Spinnnn ... snap. Chamber loaded, safety off. You gotta be careful when you're walking the underground--those crazy punk kids are everywhere, and they're out for blood. But though thou walk through the valley of vinyl, thou shalt fear no evil, for Revolver is thy shepherd. Ear protectors on? Then just point, breathe and gently squeeeeze the trigger ...
Bam! Blink 182 is scheduled to play the Nile Theater on Thursday (and the Prescott fairgrounds the next day). The title single off Blink's latest release, Lemmings 7" (Grilled Cheese Records), is a terrific pop/punk song about (songwriter alert--breathtakingly original subject matter ahead) a painful breakup. One of the Bside cuts, "Going Nowhere," is slightly reminiscent of Operation Ivy's ranting vocals, and its hopeless attitude marks it as one of the greatest apathetic anthems for today's youth that came out last month. (Blink 182, 10113 Settle Road, Santee, CA 92071)
If you missed The Motards' March 24 in-store at Eastside Records, then you missed out, sucker. This Austin, Texas, outfit's self-titled LP on eMpTy Records (produced by northwest-based record guru Tim Kerr) rips through 18 songs in about 30 minutes, most of them first takes. These Texas hell-raisers are some mean-drunk punks, and even though three of the five guys in this band are librarians, they still sound like they were born to scare your mom. The Motards' song titles--"Drivin' Me to Drink," "You Make Me Sick," "Gotta Get Drunk," "Shut Yer Face," "Who Needs You Around"--tell you all you need to know about this record. If distorted, alcoholic antisocialism is your cup of poison, bust out the highlighter for this one. (The Motards, P.O. Box 4263, Austin, TX 78765; eMpTy Records, P.O. Box 12034, Seattle, WA 98102)
Girls Against Boys recently released "Super*Fire," the first single off House of GVSB. Get out your cigarettes and martinis for this suave serving of "ultrasoft, ultrafine" lounge-core. "Super*Fire" and "If Glamour Is Dead" make for an incredible seven-inch--full of attitude and panache. It's been rumored that these guys are signing on with a major, but this single and the album are both on Touch & Go.
If smoking jackets and red-velvet nightclubs are your style, you should check out the recent New Wet Kojak album (also on T&G). Backed up by members of GVSB and Shudder to Think, Kojak slows down the usual lounge-core sound and adds horns--with extraordinary results. (Touch & Go, P.O. Box 25520, Chicago, IL 60625)
Are you angry, little grrrl (or do you like angry little grrrls)? Then you already know Bikini Kill--the ultrafeminist progenitors of the riot grrrl movement. Out on the Olympia, Washington, label Kill Rock Stars, BK's latest sports two songs--"ILike Fucking" and "IHate Danger." Hmmm ... "I Like Fucking" from the same band that released "The Anti-Pleasure Dissertation"? Don't despair, riot fans, Bikini Kill isn't advocating wanton (read: "male-gratifying") promiscuity--"I Like Fucking" still pertains to society's (read: "male-gratifying") sexist attitudes toward women and the resulting problems with body image ("Does that mean my body/Must always be a source of pain?"). On "Fucking," BK puts the evil in a harsh light, then takes a Camille Paglia stab at exorcising it ("I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe"). "I Hate Danger," the flip side, is a little tune about (surprise!) a lame boyfriend, intelligently written by drummer (and ex-Kurt Cobain girlfriend) Toby Vail. (Kill Rock Stars, 120 NE State Street, Olympia, WA 98501)
Northwest legends The Wipers have a new LP, The Herd, on Zeno and Tim Kerr Records (front man Greg Sage, by the way, is now a Phoenix local and runs Zeno Records). Sadly, The Herd is a disappointment that lives down to its name. We've come to expect more from any record bearing the Wipers moniker, but this one comes off as a mediocre guitar-rock album at best. If you know and love the Wipers from the Return of the Rat tribute album (the one with covers by Nirvana, Hole, etc.), be warned--there are no tribute-worthy tunes here, just pure cheese. Memo to Greg: Leave the guitar-god riffing to the hair bands from now on. (Zeno Records, P.O. Box 3081, Tempe, AZ 85280; Tim Kerr Records, P.O. Box 42423, Portland, OR 97242)
If you long for the days when punk rock was simple and "alternative" meant using strawberry jam instead of grape, then Blanks '77's new five-inch, On Speed (Headache Records), has the substance for you. The Blanks play straight-up, early 80s, Brit-style pogo-punk, and the songs, "Up All Night" and "Max Alert," have more energy than a bottle of ephedrine. Put this on and just try not to bounce. Unfortunately, these pesky five-inch records don't play on some automatic turntables, and they cost a buck or two more than your average seven-inch, but if you're gonna buy one anyway, this is it. (Blanks '77, 1303 Myrtle St., Hillside, NJ 07205)
No matter how hard-core, conservative or country-western you are, no one can resist a great pop song, and Halo Benders have more than a few for you on Don't Tell Me Now, the band's second full-length album. A sort-of indie supergroup made of northwest producer extraordinaire Steve Fisk and members from Built to Spill and Violent Green, the Benders establish themselves as more than just another side project. "Magic Carpet Rider" and "Halo Bender" stand out as the best examples of the multiple lo-fi pop masterpieces on this killer album. (K Records, P.O. Box 7154, Olympia, WA 98507)
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Oh my God, another supergroup project. ... This one is by Molly Neuman from the squealy riot grrrl band Bratmobile, Chris Appelgren of Lookout! Records, and Carlos and Rop from those punky East Bay kids in Rice. Together they are the PeeChees, and their first LP (after 3 EPs), Do the Math, just came out on Kill Rock Stars. That pop-punk word is getting a little Rancid (ouch), so we'll call this one "melodic hard-core." Molly's drumming has gotten faster and tighter since her Bratmobile/Frumpies days, and this combination of talents is a prime example of how East Bay p-rock came by its hipster reputation. Highlights include the instrumental, almost rockabilly groove of "Cloud Fantasy," and a stark-relief take on the grim sentiments of the early 20s punk crowd in "Beer City": "You're getting older now/I am too/Take a place in Beer City/With nothing left to do." Score yourself ten true-punk points if this LP winds up in your collection.
The Criminals, featuring the vocalist from Gilman Street legends Blatz and the Gr'ups, recently released a ten-inch on Recess Records (F.Y.P singer Todd Congiliere's label) that blows away anything Berkeley neighbors Rancid and Green Day have (or have had) to offer. This band is a welcome return to punk rock's whiskey-and-fistfights yesteryear. "Punk Rock Meat Market" is a hilarious take on the p-rock singles scene, and almost anyone will dig "Johnny Mneumonia," a charming little ditty about "the world's sickest roadie." The record ends with "My Hobbie Is Abuse," which explores the connection among youth, boredom and smashing bottles. (Criminals, P.O. Box 40004, Berkeley, CA 94704)
Click, click. Looks like it's time to reload. I'm puttin' on a blindfold next time--so be ready to duck on April 11.