Rebellious Jukebox LII: Quarter Hour Of Power vs Compliments Of The Chef

IMG_4888Compared to other citys its size, the St Louis punk/indie scene has released ridiculously few 45s over the years. “Oh yeah?!” you’ll say, & name like fifteen records. “Yeah,” I’ll say,  & name like thirty more off the top of my head (give me a few minutes & I’ll name a hundred), & then point out that that’s still not nearly as many as, say, Cincinnati OH or Omaha NE. I don’t know what our deal is. I also don’t know what our obsession is, considering how relatively few 45s we release, with so many of them being 7″ eps with tons of short songs on them, but that I’m kinda into. I’ve released at least two of the stupid things myself (see a previous, totally self-ego-stoking Rebellious Jukebox for more info), & when somebody releases one, I’m first in line to buy it.

 

The grand-ish daddy of the idea belonged to a bunch of high school, or just out, kids in the Wild West days of the early 90’s. An uneasy alliance had formed between the South City punk kids & the West County punk kids, centered around the all ages Mecca Bastille’s in distant suburbia (located in the Barn at Lucerne, as the recorded message listing upcoming shows always proudly proclaimed, even though city kids had no idea what that meant). Bastille’s was one of the few easy to book spots in those dark times for unknown bands & unproven promoters. Payment was fair, crowds were big, the room sounded pretty decent, & Jim the owner never came across as a creepo. Compare that to most any other all ages spaces in St Louis since then. This fertile ground spawned a ton of bands, four of which came together to release Compliments Of The Chef. The record contains no less than THREE songs that St Louis punks of a certain age might consider anthems.

 

Caffeine start off the record with an anti-cop screed, then hit with the fist-pumper shout along Everyone’s A Headcase. Is it LOUD ENOUGH, LOUD ENOUGH, LOUD ENOUGH?! The one guy went on to be in the 90 Day Men (with that other guy from that other West County punk band I wrote about a few Rebellious Jukeboxes ago).

 

Sea Of Heds were (probably?) the youngest band on here, & sound it. Their earnestness makes up for the clumsy chord changes & the out-of-breath singing, though, & I honestly mean that. Sincerity goes a long way with me, especially in dark times.

 

Haymarket were a loud fast crust-lined attack live, & even if some of their power was missed in this recording, their five songs still blur & punch hard, with the fist-pumping shout along Hole Boy (HOLE BOY!!!) being the pick to hit.

 

The Meat Sisters were the hardest working band in the scene, with members going on to numerous noted bands afterward, & their two songs are rock solid, a political ranter followed by St. Louis County (the third of the three anthems, if you’re keeping score), a snide broadside against the very area that was allowing them shows & a chance to find their feet. Can’t argue with a word of it, though, then or now.

 

In the now times, when something at least resembling punk rock seems to be fucking everywhere you look, it’s somehow harder to find a scene. Encapsulated Records is trying to do its part to stake out their space with the release of Quarter Hour Of Power, a fourteen band/fourteen song 7″. Maybe it’s me (it’s TOTALLY me), but even though it’s tons better recorded & the bands are much better musicians, there’s a little bit of spark lacking, compared to the wide eyed innocence of the Compliments crew. Oh well. I still like the record & I like having it. I’m not gonna wax nostalgic over fourteen bands, though, so here’s seven words on each…

 

Bruiser Queen-perfect opening toss-off song for toss-off record

Horror Section-quick wrist chug/clean vocal pop punk

Breakmouth Annie-always great, always under-rated, always killing it

The Haddonfields-were there “whoa-whoas?” probably, I don’t remember

Sink the Bismark-radio ready pop punk ready for radio

Suicide Dive-I have no idea who this is

Chalked Up-I wanted the vocals even MORE growly

Hell Night-noodle noodle chug chug howl howl howl

Braddock-total pro punk, in a good way

Sweat Shoppe-is this Ultraman? ha ha, just kidding

Better Days-every song an invitation to circle pit

Not Waving But Drowning-fast, angry, I thought they broke up

Fister-nice piss-take on their own sludge strengths

Antithought-fuck off? that’s not nice to say

 

Compliments Of The Chef

https://stlpunkarchive.omeka.net/items/show/362

Quarter Hour Of Power

https://encapsulatedrecords.bandcamp.com/album/quarter-hour-of-power

 

 

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Rebellious Jukebox LI: Black Panties vs Nineteen

