|By Jessie Lynn|
I’m still trying to work out the formatting for my new, improved column, and I think I’ve settled on something – I will now be putting featured releases at the beginning of each column, meaning the releases at the very top will all be from the current year.
Following the releases from this year will be releases from the past few years, and after that will be all the releases that are, like, hella old.
I am, of course, still doing Ace of Records: The Podcast. The order of songs on the podcast will not correspond to the order in which the releases appear in my column – on the podcast, I arrange songs in an order that flows well.
Two final notes:
The subtitle for each column is almost always going to be a lyric from a song from one of the releases I cover in said column. This month, it comes from the Richard Hell and The Voidoids song “Down at the Rock and Roll Club.”
Next month, my column will have a brief return to the old format – I will be writing about one particular band, so rather than focusing on albums, I will be focusing on particular songs.
In last month’s column, I stated that Broken Prayer’s s/t is my favorite album of 2013 thus far. I now have to put an addendum on that – Broken Prayer’s s/t is my favorite album of 2013 (so far) by a band I’d never heard before, but Street Punk is my favorite album of 2013 by a band I already loved. On this 12-song record – that clocks in at only 20 minutes! – Hunx and His Punx get a little edgier (edge of a switchblade edgier, y’know?) than they have on past releases. Street Punk is a perfect title for this album because it is – it’s street music, and it’s punk as fuck. It’s bratty (I love that Hunx is, like, my age and has managed to retain his biting teen angst), it’s noisy, it’s scratched-up and raw; there are forays into short-fast-loud pogo punk and forays into the creepier parts of mid-tempo hardcore – but it also nods to the influences of previous Hunx and His Punx releases, such as power pop, The Ramones, and ’60s girl groups.
Stand-out tracks include: “Everyone’s A Pussy (Fuck You Dude),” cos you gotta love a song where the only lyrics are also in the song’s title. “I’m Coming Back” – it’s so very ’80s hardcore-sounding, with a scary guitar riff and a bunch of sludgy noise. The title track, “Street Punk,” is, yeah, street punk, but also with a distinct pop sensibility, and some talk-singing done to perfection; Hunx says I don’t fit into your world, and he sounds proud of that. And “Egg Raid on Mojo,” a cover of a very old Beastie Boys tune – cos not many people even remember that the Beasties were once a silly hardcore band, much less cover their super old tunes.
I already know that I will be listening to this record over and over this summer. You should, too. Get the record, put on your studded vest and your red lipstick, and strut and spit along with these songs. It’ll make you proud you don’t fit in.
Street Punk will be released on July 13th. You can pre-order it from Hardly Art Records.
Oblivians – Desperation (2013, In The Red Records)
I’ve been excited about the return of Oblivians since I first heard they were releasing a new album, and they did not let me down. As far as ‘great new albums by bands I already knew and loved’ go, Desperation is, for me, a close second to Street Punk. If you like dirty, high-voltage garage rock’n’roll with a punk attitude, a country swing, and a blues swagger, plus scraps of surf and power pop, you’ll dig this album, too.
A few of my favorite tracks: “I’ll Be Gone,” hey, it’s a rager about getting older, which I can definitely relate to, let’s none of us go gentle into that goodnight; also the line You will go far if you learn to lie is such a nod to the Clash tune “Cheat,” and that is awesome. In “Em,” Jack Oblivian’s yowl when he sings life can be so underhanded is simultaneously so punk and so blues – punk in its fury, blues in its pain. (And what is punk, at its core, but white boy blues? I guess that’s a topic we’ll have to discuss some other time.) “Call The Police,” cos we’re getting our drink on, cos we’re gonna tear this place down, yeah, this is a party anthem for the ages.
