Agony Shorthand

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

In the 80s I snapped up every Los Angeles scene post-punk and avant-weird compilation LP I could find, usually because they'd have a GERMS, a MINUTEMEN, a BLACK FLAG or a RED CROSS track. These included the "Life Is..." series on New Underground records, and all of Mike Watt's New Alliance comps ("Chunks", "Cracks in the Sidewalk" etc). This 2004 LP-only compilation on S-S Records carries on in that grand, all-encompassing spirit, as it puts forth a US/French "scene" full of experimental modern-day Artless Entanglements, B-People and Plebs along with the raw-edged rock and rollers. Some of the bands are in that very of-the-day school of razorwire, angular, guitar-heavy slashing (THE INTELLIGENCE, A-FRAMES, GUINEA WORMS), others are of the straightforward balls-out camp such as the UNNATURAL HELPERS (whose track is great) and the PIRANHAS (who are just godawful). Then there's the others filling the Spot and LAFMS roles, none of whom really stand out aside from France's CRASH NORMAL ("Quit Looking at my Tits"). I wish there'd been a "Clocked In", "The Lonelys", "Rich Brat" or a "Shit You Hear at Parties" to lead the pack and make the whole thing slide down like butter, but overall it's a solid thumbnail sketch of the tumultuous S-S worldview.