Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Remain in Memory

“In Hell they watch Heaven on television”

Vic Bondi

The record collection got divided up after he disappeared.The collection, each piece with its own clear plastic sleeve, lived in a closet with wooden sliding doors. It was small, seventy-five LP’s and a few dozen singles but packed with the unknown.

“You wanna hear some culture?” the collection’s curator would say, flashing his smiley-face grin, before dropping a black platter under the diamond needle and then gently lowering the clear plastic dust cover. Garbled, tinny anger burst forth. I listened while poring over the sleeves.

For a twelve-year old Pink Floyd fan in the early eighties, it was like an unheard subterranean culture cracked open wide in that messy suburban room full of gig posters, Mad magazines and music, music, music.

The albums (other than Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind hidden at the back) were so unusual as to not seem like records at all but more like placards. Each stark cover, whether made-up of cut-up stock photos, primitive drawings or merely a spraypaint-ready logo, carried blunt words - Wargasm, The Blood, The Freeze, Flex Your Head, Articles of Faith. The first album in the box ,with its bloody Christmas image, always stopped me.

Since the curator was a lender, I eventually wedged the unrelenting fury of that album, Give Thanks by Chicago's Articles of Faith, into my knapsack.

Give Thanks starts with a scream and a drum explosion. Than it gets mad, as “I Objectify” proves. If anything, the acoustic track “Every Man for Himself” intensifies the unrelenting attack on American Excess. Next, however non-chronologically, came the "What We Want is Free” 7"which unleashed a gut-churning fury that does not fade with time.


I followed singer/songwriter/guitarist Vic Bondi through the anguished and punishing AOF swan song, In This Life. Then Vic quieted down till 1989’s Words and Days by his next band Jones Very (with Jeff Goddard on bass and James Van Braemar on drums). Words and Days has sparse packaging but is packed full of Vic’s raspy howl and electric and acoustic guitars that join the screaming chorus. “Yesterday in the Western World” is the fist-waver, “Desperation Bends” the ballad, “Jesus…I” the tense builder and "Cut' will do just that - listen with caution because the intensity is relentless.

Jones Very - Words and Days

Follow the links for so much Vic history and buy his available music here and here. Now!

As for me, I will hear no more culture from the curator because he ended his own life but what he played – stayed. For that, I’ll give thanks and continue to curate.


Jesus Wolf Jacket

MRML’s one-year anniversary is upon us and how else to celebrate but to reflect back upon you, the almost 50,000 viewers, and how you got here. For our some anniversary assineness I've collected my twelve favourite search results that brought you to me. (Yes , I check Site Meter's referral section devoutly. .)

Comments are now required under International Law, Section 19

12. paul westerberg heroin use

(Celebrity drug abuse always pulls in the hits. )

11. stucco ruined by ice

(Nothing on siding here – move along)

10. obssesion with pain sexually

(Ilsa the e-dominatrix will field this one)

9. beware of strange voices in the wilderness reggae

(Great, now I’ve got to add ‘wilderness reggae’ to the list of things that keep me up at night)

8. merry men piece notes og guitar

(I make search typos too – though I don’t follow the links on them often enough)

7. I Ruined Tuesday Music

(Wednesday Music emerged unscathed)

6. download sex

(Technology has not kept pace with someone’s masturbatory needs)

5. british boy band early 90's sing french wiki pop music

(Clearly multiple searches Frankensteined together)

4. wav+Hey You ruined my record, man, I just bought it

(Now I want to find the wav file too...)

3. time of my life album includes what songs

(Ah the Magic Eight Ball kinda search)

2. text of:nothing to do (winnie pooh

(The Existentialist Tao of Pooh)

1. music songs with polka lyrics jesus wolf jacket.

(Did someone make a random search generator and not inform Boing Boing?)

