Agony Shorthand

Friday, April 25, 2003
THE MC5 MOVIE : "A TRUE TESTIMONIAL"....Got a chance to see the brand new MC5 documentary two nights ago at the San Francisco Int'l Film Festival, along with a packed house of rambunctious hooters & hollerers who might've thought they were at the Grande Ballroom themselves watching the fuckin' MC5 kick it out. With a few caveats, I actually thought the film was pretty great, and by its end it had me wound up like the rest of the crowd, ready to start the 1968 revolution right there at the Castro Theater, with "Rocket Reducer No. 62" blaring in the background. The filmakers did a good job telling the story and letting it unwind slowly, with a lot of attention paid to the were-they-really-true-revolutionaries-or-weren't-they (or just an all-time great rock and roll band) question. Brother WAYNE KRAMER serves as the voice of reason throughout the movie and is also the de facto narrator and chief story-teller. He's a good counterweight to Michael Davis and especially Dennis Thompson, who comes across as someone I'd very much like to never spend time with (the film depicts him as a full-on asshole, to be frank). The scuttlebutt after the film from some quarters was that there should have been more live performances, with full songs allowed to explode in full glory. There is a 5-minute outdoor "Looking At You" performed for a bunch of college students, as well as TONS of other live footage (what a powerhouse these guys must have been!), but I think the actual physical quality of the footage is so prehistoric and rough that the filmmakers thought it'd be best to splice it all together aggressively and quickly. I thought it worked; others may disagree. I doubt it'll get a wide release due to being exceptionally low-budget and about a band that most mainstream folks aren't familiar with, but you fans of the 5 should definitely seek it out if you get the chance.

COMETS ON FIRE: "FIELD RECORDINGS FROM THE SUN"....I don't mind being the last one at a party, as long as I finally get there & get to thoroughly partake in the festivities. Such is the case with the awesomely-hyped feedback maestros COMETS ON FIRE, an unhinged freight train of rock and roll who are performing right under my nose here in San Francisco (!), but whom I'd never heard until this past week. As my pal SS would say, HOLY GOD. This CD, the band's second release (word has it that Alternative Tentacles -- what?!? -- are re-releasing the first LP on CD later this year), proves the Comets to be the seeing-eye bastard children of CHROME, MUDHONEY and HIGH RISE -- a combo who up the dose for electronically-manipulated feedback and unbridled chaos beyond any band I've heard before, ever, anywhere. Really.

Now almost anyone can create howling feedback and noise, and maybe impress a handful of impressionable record weasels and Your Flesh magazine writers, right? But do the songs themselves cut it? Yes they do. Though I doubt these esoteric music junkies would deign to compare themselves with something so gauche -- "Field Recordings From The Sun" has tracks on par with a couple of Mudhoney's more structurally-challenged, amp-damaging numbers (like "In and Out of Grace" and the recent "Sonic Infusion"). With Julian Cope raving about this one, I was expecting something maybe a slight step up from MONOSHOCK, with a little weed-smokin' hippie crap snuck in to capture the record buying/drug-gobbling demographic. Thankfully there's very little of that on display. The CD's five tracks, four of which are l-o-o-o-o-n-g stretches of unharnessed noise and phase-shifting electric splattering, are all eminently listenable despite the sonic extremes in volume and mood. You get the feeling that these guys aren't wasting the creative talents the Lord hath provided by getting supremely loaded in the studio -- I'm sure that comes after the session -- and then pressing it up on BULB or something. This is a serious band making serious, boundary-pushing rock and roll. You know, I'd be real surprised if Mark Arm and Grady Runyan aren't already sleeping with the jewel case under their pillows each night. Fantastic record. When are they playing next??

Wednesday, April 23, 2003
NATIVE HIPSTERS "THERE GOES CONCORDE AGAIN...."....Proof positive that a little too much ear-scraping UK DIY art/noise can tip the tables on one's enthusiasm for it. The NATIVE HIPSTERS (also known as "...And The Native Hipsters") released one of the most bonkers, closeted slices of madness ever in 1982 in their "There Goes Concorde Again" 45, a true evil genius home recording guaranteed to polarize between those who find it weirdly transfixing & those who believe it to be utter garbage. As Douglas Wolk describes the track in a recent Boston Phoenix:

".....("There Goes Concorde Again") pivots around a jazz bass that doesn’t walk so much as trudge, note by exhausted note. Bells and faint, woozy guitar effects attempt with limited success to follow it where it’s meandering. Eventually, Nanette Greenblatt, a/k/a Blatt, starts rambling in a dazed sing-song about fat women walking up a hill and thin women walking down. "What do they do down there that results in such an increase in size and weight?" Her voice is squeaky and wobbly, the voice of a dithering matron, not a singer; her timing is distracted and irregular. Then she spies something she likes: "Oooo, look! There goes Concorde again! Oooo, look, there goes Concorde again!" She remarks on the Concorde’s appearance over and over. She pauses for a minute (as the bells and whooshes hover uncertainly) before repeating everything she’s said, from the beginning. Then she does it again, trying to understand what she’s just said....."

Then there's this CD, which capitalizes on some recent attention for the song by compiling 17 Native Hipsters tracks, all recorded from 1979-2001 with various lineups (with Blatt & William Wilding as the constants). It's a real exercise in patience if you ask me. I find the experimental basement electronics, fucked-up loops and especially Blatt's bizarrely appealing vocals to be admirably standoffish, but after a couple of spins, I was dying to turn the thing off 5-6 songs in & put on -- christ, I don't know -- some Tammy Wynette or something. I think it's fair to say that many of these 45rpm post-punk British DIY heroes -- your BEYOND THE IMPLODEs, your DANNY & THE DRESSMAKERS etc. -- were very well-suited to their 7-inch medium; i.e. best enjoyed in small increments of time. There's not a language that I know of that can adequately "review" experimental music such as this -- I just know that a walloping 60-minute dose of it isn't for me.

