Friday, June 24, 2011

Don’t Wanna Know You or Be Sober Enough to Try

Our ‘90s spiky punk binge concludes this week with Public Nuisance and their trashy Cheap Sex & Booze seven-inch. If you followed Profane Existence circa 1997, you might recall their ads for this record claiming that they would never release another band like this again. How pious of them. As if the PE Klan’s anarchist politics were sufficient enough to elevate them to a level above that of some rowdy NYC drunk punks or something. The ads did the band no favors, because most people who hadn’t heard them before probably just thought that Public Nuisance were a knockoff of the Casualties. In fact, it would be the other way around.

This merry band of drunk punks came out of the Lower East Side in 1987, standing against the rising tide of youth crew jock bullshit by describing their music as “crooked edge” hardcore. If you were a self-respecting punk rocker in the late ‘80s New York scene, you probably took part in shows organized by a group called Squat or Rot. As you might guess, these were a bunch of crusty squatters making the most of their existence by putting on shows and pressing records. Public Nuisance took part as well, and also helped organize the annual Beer Olympics, which was an infamous punk fest (and drinking contest) taking place at the end of the summer. If anything, members of the Casualties were more than likely inspired by seeing Public Nuisance play. It just so happens that the Casualties were able to get their records released first. That’s life.

I’ve never checked out any of the other Public Nuisance records, but Cheap Sex & Booze is dirtier and meaner-spirited than anything the Casualties ever released. There’s more mold on the guitar. You can almost smell the stale alcohol and the decay of pre-Giuliani New York emanating from the grooves. Get fucked here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bored & Glued

We opened a Pandora’s box of sorts when we unearthed the EPs of Defiance last week. Now I’m failing miserably at charging my long-ass hair into four-foot-tall liberty spikes and I’m on a mid ‘90s punk kick. With that in mind, where else to go but the first Casualties EP?

Yeah, I know what a lot of you are probably thinking—these jokers played the Warped Tour, attempting to break into the mainstream by pandering to a bunch of neutered suburbanites. Like I said about Defiance last week, things were much different back in 1994 when the Casualties first unleashed 40 Oz. Casualty upon the world. Punk had gone mainstream once and for all when Green Day and the Offspring hit it big that year. Meanwhile, there was a movement within the still-existing underground scene to redefine just what this punk rock thing meant to the world. Punks like the Casualties wouldn’t stand for any of this. To them, Green Day were a bunch of poser fags and these new punks who wanted to write a bunch of rules on how to live were nothing more than hippies in disguise. The Casualties said, “fuck that noise.” They were the fucking PUNKS, with Doc Martens and huge fluorescent spiky hair and plaid pants and studded leather jackets galore. They HATED hippies and posers and they were going to proudly stand against that shit. Punk rock needed its identity (and wardrobe) back, and the Casualties saw themselves as a band that would fly that flag.

For that, I admired them. Although I also enjoyed bands with a more modern take, there will always be a need to remind the world that this punk rock shit is supposed to be for the fuckups, rejects, and malcontents of the world. The kind of people who didn’t fit in because they were too ugly, stupid, angry, or violent for normal standards. For better or worse, the Casualties did a fine job representing that mindset back then. I’m not sure who I can count on to do that in the here and now, but hopefully they’re out there somewhere. Get drunk and stay punk here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fucking Rich Scumbag Brickface

I’m not sure how much regard Defiance gets from today’s spiky-topped youth, but when Rancid and Total Chaos went about reinforcing the punk rock cartoon image in the mid ‘90s, this Portland punk corps was one of a few who kept the flame burning. Of course, I’ve met a few people who have said that Defiance are just as bad as Total Chaos (impossible), but their association with Profane Existence suggested that they were at least a step above that mentally. Then again, Profane used to give props to Total Chaos too, so I really have no idea what I’m talking about anymore. I was a naïve teenage punker…give me a break. Talk shit about Defiance if you want to, but members of this lineup went on to bands that you probably do like…Detestation, Severed Head of State, and Blood Spit Nights, to name a few. At one point, this band was doing SOMETHING right, dammit.

Anyway, the first two Defiance seven-inches were always the main records I’d recommend to people whenever they were brought up. Their first LP,
No Future, No Hope, was also very good, but maybe a little on the long side. Played back to back, the earlier seven-inches are a perfect length (that’s what SHE said). I don’t care what anybody says; these records were fucking great in 1995 and they still are today. Perfectly solid UK82-influenced punk rock that knew when to slam, when to pogo, and when to rally the spiky troops to the stage for a most rousing anthem. What set a distinction between Defiance and other bands of their ilk was Kelly Halliburton’s nifty bass playing. He just gave them a groove that was missing in other bands that I really liked. Once he left the band, so did my interest. After that, Defiance sounded less inspired; like just another band of punk rock fashion victims.

To be honest, I have no idea if Defiance is even still around in the here and now. It doesn’t really matter to me anyway. Those early seven-inches are all I need. Profane Existence Far East must have realized that back in the mid ‘90s, because they re-released those records together on a three-inch CD. In the hopes of reintroducing you to Defiance when they were at their best, we at The Evil Eye have brought that CD to you. Won’t you satisfy your inner punk here?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Straight Outta Concord

Places like Concord are a breeding ground for young punk rock malcontents. In fact, I think I’ve met more punks from this town than anywhere else in the East Bay. Located thirty-ish miles away from San Francisco, Concord is generally thought of as another East Bay suburban tweaker shithole. The recent redevelopment in the area may have pushed some of those elements further east to towns like Antioch, but it will be a while before Concord’s reputation is erased from the minds of many.

Straight Outta Concord was the second release on Six Weeks Records, documenting a few bands from there that managed to make some kind of impression on the greater East Bay punk scene. Whether those impressions were good or not is a different story, though. Concord punk rock and the East Bay/Gilman scene have had an “interesting” relationship over the years. If I may hazard a guess as to why, I’d say that Concord was probably considered lower on the totem pole, despite most of the early ‘90s Gilman punks being from similarly trashy suburbs like Pinole and El Sobrante. Even society’s rejects need somebody to shit on occasionally.

The back cover makes a note of that with a message reading “this record is dedicated to every other band that’s been unappreciated, unsupported, or banned by their own scene.” They’re not kidding. Anal Mucus were tagged as “sexist” for having a band logo in the shape of people having sex (insert Spinal Tap joke here) and banned from playing at Gilman Street. People from Spitboy and Econochrist accused Total Fucked of being Nazis and caused them to be attacked on the Gilman stage by members of a local ARA group. The Dread didn’t get along with the early ‘90s Gilman clique either, despite bassist Athena hosting Blatz at one of her numerous house parties. Brady from the Aborted moved to Oakland a few years after this compilation was released and began playing guitar for the Criminals and Black Cat Music, so his band might be the only one that got off easy.

I realize that I haven’t said anything about the music itself, but I think educated readers of The Evil Eye already know what it sounds like. Although this compilation was intended to be Gilman-unfriendly, all four of these bands sound like they should have been regularly opening for Green Day, Blatz, and Filth circa 1992. I wonder if that irony is some consolation for any resentment that may still exist after twenty years. None of that shit matters to you, so click here.