Thanks for stopping by one and all - if you have an incredible search of your own ADD IT!.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I Wanna Hate It

Ireland’s Andy McCarroll was one of a thousands folkies turned “new wavers” like Debbie Harry, John Hiatt and Tom Robinson. In 1980 Andy McCarroll and Moral Support made a new wave power-pop gem that remains buried in the Christian rock ghetto. That sucks. Zionic Bonds is a rippling record; witness the punk rock sturm and drang of “How the Kids Are Feelin’, the power-pop backing vocals on “Sin”, the new wave synth-beeps on “Slippin’ and Slidin’” plus the obligatory reggata de blanc of “In Control”. This album fits in perfectly with the whole punky power-pop sound of the Undertones and all the Good Vibrations bands (Rudi, Protext, Moondogs etc.) that briefly dominated Ireland . The lyrics, particularly the accusatory “I Am Human”, may annoy but they follow the same sort of “Society’s messed up – let’s rock” attitude so common at the time. Who'da guessed this would influence U2 so much?


The obscurity-lovin’ series Every One A Classic (Punk Mod Powerpop) included “Just Where It's At Tonight” on Vol.4, which has been added as a bonus track for your ed-if-i-cation.

This link implies that a CDR of this album is available. I’ll order a copy and report back on its quality. My hope is that maybe we’ll steer some new customers their way. If necessary this link will be removed...


UPDATE: 'Unofficial' remix available HERE!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Break in My Head

In the eighties when defiance to immediate authority (mostly teachers, parents and religious types) was a defining characteristic of punk, I switched allegiances and turned from staunch atheist to devout Christian. I can still recall hackles rising as I stomped though church in my combat boots and ratty army jacket. You see conversions are secretly messy affairs...

Well, I could talk theology or I could talk music…

Music it is then.

I learned immediately that to conservative Christians, music is God’s province and non-believers’ work is seen as a satanic incursion. Hence the record burnings – destroy what is not of God and only God will remain. And Pat Boone. Pat Boone’s name is still as synonymous with white Christian America’s cultural debasement as Quisling’s name is with treason. Well Christian Rock has continued to advocate for the Pat Boonification of popular culture. The Christian executives of Nashville (yup, they love mediocrity in a big way in that town) have taken Cool-Whip, strained it through a cheesecloth and added more high-fructose corn syrup. Such is their dedication that at one point Christian bookstores possessed a chart wherein hundreds of worldly bands could be lined up to find their Christian Rock facsimile.

So I, under some pressure, ridded myself of my so-called secular albums, (except the Violent Femmes) and bought a hundred Christian Rock LP’s in hopes of finding some spark of life in those grooves. They were few and far between. I kept a few of those records over the following decades for a clutch of reasons though hardly any deserve a wider audience. (Blogs being about ultra-narrow-casting it could be a fascinating niche.)

Southern California’s Lifesavors (a Mike Knott related band) should be considered by devotees of late seventies punk/new wave/mod obscurica. They have ripping hooks, bashing tempos and terrible lyrics (American power-was often weak on the word).

Side one of Us Kids is vintage pop-punk; beginning with the fifty-five second accusation “Where Are You Going?” - no song on side one breaks the two-minute mark! Songs like “Oh Yeah” sound as if Generation X had decamped to Orange County (and stocked up on apocalyptic tracts). Side two is the new wave set. “Operation” manages to be faux-English and cod-ska all at once, while “I Am” aims for power-pop. It’s all hummable but the bumper sticker theology grates more at lower speeds.


Illustrating their allegiance to the punk/new wave dynamic, the Lifesavors even recorded a problematic follow-up. On Dream Life the power-pop songs, like “Break in My Head” and “Physical”, are pillowier while the two ragers, “Glamour Girls” and “I’m Not”, are faster and meaner then anything on the debut. The lyrics have not improved (that did happen when Mike Knott took over) but musically it’s still grittier than most American power-pop of its time. That’s what I thought in ’86 and I remain convinced.


Download Us Kids

Download Dream Life

Monday, July 14, 2008

Notes, Chords and Me

My first guitar was a black, splatter-painted, imitation Gibson with three strings. It was also my last guitar. In the first blush of infatuation, I attacked that guitar with fingers and pick but nothing coherent emerged from that machine, even after I upgraded to a full brace of strings.

I kept that guitar till one day, in a pique of failure-induced nausea, I lashed out at the beast: first with a hammer, then with a jagged rock before finally pitching it out the window of my third-story apartment. When it hit the ground, the neck snapped off with a satisfying twang. It gave me a new respect for the work of Pete Townsend.

So what song did I imagine playing both while strumming and while destroying? Why, Notes and Chords Mean Nothing to Me by Red Cross of course.