WILLIE BROWN, A SIDEMAN NO MORE....Standing in the shadow of the great CHARLEY PATTON in the pantheon of prewar Mississippi delta blues giants is his sometime guitar-playing sideman WILLIE BROWN, who is said to have learned his chops from Mr. Patton & who spilled them back out in 1930 on an absolutely classic pair of sides, "Future Blues" and "M&O Blues". I must have these tracks on at least 4 different compilations -- make that five with the release of the Patton box set on JSP Records, which tacks on quite a few outstanding numbers from his contemporaries. Compilers of the raw early blues (Yazoo & many others) obviously have a feel for these throaty, deeply felt & played numbers from Brown, who would certainly merit his own revered compilation if he'd have cranked out, say, 10-12 more songs. "Future Blues" has a skeletal, plucked, descending key guitar riff that is instantly recognizable, and while the playing is less flamboyant than Patton, the strangled vs. sweet voice of Brown is not. "M&O Blues" is a prototypical and top-shelf delta blues, with a languid and lazy feel pepped up by Brown's sing-songy delivery. Definitely among the best "one hit wonders" the genre has to offer.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003
YOU TOO CAN LOVE LES FEMMES DE PARIS....As I've mentioned before, I've got a real affinity for overblown, loud, brassy, well-crafted 60s girl pop -- the kind with enormous hooks, screaming horns, and a saucy, coquettish playfulness that runs through your better US and UK girl groups & solo artists. But hands down, the queens of the 60s pop hop were the French -- specifically le femmes de Paris and the groovy-to-a-fault "ye ye girls". There is nothing quite like hearing LIZ BRADY's majestic and flat-out booming "Palladium" or CLAIRE DIXON's charm school central ball of fluff "On M'appelle Petit Bout De Chou" to wipe that smug I-only-listen-to-the-13th-Floor-Elevators pout off your beak. And while in the past few years there's been a slightly heightened awareness of these girls' existence, this stuff is still incredibly laborious to hunt down -- even the recent reissues. A tour of the web finds one very solid albeit un-updated site and a bunch of message board posts desperately pleading to all readers, "Please, where can I find this stuff?!??". I'm here to help, folks.

These "teenie-bopper doyennes of the Coca-Cola bubble-gum pop culture" were huge in their native France during the rough period spanning 1965-68, when rock and pop continued exploding into smithereens to satisfy the mainstream, the hippies, the drug underground, and of course the teenage kids. I am under no illusion that this music was made for anyone but pre- and pubescent French girls, which in no way negates the craft and genius of these songs' arrangers, nor the power and bite of the songs themselves. The 60s french girls were a roll call of lush first names: VIOLAINE, JOCELYNE, CLOTHILDE, COSETTE, ARIANE, etc. CHANTEL KELLY (who's an absolute dead ringer for Audrey Tatou's Amelie in other pictures and was likely quite a perv-magnet in her day) and the aforementioned Claire Dixon are among the less coquettishly-monikered ye ye girls who have some of the most stomping hits.

In the mid-90s the "ULTRA CHICKS" compilations started popping up in better North American record stores, and they continue to do so, with a 5th volume coming out in 2000 and a 6th appearing sometime last year. These are far and away the best starting points for this stuff, if you can even find them. I highly recommend Volumes #1-4, even the one called, um, "Baby Pop", and then the recent Volume #6, which continues the series' winning ways after a somewhat rotten Volume 5. Sprinkled in among these are a few non-French but still ripe international pop bombshells, from places with less mellifluous languages like Italy, Germany and Syria. I found the first 4 by e-mailing some record stores in Montreal until they surrendered the name of the guy who put them out (somewhere I'd read that he was a native). Damn if I didn't misplace that email address through. However, another fantastic series is called "SWINGING MADEMOISELLE", which overlaps a little with Ultra Chicks but might have the higher batting average song for song. These two LPs were put out by Sasha Monet records in France, and when I contacted the guy or gal that runs the label in search of the first volume, he/she told me it was sold out but that they'd gladly make me CD-Rs of both volumes, with a ton of extra tracks plopped on the end of each. I paid a pittance -- something like $12 US, which included shipping -- for both. Contact the label here and see if magic can strike twice.

There are a couple of lesser series out there as well -- "FEMMES DE PARIS" have beautiful digipack sleeves but rely way too much on covers of British and American hits en Francais to be of much listening pleasure -- unless EILEEN trying to out-Nancy NANCY SINATRA on "Ces Bottes Sout Faites Pour Marcher" sounds like a good time. Likewise, "SIXTIES GIRLS" have some terrific sleeves, and up the ante by including entire 4-song EPs, but then you get the crap songs as well. Better to sit back and let the programming wizards of "Ultra Chicks" and "Swinging Mademoiselle" take the reigns for you. Hopefully should you decide to dip a toe in this stuff you do so with an appreciation not so much of the KITSCH involved (lame) but of the song craft itself. I'd rank the best of this stuff up against any American 1965-68 summer AM radio hit you care to mention.

Monday, April 21, 2003
MASTERPIECE: THE TWILIGHTERS "NOTHING CAN BRING ME DOWN".....A monstrous fuzz destroyer from 1968, this song came to my attention via famous record collector and Wire fan Karl Ikola, who informed me that the PUSSY GALORE track that kicks off their live album is in fact a cover of this very number. And what a number it is -- 2:18 of flailing wah-wah, aggressive churning motion and ugly drug paranoia from this Waco, Texas group on their one and only 45 -- the flip is "I Need You" (anyone out there heard it?). "Well my mind is so messed up, nothing can bring me down, Nothing is strong enough, to save me now...". What a bummer. It's available on a couple of hard-to-find compilations; mine is "Texas Flashback, Volume 2". It's one of those 60s punk rock/psych tracks that fully justifies the rest of the genre.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & HIS MAGIC BAND “THE LEGENDARY A&M SESSIONS”….If you’re looking to square the circle and complete your CAPTAIN BEEFHEART collection, you could do far worse than to start at the start (1965) & pick up the brief, early 5-song CD “The Legendary A&M Sessions”, You might think that with Disc One of “Grow Fins” meeting all your early desert-era Beefheart dirty gravel blues dropout boogie needs, why would you need to drop another ten bucks on only five songs? Because they’re among the rawest and most electrifying songs in the Captain’s glorious career: “Diddy Wah Diddy”, “Who Do You Think You’re Fooling?”, “Moonchild”, “Frying Pan” and of course the mighty “Here I Am, I Always Am”. These sessions resulted from the Magic Band’s two-single deal with A&M, who signed them out of Lancaster, California in 1964 with the intention on seeing if this shuffling ersatz blues-belch had a future in the teen scene. It didn’t, but no one’s complaining. It looks like this is the only place in the Captain’s vast discography to find all of these tracks, outside of the many bootlegs, naturally.

