and Boot Boys or The Showcase Showdown or Quincy Punx perfectly articulated in all its stupid gory messiness. Hard Skin for people who preferred The Discocks to Cock Sparrer. Songs so concerned with their own obnoxiousness that the lyrics devolve past silliness into utterly asinine fury screaming stuff like "GLAM IS FUCKING FUCK!" and "FUCKING FUCKING CHICKENS!" which are in and of themselves without any point but contribute to the swerve of the album, the sense of outrage and destructive force directed anywhere that makes the fight of it all so fun. This is a band built for WKSJ knuckle tats and writing their name on toilet doors, built for stupid punx, a band built for shows like this one:



What this album and band is is a distillation of all that punx idiocy into simple two-minute songs that bring you back in their coolness and sharpness and ludic forthrightness to that moment, that time when you ran into punk rock and it changed you, that spark in the skull that accompanied the Stiff Little Fingers or Oblivians or NOFX or Clash or Ratos de Porao or Chaos UK or some nameless highschool shitpunk band song that burrowed itself deep in your squirt soul like a pig tapeworm in the brain of a Australian pop-punk singer.

And from there it was a process of discovery, excitement, when you don't even really know what you're doing, at first you're listening to music because it's cool, and then you're listneing to it because you like it, and then you're digging deeper into the obscure bands, reading biographies online, and the music is digger deeping into you. You're finding new bands and pretending you've always known who The Descendents are because you love this shit so much and you hope someone doesn't find out how lame you were to have existed without it. You're breaking your speakers as there's no way this song was meant to be played at anything but the highest volume every time. You're scouring lyrics booklets. You're building a record collection that will one day contain at least 15 songs called SKATE OR DIE and 32 which include some variation on the words NAZI SCUM. You're lying on your bed staring at the ceiling while Pat the Bunny screams DIY Orgasms, skipping round your room and throwing wild hooks at the air while Henry Rollins rises above, you're sure that Joey Vindictive isn't the only one who's sick of being a human being, Off With Their Heads aren't the only ones who want to tie a rope around their neck kick the chair out with their legs, Jack Terricloth isn't the only one addicted to bad ideas, you're a bouncing soul, a true believer, a cleveland bound death sentence, and silence is a language that you're fluent in as practice makes perfect and you spend a lot of time by yourself, some days you get the thunder, some days the thunder gets you. You're making sure there aren't any squares at your funeral, roaring like a lion and not missing a drop, sure that dis is the best and you and your friends are theeeee battiest bunch of gnostic idiosyncrasy sonic militants this side of Henry Fiat's Open Sore, finding it gets loneliest at night down at the liquor store, you laugh at danger and break all the rules, journeying to the end of the east bay, all you know is that you don't know nothing, you can get away with anything when you're young and when you're not feeling strong you grab the mic and sing along. You're doing plenty of stupid shit.

Plenty.

Or something like that. That's the summary of the quest undertook. That many undertook, that me or you or him or her or them struggled through. That was the easy bit. That's the soundtrack of moments and changes, a mural of messy lyrics. There's a lot of real tough shite you've got to roll through, a lot of standing in the corner somewhere dark or at the bar or out on the street as close to the road as possible and not fitting in, working up strength just to nod at the guy you sort of know but aren't yet friends with but that dude is just so fucking in, whatever in is, there's a lot of wailing in the pit pretending like that elbow some skin just caught your chin with didn't hurt and in fact was a beautiful fucking angel kiss and bring on more violence, a lot of drinking til blackout, hating til whiteout, drugs, edges, kisses and handshakes, a colossal load of interminable discussions on WHAT PUNK IS to ruminate on and get silly about, there's a whole bunch of dumb little human interactions, to plod through like a bad album track first listen through your favourite band's new stinker and it all turns in on itself like a worm in your gut.

Punks watching punks be punks. Learning how. Steal your name from a bad movie, your hair from a worse one. Name your band after a Husker Du song, name your guitar after a crush who didn't know you existed, name your pet after a disease. Shape the sound that seared you somehow into an approximation of your physical perception of those notes and beat and shouts and call that your swagger. Impersonate til you personify. Because dicks didn't talk like Marlowe, gangsters weren't all quick wit switchblades and tyrant kings in silk suits, punks aren't just leather jackets and metal shot through flesh like cyborg adornments, but they often slip into these shapes. Art and culture, journalism and rumour, they take an easy snapshot, blow that grainy polaroid up and flesh it out with fear and rewrites, throw it up into space and nail it into a wall and the kids come past, the wannabe detectives and hoodlums and joeyramones and see it, see what is advertised as WHAT NOT TO BE and they think it looks cool so they steal it and wear it like the skin of some dead and poorly skinned animal. Hanging loose and looking silly, they shred themselves into the myth of the beast. They hide from the light and subsume themselves into a greater part to feel strong and to feel realer than they are by being faker than they are. Because reality fucking sucks, feelings are shit and inarticulate, too blunt to be of worth. Poetry is beautiful but false. But false is real because real is just fuck lust shit hate love pain pain music fuck god alone pain dance shit shit sky awwwwshite and who wants that internal reel of theirs splayed out anywhere for all the world to tut and cluck at? Poetry and art and story is all that reality strained through into a falsehood that says yourself better, streamlines it into stanzas and digestible bursts of life stroking you at your core. Characters in a movie are adrenaline shadows of people who you kind of know but don't really talk to and people are much too complicated to idolise and throw yourself into. Lines in a song are stenciled banners.

"The spikey jacket is the armour of the punk warrior of today."


