September 30, 2007


Why post something by The Ex? All of their stuff is still available, and the chances of anyone reading this blog not having heard (of) them are pretty slim, what with dozens of records out and almost as many tours under their belt. Well, I think their second LP History is What's Happening has sorta fallen between the cracks of their imposing oeuvre. Primitive-but-catchy 1980 debut Disturbing Domestic Peace will always hold a special place in the hearts of old punks, as it was basically the only Dutch D.I.Y. LP available for a long while. At the time of third LP Tumult (1983) their trademark experimental/eclectic style was more or less into place, and they started getting noticed abroad. History... sounds nothing like those two, in fact back then a lot people thought it was a disappointment. But hey, to me it was one part of the Holy Trinity that got me into Dutch punk (for the other two parts look here and here), and being fourteen and having about 5 or 6 punk records altogether I had no choice but to play it a thousand times and loving it! That said, it did take me some time to get into it; in contrast to the trebly in-your-face sound of their debut, History... sounds kinda muffled, almost as if they're playing in the next room. The words are hard to make out and the guitar is nearly inaudible, pushing (ex-Rondo) Wim's imaginative drum patterns and Rene's barbed-wire bass lines to the forefront. An Ex-member once told me he thought the LP was too rushed, but it's the unfinishedness that appeals to me. Some of the 20 tracks last only 40-50 seconds, and there's hardly any repeating verse-chorus-verse stuff going on in any of the songs. In hindsight, it's the closest thing to Wire's Pink Flag I've ever heard, not as an imitation, but as a similar "cut out the fat and get to the point" statement. Anyway, here's what this 14-year old was grooving to in the summer of '82 (not exactly "Someone Loves You Honey")...

Six of One and Half a Dozen of The Other
Life Live
E.M. Why
Who Pays
Equals Only

(Occasional bleeps courtesy of my MiniDisc player)

September 19, 2007


Maybe the worst thing about the musically dire mid/late 80's isn't so much the stuff that sucked (which was about 99% of what was going on), but the stuff that was good back then but led to stuff that sucked. Let's, just for the heck of it, look at some DC area bands I was into at the time... I loved Fugazi when they started out, but what did their type of angular-punk-meets-singalong-rock lead to? To the plodding PC pomposity of Pearl Jam (the worst band of the 90's), and in particular their monster hit "Alive" (the worst song of the 90's, and basically Fugazi's "Suggestion" with the chords reversed). When it came out in '86, the Bad Brains' I Against I was a great comeback record fusing their early HC style with metal and funk; the next decade, 50,000 dreary "crossover" clowns doing the same thing, only badly. Rites Of Spring: brilliant, but unintentionally causing, gulp, Emo to happen.
It's the more obscure DC bands that seem the most untainted by the passing of time. Unrest put out their first LP in 1987; according to zine ads of the time it was called Tink Of SE, but my copy has "KILL 23 SHEEP" stenciled on its cover. Apparently, every record cover was a hand-made piece of art; I think 20 DC artists did 50 covers each (could be the other way 'round). I bought the LP because of the DC/Dischord connection, but it turned out to be a wholly different, and very tasty, kettle of fish. While Unrest also presaged a lot of stuff that was to happen, in their case it's actually all cool stuff. Their whole lo-fi anything-goes approach clearly influenced the likes of Pavement, and the muddy catchiness of "Die Grunen" has Guided By Voices written all over it. There's even a prophetic White Stripes-type of feel to it; just listen to the (almost) bass-less one-two beat and mock-upper-class English singing in "91st Century Schizoid Man"! "Laughter" sounds relatively dated, but I'll still include it because it was a mix-tape-for-girls-I-fancied staple of mine back then (along with the Descendents - carefully avoiding "Pervert" though!).
Another "different" DC band were the Vile Cherubs, who I knew nothing about until I picked up their posthumous LP, recorded in 1988. Post-Humorous Relief is actually one of the last of the illustrious Dischord-joint releases that were given half or even quarter catalogue numbers; this one's no. 33-and-a-third! I guess it's another limited edition; it's on coloured silkscreened vinyl and the sleeve is also silkscreened (printed over a stock sleeve design a la the original Flex Your Heads; Must be Jeff Nelson at work here...). I remembered this being sort of 60's/garagey, but on hearing it back I think it sounds a lot like Boston bands of the era, that typical neo-Burma sound. I also found out my copy is badly scratched; must be because at one point I had it hanging on my wall. Not the sleeve, the actual record! Well, it did get me cool points when around '91 Nation of Ulysses crashed at our place, and their guitar player Tim Green shouted "hey, that's my old band!" For your aural pleasure, I've obtained some scratch-free mp3s from soulseek (thanks, you know who you are!).