Friday, April 18, 2003
NO NIGHT SWEATS….In my research for information on the SEEMS TWICE record (below), I came across this fantastic web site called NO NIGHT SWEATS. I’ll let it speak for itself, but if you’re burning out on US and UK Homework/Messthetics early 80s post-punk and are ready to snap up some “primo Australian”, here’s your new online home. He’s got CD-Rs and MP3s aplenty – have at it.

THE ELUSIVE AND BALLISTIC D.I.Y. THUD OF SEEMS TWICE….That’s the name of the band, SEEMS TWICE. I was given the opportunity to hear this Australian group’s sub-underground 1980 “Non-Plussed” 7”EP (thanks, JD) and was floored – twelve (12) tracks, all under a minute, each choppy and addled like an even more WIRE-drenched and nervous MINUTEMEN, and almost as good. I was also reminded of another lost classic, the 1985 7”EP from Iowa’s STIFF LEGGED SHEEP, but whoa children – that’s a story for another time. SEEMS TWICE throw in the towel on each track just as it’s picking up a head of angry steam, but not before they’re fucked out a bit on the wah-wah & thrown a mountain of throbbing bass guitar at you. The singer rants as if he’s got a couple of loose teeth he needs to purge, and the whole 12-song racket is jumpy and wired and kicks up plenty of dirt without overkill. A more punk-influenced precursor to the Aussie underground of Lubricated Goat et al that would follow. I’m impressed. Amazingly, you can download the entire 7”EP here, and read about a bunch of other Sydney post-punk as well.

Thursday, April 17, 2003
BULL TONGUE, PRESENTED BY BYRON COLEY & THURSTON MOORE….Unbeknownst to me until I stumbled upon it – formative rock critic BYRON COLEY and fellow connoisseur (and musician) THURSTON MOORE are teaming up every two months in the pages of the freebie ARTHUR magazine with a lengthy, multiple-page column called “Bull Tongue”. The reason for the bi-monthly gathering is in order to “Explore the voids of all known undergrounds”, be it music (usually), film or print. First, it’s great to see Coley back in action. I know he never really left – I see his stuff in Mojo or The Wire from time to time, but this particular forum allows him to unfurl a couple dozen reviews, opinions and raves all in the same column, obviously unshackled from anything except for having to share space with Mr. Moore. Not to damn with faint praise, but my whole idea for having this web log serve as a “consumer guide” came not from Christgau, god no, but from Byron Coley, who was and pretty much still is the only critic I can say I almost fully trust. Sure, he likes the basement/outsider/free noise/private-press/hallucinogen-gobbling freak world far more than I do, so I just ignore those reviews and move on. But if it’s not that, and it’s the other thing instead, and he says it’s good – well, it probably is. I’ve listened to him enough times over the years to count on it.

Moore, too, is a damn good writer – I’d seen his Sonic Youth tour diaries over the years, but this stuff is better. Especially in their debut column, which kicks off with 15 paragraphs from Moore on one of my favorite subjects, late 70s/early 80s Southern California punk rock, with an emphasis on THE GERMS and the recent Brendan Mullen/Don Bolles oral history book on Darby & the band: “Lexicon Devil”. From the article is a passage I really dug about hearing The Germs for the first time & then recognizing their place in musical history:

“The primitive repetition and mono boredom-core of the first Germs 7” “Forming” is an transcendent an American outsider recording as exists, inhabiting the same mythical light as anything Harry Smith might’ve uncovered on a backwoods 78 of the 1920s. When Darby recites his brat-commentary at song’s end, berating-yet-celebrating the Germs’ “effort”, it is at once the most giddily frightening and genuinely liberating experience documented by punk rock youth. When Pat Smear’s slashing downstroke guitar style, Lorna Doom’s zoned-out thump/dump bass and Don Bolles’ stoned record collector drumming gel into the most panic attack-driven punk rock band EVER on “Lexicon Devil” (or any other track they recorded), you can hear the future of punk explode through hardcore and then mature into the experimental stylings of everything from Nirvana to Alan Licht….”

Makes you want to throw on some GERMS right about now, doesn’t it? That’s what should happen when a writer is on his game. In the October 2002 issue Coley & Moore also discuss LIGHTNING BOLT, BLACK DICE, CHICKEN LEGS WEAVER (!), MENSTRUATION SISTERS, ED SANDERS and a whole lot more. Move on to the January 2003 issue, & you get the LIARS, COBRA KILLER, A-FRAMES, SUN CITY GIRLS etc. New records to buy, new ‘zines to pick up. The latest March 2003 issue has some RAYMOND PETTIBON film worship, along with much more interesting-sounding media, but nobody’s perfect, right? At least he’s an authentic underground iconoclast, and that’s pretty much what counts here. I wish these guys a long run in these pages. ARTHUR makes each of its issues available in PDF format for printing, right there on their home page. You too can explore the void – print it at work on color paper, like I did!

Wednesday, April 16, 2003
I'M GOING TO BE A FAMOUS WRITER.....Kim Cooper, the editor of the always-great SCRAM magazine, and her publishing partner David Smay have got a new project on the heels of their 2001 history of bubblegum music tome "Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth". This time it's a collection of rantings from folks who believe their favorite LPs have been critically overlooked or ignored -- now they're doing something about it. I get the honor of getting the good word out about the GIBSON BROS' "Big Pine Boogie" (criminally not available on CD!), and what is pretty much my all time favorite record -- save for "The Velvet Underground and Nico" -- the FLESH EATERS' "A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die". There's some good writers in there, too -- even some you've heard of. The assignments have been set and the deadlines have been thrown on the calendar. Look for it (title pending) near the end of 2003.

LEARNING TO UNDERSTAND LOVE CHILD.....Anyone remember the early 90s band LOVE CHILD? Haven't thought about them in a while, or perhaps seen them only in conjunction with noise guitar hero ALAN LICHT's name? Well, the trio's two CDs seem to be all over the used bins these days, and though I already had the LP of "Okay?", which I have enjoyed in parts over the years, I picked up the CD version of this 1991 release for three bucks and added their 1992 second CD "Witchcraft", which I'd never heard, for another 2 clams. With my new compact disc recordings in hand, I set about on a project to determine if this band was ever indeed any good. One reason why they'd come to my attention in the first place back in the day were the frothing raves thrown their way from Forced Exposure magazine, then a key arbiter of which records one should buy. If FE didn't opine that their editors could use the entire pressing of Love Child's debut 7"EP, they at least figured they could find a use for 75-100 of them (though I definitely do remember HALO OF FLIES and VERTIGO 45s getting the "C/U Entire Pressing" delegation).

