Los Angeles Post-Punk, Vol. 4
Abecedarians, Angel Of The Odd, Autumnfair, Christian Death, Eddie & The Subtitles, Ethyl Meatplow, Fender Buddies, Gothic Hut, Grey Obscurity, Information , League of Nations, Los Illegals, Marina Swingers, Marnie, Newsbreak, Noble Gas, Nocturnal Education, Nu Beams, Opus, Peter and Mary Saving Grace, Pompeii 99, Psi Com, Red Wedding, Slow Children, Standard Of Living, Steaming Coils, Tex & The Horseheads, The Cramps, The Fibonaccis, The Nerves, The Rotters, The Runaways, The Salvation Army, The Untouchables, Vidiots, What Is This, Wog.
|The Marina Swingers, I'm a Swinger 12" (L.A.X., 1979)|
|Steaming Coils, Breaded (Nate Starkman & Son, 1991 [recorded 1987])|
This set starts with a true rarity from the Marina Swingers, who have since reformed and are distributing new tracks on their MySpace page. Another rarity, from a band that also only ever released a single, is from the proto-grunge Opus, about whom nobody seems to know anything except that they had an exception cover design for their single. The Rotters, pretty much a "punk" band with (I think) fake English accents, show up with a single that was banned from KROQ for understandable reasons.
There's some relatively lo-fi New Wave here in the form of Grey Obscurity, Newsbreak, Wog, Nocturnal Education, and Information as well as some more polished work by Slow Children (who had a few hits in their day) and League of Nations, and a haunting track by Autumnfair, yet another offshoot of Savage Republic, and from whom a CD comp of their work (no LP was released) is commercially available.
In the LA post-punk retro category are the Cramps (with a track they probably recorded in New York), Tex & The Horseheads -- one of my favorite recent discoveries, whose lead singer Texacala is a total original (Google her images since I'm no longer posting photos here) -- and Eddie and the Subtitles. Actually, this last band's first album jumps from proto-hardcore to Orbison-esque crooning to Wire-esque art punk to rockabilly to some things completely undefinable from track to track. This was one of Rikk Agnew's favorite bands back in the day, which is excuse enough to include three tracks of theirs.
On the more purely avant-garde side are a very quiet, beautiful track from Marnie Weber (a little late in the chronology), some interesting nonsense from Peter and Mary Saving Grace, about whom I can discover nothing (except that they might be from San Francisco), a noisy track from Standard of Living along with a hypnotic cover, Fender Buddies (the only track of theirs I could locate), Vidiots (who have also revived and have a MySpace page), and yet another little gem from Steaming Coils. Angel of the Odd was a strange band led, in their later years, by the late performance poet Cecilia± — yet another woman (along with the smattering from the last set) who crossed over from performance to quasi-pop music.
Red Wedding was brought to my attention by members of Outer Circle and Dogma Probe. Their first EP was recorded over a single weekend with one vocal take, but I think it sounds great, while their second one is more polished and atmospheric but less quirky. Michael and Spider from this band, known as the "first openly gay punk band" in Los Angeles, are still making music through a variety of projects.
Gothic Hut was the musical project of Posh Boy graphic artist Kevin J. Walker. I haven't yet heard the two LPs that followed their debut, which resembles more the music of pre-punk art bands from the U.K. and Germany, but they're on the way. Ethyl Meatplow was a band known for their "sexually explicit, burlesque-inspired"live performances that turned off Kim Gordon, and had a minor hit in 1993 with "Ripened Peach," which is worth checking out on YouTube.
Bands you've seen before include Nu Beams, The Child Molesters, Pompeii 99, Christian Death (the Rikk Agnew version, whose work is sublime on this track), and Abecedarians with a track that didn't appear on either of their EPs. I've included one of the Fibonaccis more mischievous tracks which perhaps sounds more like what they were known for, quirky, polished lounge music (just verging on novelty act).
The band What Is This? was closely related to the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in the day and swapped a lot of members before settling down (I think Flea might have even played for them). This is an unbelievably gorgeous track. The Untouchables were the first Los Angeles ska band (after the Boxcars, who appear in an earlier set) and set off something of a mod revival here. Los Illegals are, along with the Plugz and the Brat, the best known Chicano punk bands from this period, led by muralist Willie Heron who might be better known for being a part of the artist collective ASCO (recent retrospective at LACMA).
Noble Gas is an act I discovered while reading blog comments for the band Android (who appears earlier) who shared studio space with them back in the day. Just as I was reading their website I got friended by Mike "Molecular Persuader" Lutgen, one half of band (his wife Lily "Thetaloops" the other), who have since moved on to New Jersey. Mike digitized one of the tracks from their first published cassette "Invaders from Earth," which I'd love to hear in its entirety.
Lastly are the bands most of you have heard of. Psi Com was Perry Farrell's first band before Jane's Addiction, while "Hanging on the Telephone" was the hit song by Blondie, here performed by the band that wrote the track. I love this Runaways song so tossed it in here since I doubt there are any more "arty" tracks by them available. The Salvation Army is an early version of The Three O'Clock, a band usually associated with the Paisley Underground (their singer, Michael Quercio, coined the term) but whose dedication to that very British form of mod-pop I think borders on pathological (which means, good).
I don't know how much longer I can leave this material up before I get into serious trouble, so please download soon! I hope to have one final volume in about a month, so stay tuned.