Monday, July 16, 2012

Los Angeles Post-Punk, Vol. 9


Featured Acts:

100 Flowers, 17 Pygmies, 20/20, Afterimage, Alfalfa, Ann DeJarnett, Celebrity Skin, Chas Smith, Che Blammo, Dennis Duck, Extruders, Fourwaycross, God And The State, Hilary, Hundredth Monkey, Jetzons, John Trubee, Johnny Chingas, Lotus Lame And The Lame Flames, Luther Davis Group, Marc Monroe, Mark Lane, Moebius, New Marines, Nick Paine, Owned By the Public, Page Croft, Passionel, Penetrators, Q, Red Temple Spirits, Subjects, The Deadbeats, The Pandoras, The Romans, The Signals, The Three O'Clock, The Tikis, The Tweezers, The Wake, Tiger Lily, To Nije Sala, Urinals

Che Blammo, Rock Moderne 7" (Permanent, 1982)
Disk 1
1 Urinals — Surfin' With The Shah (1979) 2:42
2 Lotus Lame And The Lame Flames — Bad Sex (1983) 3:40
3 Passionel — Make Like You Like It (1985) 3:56
4 Ann DeJarnett — Baptism by Fire (1987) 4:09
5 Che Blammo — Stupid for Your Love (1981) 3:07
6 Hundredth Monkey — Mute Lament (1986) 4:50
7 The Pandoras — Hot Generation (1984) 2:16
8 Fourwaycross — When Will You (1985) 3:46
9 100 Flowers — All Sexed Up (1983) 2:43
10 God And The State — My Name Is Mud (1985) 2:42
11 The Deadbeats — Let's Kill More Hippies Like We Did Last Summer (1996) 2:34
12 17 Pygmies — Drunkard (1988) 3:00
13 The Tweezers — Loveable and Fearless (1985) 4:30
14 Q — Sushi (fragments) (1982) 1:54
15 John Trubee — Blind Man's Penis (1976) 1:41
16 Extruders — Street Avenger (1981) 3:35
17 Solid State — Owned By the Public (1982) 7:16
18 Celebrity Skin — Introduction (1991) 3:09
19 Marc Monroe and Silentype — Shovelin' The Snow (1982) 4:04
20 Urinals — Dead Flowers (1979) 0:56
21 100 Flowers — 100 Flowers (1983) 1:09
22 Page Croft — You Hold Nothing (1978) 3:49
23 Alfalfa — Lucky Guy (1985) 3:32
24 To Nije Sala — Dog Trail (1989) 4:08
25 The Wake — Lion's Heart (1985) 1:59

Moebius, Moebius (Moonwind Records, 1979)
Disk 2
26 Dennis Duck — Dennis Duck Goes Disco - Intro (1977) 1:27
27 Hilary — Goose Step, Two Step (1983) 3:37
28 New Marines — I Like Baseball (1980) 2:31
29 Tiger Lily — Die Laughing (1984) 3:42
30 The Three O'Clock — Mind Gardens (1981) 2:43
31 Mark Lane — Sojourn (1981) 6:41
32 Subjects — I'm Mechanical (1982) 3:18
33 Penetrators — Sensitive Boy (1979) 3:27
34 The Romans — Big Neck (1983) 1:46
35 20/20 — American Dream (1981) 4:56
36 Jetzons — You (1982) 3:19
37 Nick Paine — Solid State (1985) 3:23
38 The Tikis — Junie (1981) 2:04
39 Moebius — Money (1979) 5:31
40 100 Flowers — Our Fallout (1983) 2:29
41 Luther Davis Group — To Be Free (1979) 3:55
42 Afterimage — Strange Confession (1984) 2:47
43 The Signals — Person to Person (1984) 2:43
44 Johnny Chingas — Phone Home (1982) 8:37
45 Hilary — Drop Your Pants (1983) 3:25
46 Red Temple Spirits — Lost In Dreaming (1988) 4:46
47 Chas Smith — October '68 (1982) 4:44

Notes for Disk 1:

I thought I had included some tracks from 100 Flowers earlier in this series but I actually hadn’t. They are probably the most significant and quintessentially “post-punk” band in Los Angeles, having a sound that can waver between Gang of Four chunky white funk, Wire’s clipped song structures and enigmatic lyrics, the more typically LA Dada puerility of their song titles and subjects (the first version of the band, formed when the members were still students at UCLA, was the Urinals — and it’s the name they use now!), the also very-LA layered primitive percussion, and even in their DIY publishing aesthetics — their label, Happy Squid Records, was responsible for getting a number of underground acts some attention, especially via their compilation, Keats Rides a Harley, an expanded CD edition of which is still available.

