IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #10.5
The Occasional J Church and Honey Bear Records Newsletter
June 2002 - Here comes the Summer

 

FUCKIN' SUMMER

Well, summer is fuckin' here and I guess I'm gonna try my best at being something of a productive guy in the next month and a half. As some of you may know, Liberty is spending the next couple of months in China so I'm here at home all alone and very prone to depression. I'm gonna try to keep real busy to fight the boredom. Expect a lot of stuff to be coming out of here in the next few weeks.

 

STORM THE TOWER

Finally, the fucking Storm The Tower 7" is ready and you can order it for $3.50 postpaid. This young hardcore band from here in Austin is one of the best things going today in that genre. After seeing some of their great live shows I was lucky enough to get them to want to release some music on Honey Bear. Their debut four song EP includes the tracks Song For FM, Gods Of War, Intravenous and Plan Zero. Send cash or cashiers check / money orders to Lance Hahn at 1071 Clayton Lane #506 ­ Austin, TX 78723.

 

SINGLES CLUB HAS FINALLY STARTED

Remember that last newsletter when I said the new singles club was done and in the mail? I lied. They were done but they were also sitting in my living room. Now they are going out and you should be getting them real soon if not already.

What were they? Two 7" EPs. The first is a four song live record from Hard Skin. The second is a five song EP by J Church with all unreleased songs. Ours includes covers of All The Wars by Anthrax (the UK band) and Sacrifice by Rudimentary Peni.

Yes, you can still join the club and get both of those records. If you are in the states, send $45 to the above info. If I can get enough people to join, I'll make it seven records instead of six. Next up are singles from Cringer and Semiautomatic.

 

NEW COMP WITH A HALF ASSED SONG

Okay, there's a new compilation CD out and it's got an unreleased J Church song. 1157 Wheeler Avenue is an anti-police brutality CD that also features unreleased stuff from Strike Anywhere, Anti-Flag, Common Rider, Lawrence Arms and Squirtgun. Our song is out of the vaults and is titled Off The Pigs: Nobuyoshi Araki And William Vollman As Personified Arguments Against the Vice Squad and it sounds like it. Yeah, now that I hear it, I really wish I could have taken the time to go back and re-record the vocals. They were done just as a guide track for this demo recording. They're pretty terrible. That guitar solo is a little, uh, presumptuous? Anyway, if you really want this, you can order it right from me for $8 post-paid.

 

FALL RELEASES

The singles club should take me up to HB038 and the Storm The Tower EP is HB039. HB040 is going to be the DFI CD. DFI is the amazing Dave Didonato in a project that is equal parts Orthrelm, the Fucking Champs and Thrones. He's also been known to play shows (once opening for the Fucking Champs) of just amazing Eruption-like solo after solo. It's a brilliant sounding record as well. We're shooting for an October release.

In conjunction with that will be HB041 which is the J Church CD Palestine. This is the title I've been talking about for the past few months. I think I've finally got it all edited and the layout mostly together (or at least together enough to send to Revolver).

I'm going to do as much of a full court press as possible on these records so if you have any suggestions on ways of promoting these puppies let me know.

 

NEW E-BAY AUCTION

Yeah, I've gotta find a way to offset the costs of all this stuff (especially the promo / advertising aspect) so I'm pimping back catalog stuff and various collectibles that I just can't justify hanging on to anymore. To find them all, go to E-bay and search under HONBR. I'll be adding things over the next month as well.

 

HONEY BEAR RECORDS STREET TEAM

No, I don't have the cash to start a skate team (but after seeing Dogtown I'd really like to try…). What I am trying to sort out (and this seems to be what a lot of people are doing these days) is a street team to help promote Honey Bear Records in different cities. In a nutshell, when a band on the label comes through your town, I'd like to send you a bunch of fliers and whatnot to post up. In exchange, I'll give you some free stuff and a shirt and whatever else I can think of to help compensate. There is so much to do, if you are interested at all, just let me know at honeybearrecords@hotmail.com.

 

SITU GRAFS?

This is kind of cool.

