Tuesday, June 09, 2009

AFS v. 224 ~ It's Just a Brain!

This week's show is all about songs that are funny. Read below the playlist for features on the best of the Roseville/Loomis/Citrus Heights punk scene of the 90s and the most underrated Aussie slobberviolence of the 90s...

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HAMMER DAMAGE | Laugh | v/a: Killed by Death #9 | Redrum 1978
SEVERED HEADS | Spasm/Spastic Crunch | City Slab Horror | Ink 1985
CAVE CLOWN MICROWAVE | Soldiers in Pink | v/a: Eerie Bazaar | Eerie Materials 1997
FOSSIL FUEL | I Hate to Take a Bath | v/a: Menus With Manpower | Adeline Lehigh Crank Duplex/KDVS 2000
SWORDKILLER | Evil Has No Fear | v/a: Roots III (A Trilogy) | Root of All Evil 1999
UNHOLY SWILL | Studly Dudly Mexican Type Thang | v/a: Fuck That Weak Shit vol 3 7" | Pit's Bull 1995
UNHOLY SWILL | We're Truck Drivers | Legacy of Stupidity | Noiseville 2005
DRUNKS WITH GUNS | DWI | Second Verses | Intellectual Convulsion 1991
STRANGULATED BEATOFFS | Beat It | Jacking Off with Jacko 7" | Apop 2005
STRANGULATED BEATOFFS | Savoy Truffle | The Beatoffs 7" | Chopper 1989
ANAL BABES | Punk Rock | Cocaine Swastika 10" | Incognito 1998
PREHENSILE MONKEYTAILED SKINK | Anarchy Is Stupid | I Am a Gorilla 7" | Blackjack 1994
PREHENSILE MONKEYTAILED SKINK | Kenneth | Years of Practice 7" | Bulb 1994
SOCKEYE | Boy With Breast Implants | Retards Hiss Past My Window | Jettison 1993
SOCKEYE | Pave the Earth | Barf on a Globe | Mortville 2000
A RANCID VAT | Ballad of Brigham Young | Stampeding Cattle | Pigface 1981
SEA PIGS | Christian TV | Freaktard 7" | Very Small 1993
SEWER TROUT | Holiday in Rumania | Flawless 10" | Very Small 1990
SEWER TROUT | President of the Anarchists Club | Songs About Drinking 7" | Lookout 1988
HEAD | Senor Itchy | Street Level Assault | Evil Clown 1994
HAPPY BURGER | Pizza All Around | Happy Burger 7" | Douche Master *new
HAPPY BURGER | Zagreb City
BAD SPORTS | Not a Creep | v/a: New Kids on the Block 7" | Randy *new
DAY CREEPER | Outerbelt | v/a: New Kids on the Block 7"
WAX MUSEUMS | I Don't Really Wanna Kill | The Wax Museums | Douche Master 2008
WAX MUSEUMS | I Eat Vomit | Introducing... 7" | Rehab 2006
THE A.G.'s | Reebok Shoes | This Earth Sucks | Ringing Ear 1996 (orig 1988)
THE BUCKYS | Psychopaths | In 31 Flavors | no label 1996
MY BROTH'R HANS | Mr. High Risk | My Broth'r Hans CS | Scud 1992
THE BUCKYS | Mustache Man/Nag/Dirty Old Man | Live at KDVS | no label 1995
MY BROTH'R HANS | Jeff's Discount Abortion | The Money Makers of Punk Rock CS | Scud 1992
ISM | Proud to Be Guilty | v/a: The Big Apple Rotten to the Core | S.I.N. 1982
CYANAMID | Support | v/a: New Jersey's Got It | Buy Our 1985
KILSLUG | Make It Rain | Answer the Call | Taang! 1985
FANG | Destroy the Handicapped | Landshark | Boner 1983
HEIST | The Hurt the Pain the Insane | 18 Gears of Hell | Big Fred 1998
HEIST | Oolongdongbourbonsingalong
HEIST | Dugite Blues
HEIST | It's Just a Brain
ART PHAG | Golf | Art Phag | Wanghead (With Lips) 1988 *request
ASBESTOS ROCKPYLE | Lydon | Industrial Religion 7" | Warpt 1984
PERSONAL & THE PIZZAS | I Don't Wanna Be No Personal Pizza | debut 3-song 7" | GOOC Entertainment *new
MR. SUAVE | You Can't Keep a Suave Man Down | Oregon's Gentleman of Rock & Roll 7" | Vendetta 1995
ARCH VILLAINS | We Hate Your Ugly Face | We Hate Your Ugly Face 7" | Sigma Phi 1998

Having memorized nearly every My Broth'r Hans and Buckys lyric, I almost feel like an honorary alumnus of Oakmont High School in Roseville, California. These bands painted a picture of a parallel world that I could never quite touch as a teenager growing up on an Air Force Base where the peer pressure worked in reverse. I swear, I saw beer at only two high school parties. There were about 30 kids, but one six-pack. Who would wanna compete for that? I think that the naughtiest thing I did was ask a G.I. to accompany us to the window of the Travis AFB "Cinemac" movie theater to get into the R-rated "Red Heat" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that was only because my mom thought it was a PG or PG-13 rated movie when she dropped me off. It was such an ordeal to try to find a G.I. to "sponsor" us into the movie...I could only imagine how difficult it would be to finagle a proxy beer purchase. But surely My Broth'r Hans were liquor store parking lot shoulder-tap professionals. And the singer was reputed as the parental bathroom medicine cabinet-raider, so it was natural for him to imagine such a kooky mythology or a band. The liner of the self-titled cassette says: In 1946, Hans Marten developed affordable shoes that could feed the public. He then took his goat to the security council meeting, which upon completion of the destruction of his creation, decided a new world order was needed and should be created. Thus, we bring you the music of today--the music of turds. Idiots with no future follow Hans to that great all-you-can-eat pizza restaurant in the sky.