Urinals/100 Flowers were a big influence on the Minutemen in particular, maybe the explanation why the Minutemen can get away with being so “arty” while also keeping it real with the hardcore crowd. So here they are, belatedly. The smallish output of the Urinals and 100 Flowers is all very excellent,  beginning to end. The band some members formed afterwards, Trotsky Icepick, runs to 5 LPs and is less challenging and a bit more uneven. The band God and the State, included the drummer from Urinals/100 Flowers. Most of their posthumous LP is kind of gritty PIL-like instrumentals with lyrics uttered over it (and with some nice guitar work), but this uncharacteristically techno-beat one was most appealing to me.


I discovered Che Blammo, as I have a few other bands, through Henry Weld’s extensive “Punk Rock in Southern California” discography, and bought the rather expensive 7” based on the appeal of the jacket alone. (My copy actually didn’t come with the original art, which is why it was about $150 cheaper than the other available copy.) I don’t know much about them. I have no special knowledge about the very R.E.M.-esque The Wake, but picked it up because they appeared on Pop Art’s Stonegarden Records. This track by Page Croft (which I’m sorry is so muddy) is backed by Skooshny, who appeared earlier in this collection. I don’t know much about him either, but as you can see by the album cover (which is included with the MP3, a new thing for Scavenged Luxury), he thought he was pretty sexy!

Acts you’ve seen before include Alex Gibson’s Passionel, Ann Dejarnett (with a great track produce by Dan Van Patten with DeJarnett doing a pretty good Patti Smith imitation), Extruders sounding more British than ever, Celebrity Skin, Fourwaycross, 17 Pygmies (from their final album Welcome, which is full of “spoken word” interludes that sound like they were written by the Marquis de Sade), and the Tweezers going all synthy with their second and final release, the EP Lovable and Fearless. This track by the Deadbeats (without Geza X, I believe) is actually a recording from 1996 that revisits the “kill the hippies” motif of their only single, and which is available for purchase online.

This track by Lotus Lame and the Lame Flames appears on the Hell Comes to Your House, Vol. 2 comp. I don’t know anything about them but this promo photograph is pretty hot, and I love this tune, a one-off that compares well to that lone gem from the UK’s Flying Lizards, “Money.” Unfortunately, I just can’t track down a copy of Q’s early track “Sushi” — also produced by Dan Van Patten — so I’ve included this rip from Youtube featuring Stacey Q performing as a techno-geisha. It sounds like a great track all around, the only one that’s kind of keeping me up at night. I also ripped John Trubee’s infamous song poem, “Blind Man’s Penis,” from YouTube, the one that got him on “the map” of audio deviants, though he didn’t actually create this here. For the full story and uncensored lyric (well, they took out the name Stevie Wonder), visit here or read this article by fan Matt Groenig.

I discovered by chance a comp of San Diego new wave called Who's Listening in the bins at Amoeba Records, featuring almost known Claude Coma and IVs (who I will include later) and the Penetrators, who appear in Jeremy's selections, among others. This track by Solid State is incredible, and I regret that the album was recorded live and that this is the only track I can find of theirs. I haven’t heard such pretty woodwinds in rock since early Roxy Music. Equally lucky was my discovering this track by Alfafa online, a band that included Vex Billingsgate of the Suburban Lawns, the only record I have (outside of Su Tissue’s classically inspired EP Salon de Musique) that any of these guys made music again.

This track by Marc Monroe and Silentype might not be genius, but it was released by Christian Death’s Fish Ranch Records (who also released the Atila material), and so I thought it important (for completists, at least). And, well, it’s a song about shoveling snow — how often do you see that? — though it just struck me that it might be a different snow he’s talking about. To Nije Sala is, I think, basically Steve Stain’s What Makes Donna Twirl? with a few different members. (Again, sorry about the fidelity here, it’s very low.) 