I’m only mildly acquainted with Red Krossridiculous yet perverse history, so I encourage you to peruse the story as soon as we’re done talking about me.

After they became Redd Kross and issued the oft-loved “Neurotica” people raved, “They’re like an ironic bubblegum Kiss”. But without songs it all just seemed so arch. So after years of ignoring the Brothers McDonald, last week I had “Show World” rammed down my throat (not entirely metaphorically). And it rocked. For this album Redd Kross made their (third or fourth) grab at the brass ring, missed it and clenched something all together better. Instead of Ironic-Bubblegum-Kiss, it’s actual power-pop – the often fey American version but rocked out beyond Cheap Trick’s dream.

This album may dally with 1990’s production values (see the intro to “Kiss the Goat” or don’t) but it’s always the 1970’s in the McDonald’s universe. What’s fascinating for the listener is how many wildly disparate elements of that decade’s flotsam and jetsam they’re willing to pinch. Pretty Please Me is stolen from the mid-70’s LA wuss-pop legends the Quick, layered bubblegum choruses buoy even the weaker tracks such as Teen Competition and the Carpenters re-appear on the string-accompanied Secret Life while Get Out of Myself emulates the ’79 power-pop rockers the Records. Even the ever-present Beatles-isms, like Lied Again and Mess Around seem copped from the hit-after-hit-after-hit Red and Blue comps of 1973.

So what was Red Kross’ reward for putting out the greatest album of their career? Indigence, indifference and an indefinite hiatus. Things may be changing now, Borack chose Show World for his Best 200 Power-Pop Album list (though it remains out-of-print) and the band is preparing a new album and I’m willing to admit that despite my attempts to play the ukulele, the piano, the guitar and the bass that I remain simply a listener.


And for obsessives (which is MRML's target audience after all) here's, "Black Shampoo" a bootleg of the "Show World" demos.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

In the Next Breath

As Og faded, (and beware of the thorough, yet dubious history of Canadian indie-rock know as “Have Not Been the Same”) so did their CBC-styled vision of a pan-Canadian retro-punk nation. Og had bands from the breadth of the country, even if the heartland (Quebec and Ontario) dominated. Blatant regionalism was looming, with the East Coast bands bringing boring back via Sub-Poop (I actually typed that, then childishly refused to correct it).

Happily, in the wake of the Doughboys and (more pertinently, Lookout Records) little pop-punk scenes flourished all over in the early 90’s (see this post for Bum and the Doughboys goodness – even if that sounds a little dirty).

Ontario had its share of also-rans. The Stand GT, Crash 13 and Bender (who came into being before Matt Groening made an internet search of their name a quagmire) all appeared on comps, put out singles and toured the Great White Wasteland. Bender (Shawn Berger - Guitar/Vocals - Kevin James - Bass/Backing Vocals - Andrew McNenly - Drums) put out their 1994 album Funny Kar on Ringing Ear Records which specialized in bantam-weight pop like Sinkhole. This album's best hooks lie buried just beneath the chugging guitars so listen in till you can sing along to little anthems like "Don't Say No"- like a good Canadian.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Let ICFC Die

It Came From Canada Five killed the series. It wasn’t the quality of the entry: each of which rocks (my personal preference for numero four aside). Instead, like almost every one of their bands, the label found they had emptied the cultural morgue. Even Deja Voodoo showed contempt for nostalgia in its final track, “Let Elvis Die.” The many highlights of this final volume include RipcordZ (described by Gerald as “‘77 punk with ‘66 chord progressions”) who are one of the few ICFC bands to have never quit (Paul Gott cannot be killed), the hyped up-country of Hard Rock Miners (whose Michael Turner wrote the brilliant poem-novel Hardcore Logo). As well, Gordon Lightfoot finally shows up in the form of the Supreme Bagg Team’s rocked-out cover of “If You Could Read My Mind”, 64 Funycars ape The Dik Van Dykes (we here at MRML can appreciate an homage to an homage) and pop-punk rears its bespectacled head in the form of the Stand GT (more later). Taken as a whole, it’s a suitable epitaph.

In 1989 Og died, shot in the head by the indifference of their era. If only they could have seen the indie-grave-robbing orgy that was coming - in which case they might’ve pulled the trigger themselves!

Download V. 5