MBH released their first tape in 1991, which was then re-recorded with a new drummer for the 1992 version which we hear here. This drummer did indeed have a future in drumming for some of my very favorite local bands of the 2000s, but I don't know if he's proud enough of these beginnings for me to name him. Of course, I woulda likely never learned of either of these bands if it weren't for guitarist Todd becoming my best friend since 1995, when the Buckys were still regularly playing shows and working towards an eventual release of a record (which never came out, unfortunately). Todd also started in MBH. A second MBH tape--The Money Makers of Punk Rock--was released a while later, and it features at least three songs that sound like they coulda blended into an All American Punk/No Foreign Junk volume of the Killed by Death series.

At their best, they played a tuneful sorta sub-Samoans/Circle Jerks style of sloppy poppy hardcore, but there were some noteworthy excursions into postpunk, such as the poignant "Married to the Bottle" on the first tape, and the plaintive "Such Disregard" on the second. Set against so much brashly mischievous paeans to high school alcoholism and alarmingly tasteless knee-jerk inducers (esp. "Jeff's Discount Abortion", wherein the secret techniques for causing a miscarriage include vigorous sex and beating on the baby with drumsticks), these uncharacteristic moments of mature songwriting and consciousness-raising lyrics seem quite confounding. A particular fave MBH song--"Itsarhea"--details the true story of a Santa Cruz roadtrip which ended with the singer getting a bad case of the squirts presumably because he bought Itsa Cola (Itsa was the cut-rate proprietary brand of all manner of food and drink at the now-defunct Food & Liquor Cheaper stores) instead of Pepsi.

Three MBH members landed in the Buckys, who might've been active concurrently for a while at the tail-end of the members' high school careers. The Buckys wrote songs that named names from their shitlist ("Brubaker" and "Amy Cohen Is Such a Bitch"), told who had the most billowy pubic hair ("Pubic Hair"), and whose dad was the most chronically depressed ("Shad's Dad Is Sad"). Oakmont's token hippie was known as "Mudmouth", and he makes at least two appearances in the lyrics of the Money Demo, which was recorded professionally by a careerist engineer whose credentials included Screeching Weasel and many an Epi/Fat band. By this time, the bandmates were four years removed from high school, but still sharpening the sound of the same songs they'd written about hated principals and classmates. The drummer's technical ability had improved tremendously by then, and both he and the singer had an interest in the powerviolence zeitgeist of the mid-90s, so the Buckys' sub-Samoans/Circle Jerks-inspired oeurve was punctuated by a few tight, sharp rhythmic divergences which further added to the inanity of a band whose essence was a paradox of tough shit-talk over poppy punk riffs, often played with rather clean distortion. And the juxtaposition of the offensive and preachy was even more heightened than in MBH. During live sets, the band often lined up the righteously indignant "Ignorant Fucker" ("You'll pay for your ignorance when you dieee!!!!") with "I Want More" ("...than before/I want more/Fuck the poor!/...more bitches, more inches!"). Their only appearance on vinyl was on Too Many Records' Wood Paneled Pacer Wagon With Mags LP+7" compilation of 100 bands performing one song each in under half a minute. The Buckys authored the shortest song of the comp, "Short Songs", which lasted all of five seconds ("I like short songs/They're not long/They give me more time to play with my dong") and led off side A. During live shows, this song was extended to 15 seconds to include a whimsical prog-grind/powerviolence outro and a forceful growl of "YOU'RE DEAD!" Another classic juxtaposition of the weak and soft.

Perth ranks high in livability indexes and boasts a beautiful modern skyline, but it has the reputation in Australia of being kinda backwater, and surely it is one of the most isolated cities and regional musical scenes in the world. That the band Rupture are Perth's most significant and storied punk rock export in the 90s serves to strengthen that backwater stigma. When you add the braincell devastation of Heist's full-length album, 18 Gears of Hell, that might suggest that civilization is on the brink of collapse on the west coast of Australia. This album is so rarely heralded for its primo scuzz, stylistic breadth, and drunken mania, but I think that the world is ready for it finally. In 1998 when it came out (on CD only), it was not widely distributed, and it surely must have caught several of Heist's cheerleaders off-guard. Most American fans knew them from the rather serious Infest-influenced 7", Pain Is Causing Life, which was released on Havoc Records. I was a fan, too. But I liked 18 Gears... even more immediately for its swipes at low-brow/no-brow artcore which mined new territory somewhere between Fang and Rancid Hellspawn with a few surprising low-tech electro touches. When the guitars blaze and tempos roil, the vocal resemblance to Joe from Infest or John Brannon of Negative Approach is still evident, as is extreme rage and violence. But certainly it's the blind rage of a bellicose drunkard which brings to mind the most feverish moments of the Brainbombs. When things slow down, the voices of glue-addled numbskulls come out, and it's nutty, nihilistic, and just hilarious. I remember reading a review 10 years ago wherein the writer complained that making fun of retarded people is never funny. Surely, this guy'd never seen anyone this drunk or drug'd outta his skull. This is the sound of brains chemically breaking down into mush, and they are enjoying every minute of it. Maybe pain was causing life, but bourbon overload and gluey stupor make it bearable to live in the warped minds of Heist. Here's to hoping someone eventually reissues this on vinyl!


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