Jeff is one of my favorite old roommates so you should check this out. His artwork might be San Francisco's best kept secret.

This site is also cool with artwork from folks from the Subtonix (RIP… such a fucking shame they split up) and Phantom Limbs.l

 

STUPID PUSHY BANDS

Oh, and Forstella Ford can go to hell. They came to Austin and their drummer and roadie were complete assholes. Hey, it ain't our fault nobody turned up to see your band. Fuck off.

 

SUMMER MUSIC

Okay, it's the start of summer and even though I'm living in an unbearably hot climate and my world would probably be a lot nicer if I never once saw sunlight, I still love the concept of summer. In a tribute to that I'd like to write something about what I think of as

MY SUMMER MUSIC.

I guess I should start by defining what I think of as being "Summer Music". I'm not necessarily talking about songs with the word "summer" in the title or in the lyrics. I'm not even really talking about songs with lyrics about the summer. I mean in it partially in the English sense. You know, it's songs that have really summed up great things about certain summers gone by. It's a feel and hopefully you'll know what I mean. The songs aren't necessarily fast or slow. They're not disposable or profound. I guess they're all songs I would love to hear booming out of a boom box or a stereo while at a summer afternoon party. Think of it this way: if I were making a mix tape for the summer, here would be my picks.

Too Late by Snuff - Might be my favorite song of theirs and I'm not totally sure if it's about the girl from Lush. But this is a great, jump-around-the-room kind of summer song and is quintessential Snuff. When that first mid-tempo change-up happens ("That's why I'm still thinking about the times and places…") I feel like I'm right back in the moment at one of their gigs.

Don't Wanna See You Cry by the Hard Ons - Side 1 of Love Is A Battlefield starts off with a hopping pop punk number long before pop punk had so many negative connotations. Buzzing around the room, pop that can be as meaningless or meaningful as you like. Like a lot of the songs I'll be mentioning, this is the kind of tune that you'll wanna hear while on a road trip to nowhere.

Inbetween Days by the Cure - People always associate the Cure with Goths and all that dark stuff and related silliness. I never could understand that. Probably it's just because fans of both the Cure and Specimen wore big shirts and make-up and broaches. A lot of songs are light and breezy and that's when I think they might be at their best.

Oblivious by Aztec Camera - That last one made me think of the sweeping acoustic guitars of this, the ONLY thing I've ever really enjoyed by this band. Still, it's worth finding the record in the dollar bins for the one track. Put it on a comp tape and you'll never have to think of this record again. I mean, this almost verges on being a wine cooler type of summer song. But I like to think of it as more of a drinking on the beach sort of ditty.

William, It Was Really Nothing by the Smiths - It's hard to only pick one song by the Smiths for this category. It would be just as right to choose Cemetery Gates or I Want The One I Can't Have or Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now. But this one seems to round off the trio of sweeping acoustic guitars nicely. It's about rain. But I always think of rain songs as taking place on an otherwise sunny day. It's with the understanding that rain is a good thing.

Through The Flowers by the Primitives - I know most people only know this band because of Crash which is great. But this is probably the first thing I heard from them. It's a shame they couldn't follow through on all of this pop music promise. I dunno. I guess Through The Flowers is nice to me because it's a really sort of sad song about walking in the sun and sort of reflects how depressing that can be.

Cool Guitar Boy by Heavenly - I still think that Heavenly Vs. Satan is the best thing they ever did. Everything on this record is great. But this one is really about running around London with friends eating and drinking myself into bankruptcy. London really does live for its seasons in a strange way. For such a modern city, it's all strangely… I dunno… almost pagan in it's interconnectedness with the seasons. This is the Sarah indie pop version of that.

I Could Be In Heaven by the Flatmates - In the similar vein of girl pop but more along the lines of the Ramones, it's hard to believe America never caught on to the Flatmates. I guess that would also explain why the Muffs first album didn't go platinum (like it should have done!). Either way, one of those sweet songs about hopelessly fleeting love. The best summers of your youth are those where you had been able to sustain a crush for all three months. Unrequited or not, the chase is usually better than the catch.

