They 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!