LOVE CHILD also had a habit of listing the most arcane and scum-worthy influences in their interviews: "Oh, you know, we like to listen to a lot of SONIC'S RENDEZVOUS BAND, ALBERT AYLER, a little SWAMP RATS, some METAL URBAIN and of course our favorite after-practice ELECTRIC EELS bootlegs". That debut 7"EP was bound to be a little disappointing, but even so, it showed a band who had digested a good deal of Velvets-style feedback and gentle noise, with a few decent songs popping forth as a result. They even had a track on there called "Crocus Says" -- ooooh, that winking reference to the ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS frontman was enough to get any collector boy a bit hot under the collar. That said, the debut LP/CD "Okay" is really just a mixed bag, now that I've had a chance to feed at it in the digital age. The standout tracks all seem to belong to bassist/vocalist/sometime guitarist Rebecca Odes ("Sofa", "He's So Sensitive"), and are slightly more whimsical BARBARA MANNING meets SHAGGS pop-noise than the swirling guitar workouts that belong to Licht (the other guy's songs are just plain awful). I guess I just passed on the follow-up because I couldn't imagine the band would get any better -- but hey, I was wrong. I read an interview with Licht once in which he deemed "Witchcraft" "Rebecca's album", and to that I say: whatever works. It's a good record -- not any better, really, than the same year's offering from Barbara Manning's SF SEALS, but very much in that vein -- and for two dollars, no less. I bet I don't listen to either of my new CDs for the next two years, but it's nice to know they're there -- there's just enough meat left in the jewel cases to bring me back eventually.

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY "LIVE 1981-82"......This 1999 collection of BIRTHDAY PARTY live performances from the early 80s is a rarity in recorded music history -- the live record that actually bests the originals. Swear to god, this is a powerhouse of grunt and grime, and an excellent introduction to this band's ferocity. It features the "Prayers On Fire" and "Junkyard"-era Birthday Party barrelling through some of their hardest, most sinister demon blues numbers, in front of adoring European crowds who know a true original when they're watching it spazz out and fall down in front of their collective face. The bulk of this (ten of seventeen tracks) was recorded at The Venue in London in 1981, when these Australian transplants had their hair piled to the heavens & were slowly winning the hearts of every goth girl, dangerous noise lover and lowdown junkie freak. You don't get the glory of hearing songs from their subsequent peak releases, the "Mutiny!" and "Bad Seed" 12"EPs, but you do get a barking cover of The Stooges' "Funhouse" live in Greece. Could any other band pull off a cover of that track? Maybe UNION CARBIDE PRODUCTIONS in their heyday, but that's about it. Fantastic stuff. And I hate live records!

Tuesday, April 15, 2003
MASTERPIECE: BLACK FLAG “POLICE STORY”……As long as we’re talking about just individual songs in our inventory of masterpieces, what about the fucking most balls-out, over-the-top hardcore punk rock song of all time? You know I’m talking about BLACK FLAG’s godly “Police Story” – the DEZ CADENA version from the “Let Them Eat Jellybeans” compilation, though the Rollins version on “Damaged” is pretty amazing as well. Both versions kick off with the patented high-decibel Greg Ginn guitar feedback squeal, which you know means the track is about to ERUPT into something fast and wild within seconds. And it does. “This fucking city’s / Run by Pigs! / They take the rights away from / All the kids!”. YEAH! Picture the sidewalk in front of the Starwood, 1980: 400 of Chief Gates’ men in blue, all with bushy black mustaches, absolutely wailing on the punk rock cretins and new wave kids with nightsticks after the Flag/Minutemen/Descendents show. The kids are bravely fighting back, but it’s a tough fuckin’ battle: “Understand, we’re fighting a war we can’t win / They hate us, we hate them!”. Cadena had the gnarliest ugly croak of a voice, and he really gave it his best gargle on this one. American hardcore bands took their lessons and adapted accordingly, but no one ever, ever came close to touching this one. When that live punk rock karaoke band comes to town again I’m heading down to the club, taking my shirt off, starting some fistfights, stage diving, and belting out this song. An absolute masterpiece in every sense of the word.

SWEARING AT MOTORISTS “FLYING PIZZA”…..Not a CD, not an LP, not an ultra-rare Japanese-only KBD-style 45, but a fantastic song from Dayton, Ohio’s SWEARING AT MOTORISTS from their otherwise unremarkable debut CD “Number Seven Uptown” from 2000. The song is a recent high-water mark for confessional, small-scale indie songdom, so good that the duo put it on the CD twice, one with a full band & the other stripped-back acoustic. It concerns the fantastic sense of awkwardness of running into some distant acquaintance on the street that you don’t really want to talk to but have to go through the motions anyway. Cue the chorus: “How’s your mom? / and are you working the same place? / your hair got long / And on and on…”. Hate to state the obvious given their locale, but the band are akin to a more homespun GUIDED BY VOICES circa “Alien Lanes”. Download the track – it’s worth it.

Saturday, April 12, 2003
THE WORST ROCK CRITICISM EVER?....If one ever put together a survey of the most mawkish, overly sentimental and poorly-written rock criticism of all time, 9 out of 10 articles would likely have been written about BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. What is it about the Jersey Devil that inspires such horrors of the written word? I don't get it -- but man, in these tough, tryin' times, what we need is a VOICE to step out of the shadows and TEACH us why the world is full of sufferin' and hate -- and the BOSS is always that man. The dismantling of the cult of Bruce has been done much better in this Wall Street Journal (really!) piece from last year, but evidently Steven Winn didn't get word that the jig was up. He has officially written the worst piece of Bruce fawning EVER, in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle. A particularly putrid sample, from the closing paragraph:

"Someone tossed Springsteen a white cowboy hat near the end. Someone else broke out an American flag. Symbols are everywhere right now and simply too complicated to figure out. Music makes its own explanations. "Sha la la," went the final ringing chorus of the night. "Sha la la la la la." "

Read the whole thing -- it's priceless. SHA LA LA LA LA LA!