So you become character, you sidestep into the shape of a monstrous hero and it's weird symbiosis between armour and knight. The projection and projector flickering back and forth. You did it, you know you did, you pretended and worried about being exposed and set yourself apart and posed like you were born with a silver splatter limited edition vinyl in your mouth. You immersed yourself. Spent intimate hours with lyrics booklets and fretted over which shirt to wear to the show. Acted like a fucking arsehole to everyone to prevent them from ever finding out that there was a point when you'd never heard of Gorilla Biscuits or Tragedy.

It shapes you and maybe if you're lucky and strong you shape it a little. You alter the shade, you rejig the photofit and that too becomes part of the timeline, the succession of images hung on this mobile for the next fucked-up kid who wants to belong to snatch at and dive into like a ghost. Because even reacting against the scene or the people or the image doesn't preclude the fact that you love this music. And not many people love this music in the wider scheme of things, so even if it's full of pricks and undesirables and you just want to build anew, you're forced into weird friendships and acquaintances with an array of interesting shitheads and awkward oddballs and you sort of get used to it. And because the shekel of truth rattling around your weak raspy chest is that you're one of them, you sort of fucking love it.



And then maybe you come up for air and you're a little less crazy, a little more you, a little filtered down, usually. But now you've got a crew, a place, an image, shitloads of band t-shirts and you know every single world to Film at Forever and Skulls and you will scream them when the drink is flowing and the stereo is loud and you're part of the process, the scene, the tableau, the heroic monster observed by the kid at their first houseshow scuffing their heels and clutching their beer who has never heard of half the names you spew in an febrile conversing mass of excitement and 80s hardcore and is desperately trying to remember them, to file them away in a hidden pocket of safety-pinned jacket. You've made it. You poser fake human beautiful dumb cunt shade light flesh and sick sick blood motherfucker. You shitty little punk.

That's WHO KILLED SPIKEY JACKET? All the struggle of that particular murky path wrapped up in the joy of eejit violence. All the stupidest convictions, flashes of certainty that light this route. I would say they're the most important punk band in the world if importance in art wasn't such a stupid and fucking worthless concept that should be left to sad weekend supplement broadsheet culture writers who constantly harp on about Bikini Kill or Crass as if they were respectable. This album is just great, as ephemeral as extra zips, as considered as a Contrast Attitude patch, as dumb as a tattoo, and yep, this is a ridiculous tract to lay at the door of what is pretty much a joke album, but fuck if I'm nailing myself behind something that takes itself seriously. Get silly. Act like a dickhead. Dress punk. Have fun (FUCK fun.). Spike your hair with beer. Oi! Oi! Oi! Fuck you! Get Pumped!



“Anyone who wants to end the annoying and embarrassing problem of losing studs from their leather jackets can find a solution by looking at the mighty shark. Sharks are possibly the punks of the ocean because they are unpredictable, frenzied and agressive and they drink a lot. (Other ocean punks include spikey sea urchins and spiny fish with mohawk-like fins.) Whenever a shark loses a tooth there is a smaller tooth right behind it to take it’s place. “Shark-Tooth Studding” applies the same principal to studs on a leather jacket. The process involves studding your entire jacket with small 1/4 inch cones, then covering each stud with a regular 1/2 inch cone right on top of it. This has several advantages. First of all, and possibly most importantly, you can effectively double your stud count, and could even achieve maximum stud density by having a stud surface area larger than the surface area of the jacket itself! Also you are unlikely to lose any studs because the smaller stud acts as a sort of anchor for the larger surface stud. And of course if you lose a stud; there is a small baby stud to take it’s place. The best part of this is if someone sees a stud fall off and sees the little stud beneath it, they might think that your jacket is actually somehow alive and growing metal studs, *or they might even think that the jacket is your hide and that you are a bionic terrorist from the future who has come to earth to wreck everything and destroy their life. One final note: If you use this technique on a denim jacket or vest, the weight of the studs will be so intense the jacket will quickly fall to pieces, which of course looks awesome.” - Who Killed Spikey Jacket?, punks, just like you, speaking in Maximum Rocknroll 346

How can you not get behind that?










Friday, 1 March 2013

GG King - Esoteric Lore


From the dopily horrible name (This is GG King on the mic/Audiences get covered in shite) and the void-opening groan of its chaotic opener which cuts out into a brief n old-school hip-hop bassline, it's clear that GG King are going to go to a slightly off place on their 2011 debut album and while there are clear echoes of the Carbonas, from which this band sprang, it quickly moves beyond that garage monomania, smears itself in grime and blood and  and gets a little weeeird. Hardcore thrashers, broken glass, lost Cows numbers bolted to Bad Times offcuts, snatches of rattles and radio-drops and wailing background noise, skewed nasty guitars grating and stabbing like toothpain in the noise of Walking Texas Chainsaw Massacre, vocals that can stick with a droney-shout on Walls Closin' In, squeal and rip in Hanatarash derangement on Metaphysical Problems. From the '77 bark of Bored of Breathin' to the catchy basslines of Planet of Sociopaths that bubble under as the garage-stomp crackles out into thunderscapes and guitar panic,  this is punk rock filled with unease and menace, punk stretching out of its skin, being made in dark places, filled with strange knowledge, reverberating in the psycho age it documents and tears at and with, finally collapsing into the closer on Doom & Gloom Pt. 1, which swills several workable punk intros about but this time they never escape their surroundings, never burst out past the rainslick oppression into those irresistible riffs, leaving the album finished but still feeling damaged and failing, broken, beautifully incomplete in the way that few punk albums can bear to be.