Cülo – My Life Sucks and I Could Care Less (2013, Deranged Records)
Man, Chicago has a lot of great punk bands coming out of its broad-shouldered embrace right now. I mean, Chicago has had a lot of great punk bands for the past 30+ years, but I guess what I’m saying is, when I get into a newer/current Chicago punk band, I get sad that I can’t go see all of the shows they play cos a. I no longer live in Chicago, and b. I am an adult (blah) with responsibilities (double blah), so, though I live fairly close to Chicago, I can’t get down there that often. Anyway. Cülo plays fast, hardcore punk. (Please don’t ask me what subgenre of hardcore they fall into, because I do not know or care.) This album has a million songs on it, and none of them are over 2 1/2 minutes long; none of them are mind-blowingly original, either, but My Life Sucks… is fun and angry and loud, and sometimes that’s all you really need.
Favorites: “Gestapo Boots” starts off sounding really weird, like it’s gonna be some space age new wave song, but then the whole band blasts through all mean and raucous. “On the Nod” is an ode to heroin, which should upset me, maybe, because of my past, but I stand by saying that it’s about damn time that more punks start singing about getting shitty again after all the years of almost monk-like attitudes of abstinence and anti-pleasure that so many punk bands subscribed to; also, it is oddly fun to sing along when they shout gimme gimme junk! “Down in Equador” has a great military march aspect to the drums, and, in the vocals, I hear a similarity to the vocal stylings of Jeff Pezzati – frontman of Naked Raygun, perhaps the greatest Chicago punk band of all time. “Care Pt. 3” has a very Johnny Ramone-esque guitar riff, buzzsaw and blistering; it will never cease to surprise me that when you boil it down, the Ramones had an influence, however slight, on every punk band that came after them. When I think about it, the entirety of My Life Sucks… is kind of like the Ramones mixed with oi!, but more screamy and growly. The title track, “My Life Sucks,” has a bounce, but it also has an angry chug and that ‘80s hardcore reverb; a decade ago, it would have become my theme song, as it stands now, it is probably my favorite track on the album – and, at 2:20, it is the longest track on the album!
Dogjaw/Agatha – split LP (2013, Rumbletowne Records)
I raved about Dogjaw in last month’s column, and all three of their contributions to this split hold up to everything else of theirs I’ve heard. And the four tracks from Agatha – a band I had not previously heard of – really blew me away.
Especially: “Breaking Sound” has a little bit of a ‘90s feel, and it has a charge – a charge like electricity, but also like an angry animal charging at you; the vocals are resonant and raw, and remind me somewhat of Mia Zapata. “Feed” is about the system living inside of us and about rooting it out, and about being whatever you want to be, and it has an evil bass line and the voices overlapping and competing with each other, and it reminds me a little bit of Submission Hold.
The Taxpayers – Cold Hearted Town (2013)
The Taxpayers have always been odder than your average punk band, but sometimes I miss the days when their sound was more obviously punk. With their past couple albums, they’ve added elements of folk, country, and even jazz. Cold Hearted Town continues in that vein, but it has a harder, punkier edge than last year’s album, “God, Forgive These Bastards.”
Favorites: “Man In White” is a cowpunk tune with fantastic, pounding drums. “Plant Oak” is worth checking out simply for the spooky harmonica. “Lynch Pins” has a World/Inferno Friendship Society vibe, it’s a weird jazz-punk romp, and includes a samba-esque guitar riff very much like some stuff Lucky Strano played on older World/Inferno releases. “Something In the Water” is also a weirdo jazz-punk number, and is the most sonically similar to older Taxpayers stuff, right down to the shrieking and screaming.
Really, though, I’d suggest listening to the entire album from start to finish – because it tells a story, and each song flows seamlessly into the next.
The Dead Milkmen – The Great Boston Molasses Flood (2013)
I saw The Dead Milkmen in early June. They played all the fan favorites, but they also played some of their newer material. There was one new tune they played that I really enjoyed, so, after the show, I tracked it down, and purchased it, along with the two other songs on this release.