IMG_4878Willfully, aggressively, cockily lo-fi, Black Panties are back with their first 45 in a few years, after deluging us with a ton of releases in a ridiculously short span a few years back (see some previous Rebellious Jukeboxes, where I sing their praises & praise their singes). These two new songs released on lo-fi garage-punk tastemaker label Total Punk aren’t liable to find any new fans for the band, & don’t really break any new ground, & hardly live up to the self-aggrandizingly self-referential lyric sheet, but if you think any of that matters to enjoying the Black Panties experience, you are absolutely missing the point. From the opening cacophonous drum solo on, this is the musical equivalent of your drunk friend running into you at some great basement show, & spilling beer all over your shirt. This is the sound of the best garage-punk being made these days. It doesn’t care, & in its not-caring, it finds transcendence.

 

Those sweet Nineteen kids cared waaaay too much back in the early 00’s, but luckily they never let that get in the way of creating some shit-hot punk rock. They had the chops to contend with the biggest names in the scene back then, & could wear the praise of punk bible Maximum Rock’n’Roll as a badge of honor. With all of their power as a live band, though, & with their constant work & scene-boosting, they left behind an unfortunately slim discography, the full length “Tearing Me Apart” cd & a 2002 split 7″ ep with Kansas City punks Rock Over London. Nineteen’s three songs on the ep are a window into their world. Spastically fluid bass lines, assured guitar power chords interspersed with interesting little lead lines, & no frills frenetic drumming, with hoarsely shouted vocals spouting out surprisingly (for how damn young these dudes were!) insightful political/personal sloganeering. Not to damn Nineteen with faint praise, but they could have been signed to Lookout Records. They could have headlined Warped Tour. They could have…uh, some other thing that would have been totally respectable at the time, but seems kind of embarrassingly quaint in hindsight. Oh well. Fortunately or unfortunately,  Nineteen broke up before the corporate sponsorships & fly-by-night celebrity fans & drug problems that would have inevitably come their way, so luckily for us, these few songs we have to remember them by can stay pure, & in their pureness, we find transcendence.

 

Black Panties-Dirt From The Mop

Some Nineteen, not from the split, but you get the idea…

https://nineteenreunion.bandcamp.com/album/pu-fest-mix

Rebellious Jukebox L: Hell Night & Sweat Shoppe Vs Whoppers Taste Good

IMG_4514Some of my favorite stories about the early-mid-80’s St Louis punk scene good old bad old days, just before I started going to shows, are about the gauntlet of angry locals that the punk rockers often had to face getting in & out of the Turner’s Hall shows on the near north side. Generations of inbred white families in this tiny enclave had refused white flight, not out of nobility or racial unity, but out of sheer spite & orneriness, & they weren’t about to let some goddamn punk rock pukes ruin their neighborhood either. Fights were rampant & apparently violent. Legends have it that the one band that could always just waltz through the crowd unmolested by either side was Whoppers Taste Good. Too punk to be metal, but too long haired & scuzzy to be punk, the Whoppers just were.

 

On their 1989 six song 45, Haunting White Castle, the Whoppers ride the line of what I guess people call “thrash” these days. The songs are short, the usually funny lyrics are shouted at breakneck speed, the guitars chug, & if there’s time, they throw in a solo. Most of the songs mention beer or partying, but that idea hadn’t quite been done to death in 1989, so it sounds genuine. The closest they come to a mission statement is on the song Prove A Point, which makes fun of metal guitar hero purists who look down on punk rock. The Whoppers were too busy getting drunk & making fun of everything around them to look down on anybody for anything, which is probably why they didn’t get beat up.

 

The lines between hardcore metal & hardcore punk are more blurred than ever in 2018, so it makes sense that punk band Sweat Shoppe & metal band Hell Night can put out a split 45 (on Encapsulated Records) & nobody bats an eye. Hell Night play that screaming, pummeling, yet not without groove style of metal that I always like live, but can’t super get into on record. It’s totally my problem, not theirs. The singer of Hell Night I guess used to be in some other nationally known metal band. Who knows? I don’t know anything, but he does sound like he knows his way around a howl.  Sweat Shoppe feature Tim Jamison of Ultraman on vocals, along with a band of scene vets. Every band Tim sings for is going to sound a little like Ultraman, it just is, but their three songs are blisteringly angry blasts that rank up with the most aggressive things I’ve ever heard him do. No guitar solos on either side, though. Boo.

