Friday, April 29, 2011

Back to Bataan

The Maids were formed in a Berkeley co-op house by a group of college anarchists who wanted to unself-consciously rock like so many people did back in the late ‘70s punk era. Unfortunately, their one and only gig at the Mabuhay was a total disaster. They broke up shortly afterward, but left us with this two-song 45. “Back to Bataan” is a revved-up number that pokes at the subject of Japanese soldiers continuing to fight WWII on deserted islands years after the war was lost. “I Do I Do” is somewhat poppier in its approach. If you really want to, you can hear different aspects of this song in the pop punk bands who started out at Gilman Street some ten years later. Not that the Maids are a lost artifact of East Bay pop punk or anything. Despite being anarchists outside of the practice pad, the Maids had no political agenda as a band. They were simply out to have fun playing rock ‘n’ roll crud and had no idea that their 300-press single would eventually fetch a tidy sum of money on the eBay machine. It’s funny how things work sometimes. If you wanna see that Japanese man, click here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Demo Alert: Reivers

I don’t know if they had this on their minds, but “reive” is an early English word that means, “to rob.” During the late Middle Ages, reivers lived along the England/Scotland border under their own set of laws. Loyal to none, they plundered both sides at will. There’s certainly more to it than that, but this isn’t history class, right? Fast forward to 2011 and Reivers is a relatively new hardcore band from Oakland. Musically and politically, they have things in common with some of the heavier punk bands that have originated from both the Bay Area and Portland in the past decade. Should I name names? Nah. Live, Reivers is actually much louder and heavier than this demo. Sometimes they are TOO loud for the spaces they play in. With that in mind, perhaps this demo is your first chance to properly hear what they are playing underneath all that racket. If you haven’t seen them live, then consider this tape a primer for the pounding your eardrums will eventually take. See? Everybody wins!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Little Billy's Burning

I first came across the Nubs while researching bands for a Bay Area archive I’ve been working on. Figuring they’d be one of a whole bunch of obscure local garage bands, I checked them out…and wouldn’t you know it, they’re probably my favorite out of the batch of random Killed by Death-style singles I’ve added to my hard drive. From what I’ve read, “Job” is the favorite amongst the KBD set. I can see why; it’s good, retarded rock ‘n’ roll with a shitty attitude. Other bands can open up a song with a line like “Hey, Mom! I just quit my job!” and sound completely stupid. When the Nubs say it, you don’t just SEE the middle finger—you FEEL it. For this song’s 110-second duration, you wish you had the guts to quit your job and throw all caution to the wind doing stupid-ass shit that could get you thrown in jail. Why? Because it sounded like fun.

For my money, however, the favorite is a nasty little number titled “Little Billy’s Burning.” It doesn’t deliver on the same visceral level as “Job,” but it brings a different sort of antisocial attitude that should be appreciated. I don’t know about you, but I love a good mean-spirited punk song and this one is right up my alley. There’s something about a tune regarding a little kid burning down his house that appeals to me. Maybe it’s because playing with fire can be fun in both a literal and figurative sense. Or maybe it’s that the basic nature of “Little Billy’s Burning” reaffirms that punk rock—and rock ‘n’ roll music in general—was always supposed to be for bad kids.

Everything about these two songs reminds me of being a teenager, throwing rocks through the windows of abandoned buildings and running away laughing. Not many records have evoked that specific feeling in me. Click here, grab your own rock, and get to work!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Demo Alert: Lie Still

Not too long ago, I saw a Lie Still show that had the dubious distinction of being one of the worst sets that I have seen in nearly twenty years, hands down. That said, any band featuring ex-Benumb vocalist Pete Ponitkoff would pique our interest, so it is good to hear that they have rebounded nicely with this demo. Lie Still does a modernized take on early ‘90s hardcore of the “powerviolence” persuasion with plenty of nods to Infest, Crossed Out, and No Comment. Check out the song “Corrosive” if you enjoy those good old-fashioned Ponitkoff screams of anguish. “Compelled” closes out the demo by allowing room to slow down, catch your breath, and grind your teeth. It isn’t fair to expect them to be as blisteringly intense as Benumb once was, but there is certainly some potential here. Once the rhythm section beefs up, they will be on their way. Retain your molecular balance here.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Forget about long personal reflections, we’ve got business to discuss. It was recently brought to my attention that Havoc Records reissued this crucial ‘80s punk classic. Personally, I was never aware that it was ever out of print, but apparently that was not the case. Although I’m sure that Dehumanization has been posted on a million billion blogs at a million billion bit rates, a world without Crucifix and this record is not the kind of world I want to live in. Click here if you agree.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bummer Bitch

There wasn’t much about punk rock that could be construed as “serious” in the early days, so it probably shouldn’t come as any great surprise that one of the most sought-after San Francisco punk singles is a 45 that was originally recorded as a joke. As the story goes, Freestone was a punk-inspired power pop band who had gone into the studio to record their pop gems and wound up making better use of the leftover studio time than they expected. Both “Church” and “Bummer Bitch” were intended to be joke songs making fun of the nascent punk movement, recorded in one take. Unfortunately, when Freestone decided to release a 45, the label picked the last-minute jokes over material meant to be taken seriously enough for vinyl. I don’t know what that really says about Freestone as songwriters, but this is a fun little platter, joke or not.

From what I’ve noticed, most of the Killed by Death crowd who loves this record hates “Church.” I hate church as much as the next guy, but totally disagree on the song. Fortunately, this is America, where we have a god-given right to be totally wrong about things like taste in music. “Church” is a fucking great song. I don’t know what those people are talking about. It’s more like stupid prog rock played badly on purpose. I don’t know how else to describe it right now, but it’s a two-song single…listening to both songs won’t kill you. “Bummer Bitch” is, of course, the Killed by Death classic that is completely poking fun at everything punk appeared to be about back in 1978. It’s fast, simple, and stupid with lyrics to match. When the singer whines, “Bummer bitch, suck my dick! Eat my ass! LICK! MY! BAAAALLLLSSSS!” you kinda find yourself yearning for the days when things weren’t so complicated.

Whether anybody likes it or not, these are two songs that have managed to wedge themselves into the history of early San Francisco punk rock. Maybe you were too busy buying stupid Wolves in the Throne Room or Fucked Up records and missed the repress of this stupid 45. How’s about you quit being a bummer bitch and click here ‘cause you’ve got nothing to lose.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Punk Jacket

Mary Monday was a lesbian stripper who moved to San Francisco from Vancouver in the mid ‘70s intending to make a name for herself. Choosing rock ‘n’ roll as her way to fame, Mary supposedly took BART to every high school in the East Bay until she found enough like-minded people to start a band. After writing some songs and putting together a stage show, Mary Monday & the Bitches began playing live at a Filipino dinner club in San Francisco called the Mabuhay Gardens. Mary and her Bitches became popular quickly, which inspired similarly out-of-place rock ‘n’ roll bands like the Nuns to seek bookings at this bizarre club located in the middle of San Francisco’s red-light district. From there, a new music scene sprouted that has gone through various twists and turns over a number of generations to this very day.

Mary never achieved the commercial success she was looking for, but sometimes people make an impact in other ways than originally intended. Some obscurist cockbag will probably claim otherwise, but as far as anybody else knows, “I Gave My Punk Jacket to Rickie”/“Popgun” is the first true San Francisco punk rock single. This record might come off as more of a novelty record in this day and age, which it probably should. Being what it is, it kind of is a novelty. Give it a listen and fill a necessary piece of the San Francisco punk puzzle here.