“The Great Boston Molasses Flood” has an obvious Joy Division influence, and Rodney Anonymous is obviously into that kind of stuff – he hosts a darkwave/goth/industrial radio show; one thing I’ve noticed about their new stuff is that, rather than mellowing out, they seem to be getting angrier as they get older – but don’t worry, they still have that great, sarcastic sense of humor you’ve come to expect from The Dead Milkmen. “Now I Wanna Hold Your Dog” – punk as hell, with that jammy Dead Milkmen sound; it’s hard to go wrong with this tune because why wouldn’t you want to hear Rodney Anonymous screaming Some call it class warfare but I call it love!? “Anthropology Days” (the digital bonus track, it’s not included on the 7” release) is the one I heard live; it’s a ‘little lesson in history’ with a dance-pop breakdown in the middle, and Joe Jack Talcum has a great guitar sound that reminds me of The Modern Lovers. Fun stuff.
Wax Idols – Discipline & Desire (2013, Slumberland Records)
I very much enjoyed Wax Idols’ debut album, No Future, and, when I heard this album was even darker, I knew I had to get it. I bought it on Record Store Day, and it has been set spinning on my turntable numerous times since. Discipline & Desire is goth as fuck, but in the scary, understated old school goth way – not in the new school ‘I wear pounds of pale makeup and buy spell books at the mall’ way. Both sound-wise and aesthetically, the women in Wax Idols seem like girls I would have wanted to hang out with when I was a teenager, but I would have been too intimidated to approach them. I would have feared they’d either pull their knives on me, or, more likely (and even more devastatingly), just said: “Get lost, nerd.”
Standouts: “Stare Back” – the guitar wails like a banshee, the bass line is fantastically post-punk, the drums are swirling, and the spaced-out vocals are definitely reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux; that said, the song manages to sound similar to its predecessors without being derivative, and honestly this is my favorite kind of goth stuff. (I’m really not goth, I swear, but I have my moments.) “Sound of a Void,” the vocals are like Siouxsie meets Nico, the music is strange and discordant at times, yet still beautiful; let’s turn down the static world and listen to the sound of a void. “The Scent of Love” is dark and sexy, all whispering tongues and hovering shadow, and reminds me a little of Concrete Blonde. “Stay In” makes me want to light candles and write poetry and do witchy things.
Sad Boys – s/t 7” (2013, Toxic State)
A four-song 7”.
Favorites: “Frolic!” is upbeat punk, but not at all pop punk; the way the vocalist screams reminds me of some lady-fronted bands I was into in the ‘90s, but this band is very far from being a riot grrrl band; this tune is just good fun. “Tiny Hands” is has a great shrill shriek to it and is, again, upbeat. “Ha-Glue-Cinations” has a killer bass line and dammit, it makes me wanna pogo.
Diane Rehm – demo (2013)
1. I do not know anything about this band except that I dig them. 2. If you decide to look them up online, search “Diane Rehm band,” cos otherwise you will only get results for the public radio talk show host of the same name.
Favorites: “Cystic Fibrosis” starts out slow, an oozing mixture of metal and hardcore, and then speeds up to be the fastest thing you’ve ever heard. “Two Pints Deep,” again, starts off slow and heavy; I can’t understand the lyrics so I don’t know if this song is anti- or pro- drinking, but either way, I dig it. “Dear Brad” – the music is hardcore/metal, but the vocals remind me a little of some Bratmobile tunes such as “Cool Schmool.”
Baader Brains – New Era Hope Colony 12” EP (2012, Ebullition Records)
Sadly, Sarah Kirsch (you might not recognize the name, but you probably know her former name, Mike Kirsch – which she changed after coming out as a trans* woman) passed away on December 5th, 2012. She left behind a legacy of amazing punk and hardcore music – she was in numerous bands, including Fuel, Pinhead Gunpowder, Colbom, and Baader Brains – of which New Era Hope Colony was their final release. It’s a pretty weird record, the songs are interspersed with lots of clips and samples, but the songs themselves are killer.
Standouts: “Safeguard the Children” – it has elements of off-kilter hardcore like The Monorchid, except it’s harder than The Monorchid; it also has elements of Dead and Gone (who you can read more about further down in this column), and I wonder if that similarity is because both bands came out of the East Bay? “New Era Hope Colony” is a depressing shout-a-long – We have no future, there is no hope – and then at the end of it there’s some weird folky new age thing happening, but somehow it’s perfect. “Today” is my favorite track, it reminds me of Avail and that era/type of hardcore, with its gang choruses and the sweet breakdowns and melody.
