OUR LAST TWANG

Thanks to those of you who’ve kept up with this site in its evolution from every-so-often posts about music, film, politics, religion, children’s TV, adults’ TV, libertarianism, hockey, etc., up through its second-half incarnation as a straight-up mp3 blog. I’ve been caught in recycling my own previous writing & generally doing such a half-assed rush job with this blog that I figured I’d hang it up. I don’t have the time to do it the sort of justice I’d like, standards being low as they are. I also may have posted every obscuro song I really wanted you to hear, as well – but if you haven’t perused our archives, start with the January 27th, 2007 post – almost everything after that contains a song you should probably right-click on. Those won’t be up forever, so you might want to do that pretty soon.

In the meantime, I did another music-based blog called AGONY SHORTHAND from 2003 to 2006 that’s got everything I wrote still up & online. Check it out – it’ll take some time to digest all the not-enough-to-do-at-work mania. I still get all judgemental & excited about craft beer over at HEDONIST BEER JIVE too, and that shows no signs of abating any time soon. Thanks for reading – the links on the right over here’ll take you to even better places.

GIBSON BROS – “KEEPERS” EP

I credit the GIBSON BROS for being my entrée into the world of pre-WWII blues and early country, and they hit me with a wallop when I heard their debut album around 1988. They arrived in 1986-87 at the height of indie rock’s fascination with noise, “scumrock” and SST/Homestead/Touch & Go heavy punk rock. Somehow this roots-reverent band was quickly grasped to the bosom of budding – mostly east coast – scenesters , likely due to their ’86 debut 7” EP “Keepers”, which we’re posting for you today, and their ’87 LP “Big Pine Boogie”’s (which is pictured here) loose-limbed Cramps-style primitivism and heavily reverbed, cranked-up guitars. The records have been seemingly lost to time, and criminally remain out of print and unavailable on CD. Their sound had a fantastic front porch feel to it, like no one’s taking the whole thing particularly seriously, and there’s a big bucket of beers beckoning nearby for consumption when the set’s wrapped up. Guitarists Don Howland, Jeff Evans and Dan Dow and drummer Ellen Hoover took their cues from the pantheon of rough-hewn American genius, from shambling Bo Diddley thumping, deep-South country a la Charlie Feathers, and pre-WWII delta blues giants like Skip James and Charley Patton. Trouser Press generously called it “intentional amateurism”, which perhaps bestows musical abilities on the band they hadn’t yet earned. But you won’t care.

Play or Download THE GIBSON BROS – “My Young Life” (Side A)
Play or Download THE GIBSON BROS – “Parchman Farm” (Side B)
Play or Download THE GIBSON BROS – “Dirt” (Side B)

MEET THE CONTINENTAL CO-ETS

THE CONTINENTAL CO-ETS are one of dozens upon dozens of lost American garage treasures who surfaced during a brief British Invasion- and “Psychotic Reaction”-fueled rage of loud guitars, short songs, and bouncy choruses. But get this – they were girls. There’s that whole forgotten underbelly of all-girl or girl-led bands from 1964-67, celebrated on the GIRLS IN THE GARAGE compilations and perhaps best known and represented by the single track, “What A Way To Die”, by Leather Tuscadero’s PLEASURE SEEKERS. A few years ago I got wind of a couple of fantastic lost 45s by this Minnesota band, one of which had thankfully been repressed by Get Hip records. The other tracks are scattered among various hard-to-find compilation LPs and CDs. The Co-Ets have a really great, brooding, minor-key chug to their songs, with terrific young-girl vocals and choruses that it’s hard to excavate from your head once they get lodged in there. My favorite 2 of their 4 are the ones I’m posting for you here.

DESPERATE BICYCLES’ SECOND 1977 45

Like what we posted for you last week? Here’s a single from THE DESPERATE BICYCLES that I’m tempted to call one of the twenty greatest of the quote-unquote punk era, “The Medium Was Tedium” b/w “Don’t Back The Front”. It came out near the end of 1977, and was their second 45. It was certainly meant to be a D.I.Y. call to arms, and it’s hard to argue with the sentiment or its raw translation into action. I think I’m most taken with the squeaky keyboards and the strident, hectoring vocals that still sound smooth and comforting. You’d follow these guys into the trenches, wouldn’t you? Many did, and left a pretty impressive legacy in & around the UK around this era.

