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

 

 

 

 

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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”

Rebellious Jukebox XLV: Bruiser Queen vs Left Arm

img_2032Hard-working duo (now trio? is that permanent?) Bruiser Queen dropped their latest 45 a few months ago, but I just now got myself a copy. Sorry for the delay, loyal Rebellious Jukebox reader. The Telepathic Mind/Rainbow In The Dark 45 finds them continuing to expand their sound, while still holding onto their love of garage grunge. With a ripping guitar solo, bouncy organ, & cool background la-la’s, Telepathic Mind has the lushness displayed on their last full length LP Sweet Static (itself a giant step from the semi-minimalist approach of their first few releases), but adds a definite early 80’s West Coast Psych-Revival feel. It wouldn’t sound out of place on some old Enigma Records comp next to the Pandoras, & that’s always been a musical sweet spot for me. Side B’s Rainbow In The Dark is a solid  cover of the 80’s metal classic. Other than the fact that some people will likely find the very notion of a female fronted garage band covering Dio inherently funny, there’s nothing jokey or ironic about their take. The arrangement suits their strengths & Morgan’s vocals have a smokey soulful Dead Weather-ish feel to them. Leaving out the iconic main keyboard riff goes a long way towards making the song their own, as well. Good job all around, & I look forward to whatever’s next.

Bruiser Queen drummer Jason Potter has been kicking out (get it? kicking? he’s a drummer, so he has a kick pedal!) garage punk in the St Louis area for years, & his old band Left Arm’s swan song, the Electric Babies 45, is an unjustly underappreciated gem of the genre. Released in 2009, it’s three songs of in-the-red riffing & hollering, recorded in Detroit by some dude who I guess is a big name in those circles. I don’t know anything about all that, but I do know that side B’s Go Home has a grossly simplistic Stoogian wah-wah guitar solo in it that will never not make me smile, & sometimes that’s all you need.

Bruiser Queen-Telepathic Mind

Left Arm-Electric Babies

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Rebellious Jukebox XLIV: Carondelet Guy vs Brian Henneman

img_1691Carondelet Guy doesn’t mess around. The very first line of his debut solo 45 sets the scene, that he’s “living by the river on Minnesota Street…” That would maybe be enough to tell some folks all they need to know, but he goes on to describe his neighbor, cover star Mr Henry (who gave the record its title), & from there on out you know you’re gonna get that “Real Talk.” You’ve got Rare Breed’s tale of a troubled teen that C-Guy worked with in Springfield MO, you’ve got the ambivalent situational morality of The Day My Drug Dealer Went To Jail, & you’ve got the understanding homage to the Dirty Drunk Hoosier. You’ll get the jokes on the first listen, but then you’ll get that these are real people being sung about. This is folk music at its most honest, sung by someone blurring the lines between observer & participant. With only acoustic guitar & voice, & with a minimum of chord changes, C-Guy’s sound would maybe get a little same-y over the course of a full length LP, but as a 45 it holds together quite nicely. I both love it as is, & wonder what a full band Carondelet Guy would sound like.

 

Answer: It would probably sound something like 1993’s “Indianapolis” 45 from post-Chicken Truck, pre-Bottle Rockets frontman Brian Henneman. Released by Rockville Records, surely due to the backing band on the record, then Rockville Records artists Uncle Tupelo, the record is a roots-rock tale of small town woes, broken down vans, rising rivers, & neighbors who share so many of your same ideals, but then have to throw that stupid rebel flag into the mix. Henneman has never shied away from simultaneously upholding & upending the notions of what small town folks are really like. Most of the sound of what later became the Bottle Rockets can be found on this 45, & 20+ years later they’re still going strong. May Carondelet Guy keep rocking that Real Talk as long, too.