OFF! – s/t (2012, Vice Records)
I was working up to a big rant about nostalgia in punk and how old bands reuniting were just trying to cash in on our nostalgia, and how Keith Morris was doing that with the FLAG reunion, but at least he was also doing new stuff with OFF!. That rant will not be appearing here, cos this is a music column and not a ‘jaded old punk rants about everything’ column (hmmm, maybe I should start one of those…). I probably won’t end up even writing that rant at all, at least not in the way I initially envisioned it – because a couple things that occurred over the past month have changed my mind about the whole punk nostalgia thing. So, uh, that tangent out of the way, this band is the newest musical project of Keith Morris, who you may know from the Circle Jerks and Black Flag.
Favorite tracks: “I Got News For You” – You think you’re the king of the scene, he snarls, and, uh oh, here I am gonna get on my soapbox for a minute…this song is a righteous fuck you-type tune, cos yeah, people who think they’re scene kings or queens are always gross as hell. “Elimination,” well, it sounds like it could have come off a long-lost Circle Jerks record, and I mean that as a good thing – I’m glad Mr. Morris is still making pissed off music! “Cracked” has a driving riff to it, and it also made me laugh – I won’t tell you why, cos I don’t wanna spoil your amusement. “King Kong Brigade” – the harmonics at the beginning made me think it might be a slightly more mellow song than the rest, but no, soon enough Keith starts shouting I wanna club you like a baby seal. “Harbor Freeway Blues” has a great guitar solo; solos in punk, yay or nay?, let’s talk about this sometime. “I Want One” – short, bratty, and hella fun.
Neon Piss – s/t (2012, Deranged Records)
I’ve been meaning to check out Neon Piss for a while now. I’m glad I finally did.
Favorites: “Tabula Rasa” immediately starts in with some good old-fashioned feedback, this track is truly just some kick-ass rock’n’roll with a punk attitude and even a little bit of a surf-rock vibe; the vocals are kinda reminiscent of Craig Finn’s vocals in the Lifter Puller days. “Look Homeward, Angel” – I dug it before I heard it cos the title is a Thomas Wolfe reference; sound-wise, it, again, has a bit of a surf-rock feel, but there’s also a post-punky/Mission of Burma thing happening. “Peaceful Assembly” has a very post-punk bass line, offset by a garage rock-style guitar; this track is a must-listen for fans of Red Dons. “Sickening Wind” starts off with a gorgeous riff, it gets hypnotic, and then there’s shouting and the whole band joins in; the instrumental break in the song is totally wild and beautiful and full of screeching guitar noise. “Siege Mentality” is the hardest-sounding tune on the album, it’s like if you took the Wipers and stripped away some of their more melodic elements.
The Slaughterhouse Chorus – s/t (2012)
If you like Lucero and other modern coutry-punk bands, you will like The Slaughterhouse Chorus.
Standouts: “Amber Waves of Cocaine” totally sounds like Lucero – good ol’ country-punk. “Built for BBQ,” it’s the lyrics that get to me on this one: I thought we could operate outside convention, but now I’m just like everyone else. “Let’s Get Invisible” has a hint of a Firewater feel, but there’s still that country element as well; then it speeds up and gets more punk, and the singer rasps We’ll drink whiskey in DC tomorrow. “Eviction Day” stands out because the vocals are totally growled and ruined, and also because, musically, it gets a little weirder, a little Tom Waits-y.
Good Throb – s/t 7” (2012, SuperFi Records)
This 4-song EP from this British girl-punk band is full of wild energy. It’s sloppy and snotty and beautiful, with a tinge of an angular post-punk thing, too.
Favorites: “Bag” – the guitar is like post-punk filtered through riot grrrl; the vocals are a talk-sung diatribe against advertisements directed at women. “Cosmic Libido” – unf; it’s messy, loud, and sexy, it’s weird, I can’t even understand all the words but I sing along with the ones I can: c-c-c-c-come back…libiiiidoooo!