KRYPTONITE RECORDS ROUND-UP….The good people at Milwaukee’s KRYPTONITE RECORDS were kind enough to send a pack of their new 4-song 7”EPs to the Agony Shorthand offices, all of which promise a blast of low-fidelity, fast & trashy punk rock just from the cheapo B&W sleeves alone. So here goes: the CATHOLIC BOYS’ entry is called “Brainwash City” that’s pretty tough distorto-punk, played loose & fast with a bit of a NY DOLLS-like swagger on “Leatherskin Deathmask”. Not a world-changer, but absolutely solid…..THE EVOLUTIONS go ridiculously overboard on the feedback, distortion and needless screaming, and are learning their punk rock moves from all the wrong sources (“Nazi Rock and Roll”? – boys, try for some subtlety next time -- these RIP OFF-style garage punk bands can be amazingly generic). There might a hot friggin’ tune buried somewhere (“Evolution Blues”?) on the record, but I’m sorry, I can’t find it in the murk…...Pick of the batch is the KILL-A-WATTS and their “Then And Now” EP -- very fast, raw and with a bit more of the TEENGENERATE spirit (the Japanese band who helped rewrite the book on super-fast garage punk). “Mace Can”’s even got these PATTY WATERS / YOKO ONO backing vocals that are so jarring and out of place I have to tip my cap. I’m going to keep an eye peeled for this crew in the future – hey, maybe I’ll even join their fuckin’ crew, since they’re got a Negative Approach/Minor Threat-style theme song (of course called “Kill-A-Watts”). You can find these and more over at the Kryptonite Records web site.

Friday, April 11, 2003
A-FRAMES "A-FRAMES"....All right, the A-FRAMES are first band I've been turned onto as a result of comments on the blog! Everyone wins. These Seattle youngsters, you may recall, have been highly touted as at the vanguard of the burgeoning robotic punk underground. Dr. Butcher had this to say: "If you want to hear a robotic, post-punk release from last year that blows the Numbers' "Numbers Life" completely out of the water you should check out the self titled debut album (vinyl only) by Seattle's A-Frames on Dragnet Records. This album was one of my faves of last year. Ironically, I've heard their upcoming sophomore album and, same as the Numbers, they have succumbed to the whole "I am a computer" Sprockets vocalizing that's...well...dumb". Then Ryan chimed in with the news that the "A-Frames LP is gone, the CD version is out this week as a SS/Dragnet label split label release; either label can set you up. Their o/p 7" are even better (surprise!), one each on SS and Dragnet. Singing robots are getting laid these days, gentlemen, the pretty girls wanna suck the chrome off...". Thank you for your input, Ryan!

I ordered the CD from S/S Records, and it is as they say. Loud, aggressive (but not overly crazed) SCREAMERS-style panic punk, with short, tight 2-minute killers that actually rely far more on guitar/bass/drums than they do on poorly-played electronics. Every now and again there is an absolute BLAST of synth noise that pretty much appears out of nowhere. There are also great, detached female backing vocals on a couple of tracks, and the kick-off track, "Hostage Crisis", will absolutely not get out of my head this week. The lyrical concerns -- even the titles -- are a juvenile science class hodge-podge ("Calculator", "Nobot", "Plastica", "Transgenic", etc.), but whatever. This is one hot band. Does it blow the NUMBERS' fantastic 2002 "Numbers Life" CD completely out of the water? Absolutely not -- don't be foolish. But the A-FRAMES are one of the best of the new pack of punk noisemakers I've heard in some time. Hey, can someone stop the upcoming release and edit out the aforementioned moronic Sprockets/Kraftwerk vocals? There may still be time!

SHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS : "DAP DIPPIN' WITH..."....A couple months back, when I first began this endeavor, I waxed lyrically about the 3-4 tracks I'd downloaded from SHARON JONES AND THE DAP KINGS, and how you really ought to check out this new 70s soul powerhouse who just happened to be a young 2003 band. So I bought the CD, and now that I've spun it a few times I'm going to throw a few caveats out there. First, it ain't all that, naw what I'm sayin? It is good, solid, hardcore JAMES BROWN-style tribute funk -- and I do mean tribute, from the opening fake-live introduction to the screaming horn section to the overall idolatry of the main player (Ms. Jones). And she's truly got a great voice, and the Dap Kings are absolutely a super-tight and dead-on band. But that's about it -- other than their ability to cop this stuff note for note and generate that help-me-I'm-sweatin'-to-death vibe, there's not a lot of there there. The songs just don't stick to my ribs the way I'd like them to. I do like the hidden instrumental track that comes on about 15 minutes after the rest of the CD has ended -- always a good trick, and one that earns them some nice style points from Agony Shorthand. Proceed with skepticism is all I'm saying; this stuff is definitely not BAD.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003
A LIVE SUPREME....I vacuumed up a complete 50-minute live rendition of JOHN COLTRANE's "A Love Supreme" suite via my 28.8k modem this week, and had a good listen to it yesterday. The fantastic "A Love Supreme" LP is getting renewed and richly deserved critical hosannas this year thanks to the new "A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album" book by ASHLEY KAHN, and the reissue of the album in deluxe 2-CD form, including what I believe includes the complete live performance that I found. This is of course with St. John's classic quartet of Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison, and they are stretching what was already a exploratory, "higher spiritual consciousness" suite into even more out-there, beautiful racket territory. As one who is somewhat skeptical of 1960s "New Thing" jazz -- let's put it differently; I don't yet appreciate the higher-plane glories of atonal, improvisational honking and squirting -- I have to say that when Coltrane & his A-team pushed the boundaries, they really made it work. This has much of the familiar structure of "A Love Supreme", but with less controlled tenor sax squealing & more chances for the music to go off wherever it wants to. Coltrane doesn't appear to be the one "commanding" his troops; each member sounds like he's been given free reign to take the Love Supreme coda and work it however he wants, within a set of real loose boundaries.

Of course, they took free jazz much, much further after 1965, so much so that Tyner and Jones either quit the quartet or were nudged out -- check out the excellent excerpt from Ashley Kahn's book in the March 2003 issue of free newspaper ARTHUR for the details.

TOP 100 SINGLES OF ALL TIME UPDATE......This just in -- JANE WIEDLIN has the #36 greatest 45 of all time, according to the recent MOJO magazine "Ultimate Jukebox" throwaway insert in the April 2003 issue. That's right, the landmark "Rush Hour / The End Of Love" single has beat out PERE UBU's "Heart of Darkness / 30 Seconds Over Tokyo" and CRIME's "Hot Wire My Heart / Baby You're So Repulsive", among others, for the coveted #36 slot. After some renown as a frequent one-night paramour in the early LA punk scene and as the squeaky-voiced guitarist of the GO-GOs, Ms. Wiedlin apparently had a solo career. This was a solo career that was so groundbreaking that it yielded the 36th greatest seven-inch record of all time! Anyone heard this monster record?

