Saturday, April 4, 2015

BANDA MUERTA - Tape - 2014

   As a teenager, I was really into garage punk, but I luckily fell into quality shit right off the bat with bands like THE MUMMIES, THE BRENTWOODS, THE TRASHWOMEN and whatever the fuck Billy Childish was doing at that point. As I delved deeper in, I just found lots of rehash-trite-bullshit-sixties-rock revival with absolutely no soul. It got boring. It was like hearing the BEATLES but not understanding THE SONICS or PLEASURE SEEKERS. I moved on to pure punk and my usual weirdo vibes.
   Lately, I've been coming back to garage punk because it seems like bands understand it again...or I just wasn't paying attention in the right places (more likely). Letting myself be open to these things again has led me to sitting outside of sold-out MUMMIES reunion shows full of boring fuckheads, looking at overpriced Billy Childish reissues and finding out that Elka Zolot from THE TRASHWOMEN is Kreayshawn's mom. You can't go back, but why the fuck would you want to??!
    Luckily, we can all just look to the future with bands like BANDA MUERTA. I'll admit that when the first song came on, I was not that stoked until about a minute and a half in. Something clicked right then and I really started paying attention. I thought "This singer has no dynamics" and then I thought "This is cool...this singer has no dynamics!" It's just full on all the time and something about it reminds me of the same intensity I feel from the singer of LA URRS. The music itself is raw, urgent and extremely catchy. Like it or don't.

Members of COPYCATS and CARNE
(Calling this band "garage" is kind of a stretch really)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MIX TAPE - 1995

  Besides my old friend, Heather, who I met when I was 5 years old, I only keep in touch with one other friend from the Nascar days of my youth (that reference is so vague that I'm not explaining it...just roll with it). That friend is Angie, who mailed this tape to me at my two room apartment in Huntsville, AL in 1995. No cover, no track listing...just this tape rolled up into a letter, recorded over a battered GEORGE MICHAEL cassingle. Short and to the point. I had no clue that I'd still love every song on this tape 20 years later (20 years!). I had no clue that the Floyd who is mentioned in the first line of the first song would be the same person who now assigns me CD's to review for Maximum Rock N Roll or that that house he made his phone call from (listen to the song) would catch on fire a short distance from where I live now. I didn't know that the third song would still resonate so much harder with me now than it did back then. The last band on the tape, EVERY ALICE ON EARTH, will not be a hit with many (or any) visitors to the blog, but they were a local(ish) band where I grew up and were one the first DIY (I mean this as actual "Do It Yourself", not as an empty slogan used by hardware stores and Pottery Barn) bands I ever saw in my pre-teen years, which made a big impact. In some very, very tiny circles, they are legendary.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

MRR RADIO - #1433 and #1441

   I forgot to post these here, but they've both been posted on the MRR website for weeks now. On episode 1433 of the radio show, I was joined by my neighbor, Jason, who plays in PERMANENT RUIN and JOYRIDE. On episode 1441, I hosted it alone and made a lot of mistakes. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

VARIOUS ARTISTS - "Audio Annihilation" - Tape - 2004

   There are very little details that I know about this tape. I do know that it showed up in my P.O. box years ago with an accompanying zine, but that informative document has been lost after moving between no less than 8 houses, 6 states and 3 time zones. What I can tell you is that this was produced by some stellar folks from San Pedro, CA and was probably meant to document a certain time in their scene, but I'm really fucking it up now. Most of the songs on here are shoddy, lo-fi, live recordings that sound like a really fun time. I can't tell you who any of these bands are because I don't know. LIPSTICK PICKUPS? KILLER DREAMER? You tell me! No, really! I wanna know who sings track 14 because it's my favorite! Also, interspersed between some of the songs are some pretty funny ads for records that were coming out at the time, which is something I wish that happened more often in punk.

Monday, March 9, 2015

TRACEY TRANCE - "101" - Tape - 2013

Today's post is brought to you by Jacob Khepler 

 It's common for a band to make a "tour release"- a limited object you can only get direct from them at shows on tour. Oftentimes it is hastily put together, by bands that don't have a new-enough record to sell at the gigs. As a consequence the tour release is more prone to have goofy shit, live stuff, weird covers, noise parts, and collaborations that would never make the cut on the official release. And as a result of this, a tour release can have a behind-the-scenes feeling, that really makes you think of the band members as human beings. The full release is like a band's thesis. The tour tape shows you what the band is like at home- who they're jamming with and what they're riffing on.

   Anyway, this tape isn't a tour tape, it's like the reverse of a tour tape. It sounds recorded on the road, about being on the road, named after the road, with sounds of the actual road, for the benefit of the friends at home. "Our car broke down in the following 8 places, and each place had a nice new friend, a sunny ditch, a kooky animal, and a romantic feeling". It's very sweet!!!!