The Coathangers – Larceny and Old Lace (2011, Suicide Squeeze)
The Coathangers sound like a riot grrrl band whose main influences are all either post-punk or garage rock.
Favorites: “Hurricane” – the guitar jams and the drums are a whirlwind, and the vocals remind me of Mia Zapata of The Gits and Selene Vigil of 7 Year Bitch. “Trailer Park Boneyard” is post-punk and angular, it has these-high pitched vocals and then a cacophony of shouts. “Go Away” reminds me of an old Sleater-Kinney tune, the guitars are angular yet pretty, and even the way the voices harmonize reminds me of Corin and Carrie. “Jaybird” is a spooky, sexy, angry jam with a hot organ and a cool bass line, and the words: There’s a hole where our hearts used to be. “Chicken: 30” has such a Ramones-esque riff that when I first listened to it, I almost expected to hear them say “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!,” but other than that, it sounds nothing like the Ramones – it’s full of more weird-girl post-punk goodness. “Well Alright” has a honky-tonky feel and is about the only one of their songs that points to the fact they come out of Nashville. “Tabacco Rd.” is a straight-up ballad, with sweet-sad vocals and a deceptively simple guitar riff, and pretty girl-voices singing ‘ah, ah’ in the background.
Brown Sugar – …Sings of Birds and Racism (2011, Feeble Minds)
I am so late getting into this band. I heard people talk about ‘em starting about three years ago, but I never got around to getting one of their records ‘til this year. All I can say is, I’m very glad I finally got this record, cos it rules. It’s jazzed-up, off-kilter hardcore, abrasive yet fun. It’s like ‘80s SoCal hardcore mixed with some of the more experimental ‘90s hardcore bands. It makes me want to throw myself around and freak out.
Standouts: “Black & White Panther Party” has a little garage rock in it, but it is still snotty, on-the-prowl hardcore. “Total Fucking Garbage” starts out with a saxophone lick and is a bit garagey as well, but also angry as hell. “Blow” has an almost Misfits feel to it, except it’s about 1000x more interesting than the Misfits.
Cult Ritual – s/t LP (2009)
I found Cult Ritual because I’d seen Cülo described as ‘mysterious guy hardcore,’ and I dig Cülo so much that I wanted to find out what this mysterious guy hardcore thing was all about. Well, turns out that, as a genre, mysterious guy hardcore is more about how lo-fi and DIY a band is and less about how they actually sound. Cult Ritual don’t really sound anything like Cülo. This record is way more brutal than most of the Cülo stuff I’ve heard; Cülo has a more melodic, street punk/oi! thing happening, Cult Ritual is more just wild noise. So, Cult Ritual is maybe a little more sonically interesting…but I find myself wanting to listen to Cülo more often. Still, this record is really good.
Favorites: “Holiday” starts off with a brutal scraping noise, followed by feedback, but it also has these Dead and Gone-esque slowdowns. “Ugly Years” is so Damaged-era Black Flag it’s not even funny, the vocalist even sounds like Henry Rollins, with his deep, angry shout-singing. “Cancer Money” also reminds me a little of Dead and Gone; I have no idea what the fuck the song is about but when he chants Open up / open up / let me in it makes me think of the Big Bad Wolf and it’s oddly kind of a turn-on, then he growls it’s mine, and it leads into a tunnel of noise that continues for what feels like years.
The record is out of print, but you might be able to find a copy if you search a little.
Dead and Gone – T.V. Baby (1995, Prank Records)
This is one of the albums I’m rediscovering this month. I loved this album so much during my high school days, but I hadn’t listened to it in well over a decade. Rediscovering albums I used to love is always kinda scary, because sometimes they don’t stand the test of time and I get sad. I am happy to report that T.V. Baby sounds just as good to me now as it did fifteen years ago.