Los Angeles by X - Maybe it's got something to do with the scene in the movie The State Of Things by Wim Wenders but I do associate this song (and a lot of stuff by X) with driving around LA (always observational on my part as someone who doesn't drive). This song makes me think of the heat wave I lived through back in '88 (I think) while living in Hollywood and Kingsley.

Corona by the Minutemen - It's obvious as hell. But all of Double Nickels on it's own could be a great soundtrack to LA in the summer. Something about the production of that one in particular, the twang of the guitar, captures something about LA for me. It's almost corny. It's almost abrasive. The whole record makes me crave Mexican food for some reason.

I Remember by Naked Raygun - again, it would have been equally just to pick Soldier's Requiem or Wonderbeer or Vanilla Blue. But this one is especially nostalgia inducing while the song is completely propelling. All Rise is definitely my favorite record of theirs. Something about Naked Raygun was always so able to catch that feeling of déjà vu that only a few others are able to induce. There best songs stir you inside and leave you not really knowing why.

Let's Get Tattoos by Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine - I still maintain that whatever good there might be in Andrew WK or whatever stems from Rocket From The Crypt and Carter. A really underrated single by the once loved band, it's a slightly classier version of Let's Get A Party Started or whatever the hell that song is called.

Just What I Needed by the Cars - It's not rock and it's not new wave and you couldn't totally call it pop music. What were the Cars? This is everyone's favorite song and you are always happy when it comes on the radio.

On Top Of The World by Cheap Trick - hidden behind Surrender is another great pop gem on Heaven Tonight. Almost written like a Randy Newman song, another great song that reminds me of staying out late as a teen and pre-teen taking advantage of my parents lax attitude. This is like driving around with a bunch of your friends in their parents car late on a week night with nothing to do `cos it's July.

Do Ya by ELO - one of their straight forward rockers and a leftover from the days of the Move, this song is mostly three BIG power chords. There's not even much of the strings on this one. Still, not as corny as Ma Ma Ma Belle. Definitely cruising down the road music.

Jet by Wings - I know. I'm a loser. I just love Wings and this songs is just another summer song for me. In fact, it's a perfect summer song. It doesn't fucking mean anything and yet it tricks you into feeling sentimental for something that never existed. It's catchy as hell!

Young Americans by David Bowie - I'm not really a huge Bowie fan. There's a lot of stuff that I think is okay and some stuff that I think is interesting. But I think all the dress up stuff was always pretty dumb. So I have no shame in saying that I love this record and found it infinitely more interesting than all the Ziggy Stardust crap. Truly a bar-b-que anthem for the hipster jet set.

Shining Star by Earth Wind & Fire - What a rippin' band! Brutal guitar solo from outer space! The chorus is as smooth as a cool breeze. Earth, Wind & Fire's Greatest Hits is a must have. Shining Star is for me about being a little kid and hanging out with my Aunt listening to cool shit on the radio. She may not have thought it was cool. But it made me think of a childhood crush of sorts.

All Day Music by War - Ditto for this band's amazing greatest hits. Way the hell laid back, this one makes me think of backyard parties from the afternoon and into the evening. There's nothing like some lazy horns in a major key to make you think of the joy of that brief time where the sun is going down and it's still light out. It's a relief and the bugs haven't started buzzing around yet.

One Of A Kind Love Affair by the Spinners - I love the album that also includes Could It Be I'm Falling In Love and I'll Be Around. If you gotta pick one, I guess it would have to be this one as it's not as well known as far as the hits go. Great off-speed drumming that I never really noticed as a kid. It's a sad little song with a really funny piano break.

Tell Me Something Good by Rufus and Chaka Khan ­ Ooh, its so hard just picking one song for my summer mix tape. I almost equally want Hollywood to be here. I guess I have to go with the raunch over the mellow this time. Chaka Khan, I don't know what else there is to say. Great vocoder/talk box as well preceding the summer sounds of Daft Punk.

