Agony Shorthand

Thursday, May 11, 2006

This is the best 90s garage punk record no one wants to sign up for & admit they like. At least that’s been my experience since it came out in January 1996, since I can barely find anyone who can back me up on my adoration of this thing. It sticks out like a bright, shining beacon of raw & crazed filth in the midst of THE MAKERS’ otherwise unremarkable discography, I first heard of these guys around ‘94 when Jimmy Stapleton of Bag of Hammers records told me that “…these guys are wild, they’re always getting into fights. They go into record stores and beat up the clerk behind the counter”. That’s fucking awesome! Then I saw the covers of their records, which featured helmet-haired 60s poseurs & retro beat/garage packaging, and I figured they’d be totally l-a-m-e. Then I saw ‘em live in late 1995, and they knocked it out of the park. Sure, they took themselves way too seriously, but every song was just bang-bang-bang straight up and fast, like a combination of ’65 SONICS and ’85 MORLOCKS with a little snot-nosed classic LA punk (Weirdos/Germs/Bags) moves thrown in. Loved it. Became an instant evangelist. Bought this S/T record which came out shortly thereafter, and it blew me away. I still play it maybe once every 6 months – it’s so frothing and fast, most every song blazing by in 45-90 seconds, it seriously lives up to the dumb-ass middle finger graphic on the cover. Tracks like “I’m Not a Social Kind of Guy” and “Little Piece of Action” out-fuzz most anyone else who played revved-up punk rock through a cranked distortion pedal the last thirty years, and having just listened to this again this morning, I’m still wired from the experience.

Later on I’d see these guys around the U-District in Seattle when I lived up there and always had a big laugh. The singer piled his hair high to the heavens, dressed himself in Victorian-era waistcoasts and even a top hat, and I swear to god I once saw him walking around with a cane, despite no noticeable limp. It was times like those when it was hard to defend this record to my peers, but I stood firm and will continue to do so. They opened for MUDHONEY in 1999 and it was a totally different band – preening, flouncing glam garbage with none of the rough edges and broken teeth of this record. I chalked “The Makers” album up to a fateful lightning strike of out-and-out brilliance, amid a career of poor moves and an otherwise dearth of talent. (By the way, check out the comments section from this post I did in 2004 – lots of fine discussion about The Makers’ clothing habits and fighting skillz).