Play or Download THE DESPERATE BICYCLES – “The Medium Was Tedium”
Play or Download THE DESPERATE BICYCLES – “Don’t Back The Front”

THE DESPERATE BICYCLES – “SMOKESCREEN/HANDLEBARS”

I hadn’t yet heard the DESPERATE BICYCLES when I published a fanzine in 1998 that contained a long piece on the “Forty-Five 45s That Moved Heaven and Earth”. Number one for me was (and remains) PERE UBU’s “Heart of Darkness / Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo”; number two was (and remains) the ELECTRIC EELS’ “Cyclotron / Agitated”; after that I forget. Having only heard of the Desperate Bicycles in passing within the pages of Forced Exposure magazine, all I knew was that they were punk-era progenitors of the “D.I.Y.” aesthetic, that they were excellent, and that their singles were impossibly rare. Certainly their first two 45s, now that I know & love them, would have bumped a couple of ringers off the list if I were to do it again today.

“Smokescreen / Handlebars” came out in 1977, with both songs on one side. I have a very clued-in pal who told me he’d never heard the band before, and that made me realize that I might have an opportunity to blow at least one mind by putting them up on Detailed Twang. I don’t really have a ton to add about the band that hasn’t been already written about here, here and here, but let me add my voice to chorus calling these masterpieces among the most invigorating & exciting rock and roll records of all time. The second 45 is even better, and that’s also coming to a computer screen near you soon.

Play or Download THE DESPERATE BICYCLES – “Smokescreen”
Play or Download THE DESPERATE BICYCLES – “Handlebars”

CHOIX A PARTIR DE FABIENNE DEL SOL

If that’s translated poorly, don’t blame me, blame Babelfish. My parents raised an English speaker. As alluded to in an earlier post, 2007 is the year that I discovered THE BRISTOLS and their new-solo vocalist, FABIENNE DEL SOL. I’m hooked. Fabienne herself has a new solo record out now, her second, called “BETWEEN YOU AND ME”. This French-native English lass skirts the brassy 60s pop of her homeland, and marries it to raw surfbeat, stomping garage rock of a decidedly “Mersey” bent, and full-blown sugartown pop music. This latest record is better than her very solid solo debut, “NO TIME FOR SORROWS”, and is probably as good as her BRISTOLS material (which is fantastic – all of it – start with the new greatest-hits collection). I don’t know, I’ll have to get back to ya. I’m crossing my digits for a US tour to see if what goes on in the studio will translate to a live stage, but after seeing Bristols clips on You Tube, I’m fairly certain that it will. Let me know what you think!

(All tracks from “Between You And Me” CD)

Play or Download
FABIENNE DEL SOL – “Vilainis Filles Mauvais Garcons”
Play or Download FABIENNE DEL SOL – “Pas Gentile”
Play or Download FABIENNE DEL SOL – “I’m Confessin’”

NIGHT KINGS ONE & NIGHT KINGS TWO

Once THE NIGHTS AND DAYS had broken up in the late 80s, word started filtering out of Seattle that Rob Vasquez had quickly put together a new, like-minded band called THE NIGHT KINGS, dedicated to raw, mono-fied, transistor-burst garage punk. When evidence finally surfaced in 1990 that confirmed said rumors, there was dancing in the hovels and houses of dozens record dorks countrywide, mine included. Salvo #1 was a sole track on a four-song compilation EP on Estrus Records called “TALES FROM ESTRUS”. The comp actually led off with THE NIGHT KINGS’ “Dirty Work”, and it was a glorious thing. Ninety seconds of crunch that brings forth Link Wray’s pencil-poked amps as played through by a ham-handed SONICS. And that voice – man, what a howler. Vasquez was back.

Salvo #2, maybe half a year later, was a split single with a short-lived (mercifully) Seattle band called YUMMY. The Night Kings’ side was called “Bugweed”, and it practically blew the grooves off the vinyl. Loud, overloaded, garage scorch with no precedent and no antecedent – something pure & unique and totally wild. I’m posting both tracks for you today. Soon the Night Kings would release an In The Red 45, a Sub Pop 45, some comp stuff and a full-blown LP. Here’s what they started blowing minds.