 

Here’s Whoppers Taste Good promoting the Haunting White Castle ep on St Louis public access:

Here’s some Sweat Shoppe. This song isn’t on the 45, but it’s a pretty good video:

And here’s some Hell Night, also not from the 45, but also a pretty good video:

Rebellious Jukebox XLIX: Pineapple RnR Vs Mr Pink Jeans

IMG_4513Heard ya missed me, I’m back. And I brought my pencil, now give me something to play these records on!

 

Pineapple RnR just released a 45 on Lumpy Records, & it might be the best thing the label has released so far. With members of Vanilla Beans, Janewave, Lumpy & the Dumpers, & whoever else, the songs herk & jerk & no wave with the best of them, but they definitely throw their own spin on things. The prominent saxophone sets them apart, & the arrangements are clever & unpredictable, but without resorting to novelty (for example, that slide whistle in No No No catches me off guard & makes me smile every single time). Lumpy Records & Pineapple RnR might even be in danger of having a crossover hit on their hands with side two’s Merferd In Bondage, which, in addition to having a great song title (sorry, non-St Louisans, it’s kind of an inside joke), has an ear-wormingly catchy whistling hook that ranks it into “song of the year” status. A fantastic record all around by this sort of super group!

 

Mr Pink Jeans were never in any danger of having a hit, but they did drop an altogether pleasant six song 7″ ep of lo-fi multi-gender indie-pop way back in 1996. Drummer Bill (post-Give Her A Lizard, pre-Prune) was the only member with any real prior band experience (& that not as a drummer), but they managed to craft a nice batch of songs, with all four members writing & taking turns at lead vocal. The sound is home-recordedly thin, but there are plenty of hints of what could have been accomplished with a studio budget. Dresser has a nice coda with hypnotic bass & chanting “ah’s” that borders on Galaxie 500-ish psych, while Spider Cider rides a surf wave of Salem 66-ish 80’s underground sound, which guitarist Cory later brought with her to bands like the MegaHurts & That’s My Daughter.  I suspect that there are plenty of copies of this record sitting in somebody’s closet, so if you try real hard, you can probably dig up a copy.

 

Pineapple RnR: Merferd In Bondage

https://pineapplernr.bandcamp.com/track/merferd-in-bondage

 

Huh, I could have sworn somebody had digitized those Mr Pink Jeans tracks, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. If that changes, I’ll throw one up…

 

Rebellious Jukebox XLVIII: Posture vs Grimace & Figure

IMG_3190Music in the 90’s was pretty terrible. I was there, man. I gotta tell you, though, the stuff that was worth living for was totally worth living for. There was this underground movement of noisy guitar bands bands that made everything okay (I mean, there was some brilliant hip-hop & the beginnings of electronica too, of course, but let’s just talk about stuff that I knew about, okay?). If Posture had been around then, I would have put a song from their new 7″ on every mix tape I made.

 

I guess you could call Posture’s sound “shoegaze,” but that generally calls to mind reverb & chorus pedals & clean tones alternated with distorted clean tones, & it sounds like Posture mostly just use whatever dirty-ass sound is coming out of their amps to make their underlining drone. It’s fuzzy, but super organically fuzzy. Their new 7″ (labeled as a 45, but actually meant to be spun at 33, oh well) has four songs that remind me of all sorts of great lost bands that I bought records from (Little Switzerland? Anybody remember Little Switzerland? Anybody?). They open with a two chord instrumental that has all sorts of Wedding Present in it, then roam around through Velocity Girl & Whorl territory (Anybody remember Whorl? Anybody?).  I have zero idea of what any of the lyrics are, but who cares? Sometimes the dude sings, sometimes the gal sings, it’s all cool. Highly recommended if you like fuzzy Slumberland Records-ish noise pop. Highly recommended!

 

Back back in the long ago, in the actual 90’s, there weren’t all that many bands in the punk scene working this sort of territory. Not in St Louis, at least. Luckily, the far distant suburbs supplied us with bands like Figure & Grimace. They released a split record into the post-Cap’n Jazz/pre-Emo void, then pretty much immediately broke up. The singer of Grimace moved up to Chicago, eventually forming weird post-rock powerhouse 90 Day Men, so that’s pretty cool. The songs are solid, with slightly odd guitar noodlings & barked out vocals about, y’know, whatever. The two bands are honestly kind of interchangeable (I had to doublecheck Discogs to be sure which band had the 90 Day Men guy), but they both stand solidly in the pack of pretty good mid-90’s indie punk. None of it wallows too deeply in weirdness for weirdness’s sake, nor whines for whining’s sake. I vaguely recall that there was a little bit of backlash at the time against these “county” bands from the “real” punks of the city, but that would be as annoying to talk about as typing all of those quotation marks just was.

