Sunday, March 31, 2013

Gas Rag - Gas Rag CS [2013]

Saw these dudes open for Crazy Spirit back in January, and their set was early enough in the lineup that it didn't suffer from the ridiculous overcrowding that came after. Besides that they were one of the highlights of the night. Rapid, nihilistic drug-punk songs about the drone war and other things that tug at your angry damaged heartstrings. The six songs thrash by in less than five minutes that I know you can spare, punk. Give it a spin; if you dig it, email for a copy of the tape.

War pervert

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Debut cassette from Urbana Illinois featuring members of Kowabunga! Kid, Witch in Her Tomb, and Horrible Things, to name a few. Chain's Gang is of the new crop of hardcore bands that have formed here in the past year. Not a lot of bands can sound this heavy and snotty at the same time. Stomping pharmaceutical nightmare rhythms caked with guitar muck and psych-punk fuzz. Keep an eye out for these reprobates; you'll want to see them before they see you.

Write to Crippled Sound, for a copy of the tape. Website hasn't been updated in a while but I've seen that there's been a second pressing so they're still available.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

re-up'd: LIVE OOZE

So this is my penance for missing these dudes opening for Skrapyard and Iceage this weekend (Iceage played a pretty sweet set, though). Ooze is a band in Chicago/NWI. I know the guitar player was in the Outs and Night Fever but that's just off the top of my head. Oh, the singer played in Raw Nerve. Anyway, this is a somewhat hi-fi recording of what was something like their third show. Seven songs in just under nine minutes. What can I say? It's hardcore punk played by people who evidently breathe the stuff. Comparisons to Brown Sugar wouldn't be unwarranted; Ooze has a similarly swinging rhythm, and the instruments are played in a way that harkens back to older styles of rock and roll (they open the set with 'California Sun,' à la the Dictators/Ramones) while maintaining a manic hardcore pace. If you've seen these dudes play, you know to be excited about them. The audio comes from the video below.

For the sake of convenience I ripped the audio from the vid and broke up the tracks. Though I don't know what any of them are called. The cover art is from the gig flyer.

Ooze roolze

re-up'd: Sonic Youth - Hold That Tiger [1987]

Quick, here's a Sonic Youth boot some of you maybe don't have. Recorded at the Metro in Chicago on October 14, 1987. Thanks to quality mic-placement, this is some real clanging, articulately shredded-up EVOL and Sister material from what is maybe my favorite period of this band. People forget Sonic Youth was a punk band, and this gig demonstrates it. The version of 'Death Valley '69' rages so hard that you forget it's missing Lydia Lunch's vocal part. Following a soaring version of 'Pacific Coast Highway' is a Ramones coverset encore.

The Japanese text on the cover inexplicably reads 'my mother went shopping.' Perhaps the band was studying up for their semi-upcoming 1988 tour of Japan.

SY concert archive entry for this gig
"I have no desire to fuck Jessica Hahn but I would like to kill Jim Bakker"

re-up'd: Hüsker Dü - Metal Circus [1983]

As you probably know, I get the name of this site from the most famous album by St. Paul, Minnesota's Hüsker Dü, as they are one of my favorite bands of ever. Zen Arcade was part of a paradigm shift in punk and hardcore, as the Hüskers, alongside Black Flag, the Minutemen, Sonic Youth, other SST bands, and countless others the world over were permanently expanding the creative capacity of counter-culture music.

Ten months before Zen Arcade was released, they put out the Metal Circus EP. It is the pivot around which the band changed its direction, from the 'ultracore' of their earlier singles and albums toward the stuff that got them remembered (and ultimately destroyed by a major label). You can read a 1982 interview with the band in the second issue of the D.C. zine Thrillseeker -- their answers are very foretelling.

As for the songs, this is when Hüsker Dü really hit their stride. The 'Minnesota guitar snowstorm' sound is fully operational, and the record is filled with soaring harmonics that let melody sneak into unexpected places. 'Real World' is a folk tune for the disillusioned rebel ("you're not a cop or politician, you're a person too -- you can sing any song you want, but you're still the same"), but it somehow sounds hopeful rather than cynical. The next two are some great Reagan-punk sort of songs about coping with impending nuclear apocalypse. The first side finishes with the boozer's lament "First of the Last Calls," borne from guitarist Bob Mould's own troubles with drink.