Play or Download THE NIGHT KINGS – “Dirty Work” (from 1990 “Tales From Estrus” 7”EP compilation)
Play or Download THE NIGHT KINGS – “Bugweed” (from 1991 split 45 with YUMMY)

VENOM P. STINGER: THE SORROW AND THE PITY

VENOM P. STINGER were an overpowering late 80s/early 90s Australian group who morphed out of one scorched-earth, rawer-than-raw hardcore noise band called THE SICK THINGS, and later again morphed into another thing completely: the lovely, edgy instrumental trio THE DIRTY THREE. In between were several LPs, a 45 and one 4-song CD-EP that it is essential that you hear. Nowhere have I heard a band so desperately trapped in their own skin. Their militaristic, brutally loud and often atonal punk rock was an ugly cousin to a lot of the American bands of the day, the ones that came out on labels like Amphetamine Reptile, Treehouse, Noiseville, Circuit and Adult Contemporary. Their singer, Dugald McKenzie, had the rawest mouth-rasp vocals imaginable, and not only was it difficult to imagine him singing without his neck veins popping halfway to China, it was difficult to hear his deep-accented wails and think him anything but Australian. Drummer Jim White usually sounded like he was stuck somewhere between drumming for the Daughters of the American Revolution parade and for later-period John Coltrane. Even when the songs didn’t fall together all that well – and their albums do have some filler – they never wavered from a mood that was dark, angry and ballistic. Even on the (rare) slow ones.

Needless to say, I was a pretty big fan while they were around, and I bought all the records where I could. I got to see them live twice, but without McKenzie, who was held back at customs & which then necessitated the quick recruitment of Venom P. Stinger’s “biggest fan” into vocal duties. (Or so says informed commenter KI in the comments to this post). Other than their one and only 45, “Walking About/25 Milligrams”, their best record is this 1991 EP that came out on CD only called “Waiting Room”. Play it, download it, and raise a pint of bitter for the now-deceased Dugald McKenzie, one of the great throat-rippers of all time.

Play or Download
VENOM P. STINGER – “Inside The Waiting Room”
Play or Download VENOM P. STINGER – “I Try, I Really Try”
Play or Download VENOM P. STINGER – “Turning Green”
Play or Download VENOM P. STINGER – “In Love”

RIDICULOUS HARDCORE, PART 2: SIN 34

(Read Part One here). I don’t know what it is about SIN 34, and why I come back to their recordings every few years. They were perhaps the first speed/thrash/burn punk band that ever connected with me during my teenage late-night listening sessions with “Maximum Rock and Roll Radio”, even before Black Flag or Minor Threat. Generic-by-the-numbers early 80s LA hardcore, with the added curveball of female singer “Julie”, SIN 34 at times had this ability to leapfrog the genre & throw in some burning, stop-start hooks that got testosterone-fueled limbs flailing and bodies flying. I know that their name made it to Pee-Chees and Army surplus jackets even at my Northern California high school – but then again, so did “China White”, “TSOL” and “The Adicts”. In SoCal, they had a much higher profile, due to band member Dave Markey’s involvement with WE GOT POWER fanzine and friendly connections with RED CROSS and Smoke Seven records. Only one 7”EP and one (quite lame, save for 3-4 tracks) LP made it out, but I’ve cherry-picked the band’s winners for you. Read a whole lot more about SIN 34 here and here.

Play or Download SIN 34 – “Nuclear War” (from 1982 “Sudden Death” compilation LP)
Play or Download SIN 34 – “Left Waiting” (from 1983 “Do You Feel Safe?” LP)
Play or Download SIN 34 – “Forgive and Forget” (from 1983 “Do You Feel Safe?” LP)
Play or Download SIN 34 – “Not” (from 1983 “We Got Power” compilation LP)

CURSE OF THE BIRTHMARK – “WELCOME TO THE HARD TIMES, YOU’RE LATE” EP

This 2005, 5-song ear-pillager from San Francisco’s semi-active CURSE OF THE BIRTHMARK was the electro-zap my ass needed to get the foam coming out of the mouth again when I first heard it a little over a year ago. “Welcome To The Hard Times….You’re Late” is the sort of dark, aggressive “industrial rock” I used to envision in the early/mid 80s whenever I’d read about TEST DEPT. or EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN or whatever, whom invariably let me down. C.O.T.B. did not let me down; on the contrary, this EP is full of frothing, electronics-filled no wave guitar, some absolutely thumping drumming, and enough bleeding ear tones to keep you in the isolation chamber for hours afterward. There’s a rabid, mysterious churner at the end of Side 1 called “Too Many Ministers” that I have not been able to stop playing for a year. They put out one other 45 that’s also quite good, and I think they’ve maybe played one live show in the past 365 days. I couldn’t go – I think I had to wash my hair or something. See if you’re up to the challenge by clicking on the links below.

Play or Download CURSE OF THE BIRTHMARK – “Welcome To The Hard Times, You’re Late”
Play or Download CURSE OF THE BIRTHMARK – “Show Yer Fangs”
Play or Download CURSE OF THE BIRTHMARK – “Too Many Ministers”
Play or Download CURSE OF THE BIRTHMARK – “Le Phant”
Play or Download CURSE OF THE BIRTHMARK – “Monster Imitates Car”