Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Proletariat-Indifference LP (1985)

Boston's Proletariat were, to quoth the Bard, men out of time: if they had been British, everything would have made sense. If they were recording in 1979 instead of Reagan's America, it would have made sense. Conversely, if they were part of the recent crop of post-punk revivalists (Radio 4, Interpol, et. al.), they would have been quite successful. Instead, they were a Boston punk band trafficking in intelligent, bass-driven fury at a time when everyone else was simply furious.

The Proletariat made a career out of tracing the contours of an American take on Gang of Four, Delta 5, and so on: sinuous basslines, muted, squalling guitar, and howled vocals above the din of misery. This sound was accompanied with brutally intelligent lyrics confronting the typical bugaboos of Americans too smart for a society based around rampant individualism, greed, proud anti-intellectualism, and violence: the genocide of Native Americans ("Trail of Tears"), mindless consumerism ("Marketplace"), American gun culture ("The Guns are Winning"), and the pathetic stupidity of American nationalism ("Homeland").

All of this was, of course, straight to the point in Reagan's America. And all the moreso today, since we live in the world that Reagan and Thatcher made in their image. 1985's Indifference is hard to listen to at times: like The Clash's "This is England" or Gang of 4's "We Live as We Dream, Alone", it's the product of a band whose existence was based on the idea that change is possible if we struggle, colliding into the brute reality that the Reagan Revolution was here to stay. That the stupidity, patriotism, and unthinking pursuit of money was the only thing on the horizon. There's no hope to this LP, beyond the simple fact that it exists. We're in a similar situation right now: I think everyone's finally realized that Obama is even worse than Bush II was, and that under his all-seeing gaze, the United States has become the spymaster and murderer par excellance, at home and abroad.

What else is there to do, though, but sing, dance, and soldier on through the darkness? On that cheerful note, let me present you with one of the forgotten classics of the U.S. underground.

Get it HERE.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Beast Fiend-Beast Fiend Rules! EP (2014)

Back when I lived in Chicago I used to drink at a bar called Medusa's from time to time. Those of you familiar with the frozen hell I call home probably know Medusa's quite well. If not, let me describe it: Medusa's is (was? Fuck it) a bar on the second floor of a walk-up in what used to be a shithole neighborhood now given over to yuppies and other true shithole-dwellers (i.e., not punks).

Tuesday nights were punk nights at Medusa's, but that didn't mean weirdos, outcasts and cranky commies such as me and you, dear readers. Instead it meant a smorgasboard of assholes from the nether regions of Chicago's white suburban sprawl: by that I mean you had the full range of shittiness from apolitical '77 punks, through anti-racist yet patriotic, misogynistic, and homophobic SHARP skins, down through Republipunks (such a thing does indeed exist) all the way to members of FSU and outright, dyed-in-the-wool Nazis. This cranky commie usually kept mum and tipped generously when his friends would wanna go there, for obvious reasons.

None of this has anything to do with Beast Fiend, a punk band from San Francisco; they just sound like the sort of loud, howling punk raucousness that would be playing when the chairs go flying at a shithole like Medusa's. Actually this EP's fun and melodic punk in a slightly soulful note.

You can listen to Beast Fiend here.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Vaguess--I Hate Rock 'n' Roll EP (2013)

This dood beats himself at his own game every time out. 2013's Back off Warchild EP was a perfect slice of bratpunk from the sunny slums of Southern California: how can you hate someone who writes songs about "Cali Swag" (yeah, that's a thing)? It just gets better on I Hate Rock 'n' Roll. Kicking off with a killer riff and a brilliantly dumb organ line, the title track is pure teen spite from start to finish.

I love this whole EP, in fact, but "I'm Bad" is the best track here. Opening with a stomping, raunchy rhythm that sounds like the New York Dolls on speed, the tune hums and hollers and sleazes its way to your heart in no time flat. Vinny chants along to what sounds like a hummed harmonic line somewhere in the background. It's a perfect piece of jangle pop filtered through Southern California sleaze, and closes with one of the best lyrics I've heard in a long time:  "I don't wanna be a deviant/but I'm always gonna be a pile of shit".

Other song topics include hating school, getting fucked up on the beach, and hatred of reading. On that note, further description is pointless: like I said in my review of this guy's debut LP, if you hate Vaguess, you're a stupid asshole who hates rock 'n' roll (even though Vaguess does, too). And this EP is even better than that LP was: these are songs! With choruses! And refrains! And identifiable instruments mixed separately!

So go find someone who can stand being around you for ten minutes, get her/him drunk enough to dance, and ROCK THE FUCK OUT to this bit of sunny slime!

Across 110th Street....

Just a reminder that, no matter how cool you are, you're never gonna be as cool as Bobby Womack was and is. That is all.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Subtitles-Just a Little Bit Brighter EP (2014)

Leicester's Subtitles go straight for the guts with barebones, unpretentious rock 'n' roll. Most bands in this genre focus on the "punk" in "garage punk." The Subtitles, however, inject some over-the-counter Dexadrine into the mellifluous sound of Carl Perkins and start frothing at the mouth.
Not like an epileptic fit, though, more like "holy shit! I just kissed a girl for the first time! Oh fuck!" frothing at the mouth, y'dig?
These songs shake, stagger, and bark their way through the high school prom dance routine in fine form. "High School Confidential" shoulda been around back when I was a wee lad so I coulda danced to it insteada Ace of Bass or whateverthefuck: wound-up vocals, twitchy guitar vamping, and a killer rhythm section specializing in simplicity. "I'm Gonna get Spooned by You," the debut single with a goofy video, is more of the same. "Gonna get wasted, gonna get high, gonna get spooned by you": with a chorus like that, it's hard to argue.

