Sunday, 6 October 2013

Proxy - Police Car

"First there's beer then there's shots then theres cops then next of kin
Then violins
First there's violence then there's silence then there's sirens." - Lifter Puller, La Quereria

Here's a 100% guaranteed test to find out if your punk band is a good punk band. Does your punk band have a punk song about the police and/or police cars where at some point there is a siren sound effect or the guitars sound like a siren? If so, well done, you are in a super sweet punk band.

The Boys, Chaos Death Squad, The NailsCock Sparrer, Tom and Boot Boys, Black FlagRamonesObliviansCockney Rejects, Hard Skin,  The Rip Offs, Anti Todor, The Toy Dolls, Blanks 77, The Clash, Lärm, truly some of the greats. And now Proxy, whose song Police Car I have listened to a ridiculous number of times in the past couple weeks. Originally on their fuckin tight 2012 demo as Police Car (Goin' Home). This rerecording does not fall into the trap that too too many demo rerecordings do smoothing over the chaos, it retains the renegade criminal dance and expands it, hardens it into its perfect cop-baitin' form.

On the one hand Police Car is a song about stealing a police car. On the other hand it is a song about the utmost joys of human existence. Or maybe not, that's just what I get from it whenever I sing it. Imbued with the spirit of the catchiest GBH songs, a classic streetpunk chug with the momentum so locked in that those slippery bass runs can squirm up and down, struggling for release like a dog on a chain.

Police cars! Roving the streets. Who among us hasn't felt that familiar bite of panic when the blue lights wail past, when the jam-sandwich brigade pulls up behind you at the lights and your girlfriend freezes up next to you and almost involuntarily whispers "Be cool. Be coooool." Stealing a police car just seems like the wildest thing in world, all the freedom of that line in Dead Milkmen's Punk Rock Girl ("We got into a car/Away we started rollin'/I said "How much you pay for this?"/She said "Nothing man, it's stolen") but with added radical bite, just dug in again and again and again, drawn out and built into a perfect punk shout, voices pouring in like a waterfall.

It's not got the incredulous outrage of Who Killed Spikey Jacket's cry of POLICE TRUCK! WHAT THE FUCK!? or The Clash's breathy panicked gasp of "I've keep running. Police on my back.", nor has it gonna the sarcasm and blue malevolence of DK's Police Truck, what it has is fucking joyous singalong, of a moment of true giddy liberty, a stolen car, a brief one-in-the-eye for the system and its protectors. The cop trudging home embarrassed, you careerin through empty streets, sirens on your side for once, a car full of morons free until the morning.

How fucking great is the line "GONNA GET BEAT LIKE A DRUG ADDICTION!"? It's the line in the song that shows the consequences, the knowledge that this soaring glee is gonna get swiped out from under you and you're gonna feel the sting of a nightstick, which frames the whole song differently, it's not just dumb vandalism, careless and delusional, there's enough knowledge here to see what's gonna happen, but enough forward drive and enough momentary transcendence to giggle at the prospect of the comedow, just for a little while. Also just as a simile it's something special, the idea that drug addictions are just something you beat, clear and easy enough to slot into this figurative hole, rather than something you struggle painfully with. Here they're something that you kick to death, not something you succumb to. And that's just tossed off casually, this total faith in its onwards thrust, shrugging off true killing void shit like an iron-arse coolguy motherfucker. And then getting your head put in by cops, then probably going out and doing it again. Singing this song as you do it, building from drums to guitar to chorus, your dumb friends with you, kissing those faded ACAB knuckle tats and knowing that they were the best decision you ever made drunk.
The other two songs are pretty great too, Parasites is a triumphant take on crust punk squalor, half-parodying/half-celebrating the scabied scratching filth of punx life, a song of sympathy for the bed bugs that eat you while you sleep, framing them as just as a part of a rebel chain of stolen sustenance, "PARASITES WITH REFINED TASTES WE SHARE A DESTINY/ALWAYS BITE THE HAND THAT FEEDS/TIL IT'S OUR TURN TO BLEED" A Marxist Joe's Apartment street punk singalong. It's another anthem constructed over those sort of up and down roving basslines reminiscent of Stiff Little Fingers' Here We Are Nowhere, with a fantastic mellow guitar solo that slips into dissonance and squealing towards the end.
Fountains of Youth, a beerpunk Blitz blitz. Strung out with punk tautness, it's singing drinking songs, but in the face of the doctor looking disapprovingly at your bloodwork. A blowout in the same vein as Oblivians' I'll Be Gone, where the drunken steps are one you know well and you head once more into the bar, dead friends. Like Police Car it's a celebratory song imbued with the rueful knowledge of what all this self-destruction springs from, and what it leads to. "A FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH! AN OCEAN OF BEER!/A REMEDY TO OVERCOME AN OVERWHELMING FEAR" is what's called for. The songs a kind of push and pull, that sort of interior bargaining between bad shit you know's coming and good shit you need to make you forget, even when the good shit drags you closer to bad. A cirrhosised barroom belter. Those next few pints might fill you again full of vim and teenage shirtiness, but your body don't bounce up from the hangovers the way it used to. The bruises stick around longer. "WE'VE ALL BEEN THROUGH THIS BEFOOORE/BUT THIS TIME THIS TIME THIS TIME I DON'T KNOW!" But fuck it.
This band is punxvest good.

Everyone song here is a fullfight anthem, Varukers vicious, pouring out from abused and battered chests, built from crappy frayed souls. The sort of songs that make you read invincible, make you move with purpose and Thug Murder steel, fists clenched, and a songsturdy step. A moment of freedom is what you're looking for, a time when all but this drops away, Proxy here conjure up these moments, of ridiculous giggling fits and arm-in-arm drunken stumblings, shithead community and tearaway joy, frangible and gleaming and ready to get slammed down and erased by the omnipresent spikes and speedbumps of reality, but when you can get those times, in the choruses and in the pit, and when you can get those moments when you're old enough and got enough broken bits to know just how fleeting they always are, but still live in them when you crash into one, then that's something of live lived maybe the way you ought to live it. Or maybe just the way I wanna live it.

"I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'" - Kurt Vonnegut, probably not talking about jacking cherrytops, but hey, different strokes.

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