    This tape contains Tracey's high wavering falsetto singing a nice little ditty about experiences on the 101 highway (i think), and another song about friends, intercut with road sounds, alternate takes, the same songs fed through effects, and brief verses and bits of other songs that come and go in a nice natural way. It's basically an EP of filler material, but as I said before, that can be very nice. The songs have an easy fun melody and a simple rhyme scheme that really makes them seem like they were initally written while driving, maybe even freestyled, for the amusement of the passenger or passengers. Many parts feature a keyboard, Tracey's main instrument, played in a loping circular manner as fingers slip and slide across the plastic. The whole thing seems to be recorded on a handheld walkman recorder- in quieter moments the compression on the tiny built-in condenser mic swells and you hear the background rush in. Lots of nice highway sounds too- trucks, trains, bridges, bells. Very nice.

    If you are not already a Tracey Trance fan, this tape may be your "101" (qua "introductory class")- these sounds are all present to varying degrees and yes, the music is basically this high all the time (at least). If you like it definitely seek out other releases (especially "Pyber Kub"). If you don't like it, that's totally valid. Do not seek out other releases.

    I have no idea if this title is in reference to the Depeche Mode live album / documentary of the same name. It easily could be, and I don't think it's hurting anyone to pretend it is. I would love it if Tracey did a full-on Depeche Mode cover tape- Tracey if you're reading this, think about it.

 In conclusion, I like Tracey Trance, and I like this tape.

Friday, February 27, 2015


 DISUNDERSTOOD is a zine that my friend Sara Double Ears started in 2002. Initially, she was going to call it "Misunderstood", but I happened to be in the room and said something like "What? Seriously?? It should be called DIS-understood!!" The basic premise of the zine is that she attends punk shows with her notebook in hand and writes down what she thinks the bands are singing about. Since she is a part of the DIY punk community, she can usually be found in houses, storefronts, generator shows and warehouses where the PA is always less that adequate. When you throw in the fact that most of the singers are screaming unintelligibly, it is near impossible to discern what anyone is saying. This is why she wrote down that TRAGEDY was singing about gardening and SEXY sang about eating aspertame together.
  I love the first issue of DISUNDERSTOOD. I might be the biggest fan, which is why I begged Sara to work on issue two for the next ten years. When I saw that it may never happen. I asked if I could just do it myself. Sara happily handed over her unused files of misheard lyrics from the intervening ten years and I got to work, carrying my own notebook to shows all over the US and throughout Europe. Issue two went to print in 2012 with everything from OUTLOOK singing about being a dog to HYSTERICS singing about sledding to TRAGEDY eating shit and bacon.
   I've been self-publishing zines since the mid-1990's and I've never even vaguely entertained the idea of trying to read anything in front of people, mostly because it feels awkward, I don't like the sound of my own voice and being in front of people without the comforting blanket of a loud punk band turns my anxiety level up to 1000. In the fall of 2013, I found myself in Providence, RI for a month. My friend, Mike was setting up a show at (now defunct) Building 16 in Olneyville. For some weird reason, I asked if I could kick off the show with a zine reading from the second issue of DISUNDERSTOOD....the feeling came out of nowhere. He said yeah and I practiced once in my room.
   The reading felt okay. I was a lot less anxious than I thought I'd be, but I still sweated profusely and later threw up behind the building. The audience was really nice. It was cool to hear what people thought was funny and what fell flat. Who knew that one of the bigger laughs would come from the statement, "My band played a show with TRAGEDY in Scotland."? I had no idea that my new friend, Erik was recording the set, but he sent it over to me a couple of days ago. Here ya go...

Both issues of the zine are long out of print. Sara and I are currently collaborating on the third issue. When it is printed, you'll be able to buy it here.
Many thanks to Erik-Dardan Ymeraga for recording the show and sending over the files. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

KARP - "Live At Yo Yo A Go Go" - Tape - 1994

Today's tape and write-up is brought to you by Alex Turner.

This show happened in 1994. 21 years ago, RANCID and KARP played together at an indie rock fest in Olympia. What the fuck? KARP is Olympia's best band. Enjoy.


(ed. note: Sorry if it's misleading that I used the cover of their demo tape for the art.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

FERAL CHILDREN - Tape - 2006

   This tape showed up in a box of stuff sent from the east coast a few months ago and it sat in that box until today. Last week, I was in the home town of FERAL CHILDREN, saw this tape for sale in a record store and thought "Oh yeah, I should dig that tape out when I get home."
   This tape was written, performed and recorded by my friend, Mikey in a house named Little Pancakes. Once, I was there and ate some homemade pizzas after painting a bunch of blue shit on my face. These days, I'm pretty sure some freak-o's still live there. I've walked by and thought I should just knock on the door and hang out, but I never have.
  FERAL CHILDREN sounds rudimentary and wonky...on the verge of collapse and decay. Industrial at times, but never machine-like. Some conventional song structures at times, but like, alternate-reality conventional. Truthfully, I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about right now..I went outside for a while and wanted to kill every motherfucker on the street, so I came home, closed my door, listened to this and it made me feel better,,,like there's other people in the world who just can't take it sometimes and sit in their house and make weird music because it keeps them from randomly punching strangers. Or maybe I'm just projecting.

