Sunday, April 29, 2012

Demo Alert: Detach Dolls

The other night was one of the more frustrating evenings I have had in a while, but do not expect me to bore you with those details. This ain’t that kinda blog, folks! Instead, we are gonna flash forward to about 10:00 when I stormed into a local dive in search of a cheap bag of weed. Plans had gone awry, so it was time to get high. Weed for sale was not to be found at this particular establishment, but I did find the time to be pleasantly surprised by one of the bands playing that evening.

Detach Dolls are a local power trio whose tuneage may not be considered standard Evil Eye fare by our worldwide legion of fans. Whatever. Listen a bit more carefully. Perhaps you will find that this band kinda rocks. Detach Dolls sound like the direction more East Bay pop-punkish bands should have gone after Green Day went mainstream nearly twenty years ago. There have been quite a few around here who have tried to do so—it just happens that Detach Dolls are one that I actually enjoyed. Mind you, “pop-punk” is being used as a catchall term here. These Dolls are a bit harder-edged than expected, with lots of late ‘70s pre-HC punk influence at work. Perfectly enjoyable overall, but the first two songs are downright fantastic. As a fan of old 45s, they would make one helluva single. “Werewolf” is the perfect A-side as far as this band is concerned. Although it has the least to say lyrically, the music packs the punch that makes the kids wanna dance. Mix tapes and MP3 playlists alike will feature this ditty quite comfortably. The oft-neglected B-side would be “Disney Song,” concerning bullshit depictions of women in cartoon fantasyland. Walt Disney was a Nazi, you know. Just saying. Those of you who remember that there IS another song on the record will enjoy the quicker pace and vocal harmonies.

Although my evening plans had gone down in flames and left me in a horrible mood, Detach Dolls were right there to remind me that the night was far from over. The band was great and I found that cheap herb later in the night. Everything ended on a high note after all. Thanks, Dolls.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Punk Ass Nitpick

During the first half of the 2000-decade, Funeral Shock was one of my favorite Bay Area hardcore bands. Not because of the ex-members pedigree, but because they played crappy punk rock with an attitude that was missing in virtually every other local hardcore band at that time. They didn’t seem to care about being regarded as a Bay Area punk cornerstone, nor would they have accepted that distinction had it been offered to them. While most of them had been in bands that were well regarded, each member had a bone to pick with the greater local punk scene at some point over the years. Whether it was intentional or not, at least a few of those bones manifested themselves in Funeral Shock’s lyrics and sound. Other local bands sang of skateboarding and how great it was to be “hardcore” while Funeral Shock’s antisocial lyrical hostility was often legitimate. When vocalist Jason Ballsack screamed “I’M GONNA KILL YOU!” in the song “Hang the Jury,” you had a feeling that he might just try if you provoked him. 

Funeral Shock’s demo probably takes less time to listen to than it does to read this post. With that in mind, we will just let you click here and hope that you can start a hardcore band with even an iota of the spite that these fuckheads exhibited. We at The Evil Eye wish you the best of luck in your efforts.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Killed by (Asbestos) Death

By now, most of you probably know that Asbestos Death was the band that morphed into Sleep after releasing a pair of singles that were reissued by Southern Lord some years back. The rest is history, but allow us to set our time machine to revisit the days when the thought of releasing even one of those singles was probably considered a silly kid’s dream. Throughout the 1990s, the Asbestos Death demo was an item on many a tape trader’s list. The problem was that not one single copy was remotely listenable. Even my tape—given to me by someone who (supposedly) bought it from the band personally—was of horrible umpteenth-generation quality. To merely be able to hear the damn tape required turning the stereo volume up all the way, in which the background hiss was much louder than the music itself. I hope that you remembered to turn the volume back down after you were done listening to this stupid demo. 

Modern technology has made it much easier for losers like me to nerd out on trying to make crappy-sounding demos like Asbestos Death sound at least a little bit better. We sort of managed to accomplish this feat, so we figured we would introduce Asbestos Death’s demo from 1989 to the blogosphere. Don’t raise your expectations too high, because this is not exactly a high-quality remastering job or anything. The background hiss is still there (spoiling the quiet and moody moments), but the recording has at least been rescued from its previously unlistenable depths. If you think you can boost the quality even further, you are certainly welcome to try. I will even send you the WAV files if you contact me.