Bottle Rockets version of Indianapolis

 

Carondelet Guy-The Day My Drug Dealer went To Jail

Rebellious Jukebox XLIII: Ruz vs Very Metal

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Jeez Louise! Another Lumpy Records release? Okay, let’s do it! I assume Rüz named themselves after Cardiac Arrest singer/bandana enthusiast Rob Ruzicka (not a member of the band), but what do I know about who does what for why? I just listen to records & stuff. The six songs on this new Rüz 45 don’t break any ground, but they’re  probably not supposed to. Blasted through at breakneck speed, they get in, get angry (at cops, disloyalty, everything, etc), then get out. Can you sing along? Nope. Can you tell any of the songs apart? Nope. Does that matter? Nope. The closest they come to an anthem is side two’s Stabbed In The Back, which somehow rises above the cliche of the imagery (seriously, there are like two thousand straightedge songs about getting stabbed in the back) to achieve total fist-pump-run-into-somebody greatness.

 

Bird-flip-drunkenly-stumble-into-somebody greatness was all Very Metal hoped for, but they succeeded where so many others failed. On their 1996 ep 6 Melodies Of Mayhem (six songs on this record, too, huh? Who says there’s no such thing as progress?), the band tackles glue sniffin’, beer, murder, fuckin’, pretty much everything that made suburban parents afraid of punk rock, though it’s delivered with more of a cartoon-ish wink than a GG Allin handful of bloody poop. Musically it mostly just gets the job done, though occasionally the guitar player busts out some Greg Ginn-ish atonal jazz skronk lines that hint at how much thought is going into this simplistic bashing.

 

Rüz-Stabbed In The Back

https://ruzruzruz.bandcamp.com/

 

Very Metal live in 1998, after they’d morphed into a slightly less cartoon-ish straight ahead thrash band. Oh well…

Rebellious Jukebox XLII: The Wad vs Dear John

imageNowhere on the new 45 from the Wad does it mention Lumpy & the Dumpers or Lumpy Records or the band’s personnel or recording info or anything. The record merely purports to be a product of WAD MUSIC INC, out of Cooter, MO. Is this Martin’s “Bachman Books?” Sure, why not?

 

The Wad is all drum machines & cheap keyboards & nasally vocals ranting about jerky people & how they’re jerks. There is nothing to change your life & there is nothing not to love. When people say that some new punk band sounds early 80’s-ish, this is one of the better versions of what they’re talking about. Nothing about the lyrics of the opening cut Ron Is Wrong specifically refer to Ronald Reagan, but hey, none of them specifically DON’T refer to Ronald Reagan either. The other song on side one, Nog Bag, just kind of revels in its own weirdness, then side two’s Atomic (sadly not a Blondie cover) rails against mall culture. Is that even still a thing? Who cares, when the song uses the most ridiculously cartoon-sounding keyboard setting on the whole record?

 

And now, unfortunately,  I have to break your heart by telling you that very very VERY few bands in the early 80’s actually sounded like the early 80’s that the Wad is sounding like. For every Screamers, there were five hundred more bands that sounded like Dear John. The very notion of playing your own songs & releasing your own records was revolutionary enough; you didn’t have to be that weird to be weird. Dear John fell neatly in with acts like Wreckless Eric, pretty much just straight ahead poppy rock-n-roll that got lumped in with punk because there really wasn’t anywhere else for original music to go. Their two song 1981 45 suffers just a little from thin production (a problem with lots of power pop stuff of the era), but the songs are solid, with Frustrated Conversation ranking right up there with anything by Midwest power pop greats like Off Broadway. Available very briefly in 1981, the record saw a wider issue a few years back, courtesy of BDR Records. Yeah yeah, conflict of interest, blah blah blah…

 

Dear John-Frustrated Conversation

 

And here’s some internet podcast or something that plays a Wad song, amongst tons of other stuff. Fast forward to 31 minutes or so to go straight to the Wad. Or just dig in!

http://www.nts.live/shows/hung-drawn-quartered/episodes/hung-drawn-quartered-w-lumpy-records-28th-january-2016