Tuesday, April 08, 2003
RANT: MIFFED ABOUT THE CONTROLLERS CD....One late 70s LA punk band that never really got the full-on hype were THE CONTROLLERS, primarily due to the out of print nature of their records & the fact that they never put out an LP (and perhaps because, well, they pale significantly when compared to their world-class brethren THE BAGS, WEIRDOS, GERMS, FLESH EATERS etc.). Still, those three killer tracks on the "Tooth And Nail" compilation are really blazing, and I've always kind of liked "Slow Boy" and "Do The Uganda", 2 of the tracks from one of their 45s. Great clear-headed, non poseurish vocals from "Kid Spike" led the way -- somehow, via a distinct lack of theatrics, you got the sense that these guys were pretty serious about their punk rock careers and about music in general. So it was with some minor excitement that I recently bought the Controllers compilation CD put out by Dionysus/Bacchus Archives a couple years ago, though I already had most of the previously-released tracks. I counted six I'd never heard before, so I went for it.

Now let me say right off the bat that the guy that runs Dionysus, Bacchus Archives, Hell Yeah and I think another label or two is an exceptionally nice guy who never did me or anyone I know a bit of wrong. I applaud his continued enthusiasm for loud, guitar-based rock music, and hope he continues to champion his faves. But WHY do Dionysus releases constantly have gaping, glaring, maddening "issues"? In the early 90s us garage punk record-buying dorks used to say that if a good band came along they'd likely get snapped up by In The Red or Crypt records; if those fine labels passed on it then the band would go down the chain to competent labels like Sympathy or Estrus; and if even THEY wouldn't bite, then and only then would Dionysus get a chance to put it out. If Dionysus refused, wow, that's a pretty goddamn rotten band -- maybe Flipside might release it. So it continues with promising-looking, terrible-sounding Killed By Death-style 70s punk reissues "Shielded By Death" and "Guillotined At The Hangar", and the latest get-your-hopes-up CD called "Bosse Sound" of 70s/80s Swedish rarities. Oh, and this label also milked THE DILS and put out two entire CDs of their stuff, but couldn't find a way to get all three of their 45s on one release? Nope, you gotta buy both. That's just wrong, folks.

My beef with the CONTROLLERS CD is the fact that once you get beyond the eight previously-released tracks, the remaining six are not even from the original band -- some are not even by The Controllers! -- even when looking at the track listing on the back, you'd certainly be forgiven for thinking so. No, two are by "Skull Control", a BS reunion band from the 90s; three horrific novelty country-ish numbers are by a reformed 90s Controllers; and one, "Top Secret", is from KAOS, a (great) short-lived 1980 band featuring Johnny Stingray of the Controllers. I admit that I'm sounding like the kind of record-collecting jerk-off we all like to make fun of, and I know there are far more important things to get worked up about, but this is just ridiculous -- either put a description on the back sleeve detailing the fact that the extra tracks are NOT vintage Controllers, or call it something like "The Controllers and Their Lesser Friends" instead. Sorry, but recommended only for those amazing "Tooth and Nail" tracks. The real Controllers retrospective, with singles, 1978 demos and Masque live shows, still has yet to be released. Harumph!

RANDOM ROXY MUSIC THOUGHT, AS BEFITS A BLOG....That's what these are for, right? So how come no one's ever put out the definitive first-wave ROXY MUSIC greatest hits collection, "Roxy Music's Greatest Hits", on CD? There must be a reason for it, as this is as perfect a collection of their first 5 LP's hits as one could imagine. There's this thing, and then this thing as well, but they've got all that "Angel Eyes", "Dance Away" and (*shudder*) "Slave To Love" MOR pablum on it -- what about "Editions of You", hunh??? The original LP was an exceptionally formative record for me, since once I'd heard "Virginia Plain" and "Love is the Drug" on FM radio as a teenager, I was absolutely married to the band's 1970s stuff. If I may be so bold, here's the track listing regurgitated from memory (someone let me know if I screwed this up): Virginia Plain / Do The Strand / All I Want Is You / Out of the Blue / Pyjamarama / Love Is the Drug / Mother of Pearl / The Thrill of It All / A Song For Europe / Editions of You. UPDATE: I forgot "Street Life". Other than the middling "A Song For Europe" -- I think just about anyone would take "Re-make/Re-model" or even "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" in its place -- this is a fantastic "hits" collection from a band who were one of the few massive UK 70s hitmakers to also break significant rockandroll ground.

Still, if you feel like 'fessing up about it, you gotta admit that those first five LPs are a bit uneven. Each one has got at least 3 complete throwaways; I'm thinking, for instance, of the boring exploratory ones like "Bitter's End" or "Grey Lagoons", to single out songs from the Eno-era Roxy Music alone. That's why I'm glad that someone put out "The Early Years", a great collection of the no-doubt-about-it WINNERS from the first two LPs. It's full of intense, chirping electronics, screaming guitar & Ferry's counterintuitively listenable voice. I'm hoping that in lieu of the original "Greatest Hits" coming out on CD, someone can do the same for the next 3 records ("Siren", "Stranded" and "Country Life")....

Monday, April 07, 2003
MASTERPIECE : "SEE EMILY PLAY".....First in an occasional series, starting with one of the all-time greats, PINK FLOYD's masterful 1967 second single, "See Emily Play". Even Syd Barrett's genius solo work can't touch this amazing song, a near-operatic, soaring, experimental psychedelic pop monster. The multi-layered production is just about perfect, and the varied instrumentation (farfisa, electric piano and what sounds like a glockenspiel) is stitched together to great freakout effect. Word has it that Syd used a Zippo lighter as a slide on this one, and my cursory research on the World Wide Web also indicates that these recording sessions gave off the first hints of Barrett's mental decline to David Gilmour. I don't buy the whole "crazy genius" hullabaloo -- once Syd's brain went south (one could say he presciently "lost his mind at play"), so then did Pink Floyd -- I mean, have you ever really tried to get into "Saucerful of Secrets"? Even Barrett's sole contribution doesn't cut it. Those first three singles, though, and "Piper At The Gates of Dawn" -- fantastic, brilliant, top shelf etc. I could listen to "See Emily Play" over and over, and would easily put it on any Top 20 all-time songs list.

WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH PUBLIC NUISANCE?....I've always been a regular reader of UGLY THINGS fanzine, & have found out about some great 60s or 60s-influenced stuff via their pages; my problem w/ them is that they suffer from "good review" syndrome -- as in just about everything that gets sent to them gets a good (or better) review. Therefore its usefulness as a consumer guide is severely compromised. MOJO suffers from this syndrome as well; must be the way to keep the promo gravy train from derailing. Both have issued raves of an unearthed Sacramento, CA "60s punk" band called PUBLIC NUISANCE and their recently-issued double CD "Gotta Survive". These guys certainly look promising -- slovenly appearance, dressed all in black (having spent my childhood in the suburban inferno of Sacramento, I can tell you from experience that black should be worn only to look cool), and a bunch of people raving about the songs & comparing it to heavy British psych & Charles Manson. Forced Exposure likes it, and they tend to exercise a bit more quality control than Ugly Things. What's the REAL story, folks -- is it just another psychedelic turd?

Friday, April 04, 2003
GUILTY PLEASURE DEPARTMENT....Ever get into a band or a record that you objectively KNOW is probably shite? A guilty pleasure that you think you're probably going to disown within a couple of years? Sure you have; everyone does. For you, it might be Billy Joel, Supertramp or Jane's Addiction; for me (this year) it's the SAHARA HOTNIGHTS. This all-girl, photo-ready, Swedish garage-pop band came to my attention when I spent two weeks in Karlskrona, Sweden in 2001 -- with side trips to Stockholm and Copenhagen -- and their latest CD "Jennie Bomb" was all over the racks of Stockholm's HMV. I chalked up what I believed to be one of the worst band names ever to a failure of Swedish-to-English translation. Well, "Jennie Bomb" is now out in the US, has been for a while, and shoot me if it doesn't have some great buzzsaw hooks, shouted punk-girl choruses and about 4-5 excellent songs. (It does, however, have easily the most horrible song title of the last decade: "All Right All Right, Here's My Fist (Where's The Fight)". Tough girls!!). This year's ELASTICA, perhaps? While they are not likely to be mistaken for KRIMINELLA GITARRER, if you get past the stadium drums, the RUNAWAYS-style posing, and those lyrics, you might find yourself with some ultra-catchy, high energy tracks like "Down And Out", "Keep Up The Speed" and "Only The Fakes Survive". And you might even like them! Since I understand it that Swedes are immersed in English starting in the third grade, this could easily be from London or Auckland or King of Prussia, PA. I encourage you to give the aforementioned tracks the free download treatment -- that's how I heard them. Don't worry, the CDs will be ALL OVER the remainder bins within months. And what do our Swedish correspondents the Olaussen brothers have to say about the band? I'll bet they're each dating a HOTNIGHT.

HYPED 2 DEATH, MESSTHETICS ETC.....The once-mighty torrent of ultra-rare 70s & 80s US and UK DIY records coming out on HYPED 2 DEATH CDs has slowed to a trickle of late, but Chuck Warner swears he's going to finish the alphabet one of these days. This is the premier, low-cost way to find out about some of the best sub-underground rock music of all time, and wading through each CD to find the true hidden gold -- like, say, BEYOND THE IMPLODE's "Lassitude", or "Accept It!" by Mike Rep's TRUE BELIEVERS, can actually be quite enjoyable. Until Chuck gets some more out, I'd recommend reading up on the Hyped 2 Death modus operandi by checking out this interview in the latest issue of Sound Collector.

Thursday, April 03, 2003
HEY, MOM! IT'S A CD FROM THE NUBS....Yes, The Nubs! I didn't know they'd put a CD out until I found it for $4.95 in the used bins last weekend, though I did know they were playing live in and around San Francisco, my hometown. I just hadn't "gotten around" to seeing them. Who, you ask, are The Nubs? These guys released one of the all-time great retardo-punk songs, "Job" in 1980 on their one and only 45. I mean, it is so STUPID it was an instant 120-second classic the moment it hit vinyl (it can be found on Killed By Death, Volume 5, and deservedly so). "Hey, cop! / I just shot some crank / I just got out of the tank / I just robbed a bank / I feel pretty rank!". My cousin turned me on to this one a few years after it had come out -- he had TAPED it off of the Maximum RockandRoll radio show, which at one time had been the place to hear the best hardcore punk records of the day (and certainly the worst, too). It had been this mystery track that he'd play on his own radio show, straight off of the cassette. I found the mystery 45 at the radio station I had been DJing at in 1989-90 (KFJC, as mentioned earlier) & found that the flip of "Job", called "Little Billy's Burning", unfortunately in no WAY approximated the genius of its A-side. What a loss!

So now there's this CD, "The Nubs", which I think may have been out a couple years, with both of the 45 tracks and about a dozen more recent numbers from the reformed band. It's pretty goddamn awful. It sounds like some 1980s Christian Right fantasy of what a scary punk band might sound like -- like one of the fake punk bands on Quincy or CHiPS! The lyrics prove beyond a doubt that the stupidity of "Job" was not meant to be ironic (you have to hear "Chainsaw Love" to believe it), and the music is uninspiring, tepid "punk lite". Such a great band name, too: THE NUBS. I understand that the LEWD and SICK PLEASURE are kicking around San Francisco again as well -- no word yet on how rad they're sounding these days!

Wednesday, April 02, 2003
CHARLEY PATTON, FOR A SONG....This morning I read in my wife's Entertainment Weekly -- where I get all my music news -- about the UK's JSP RECORDS, and their campaign to put out ultra-low-cost box sets of classic American roots music and old jazz & swing. The pitch that sealed my interest was a comparison of their five-CD CHARLEY PATTON box set and the beautiful Revenant "Screamin' and Hollerin' The Blues" box set that I've of course looked at longingly in stores on many ocassions, and been tempted to throw on the credit card more than once. The former is roughly $30 and contains his complete recordings, as well as SON HOUSE's and some other fine pre-WWII delta blues tracks; the latter goes for a whopping $150. For your extra $120, you gain a lot of really great ephemera like two books, some incredible packaging (they recently won a Grammy for it!), and some alternate takes. On balance, though....hmmmm....which one to order? OK -- I'll take the $30 version, thanks! Actually, over at, it's $25.99 with free shipping, for five CDs of the complete works of the greatest bluesman of all time. I think this label is one whose mission I can definitely support.