The the second side could be read as the thematic conclusion of the problems brought about in the first. After the brief whirlwind of "Lifeline," in which Bob screams about falling into the abyss, the abyss is reached. "Diane" starts. Greg Norton's bass churns out ominous chords, and Grant Hart drums along as he sings the true story of a woman raped and killed in Minnesota, from the p.o.v. of the perpetrator. It's a haunting electric murder ballad, a apt climax to the five songs that preceded it. The record ends with "Out on a Limb," a Sabbath-y dance of precarity. Listening to the words or reading along to this EP, there's a sense of narrative progression. Once they were able to show themselves capable of doing a concept record, they went all the way with it and ended up with the 'concept double album' that followed it in '84.

In my upload I included four outtakes from the Metal Circus sessions, which are of variable fidelity. However, they are some fierce punk tunes. Hüsker Dü are one of the few bands whose rejects are practically as good as the stuff they commit to wax. One of these, "Standing By the Sea," would be attempted again on Zen Arcade.

Finally, if you're still reading along with this, you're probably a big fan of the Hüskers yourself. So you might appreciate this graphic about the cover art, if you haven't seen it already.
graphic belongs to Patrick Smith
The inscription on the A-side reads, "That old stainless charity. If you could see me now, Shirley." On the B-side it's "Falling from grace with the goose; Howard Hughs, a wing, a prayer, (see below)."

Buy Metal Circus on insound
Discogs vinyl link
I like to protest but I'm not sure what it's for

re-up'd: End Result - Ward EP [1985]

Chicago punk in the '80s had its fair share of weirdos, but End Result in particular pushed the envelope of what people would tolerate hearing. Not quite as blatantly crass as, say, the Mentally Ill, but musically these Southside punks could really test your patience. Don't let the more-or-less straightforward opening track deceive you; the Ward EP quickly devolves into an unrighteous mess of horns, semi-competent guitar squall, and psychotically howled vocals. The bizarre rendition of Petula Clark's 'Don't Fall Asleep in the Subway' must be heard to be (dis)believed. 

from Maximumrocknroll #3

From Roctober:
Chicago's End Result was a multi racial experimental No Wave band born out of the early 80s hardcore scene. They managed to limp all the way to the end of the 80s with a rotating cast (at one point they advertised they were seeking a "singer with a hatred of music") built around guitarist [Alan] Jones. Perhaps their greatest legacy is that they paved the way for No Wave/artfuck bands presenting themselves to an all-ages, hardcore/punk audience, something that defined the Chicago underground of the 90s (Milk of Burgundy, Skingraft, etc.). Their odd songs (a straightforward tune about amputation wasn't atypical) were released on Articles Of Faith's Wasteland label, and on several important Midwestern hardcore/punk comps, resulting in fans of boundary-pushing gravitating towards them, including Steve Albini and Sonic Youth. No child of privilege, Jones lived in a mission for a while, and turned lemons into an odd tasting lemonade by briefly making the mission's basement a site for punk shows.
End Result fit into the Chicago punk puzzle somewhere between early Silver Abuse and ONO. Here's a video of them circa 1984:

I know it was my fault, but I'm gonna take it out on you

re-up'd: Big Black - Sound of Impact [1986]

This is probably thee best recording of Big Black, and just goes to show what an unstoppable force they were as a live act. It was recorded in 1986 In Minneapolis, Clogland (Netherlands?), and Muncie, Indiana. There is a wealth of information available about this official 'fake bootleg' from the badass site Les Dementlieu Punk Bibliotheque, with this synopsis:
Compiled from four or five different soundboard recordings, this LP is a quality productTM, despite appearances to the contrary. It also comes with a nifty booklet of photos and misc. crap to keep you amused when you aren't listening to the record.
This was also supposedly the cause of Big Black's break with Blast First. The idea for its release was conceived during their first visit to Europe in early 1986 (when they were being wooed by Blast First), and appeared in October or November of that year. The album was supposed to be released like a scummy bootleg--no contact info, no band name on the record, a fake record label (Walls Have Ears), in a numbered edition of 1000 copies. When that 1000 copies sold out, 500 more numbered copies were pressed with the band's permission. Then in 1990 (I think) an unnumbered and unauthorized edition of 500 was pressed, and when they started turning up in US record stores Albini threw a shitfit, and even claimed he was going to burn the $5000 Paul Smith had offered him as payment for the unauthorized repress. I don't know if Steve actually did burn the money, but he sure left Blast First in a huff, taking Big Black, Rapeman and Arsenal with him, as well as scuttling the planned Last Live video and album.
In addition, the back cover is covered in black box transcripts from planes that crashed. You can read them all at the above linked site.