Unrest - Can't Sit Still
Unrest - Die Grunen
Unrest - 91st Century Schizoid Man
Unrest - Laughter
Vile Cherubs - The Man with the Photograph
Vile Cherubs - Broke My Heart In Three

September 12, 2007


When I started out a-bloggin' I decided to avoid posting US Hardcore, for the simple reason almost all blogs around back then already did a good job of it. But I have to post this one, because 1: it's one of my all-time faves, and 2: the currently available version (be it CD or mp3) has some songs cut off at the wrong places. Not that it's easy to determine when a particular song ends and a new one starts; from start to finish Poison Idea's Pick Your King debut EP consists of one big screech (o.k., two big screeches: side 1 and 2) without a microsecond of letting up. I guess they edited the tracks as close together as possible in order to have as much music on a 7 inch as they could. (The opposite of the Circle Jerks, who were so embarrassed by the brevity of their Group Sex LP they put extra long pauses inbetween the tracks!) The result is almost something like a hardcore opera; I can't imagine hearing the songs in any other order, or hearing one particular song isolated from the rest. "Last One"-screeee-"Pure Hate"-screeee-"Castration", etc. etc. Even though the songs are ultra-short, they're so fast-moving there's actually lots of stuff happening, lots of words, chords and breaks; it's the most condensed, fat-free record I've ever heard (insert obligatory fat joke here). The sound is also great; primitive 4-track, no overdubs, Ramones stereo (guitar to the right, bass to the left), almost nothing but mid-range (the opposite of what hardcore records sound like today). The drums sound like a toy drum set, the guitar sounds as if it's played through a transistor radio, and yet this is one of the heaviest HC records ever! How did they do that?
This was one of the HC records I held on to long enough to sell it for a "reasonable" price not too long ago. I thought my copy was a second pressing though, and said so, as a result getting not as much as I'd expected out of it. Later someone told me this pressing (black vinyl, red labels) was actually the first one pressed up, but as the pressing plant screwed up (the band wanted transparent vinyl) it was sold after the "correct" second pressing!
Seemed like pressing plants did a lot of screwing up with HC EP's, especially the ultra-short-songs variety. When Swedish band Protes Bengt wanted their 32-track EP pressed up, the plant thought "Oh, that's the one with all the short songs", and accidentally pressed up a second edition of the Mob 47 EP (which is why there's 2 versions of that, with different sleeve designs)! Over here, Larm's No One Can Be That Dumb EP was shoddily cut and pressed off-center (well, at least the copies I saw/ heard). There's Neos EP's in existence with Rudimentary Peni labels on them (or the other way around?). That just goes to show how weird and unusual it was for a band to put that many songs on a small slab o' vinyl. DRI even chickened out and made the repress of their classic 22-song Dirty Rotten EP an LP! For a while, a micro-niche of bands kept themselves busy breaking the world record over and over, putting out EP's with more than a thousand sub-one-second "songs" on them; after that came to a dead end it seemed like nobody's been interested in putting out great 13-, 22- or even 32-track EPs anymore. Anyway, here's to one of the best, in honour of Tom ("Pig Champion") Roberts:

Cult Band
Last One
Pure Hate
Reggae (I Hate)
Give It Up
Think Fast
Think Twice
It's An Action
This Thing Called Progress
In My Headache
Self Abuse
(Recorded January 1983)
I put side 2 before side 1; in my head(ache) that always seemed the right order; what better way to kick off than Jerry A. screaming "CULT!! BAND!!"

September 06, 2007


(No, there's nothing wrong with your browser, this is The Tommies CD cover) (with the golden ribbon untied as I didn't want to flatten it)

After 74 posts of old stuff, I figured it was time to post something new. A long time ago I wrote about (semi-)local legends The Tommies, 3 girls in their early twenties who, through some weird alchemy, stumbled upon the same great girl-post-punk-sound that bands like Kleenex and Mo-dettes (who roamed the earth years before the Tommies were born) were famous for. They're not "retro" in any way, but just have the same "fuck technique, let's have fun"-attitude. Joost has even compared them to Wormerpunk, which they're never heard of (they think the word sounds disgusting). I had the honour of recording them with my er... mobile recording studio, and here's some of it.

You Want It All
(All tracks recorded 07-07-07)