April 29, 2009

Escape and Run

7 Seconds

By the late 80s, 7 Seconds' sharp hardcore edge had been dulled considerably. Gone were the fast tempos and crunchy guitars, and in their place were shimmery, overprocessed guitar jangles and catchy, mid-tempo melodies. But hey, that's all right. Their transition album was New Wind, which, while a departure from their earlier sound, still managed to produce a coupl'a their best tracks (most notably "Still Believe" and the title track). Ourselves, the third record after Walk Together, Rock Together, is the most fully realized of their indie-pop sound. Frankly, Kevin Seconds voice is pretty well suited to this style anyway. And while it's hard to compare it to the aforementioned posi-core masterpiece, it is still very good for what it is. With a different production, this album could've been an influential piece of emo-core history (I definitely hear a little Texas is the Reason in "Escape and Run"...or I guess the other way around...whatever). One odd note is how the band seems to be publicly saying goodbye to their hardcore roots on the final track on this album, "Seven Years", which not only features the refrain "Why'd it take so long? It's time to move along," but also revives the line "If we can walk together, why can't we rock together." And then they dropped the pop thing and went back to playing hardcore like 3 years later for their next album, Out the Shizzy. So maybe what was meant to be closing the door on their hardcore years was actually closing the door on this little jangle pop experiment.

Either way, this is a good album from a somewhat wrongly maligned time in 7 Seconds' career. Listen w/ an open mind.


April 23, 2009

Atomic Harvest

Anti-Nowhere League
The Perfect Crime

The last two records I've posted have included words like "fantastic", "great", and "pleasantly surprised" in their descriptions. Let me contrast those two entries with this one, Anti-Nowhere League's sophomore release, The Perfect Crime. It's not very good. If you've been paying attention to this blog, you know I'm generally a fan of albums by bands that are, for whatever reason, different than the rest of their catalog. In this case, ANL traded in their street-punk origins for slick synths and catchy, sing-a-long choruses. It's not a total failure; a few of these songs are really good. But they can't decide if they want to be Big Country/Midnight Oil-esque new wave rock, Bauhaus style goth rock, or cheesy 80s soundtrack pop. There's a little of all three in just about every song. Still, "Crime", "The Shining", and "System" are all pretty good.

Anyway, the band broke up during/after this record and didn't reform until Metallica covered one of their earlier punk gems, "So What", on their Garage, Inc. comp.

I had this on cassette back in the day and sold it for 1 dollar at Wax'n'Facts in Atlanta.

The Perfect Crime

April 18, 2009

Stoned in the Bathroom

Chubby Checker
Chubby Checker

This is going to blow your mind. A friend of mine turned me on to this record just last week by pointing me to Cousin Mike's blog, and I haven't been so pleasantly surprised in some time. You know the name Chubby Checker, right? He's the guy who did "The Twist", "Let's Twist Again", "Twist it Up", "The Peppermint Twist", "Twist and Shout", "Twist of Cain", "Twisted Sister", and was the inspiration for the 1996 Jan de Bont film Twister. But after his pop career faded, and before he resigned himself to the oldies circuit, he apparently decided to experiment a little (in more ways than one, presumably). This psych/garage/blues record never got a US release, but was recorded in Holland and released on a few budget labels over there. Nine of the Eleven songs were written by Checker himself, and let me just stress how good this stuff is. The first two tracks will convince you.

Check out Cousin Mike, too. Tons of great stuff there.

Chubby Checker

April 11, 2009

What's In A Name?

Bullet LaVolta

In 1991, I went with a few friends to see Prong and C.O.C. While we were driving up to the club, one of the guys in the car informs us that C.O.C. had revamped their lineup and changed their sound. We had no idea. We were all pretty disappointed by the new C.O.C., and unfortunately my friend Corey's curfew meant that we actually left literally moments before Prong's first song (I could hear them playing as we got into the car, and I was crushed). But the night wasn't a complete loss, because the first band on the bill was this odd punk/metal/rock band called Bullet LaVolta. The thing about Bullet LaVolta, though, is that I've struggled since that time to accurately describe their sound. When I say punk/metal/rock, you get a certain image in your mind, I'm sure. Well they don't sound anything like that. They are technically proficient, yet the songs are straightforward and melodic. They are full of piss and vinegar, but they're certainly not your simple three-chords-and-three-minutes affairs. Grunge? Alternative? I really just don't know. I could see some similarities, maybe, to early Smashing Pumpkins, but way cleaned up and way more technical. Allmusic tries to peg them as emo, and I can tell you flat out that that's 100% incorrect. But the point is, this is a fantastic record. Like really fantastic.

They put out two full-lengths, and ep, and a live record, and this one (their second full-length) is by far the best. None of their records are in print now. Guitarist Clay Tarver went on to play with Chavez, and other guitarist Corey Brennan (not the same Corey who's curfew caused me to miss Prong, though that Corey did go on to play in a pretty popular acousticy-folk duo you might've, possibly, heard of) played with the Lemonheads. Their singer, Yukkie Gipe, is now in a garage band called The Konks, but they don't do much for me. It's nothing personal, Yukkie.


April 4, 2009

Structure and Function

The Vindictives

All right, so The Vindictives were poised to take the pop-punk torch from The Queers (who took it from Screeching Weasel, but then, I guess, gave it back a few years later), but they kind of fizzled before they could do anything with it. I don't know all the details, but severe depression was involved. Regardless, they certainly never made the most of the opportunities they had. Whatever. In 99 they released their only full-length, and it's the sort of almost-genius that makes you wonder what they could've done if they'd made it just a little farther along on the popularity/monetary scale. Hypno-Punko is not just a concept album, it's a concept. And though it never quite hits the high point it aims for, "In Pursuit" comes close, and some of the harmonies are flat-out bonkers. You can cut out some of the filler and end up with a phenomenal average-length record. I'm not sure why they decided to add all the crap. I mean, if we're being honest here, this record doesn't hold a candle to their singles (and there are a shitload of them). But hey! Listen to the "I Will Not"s in succession and feel PUNK. That's what I do.

Remind me to tell you some time of the trip I was on when I bought this record. It involved three states, a sink found on the side of the road with a face drawn in the bowl, an incredibly hot girl singing Jefferson Airplane at karaoke, Ricobenes, and an early 90s Mercury Grand Marquis.