Friday, February 20, 2015

S.B.S.M. - "Bitter Ends" - Tape - 2014

   There's this thing that happens when you live in town long enough where everyone just assumes that you know everyone. This isn't true. I started hearing about S.B.S.M. around town. When I asked some friends about the band, they would just say "Oh, you know's (these people) and they played that show at (venue I've never heard of) with (that one band everyone cares about but somehow I've never heard of them)" Well, it turns out that I work with a member of S.B.S.M. Oops.
   When I finally tracked down S.B.S.M., they were playing in a tiny basement in West Oakland. Their loud, cacophonous mess of sound was almost overwhelming in a way I haven't felt locally in a long time. The thing that really drew me to them, besides the fact that I was into their music, is that even though it's completely obvious that the three people in this band are very serious about what they do, they don't let that stop them from laughing it off when their broken equipment shorts out mid-song. One of them will use that as an opportunity to explain the song or tell you about an upcoming protest or talk about why they're playing that particular benefit show while the other members change out cables, tear apart wires and try to figure out what the fuck went wrong. And this is all so refreshing for me because I feel like we have entered a stage of punk (and this is just my perspective) where so many bands are trying to be perfect recreations of bygone eras or they're afraid to go out on limbs or they're trying to pose just right for that Instagram photo or whatever the fuck it is that people do. Many bands don't discuss their politics anymore or don't have any politics to speak of whatsoever, but when the whole fucking world is falling apart and there are rape apologists (and rapists) in your audience and cops are killing all the brown people they can possibly get away with and you feel like you're just gonna explode because you can't fucking take it anymore...just fucking talk about it!! Or just take your place in line (or the barstool) next to all the other soulless hardcore bands.

   The other reason I like them is that when they play the last part of ":Godzilla" live, it sounds like 30 bombs going off in a haunted castle nestled in a nightmare world.

They're recording a new tape soon. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

RANCID - "Live at YoYo A Go Go" - Tape - 1994

   In the mid-90's, I went on tour with my band through Florida and the south. On the tour, we played a generator show in the Everglades next to a rotting cow carcass, we played a VFW hall and we played in some living rooms. One night, we were in Cocoa Beach, FL with a night off and heard that RANCID was playing an hour away in Orlando. At this point in time, none of the members of my band paid any attention to major media (or any media for that matter) and we had the idea of driving to the show to see if we could jump on to the bill. Our guitarist, Joey had slept on Tim Armstrong's couch in Berkeley and was pretty good friends with his neighbors in SCREW 32, so we thought it would be easy to play a short set before them. Little did we know that in the intervening years, Tim's roommates would come home to find RANCID shooting a video complete with a camera crew and deli trays in their living room. That video was played on MTV, the band found their way to magazine covers and were now touring in a completely different style than we were. I doubt they had to jump start their van every time they tried to move it or fixed the alternator belt with a shoestring or chewing gum.
   So, when we got to Orlando, the security guards fittingly laughed in our faces when we asked to talk to the band about playing a short set at the show. We dutifully paid our 10 bucks like everyone else and went in to watch the bands. The LUNACHICKS made some speech about how it took a lot of hard work to get to where they were on that big stage. I laughed my ass off at them. Thinking about it now, I can imagine that it was a lot more frustrating for them to get to that point than RANCID, being four women playing punk and metal in the late 80's and early 90's. I'm sure it was also frustrating to think about how Dino, GG Allin's drummer, thought that he had a psychic connection to them and regularly masturbated to pictures of them...but I digress.
   RANCID was good. I also laughed at them. A lot. "And Out Come The Wolves" had just been released so they played a lot of songs from that one.
    We drove back to Cocoa Beach. I took off all of my clothes and walked in to the ocean.

  This tape (that's not it pictured above) was sent over by Alex Turner. It's from the year before I saw them when they played at Yoyo a Go Go in Olympia, WA back in 1994. We're both pretty sure that it was recorded off the board. Alex believes that the details are this: Somebody recorded it, Tobi Vail owned the tape for years, gave it to someone else in Olympia and then it made its way to milk crate at Punkall. Alex brought it back to Oakland and digitized it for you to enjoy. The sound quality is not bad, but a little assy at points.