Favorites: “Wires” has a beautiful, snaky bass line, and then the song speeds up, and then slows down again, and becomes somehow fast and slow at the same time; the vocals have that signature snotty, phlegmy East Bay style, You’ll never get out of this town, they sing, and it gives me a bad feeling in a good way. “Hell” is a favorite because of the dirty bass line and the spoken parts at the start, and the words: Cut the skin and see what’s inside, and then Cut, cut, cut the shit away, the singer snarls. “Escape” is like what would have happened had Tod A. kept going with Cop Shoot Cop and gotten more hardcore/punk rather than gone the more experimental Firewater route; with an extra dash of circle pit thrown in. “Red Handed” is another of the longer, slower tracks, and was probably my favorite cut ‘back in the day,’ it’s the kind of song that made me feel sort of hypnotized by my own sadness, comfortable in my own angst; locked in my room, staring at the walls, waiting for the rapture, so the lyrics go. “Worldview” is a little faster, more akin to ‘80s-style hardcore, and that’s one of the best things about this album – the back-and-forth between slow and fast, between wallowing and fucking shit up. “Prone” – it sounds so very ‘90s yet so very current and is so much more interesting than a lot of newer stuff I hear, and oh god I’m so old.
Articles of Faith – Complete Vol. 1: 1981-1983 (2002, Alternative Tentacles)
A Jessie Lynn column wouldn’t be a Jessie Lynn column without a dose of Midwest punk or hardcore. See, there is a specific thing about Midwest punk and hardcore that is different than any of our coastal counterparts, it’s like the decaying industrial Rust Belt cities and the big lonesome spaces of the cornfields and nowhere ‘burgs creeps in to the very sound of our guitar chords and drumbeats. I’m not even sure I know how to explain it without going on a long tangent – you either hear it in there, or you don’t. You’re a Midwest punk, or you’re not, you know? I chose Articles of Faith for this month’s column because I realized I’ve written about the other mainstays of early Chicago punk – Naked Raygun (and hey, I’ll be writing a bunch more about Raygun very very soon), the Effigies, Strike Under, Big Black – but I’ve never written about Articles of Faith. Obviously, that needed to be fixed. I chose this compilation of their early work cos I think it offers the most complete picture of what they were about.
Standouts: “False Security,” has a throbbing bass line, an eerie guitar, and a slow build to utter chaos. “Street Fight” has a little funk and some off-beat drumming, but then becomes pure hardcore. “Prison” contains a brief, nearly ska-like breakdown. “My Father’s Dreams” is part of that classic punk trope of never living up to the expectations of your parents, and, well, I can relate all too well. “In Your Suit” – again, there is a weird almost-ska influence, but it’s also hardcore, and also has a gloomy hint of post-punk and art-punk. “I Objectify” – I love this song because, wow, it calls out shitty, sexist dudes who treat women like objects, and holy cow not many dude bands (then or now) have done that. “Chicago,” well, obviously, any song about Chicago I automatically am into; plus, the drums are awesome.
Dicks – Kill from the Heart (1983, SST)
Everyone always talks about how much harder it was to be a punk rocker back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, about how you got harassed a lot more – and I’m sure that’s true. But your average punk, even back then, probably didn’t have to deal with the amount of shit that someone like Gary Floyd of the Dicks did – not only was he a punk, he was a punk in Texas. Not only was he a punk in Texas, he was an openly gay punk in Texas. Texas has never been the most queer-friendly state, and, sad to say, the punk scene has never been the most queer-friendly scene – especially back then. This album (and this incarnation of the Dicks) didn’t come about until Gary had already left Texas and moved to San Francisco, but damn, it is an essential album.
Standouts: “Rich Daddy” sounds like a sloppy, drunken take on early ‘50s rock’n’roll. “No Nazis Friend” would be blues-rock, except it’s way too fucked-up and fast for that. “Kill from the Heart,” the title track, is one of those tunes I haven’t listened to in years but still know so well; how could I forget it? – it’s fierce and feral, and it’s from the heart you need to be shot. “Pigs Run Wild” is the obligatory anti-cop tune, and I am a-okay with that, it has fast n’ loose guitars and a bluesy wail, but their use of the n-word is a little problematic, despite what I’m sure were the best of intentions. “Purple Haze” is the most messed-up Hendrix cover you’ve ever heard. “Anti-Klan Part Two” is strange, off-kilter hillbilly blues-punk. And “Dicks Can’t Swim” is like classic rock, if you dug down to the raw, dirty roots of it.