 

Posture-Flame

https://posturestl.bandcamp.com/track/flame

Grimace-Rockstar

https://bastillesbands.bandcamp.com/track/rockstar

 

 

 

 

Rebellious Jukebox XLVII: Trauma Harness vs Last Year’s Youth

IMG_2474.JPGThey called themselves “St Louis’ Only Real Punk Band,” & in 1996-1997, they were probably close to right. With Ultraman on hiatus & most of the young punks still reeling from the loss of far distant Bastille’s, Last Year’s Youth were kinda the only game in town. Okay, fine, there was Very Metal (who I covered a few Jukeboxes ago). And okay, fine, I preferred the Volatiles (who I covered many Jukeboxes ago), but whatever, it’s not a competition, man! The 1997 Modern Living four song ep had Last Year’s Youth ranting & raging like the leather jacket wearing, boot-stomping street punks they were, with solid riffs, propulsive drumming, & gang chant backing vocals. Lyrically, they mostly stayed away from the “iffy” politics of a lot of street punk bands, dealing instead with the day to day struggle of work, women, & everybody thinking you’re a maniac. I say they mostly stayed away from politics, because side two’s closer Burn, Washington, Burn gets a little jingoistic towards the decrepit morals of the “left wing,” & claims solidarity with the Ruby Ridge incident’s Randy Weaver, so, yipes? It does kinda rail against everyone involved in politics on any side, though, so, okay? Whatever, the Clinton years were tough for people who were trying to be mad about politics.

Trauma Harness probably wouldn’t have even been recognized as a punk band by most of the fans of Last Year’s Youth, but they’re one of the best punk bands in St Louis these days. Even when the reverbed out guitar, high pitched keening vocals, & free form impressionistic lyrics put them into goth-punk or space-punk or wave-punk territory, the heavy bass tones & driving drums keep them all punk-punk. But that’s just side one of the new Ghost Of A Flea 45. Side two finds them exploring their all synths side for a couple songs of creepy mid-fi oddness. Originally just a one-off goof for one show (I think), the synth side of the Harness got so many raves that it’s made a few more appearances. Like great Belleville punks of yesteryear Max Load (covered many Jukeboxes ago), Trauma Harness have never been afraid to work some keyboards into their punk, & are constantly evolving. Theirs is not a dead end street.

Trauma Harness; Ghost Of A Flea

Would you believe Last Year’s Youth still have a MySpace page with working music links? Check it out!

https://myspace.com/lyystl/music/songs

Rebellious Jukebox XLVI: BBEye vs Earwacks

IMG_2427There’s something to be said about minimalism in rock-n-roll. Get in, make a big noise, get out, wrap up your 3-song 45 in less than five minutes. BBEye have got it down pat. The newest side project from Lumpy & the Dumpers master blaster Martin (here under the nom de rock Miss Penis), the record hits all the marks of the Lumpy Records aesthetic. It’s part in-joke, part inspired amateurism, & part gross-out lyrics, but always worth a listen. The band is, I think, Miss Penis on live drums, cheap keyboards, & maybe some guitar (though the distorted parts might very easily just be tape overload), with female singer Miss Lady (I don’t know who that’s the nom de rock of) on howling no-wave yelping vocals. There’s every chance I’m wrong about all of that. The songs are short, dumb, & crazily catchy. BBEye won’t change your life, but you’re not gonna ask for your five minutes back.

 

There’s something to be said about maximalism in rock-n-roll, too. Meander in, play a million notes, saunter out, make your “hit song” almost five minutes long. Late 70’s St Louis progsters Earwacks had it down pat. A blend of brash King Crimson dynamics & Gentle Giant wide-eyed mellowness, the A-side of their 1978 7″ep, The Scrape, sounds like a lost KSHE classic. It’s heavy & weird & pretty & spacey & great. There’s even some flute! The B-side sticks mostly with the mellow, but gets points for including some in-studio banter from the legendary Oliver Sain, producer of the sessions. The band later morphed into the more “prog-wave” Wax Theatricks, & if anybody’s got a copy of their flexi-disc I want one!

 

BBEye “Big Cicada”

https://bbeye.bandcamp.com/track/big-cicada

Earwacks “The Scrape”