When You Were Mine by Prince - Not the cover version by Cyndi Lauper, but the original. Dirty Mind is one of Prince's best records and at least as raunchy as Controversy. But hidden with all the songs about incest and casual sex this little pop song was tucked away. It almost sounds like Helen Love or something.

Overkill by Men At Work - Seriously, who would have thought that these dorks could come up with something so touching. Their most understated single is really the only thing tolerable about this band. I think some alt. rock type band did a bad cover of this a few years ago. Maybe picking something by such a useless band is obscenely sentimental. Even the sax is about letting you get out your secret David Sanborn fetish that first surfaced back on Young Americans. It's really a warm night time song fueled by Vodka.

My Old School by Steely Dan - Man, those horns are just like the last day of high school. I guess the whole song is about reminiscing and taking an early summer vacation to Mexico. It's funny how even looking back in anger at ones youth can be a joyful experience.

I Want You Back by The Jackson Five - Okay, kind of an obvious one to end on. But you have to go out big. I think I've heard this song at least once in every great summer I've ever had in my life.

 

IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM

FEEDERZ - Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss? CD
FEEDERZ - Teachers In Space CD

I first remember hearing the Feederz on KTUH's punk show back when I was a kid. People just couldn't get over the song Jesus Entering >From The Rear off of the Let Them Eat Jellybeans compilation album. It's funny that with a line-up that included Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, the Bad Brains and more, the Feederz (and Really Red) stick out more for me.

So, it's a brilliant coup that Broken Rekids sorted out a re-release of these two classic and sadly collector item records. Included along with most of the original packaging are the complete LPs showing the bands evolution as well as capturing the raw nerve of music that even now seems like "caustic" personified.

The neo-Situationist bent seems contemporary along the side of so many current bands (from grindcore to Shiner) that have to varying degrees shown an interest in the movement. Yet, their approach to the artist / audience dynamic (as is obvious with the record titles) is less about projecting a dystopian image and more about playing the trickster.

The result is a smart bunch of music that doesn't talk down to you and at the same time doesn't "dumb down" it's content. The music is solid `80s style punk rock. At times, there is a real garage element to it. Other times it is almost like improvisation. Generally speaking, it's amazing how memorable all of the tunes are. Though part of the charm is the low tech production (and I mean that only in comparison to the over-production of the last 10 years) this is not just an archival curio. These are classics and it's nice to see them back in circulation.
(www.brokenrekids.com)

LAST OF THE JUANITAS - Time's Up LP

I just saw these guys a few weeks back with the Fucking Champs and Drunkhorse. I'd heard some cool things about them. I didn't realize until that night that John who used to drum for Aminiature was in the band. I hadn't seen him since the Ear of the Dragon tour with them, J Church, Seam and Venus Cures All. Whatever happened to them?

A funny thing happened as the band were finishing their first song, the last few seconds of a Lakers / Kings playoff game wound down with the Kings victorious. Just as the band finished the last note, the buzzer sounded and the whole audience cheered. The band must have thought it was the most emphatic responses ever.

Last of the Juanitas do deserve that kind of response. With some really messed up arrangements comforted by three powerhouse players playing in an intense, verging on pathological style, it's funny that the band often get compared to the Melvins. The heavy parts are heavy and the Melvins are sort of the yardstick for heavy (mostly because nobody knows who Harvey Milk were). But there's a bit more to this pie than just the crust.

San Diego as a concept is being maintained be a few great bands progressing and calculating in scientific fashion as if distortion and noise were mathematical philosophies that could be infinitely compounded. There are many different versions of this theory in practice. Hot Snakes are certainly a good example of one. Black Heart Procession would be another. Last of the Juanitas find their own wave of quantum roar. Not that this is math rock, but more like ontological noise rock with it's inexplicable interconnectedness. They just might be psychic.

Of course if you're not ready to make any attempt at finding higher meaning in interplay of three rockers having a night on the town, then the rock can still get ya going. I was almost taken aback at how rock this record was. Sometimes they are gonna challenge you to think (crazy "version" of Max Roach). Sometimes they pay the bills.
(Wantage USA)

 

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