The Gun Club – Fire of Love (1981, Ruby Records)
Sometimes, when I’m writing a column, I wish I were just writing a post for my Tumblr. Especially when it comes to a topic I’m very emotional about. Allow me to pretend I am writing this for my Tumblr and say: I HAVE SO MANY FEELS ABOUT THIS ALBUM. I have ALL OF THE FEELINGS about this album, and The Gun Club, and poor old Jeffrey Lee Pierce. How would I describe their music to someone who had never heard them? Well, I’ve heard them described as psychobilly, but I wouldn’t call them psychobilly at all. They played a blend of blues, country, and punk that no other band even came close to matching – and no one could match their intensity, either. Jeffrey Lee was so full of devils he very well could have been a blues singer had he been born in a different place and time.
Favorites: “Sex Beat,” god damn this song is too good, it makes me wanna shake my head and my hips, and we can fuck forever but you will never get my soul. “Preaching the Blues” is fiery country-rock with the wildest slide guitar. “She’s Like Heroin to Me” is one of the best obsessive love songs of all time, the slide guitar makes the hair on the nape of my neck stand up; this tune brings to mind all the ladies I’ve ever loved; I know, because I’m like the train shooting down the mainline. “For the Love of Ivy” – ooooh, Lord, the guitar and the drums thunder and snort like a horse or a train; gonna buy me a graveyard of my own / kill everyone who ever done me wrong. “Ghost on the Highway” – probably the widest-known Gun Club tune, if only because it has been covered by so many other people; it is also a beautiful, haunting song, a lonesome cowboy song, a song that sounds like vast expanses of desert. “Black Train” does chug along like a train at the beginning, and Jeffrey Lee’s voice sounds so thick with demons. “Good By Johnny” is maybe the most underrated track on the album; it’s just as cowpunk and demon-haunted as all their best tracks, it is somehow so lonesome and so Los Angeles at the same time – all your dreams lie dead in the desert.
Richard Hell and The Voidoids – Blank Generation (1977, Sire Records)
I have a newly rekindled obsession with Richard Hell, because of reading I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp, so I figured I should give this album another listen armed with the knowledge I garnered from the book. I guess the main difference in how I listen to it, now, is that I pay much more attention to Bob Quine’s guitar work. I always liked the sound, but before I read I Dreamed… I didn’t know anything about him. Listening to Blank Generation, now, I can say that Bob Quine’s guitar work makes the album.
Favorites: “Love Comes In Spurts” – well, yeah; it’s strange and fun and makes a perfect backdrop for Richard Hell’s weird, injured yelp; also, it will forever make me think of Pump Up the Volume. “Liars Beware” – man, this is one where Bob Quine’s guitar chops really shine; at the beginning of the song the guitar sounds so weird, it’s off-rhythm and vaguely off-key, but then it gets all rock’n’roll, and the rest of the band joins in and it is perfect. “Down at the Rock and Roll Club” – this song is rock and roll, but it’s too weird to be mainstream, I mean, that’s the thing with early punk, right, they didn’t want to eradicate the mainstream, they wanted to replace the mainstream, except they failed because they were a bunch of mutants and freaks and artists and addicts, and thank the gods for that; yeah, this song is rock, and roll, but the frontman was a junkie poet who couldn’t really sing, but oh he could yelp and scream, and write devastating lyrics, such as: I know that girl, there’s a tattoo on her heart. “Blank Generation” – the lyrics are brilliant, and lousy with disaffection; the sound is brilliant – fun fact, it was based on the novelty tune “Beat Generation,” by Bob McFadden and Dor. “The Plan” is a sweet-sounding tune with a ‘60s swoon, but the lyrics are the creepiest, ever. “Another World” – I love Richard’s bass groove in this one, and the odd funk of it, and oh, Bob’s guitar solo, and Richard yowling I love you over and over and over at the end.
I wouldn’t say I now love the album in a deeper way or anything, but it was definitely good to sit down and really dig into it again, after all these years.