THE RETURN OF SOLGER!….If you’ve never heard the 1980 7”EP from Seattle’s SOLGER – well, what you’re actually missing is likely entirely up to you. This bizarre hardcore punk record, known by many as Seattle’s first HC punk record, is one tough nut to crack. I wrote about it in my own magazine a few years ago, and if you don’t mind me quoting myself (what a dork!), it’ll save me from having to think up new things to say:

“….What is special about the Solger single still remains somewhat elusive -- on first listen, it’s poorly-recorded, generic hardcore, and its subject matter (detailed in an enclosed lyric fold-out) is moronic early 80’s teenage nihilism (war, hate, fascist Amerika, ect). Yet many consider the record to be a true classic, and I have to say, I love listening to it. Low fidelity often brings out the warmth and an artist’s true expression in a way that conventional recording can’t – Solger took this maxim several steps further and buried their mics underneath Puget Sound while recording, spilled a case of Schmidt on the masters, pasted swabs of cotton to the final tapes and pressed up 500 copies. The songs charge forward and then spin out on control in a manner quite foreign to hardcore structure, making this the most “arty” generic hardcore record of its day…..”

The band has their own retrospective web site now, which you can find here. Also a "complete works" CD of Solger should be out by May or June of 2003 called “SOLGER CODEX 1980” -- "digitally restored and magically touched by Jack Endino", they say. In 1980 that would have likely been filed in the “when pigs fly” department. How about a tour? Hey, why not?

EYES -- "T.A.Q.N. / Topological Lies" 45....We were just talking about THE EYES and "T.A.Q.N." a few posts ago. But even though most of the Dangerhouse stuff has been reissued, they've hidden the B-side "Topological Lies" from us on the offical reissue releases and even on the bootlegs. Anyone heard it? Is it really that bad?

WHO'S FINLAND'S BEST BAND OF ALL TIME?.....Bet you haven't thought about that in a while, have ya? For my money it's LIIMANARINA. I have been associating Finland of late with great hockey players more than I have bands -- my own San Jose Sharks have Teemu Selanne ("The Finnish Flash"), Miika Kiprusoff ("The Kipper") and Vesa Toskala ("Vesa Toskala"). But last weekend I pulled out the Liimanarina 45s from the early 90s, and I had to declare it right then and there -- this is Finland's hottest rock and roll band ever, folks. Yes, better than EPPU NORMAALI and better even than TERVEET KADET, hard as that might be for some of you to fathom. Who are Liimanarina? They appear to be essentially one guy, Olli Pauke, and a cast of revolving charcters who are subordinate to his demented vision. Their early 90s singles are noisy, totally off the wall and out of control early HALF JAPANESE-style lunacy, with a hint of THE FALL and first-LP MEAT PUPPETS (you know, the crazy lo-fi artcore record). The big standout is the first track on their first single,"Kuinka Aku Ankasta Tehdaan Poliisi" (which translates as 'How To Turn Donald Duck Into A Policeman') -- such hilariously anarchic rock and roll is rarely realized. I first heard about them via raves about Liimanarina and the Bad Vugum record label in Forced Exposure and Siltbreeze magazines & then tracked down the 45s. I believe Long Gone John at Sympathy put out a Bad Vugum compilation EP with two great Liimanarina tracks, and then there's their only LP/CD "Spermarket" on Drag City from 1995 that I still have not heard. Someone needs to pull those 7"EPs together for a real good time and get that Liimanarina revival happening!

Tuesday, April 01, 2003
A LONG-WINDED, HORRIBLY NOSTALGIC METHOD OF REVIEWING THE REVILLOS' "MOTORBIKE BEAT" 45....I was 12 years old in 1980, and had had some limited exposure to what was then known as "new wave". Punk was still something I wasn't ready to fully tackle, given that the bands & audience actually spit on each other -- or so TIME magazine said -- but I was definitely extremely curious. Anything that might sound "punk" or "new wave" sounded it might be really fucking cool, so armed with a rudimentary knowledge of what it actually might sound like (having heard Devo and the B-52s, I was certainly an expert), I would tune in to various FM dinosaur rock stations and see if I could find any. These stations, which at the time normally played a mix of horrible AOR like Journey, Styx and the Eagles, were being forced by program directors to play some of this new shit, because everyone said it was "about to break". So you'd often hear some crap power pop trotted out as punk/new wave or my favorite, "modern music". And believe me -- and many others who've testified to this fact -- kids in my suburb, at least, used "punk" and "new wave" interchangeably and almost always as a negative, and the main epithet hurled at kids who dressed like funny new wavers or hardcore punks was ALWAYS "Hey, Devo!!".

So my plan was to write down the names of the performers and songs that sounded new wave or punk, and then I'd go look for the records at the mall. The first thing I heard that was DEFINITELY new wave to my 12-year-old ears was LOU REED's "Vicious", from the "Transformer" LP, but when I saw the cover at the Wherehouse or the Record Factory or whatever, I decided it probably wouldn't be any good. The wisdom of youth! It was a blast, though -- this was how I discovered ROXY MUSIC ("Virginia Plain" -- totally new wave), among others. But the big eye-opener was finding college radio. In the area south of San Francisco was (and still is) a great college station, KFJC. It was there that I heard new wave song after punk song after new wave song, but I'll definitely remember the first one I ever heard and loved: "Motorbike Beat" by the REVILLOS. Trouble was, I didn't write it down -- but the song stuck with me, and stuck with me, for years. Once I found out it was the Revillos, sometime in the 1990s, their comedic image as "wacky space people with ray guns" totally turned me off (even though I like the REZILLOS first LP, and it's essentially the same band), so I never tracked the 45 down. An ill wind of nostalgia swept over me recently, though, and I bid for the 45 on eBay -- and won. And you know what? IT HOLDS UP. It's a top-flight corker, this song -- ultra-frantic, rockabilly-tinged punk with dueling male & female vocals, squealing motorcycle sounds, and just a can't-beat-it FUN vibe that's not contrived or too loony to listen to. It was really nice to have it back, 23 years later, since I hadn't heard it since 1980. The flip "No Such Luck" isn't half bad, either! What about the rest of their stuff? That goofball space thing still has me pretty wary...