I thought for a long time that the Pandoras were one of Kim Fowley’s attempts, post-Runaways, to form another power pop girl band, but in fact they formed the good old-fashioned way, by answering an ad posted by a few art school punk wannabes. They eventually were associated with the Paisley Underground though I don’t quite see it outside of a resemblance at times to the Three O’Clock. Lastly, Hundredth Monkey is composed of two members of the punk band Benedict Arnold and the Traitors, and have that mix of psychedelia and post-punk that is pretty characteristic of a lot of LA music of this time. This is a very pretty song, but once again I didn’t get a very good rip — I’m really new to turntables, and have to do some research on what the hell I’m doing wrong.


Notes for Disk 2 by guest editor Jeremy:

Dennis Duck was an L.A. Free Music Society compatriot whose plunderphonics-like cassette Dennis Duck Goes Disco was "made entirely with a phonograph and records, utilizing skipping and pitch changes for most of the effects." 

Hilary (Blake) and Nick Paine each crafted fewer than a handful of synth-pop gems and then disappeared, though Hilary at least got some airplay in the '80s. Her chorus from "Drop Your Pants"—"So drop your pants around your ankles / You make me shiver when you deliver"—is about as unsubtle as it gets, internal rhyme and all.

The New Marines eventually released a few likable new wave singles, but their first 7" was their feistiest. "I Like Baseball" starts out listing sports ("I like baseball! And I like football! And I like basketball!") and ends by screaming acronyms ("I got a BMA! I got an ERA! I got a CRA!"). Anaphora at its spazzy best.

Tiger Lily was a more temporary new wave arrangement fronted by force-of-nature Laura Molina. They recorded just this one track, but it's probably the catchiest of the "13 Swinging Hits from Today's Grooviest Gals" on The Girls Can't Help It compilation. For some reason I really like the premise of responding to a bad apology with uncontrollable laughter: "You want me to believe / A second-rate apology / You're telling me what you want / From a beggar's knee / I wanna die laughing / When you were too proud to cry / And I could die laughing / Tears I'll spit in your eye."

The Three O'Clock were early Paisley Underground-ers, and "Mind Gardens" dates from when they were still called Salvation Army. The Penetrators were a San Diego-based garage/surf band. The Jetzons were from the same Arizona scene that gave rise to the Gin Blossoms, but they moved to L.A. briefly after releasing their great first EP to try and make it big. The Tikis put out one post-punky surf single in 1981. Moebius is the early work from two of the three fellows from Invisible Zoo and Lem (see Volume 7) plus Steve Roach and a nod to German kosmische musik. And 100 Flowers was the later incarnation of the UCLA-born punk group, The Urinals. Their "Our Fallout" reworks Imagism for the apocalypse: "The world's an oyster in a bed of pain / And my charred limbs are all I retain." (Thanks to Donal for this one.)

If "Person to Person" by The Signals laments the loss of face-to-face contact in the telephonically mediated '80s, then "Phone Home" by Johnny Chingas might be read as a rebuttal: a groove-laden celebration of the fact that technology can help alleviate basic problems like loneliness. Are you sad because your family is still in Mexico? That's what the phone is for, man. And Youtube? That's for reliving Whittier Boulevard when you're longing the other way for East L.A.

The meandering tribal rock of the Red Temple Spirits is what it is, but it would've been something else to see them live.

CalArts grad and LAFMS collaborator Chas Smith is a wizard with the pedal-steel guitar, using it to produce not twangy accompaniment but comprehensive soundscapes like "October '68" (a cautious commemoration of the end of the Vietnam War?). He was one of the masterminds behind Stillife (see Volume 7), and his solo work is well worth checking out.

Folks who appear on earlier volumes: 20/20, Subjects, Mark Lane, Afterimage, Luther Davis Group (the soul musician from Bakersfield), The Romans, and The Signals.

1 comment:

  1. I meant to ask before, do you want or need any UXA? I have a rip of Illusions of Grandeur, the original mix.

    ReplyDelete