Anyway, this demo was recorded back when Al Cisneros, Tom Choi, and Chris Hakius hung out at places like Gilman Street and probably hoped that the dudes from Neurosis would refrain from beating them up. Of these five songs, only one—“The Suffering Continues”—was re-recorded by Sleep on their first album, so this is probably the first time that many of you have heard these songs. Twist up a doober of dirt weed and enjoy. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nuclear Armed Hogs vs. G.N.P.

Another forgotten platter that should have been posted here a long time ago. Perhaps you recall Nuclear Armed Hogs’ appearance on Slap a Ham’s Fiesta Comes Alive! compilation. In short, this band was Prank Records mogul (heh) Ken Sanderson backed by members of East Bay punk legends Schlong. Not sure what you would expect from that combination, but it is…uh…interesting. I guess the best way to describe Nuclear Armed Hogs is that they are very much of their time, which is the early to mid ‘90s. They take a few cues from the powerviolence aspect of hardcore and filter them through the oddball Schlong perspective. Ken’s vocals sound kinda like a drunken Muppet, so I can see why he might see this band as a skeleton in his closet of sorts. If nothing else, there is no way you can say they sound like a typical hardcore band.

Grossest National Product is something of an old favorite in the Prank Records household. In the past, I have brought up bands that would have been your hometown heroes had you resided in the same area. From what I gather, GNP was exactly that to Ken while he was in college. Feel free to talk about how oh-so punk you are in whatever town you are from if you want to. Perhaps you should try being a badass punk rocker in Birmingham, Alabama sometime. One has to figure that this requires a fair amount of bravery—more so in the mid ‘80s when GNP first formed there. I cannot imagine that being much fun unless you enjoy fighting and being harassed by the police on a regular basis. It is only natural to want to start a band and escape from this sort of environment. GNP sounds like what you would expect out of a punk band from Alabama—fast, chaotic, and not without a sense of humor. The typical Hank Williams enthusiast would be more than mildly annoyed to hear them practicing in the garage next door. GNP’s drummer is the highlight of this recording. He sounds like he has no idea how to actually play drums, even for a punk band. Instead of taking lessons, he is just going to freak out on the kit and hope for the best. To be honest, the rest of the band sounds like that too. Remember when a lot of punk bands were terrible in the best way possible? Grossest National Product is one of those bands. Revel in this garbage.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lipstick Stained Stigmata

When they first started, Look Back and Laugh came charging out of the gates like a group of rabid pit bulls unleashed. Their first confirmed Gilman show has always been the most memorable to me, simply because of how ferocious they were in comparison to the other bands on the bill. Look Back and Laugh were in the opening slot before Desolation and Deadfall, two bands spawned from the scene revolving around Burnt Ramen Studios. By the time Look Back and Laugh had finished their set, I felt sorry for the bands that had to follow them. Musically, they had their shit together on their first show much more than either Desolation or Deadfall had after more than a year at places like Burnt Ramen. To me, Look Back and Laugh was always about their vocalist Tobia Minckler. Fresh off a stint playing guitar for Voetsek, Tobia had a fire in her eye that was not there previously. It was like she had found her true calling. Tobia left Voetsek in the dust with that one performance. Most of the crowd filed out after their set. The standard had been set, but the rest of the bands were unprepared to live up to it. 

You might guess that Look Back and Laugh’s show-stopping performances early on caused a fair amount of jealousy among some of the newer HC/punk bands. After all, they did not have the same longtime background as Look Back and Laugh did. That is all fine and good, but then came the accusations of using friends in high places to get ahead, completely overlooking the fact that they were a good band that people liked. The idea that Look Back and Laugh did not deserve to play good shows was absurd to me. Virtually every member of the band had paid their dues in some form or another. Tobia was a longtime shitworker at MaximumRocknRoll. Bassist Brian Stern had been a part of the local scene for years, working at Gilman Street before helping define what real East Bay hardcore was with Dead and Gone and Talk is Poison. Guitarist Casey Watson was previously in Yaphet Kotto, a band that played more benefit shows at Gilman alone than any other band I have seen before or since. If anything, their accusers were far guiltier of attempting shortcuts than Look Back and Laugh were. You can’t blame a band for having friends and fans, or for being good at what they do.

Ultimately, it seemed like Look Back and Laugh had set the bar so high for themselves that it was difficult for them to reach new heights as a band. For me, it was like going to the circus and seeing the guy get shot out of the cannon repeatedly. As cool as that is to see, it gets old after a while. The same thing can happen with bands, especially when you already expect a lot out of them. Still, I hold Look Back and Laugh in high regard and prefer to remember them as the band that outclassed everyone else on the bill. Perhaps those other bands should have been inspired to step up their game instead of complaining.