Rebellious Jukebox XXIII: Maximum Effort vs The Meat Sisters

IMG_20150605_151615Originally published September 2014

A friend of mine once dismissed somebody’s record collection as “nothing but political punk 7-inches with black & white sleeves.” I’ve certainly seen that type of collection a time or ten, so I had to laugh, but ever since Jello Biafra started yelling about injustice, there’s been a steady stream of loudmouth bands yelling their politics on stage. Good for them.

Back in the early 90’s, a new batch of St Louis high school (or just out of it) punk kids started forming bands & finding new places to play & basically doing an end run around what was left of the 80’s punk clique. The hardest working band in this new scene was the Meat Sisters, & listening to their 1993 “Undermining America’s Traditional Values” 4-song ep is like opening a time capsule. Some of the political ranting is a little naive (though I’m sure all of the dudes would still agree with the basic ideas), some of the musicianship is a little unsure of itself (most of the Meat Sisters later went on to form the incredible Volatiles, though, who put out my favorite St Louis punk rock 45), & there’s that reggae song (yeah, I got nothin’), but mostly what you hear here is a young band making Their Statement & that’s just awesome!

Political paranoia, alien conspiracy, & the tyranny of physics are what make the world go ’round for Maximum Effort, & their new 4-song ep “Kill All Politicians…Seriously, Fucking Kill Every One Of Them” is all wide-eyed rants & riffs that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Maximum Rock’n’Roll compilation from 1984. Or 1994. Or 2014. I just wish they’d included a lyric sheet, so I could tell for sure what it is that they think is going to annihilate us all.

Meat Sisters: St Louis County (not actually on this record, but it was the only song I could find online)

Maximum Effort: Derweze (Well To Hell)

Rebellious Jukebox XXII: Jungle Fire vs The Organization Band

IMG_20150605_151653Originally published August 2014

I am by no means a musical purist, but when I heard a couple years ago that some local punk rockers were putting together a soul band, my reaction was “Okay, then. Good luck with that.” The first couple times I saw Jungle Fire kinda confirmed my skepticism, as I found them way more Chili Peppers than Dap-Kings. I kept going to see them every now & then, though, & am happy to say they finally found their own thing, with their “Peace Is Our Profession” 7″ep a perfect introduction to their take on South City St Louis soul. All the songs sound different, but they all sound like Jungle Fire.

The record starts off with “Josephine,” an almost Specials-ish mod-soul jumper, then cuts to “Blade Brown,” a bad-ass shouter about a bad ass, with an arrangement similar to Curtis Mayfield’s “Freddy’s Dead.” The song would verge on clunky, though, if not for that smooth flute that sweetens the attack. Side two is dedicated to “Freedom,” a fuzz funk mantra. I really hope Jungle Fire releases a Rare Earth-style 17 minute workout version of that one.

The use of flute by both bands was what drew me to pair Jungle Fire with St Louis jazz-funk outfit The Organization Band (about whom I could find virtually nothing online, though the 45 is on youtube), but their 1984 “Zero Gravity/Waiting For 105″ 45 is definitely worth hunting for on its own merits. Side one has falsetto vocals reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield (oh look, there’s another similarity), though not nearly as powerful, with the flute/trumpet/wah-wah guitar carrying the tune. Side two is an instrumental, with the trumpet melody line veering a little too close to hot tub for my taste, though if you stripped that out, you’d have a really great backing track for some Gang Starr-style intelligent hip-hop. Coincidentally, the other record I own by The Organization Band is a 12″ single taking a stab at 80’s hip-hop. It’s so not great that its pretty great. If I ever expand beyond 7” with the Rebellious Jukebox I’ll tell you all about it.

The Jungle Fire: Freedom

The Organization Band: Waiting For 105/Zero Gravity (jump ahead to about 4:00 for the better stuff…)

Rebellious Jukebox XXI: Maness Brothers vs David Dee

IMG_20150605_151731Originally published July 2014

Okay, a long time ago in the (on the?) Rebellious Jukebox, I wrote a lil’ rant about the blues. Since the blues is a living beast, though, one little column was never gonna cover everything, so this month we’re back to it, loyal readers!

The Maness Brothers recently won “best blues band” in the annual Riverfront Times music poll. I’d seen the name for a while, but only just saw them live for the first time at the awards ceremony & I liked them a lot. Their two-piece take on the blues was more Blue Cheer than Black Keys, fuzzed out in all the right ways. Their “Grief Factory” 4-song vinyl debut doesn’t quite pack that whallup, unfortunately, but is still a solid set of Southern-style blues-rock. The harmonica-heavy “The Catfish & The Fisherman” is my pick to hit, & they must think so, too, since they put that big ol’ catfish on the record sleeve.

Veteran bluesman David Dee knows a thing or two about catfish, too, & proved it with his early 80’s regional hit “Going Fishing.” Or maybe that’s a double entendre. Who can tell? Produced & co-written by the always reliable Oliver Sain, this is a prefect example of what a working bar-blues band sounded like then & sounds like now. You can still catch Mr Dee a few nights a month in all of his shiny-suit wearing, flying-v guitar playing, buxom backup singer featuring glory, & you really should. The blues is a living beast, so live it!

Maness Brothers: Catfish

David Dee: Fishing

Rebellious Jukebox XX: Carte De Visite vs Erik Voeks

IMG_20150605_154315Originally published June 2014

Whew! Pop tunes & jangling, clean-toned guitars are back this month, after two Jukeboxes filled with Fister, Vacant Grave, Drunks With Guns, & Lumpy & The Dumpers. Enjoy!

First up, Belleville kids Carte De Visite bring us the brand new “Be A River” 3-song EP. Two vocal cuts & an instrumental, the songs strum along pleasantly, with assured arrangements & smart choices, like the trumpet that pops in for just a few seconds in “Eyes Like Runny Eggs,” but gets out before you think “Oh, they’re one of those bands that has a guy who plays trumpet.” Ryan Birkner has the right type of earnest but slightly off-key voice that keeps everything from getting too cutesy, too, & I really look forward to hearing more from these guys.

Pure pop for then people, St Louis popster Erik Voeks had a handful of critically acclaimed records in the early-mid 90’s, full of the kinds of clever wordplay & shimmering harmony that make music critics & community/college radio DJs wonder why more people don’t listen to this kind of stuff. On this 1992 45, he gets a little angsty on side A’s “Throw Me A Line,” but it’s side B’s “When Will It All End?” that gets me all wistful & nostalgic for my days of being a college radio DJ & discovering all this great underground pop music & wondering why more people didn’t listen to this kind of stuff.

Carte De Visite-“Be A River” EP

Erik Voeks-“When Will It All End?”