Shit-Fi Mixtape #5
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Since the old-timer wierdos don’t have the market cornered on shit music, I figured it was worth a shot to assemble a mix tape of cruddy punk made by folks who weren’t quite a twinkle in their parents’ eyes when Dee Dee met Joey. As all things shitty should be, this tape was hastily assembled and sounds a bit like a third-generation dub. My mistake, but it sounds good if you crank it.
With its fuzzy mess of a guitar track and “found” percussion, The Reatards “You Got So Much Soul” seems a fitting opener. Their debut EP, from which this track is taken, was recorded when the group was just one fellow with a healthy Oblivians obsession; these early recordings are an amateur wreck, which puts them leagues above their peers in my eyes. Until discovering Sad Sack’s “Heinous Bitch” single, my immediate mental association with the upstate college town New Paltz, NY, was a sidewalk lined with bead-selling hippies. Stereotype or not, perhaps this single, dirgey and mean, was somewhat of a reaction to the town’s atmosphere. The Ginn-esque guitar leads, Soxx-ish vocals, tin-can drum machine, and layers of sludge are a true joy to listen to. Few bands strike me as being from the wrong era as much as the Icky Boyfriends. Fifteen years in either direction may have seen a warmer reception for their sardonic sound, as I’m not so sure it gelled with the SF scene of the time. “What We Had” was released in 1992 on their “Miss Nevada” single and later reappeared on their first album, “I’m Not Fascinating.” In addition to these and a handful of other releases, the Boyfriends also starred in the world’s greatest rocknroll move, I’m Not Fascinating by Danny Plotnick. Monster Truck Five were perhaps the noisiest of bands to emerge from the Columbus, Ohio, scene of the early 90s. Their needles-in-the-red, wall-of-sound take on Mike Rep & the Quotas’ “Rocket Music On” is among my all-time favorite covers. Recorded in a dorm room in Austin, TX, and released in a micropressing of 45 copies, “Crosswalk” by the Nubees is a benchmark of lofi punk in the 90s. This is the perfection of the “bang on what you can find while I crank up the practice amp” approach! Though the Action Swingers would have a long career with a rotating cast of players, they never sounded as good as on their debut single from 1989, “Kicked in the Head.” The song, with its buzz riffing and primary school drumming, provides a hypnotic skeleton for guitarist Ned Hayden’s spastic, off the wall soloing. This track is an undeniable classic. “Model Citizen (Nitroglycerine)” is Monoshock’s most off-the-hook moment and, consequently, my favorite. From Oakland, CA, the band released a couple of singles, a double album, and members were involved in other bands such as noise-makers Liquorball, the brutal, free-form Sternklang, and current rockers The Bad Trips. The only track on this mix recorded in the last eight years, Home Blitz’s “Apocalyptic Grades 2005 A. D.” is just too good to ignore. Informed by a voluminous musical lexicon, this first Home Blitz single was a one-man effort that seemed to come out of nowhere and was clever and catchy enough to bring a tear to the eyes of even the most jaded among us. It seems that Mindburger was the brainchild of a 60s rocknroll enthusiast (and, I believe, record dealer) from the Chicago metro area. Twenty-five years too late, “Reflections of Infinity,” the A-side to his 1991 single, is a spectacular garage-psych track. The sleeve mentions an upcoming album but so far I haven’t been able to find any evidence that it exists. New Orleans’ Persuaders’ 1997 debut EP is a fine slab of teenage trash. The distorted vocals on “Southern Wine” and dirty recording carry this one. Front-man King Louie has played in countless other bands, but his earlier singles as a one-man band may be particularly appealing to fans of primitive shit rock. I particularly like how the Evolutions transformed “Band Aid” from the Trend’s punk-pop original into this blown-out, disgusting mess. Members had previously played in Last Sons of Krypton but the Evolutions’ all-treble noise upped the ante. This track is from their 2000 single on Yakisakana Records. Unlike the previous track, I don’t get the impression that The Fingers were trying to destroy “First Time” (The Boys). Instead, it seems as though they were striving for power pop but weren’t quite adept enough to get there. Thankfully, I prefer shit-sounding trash rock any day! From Ontario, The Earthlings released one mighty fine single in 1995 (recorded straight to VCR!!!). They’d play gigs decked out in full space suits but it’s the fuzzy guitar and immature, otherworldly (perhaps a little out of breath) vocals that really win me over. Along with the Fingers and Mummies, Supercharger were instrumental in forging a no-talent, lo-fi aesthetic that’d be adopted worldwide during the mid-90s garage rock explosion. From 1992, “Icepick” is about as good as they—or anyone who followed—got. Following Supercharger’s breakup, guitarist Darin and drummer Karen formed The Brentwoods, a budget-rock version of a 60s girl group. “Little Barfy Bobby” is off of their “Fun in South City” album. As much UK mod as 77 punk, “Speed” by, um, Speed is one of the finest tunes I’ve had the pleasure to hear. A raw little rocker with androgynous vocals, these German lads could sure write a song. Up in Maine, Jumpin’ Beans and Willie has cranked out a slew of challenging, abrasive singles. “Bus Driver” has the boys pounding and yelping over a sludge of distortion. A one-off band featuring veterans of outsider rock (TJSA, MR&Q, Gibson Bros, Vertical Slit, etc.), Ego Summit released one fantastic album on Mike Rep’s Old Age label that runs the stylistic gamut without straying from its rough, honest aesthetic. “Black Hole” is the most aggressive track on the album, which I thought would fit better in this mix, though “Half Off” or “We Got It All” may be even better.