The songs on this record are definitive versions; they are in just about every case superior to the studio versions. The titles are all changed, 'bootleg-style,' but if like Big Black you'll probably recognize them all. The version of 'Jordan, Minnesota,' here given as 'Toytown Daddy Oh!' is legitimately terrifying and disgusting. There's lots of good Albini stage banter and storytelling throughout, so you know you want to listen to this. Easily my favorite thing by Big Black.

Has anybody heard of the Yanomamo Indians?

re-up'd: Algebra Suicide - Real Numbers [1988]

Algebra Suicide were a post-punk duo from Chicago, active from 1983-1993. They ended up on a few international compilations in the '80s, and even made it out to Europe for a tour in 1990. This CD is two long tracks, each a live set recorded at Links Hall in 1988. It is really good. Lydia Tomkiw recites off-the-wall, strangely familiar poetry while Don Hedeker conjures ethereal accompanying textures on the guitar and administers the drum machine. Here he is saying a few words about this particular recording and performance; I'll defer to him since he says it best. Lydia left this world in 2007 after a long bout of alcoholism and declining health. You can read touching tribute to her written by Sharon Mesmer here.

This is a fantastic, mostly forgotten bit of Chicago music history. Don't put it off because of the long track lengths. See, I've given you the set list right here, so no complaining:

"Here, the only things being tortured are the lawns"
Plastic Crimewave writes about Algebra Suicide

re-up'd: Аквариум - Акустика [1982]

Here's an album I've really been digging lately. Russian folk from the last decade of the Soviet Union. Aquarium (alternately known as Akvarium) was formed in 1972 by Boris Grebenshchikov and Anatoly Gunitsky. The band spent the first decade or so of its life doing mostly apartment concerts -- house shows with high political stakes in a country where "rock and roll" needed explicit state approval to play in the official concert halls. Aquarium is much more of a folk band though, in the style of бард "bard" music, which had since the 1960s referred to original music (one name for the genre is самодеятельная песня, literally "do-it-yourself song") by musicians who worked outside the Soviet musical/cultural system. From Wikpedia:
The first six years of Aquarium's history lacked cohesion as Grebenshchikov and his various bandmates followed the Soviet equivalent of the hippie lifestyle: playing apartment jams, drinking the low-quality port wine available from the Soviet stores of the time, and intermittently travelling to remote gigs, even hitchhiking on rail freight cars.
The album Akustika was made at the start of the '80s, just before the state music industry started allowing this kind of stuff to be more widely disseminated. It contains a dozen-plus real pretty folk numbers, mostly on acoustic guitar plus bass, violin, and the occasional flute. In contrast to a lot of the kitchen-recorded stuff by Yanka Dyagileva or Grazhdanskaya Oborna, this album is fairly high-fidelity (and a lot less noisy than GrOb), thanks to Grebenshchikov's access to academic recording facilities. The songs clearly demonstrate the influence of Bob Dylan on Grebenschikov, and Allmusic associates Aquarium with the likes of Neil Young, Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, as well as Dylan of course. By the second half of the decade Aquarium were selling millions of records, which speaks to the popularity they garnered in their first 15 years of existence.

Boris G. is a huge name in Russian music, and when you hear his voice and songs it's not hard to understand why. Check out this video of Aquarium in what looks like a TV performance from 1986:

I should mention that I was turned onto this stuff by fellow St. Petersburghers Sonic Death (a band I can't recommend enough), who did a few Grebenschikov songs on their Boris Session EP, released in the summer. Needless to say the material is good and their take on it makes for some righteous jams.

Buy Akustika on CD at UkrMedia
My house is already not my home