In short, Subtitles do a bangup job and have given us yet further proof that, while garage originated in musty American suburbs in the mid-'60s, the sound is evergreen if you have the great good sense to keep it simple, and keep it direct.

Put this on at the next co-ed mixer, or maybe the next time you wanna offend yr parents with raucous good fun. So give it a spin over at bandcamp, before Sam the Sham calls the truant officer on you, kiddies!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Отстой-Тупым EP (2014)

Everyone's shitting their pants right now about the Sochi Olympics and Putin's terminal cretinism. Really, though, y'all should really be shitting yr pants to this delightful bit of jerky, psyched-out garage from St. Petersburg.* A one-man act from the city that gave us the October Revolution, Отстой is crude and bratty. Yet beneath the brazen fuzztone fuckery lurks songs that are, uh, real songs: vocal phrasing that changes with the verses and choruses, squalling peaks and valleys, etc tc.

The first song wallows in dissonant tone waves before it jerks into what BrianJonestownMassacre mighta sounded like if they were a punk band recording on 4-track instead of a bunch of LA hipsters doing mountains of coke. It's got the same arrogant nonchalance and this guy manages to pull off some stellar guitar licks with too-cool-for-school wasteoid vocal stylin'. The next two songs are more of the same: crude, not stupid, garage rock filtered through a "whogivesafuck let's drop acid and record" sensibility. I have no idea if this guy is in fact an acid fan but this EP gives me the image of a bunch of people hangin' round on a cold winter's night guzzling vodka and getting fried on acid, babbling about how they should start a loud garageband pisstake on BJM. This is the result.


*Otstoy is just one of several hot bands coming out of St. Petersburg. Interested readers should check out this article on the Far From Moscow site for more information.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Grazhdanskaya Oborona-Optimizm LP (1985)

This was the first LP I posted when I started this blog (as Peachy Carnahan says in The Man Who Would be King, "Three summers. And a thousand years ago."). GrOb is a band I could spend a long time perorating about: why their music is so idiosyncratically brilliant; why they embody the 1980s as a cultural moment; why they made so much sense as a form of protest at a time when pop-music-as-protest had pretty much run its race in Europe & the States; and so on and so on....
....but as y'all know, that sort of pseudo-intellectual garble-gook is a waste of time. This is a brilliant album by a band that's still not very well known outside their motherland, despite Kevin DeBroux's heroic attempts to draw attention to them, including a feature in Vice Magazine. They should be as much a household name in the Anglophone punk world as venerated hardcore heroes like Bastard, Anti-Cimex, or Negazione.

They never will be a household name outside the Slavic-speaking/Cyrillic-reading world, though, by my guess. Why? It has nothing to do with language barriers, per se. Rather, it's because GrOb made fundamentally tender, vulnerable music with humor and dry wit and a sense of subtlety that's lost on people who just wanna be beaten over the head over and over and over when they listen to music. Which is basically everybody, from your average Katy Perry fan to kids drinking themselves stupid to Whitehouse: at the end of the day, what's the fucking difference between the two? One is offensively obvious and the other is obviously offensive, that's all.

GrOb is a rare band that resonates outside its language-group and, despite Igor Letov's turn to Great Russian chauvinism in the Yeltsin years, they remain an inspiration to dissidents and marginals everywhere. Like Ray Davies said long ago, "there's weirdos everywhere."

Listen to this piece of brilliance HERE! If anyone knows of recent re-issues of the GrOb LPs, please get in touch-I would happily buy and promote said reissues if they exist.*

Same goes for the Yanka Dyagileva LP, Aquarium, et. al. This stuff needs the sort of loving repressing already visited on nullnodes like the Exploited!

*Edit, 2.4.14: Re-up'd the file, this version should work!*

*Edit, 9.05.14: Re-up'd the file again, THIS should work.*

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Vagabonding (not slacking off)

An unforeseen series of fortuitous events led me upcountry to Italy's Wild East (and a great trip it was, thanks in part to the potent local liquors and the raucous natives), hence the lack of recent posts. I'll get back to regular reviews soon. In the meantime I'm putting another temporary freeze on new submissions. This is because I received about 20 review requests in the past week alone, on top of what has piled up since the new year, leaving me with around 30-odd records to get through. I'm gonna try to review everything that crosses my desk this year, but that means drastically paring down the amount of material I collect for review.

In 2014 I'd also like to incorporate more interviews and scene reports into the blog's usual repertoire of spiteful reviews, drunken mixes, and periodic ramblings about politics and such. One of the main goals of Drug Punk has always been to draw attention to neglected or little-known scenes, bands, and collectivities of weirdos. Maybe something like the scene reports in MRR, maybe something more informal like interviews with bands you think exemplify your local scene. Think you can write? Think your town's got the hot new noise for this baleful year of our lord? Got an amazing band no one's heard of but who should be interviewed? Get in touch, especially if you feel like writing about it yourself. I'm happy to post interviews and such in foreign languages.

Anyway, rambling aside, just wanted to thank everyone who's been reading Drug Punk since I started this thing back in 2011. Who would have thought I'd be around this long? Certainly not I. Like Ray Davies said back in the '70s, there's misfits everywhere and it's good to know that some of us are on the same page as far as obsessions, loves, hatreds, and other unhealthy passions go.

I'm gonna head off for a beer and a shower; in the meantime, enjoy one of my new favorite bands, The Chills, doing their knock-down-smash-it-up classic, "Pink Frost":