IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #12.1
J Church and Honey Bear Records
Go Back to School You Rotten Kids!


JAPAN RULES SO (BY DEFAULT) SO DO I

Okay, Japan was incredible. It was the best time I've had in a long time. The shows were totally incredible. The audiences were fantastic. All the bands we played with were incredible. Of course, a big thanx to Yoichi Eimori of Snuffy Smiles. If you're familiar with us, that's a name you probably know. He's a good guy with a great label and has been nothing but incredible help to us. Also a huge thanx to the bands we played with especially Practice, I Excuse and of course Minority Blues Band who we did most of the tour with. All are great and worth checking out. Practice have a 7" out while I Excuse and Minority Blues Band both have full length CDs that are incredible. I've got a few copies of the latest Minority Blues Band for sale. They're $10 if you're interested from me. They are a truly wonderful band.

 

WHAT NEXT

Well, the next big job is to get our LP out. It's called Society Is A Carnivorous Flower and it got mastered just before we left. I need to work out a lot of the details. But hopefully you'll have it in March and we'll be on the road then. If everything works out right, we'll be able to do most of the US, a few weeks in the UK and Europe and maybe a jaunt through Mexico. That's the plan anyway. We are also looking to do more Texas weekend trips up to Denton and Ft. Worth, over to Houston, out to El Paso. So hopefully that will start happening as well. I think it's time to start thinking of Texas as a small nation that needs an underground punk railroad from city to city.

Also, we have a couple records in the mix. We are supposed to be doing a split 7" with New York's The Plungers who we just adore. I'm not sure who is going to do it yet. They've got their side recorded and we will hopefully record soon after you read this.

We are also going to do something exclusively for Yoichi in Japan. A new LP of unreleased material strictly for Snuffy Smiles.

 

THE EX

As most of you know by now, my next big thing on the label is a documentary video about The Ex from Holland called Beautiful Frenzy. The Ex are one of my favorite bands of all time and are a huge inspiration. I'll be selling the tapes through Revolver though you can always get them from me like normal. I'll be getting them in any day now.

 

LIVE RECORDS

Okay, it took me forever (because I suck as you know) but the first of the J Church live LPs are done. If you ordered one, it should be on the way. I still have a couple left if you're interested in order one. They're $15 and if you don't get one, you'll be first in line to get the next live LP, Culture is the Opposite of Life ­ Live at the Gilman St. Project, which will also be limited to 20 (that's right, 20!!!) copies.

 

T-SHIRTS, POSTERS, ETC.

After all the touring, we still have a few X-tra large shirts left. One is the US Tour design that's blue on yellow with the Situationist graphic of a woman on someone's shoulders waving the anarchist black flag. The other is white on black graphic of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate with Hate So Real on it. We've only got a few left. But if you want one, they're $12 ppd from me.

We've also got a few silk-screened tour posters left. It's the same graphic from the J Church tour shirt, also blue on yellow but also announcing the tour and listing Storm the Tower and DFI along with J Church. They're super limited and are $4 ppd if you want one. Of course, I'm trusting that you don't just turn around and sell them for a lot of money…

Ditto for the remainder of the fan club singles. I've got a few copies left of the 100 only J Church All The Wars 7" and the Hard Skin live 7". They're $15 each, and please, if you buy `em from me don't immediately put them on Ebay for $30 or whatever they're going for these days… To see all of my Ebay auctions at any given time, search under "HBR".

 

BEST OF LAST YEAR

Last year sort of sucked. Am I wrong? But even in years of total suckage, there were a few moments of greatness.

Best Movie
Gotta be Lost In Translation. Did you see it? You must. It's one of those rare perfect movies. I'm really happy about the Bill Murray renaissance that's going on (not to mention the low level Brian Cox renaissance…) and I think he's even better here than in Rushmore. Ooh, and Scarlett Johansson: from Manny And Lo to Ghost World to The Man Who Wasn't There to this. She's winding up in some of the coolest movies in the last decade. Do you think there's any truth that the movie is about Sofia Coppola having an affair with Harrison Ford in Japan while there shooting a video with Spike Jonze? She's already admitted that the Anna Faris character is based on Cameron Diaz.

Best New TV Show
I've surrendered. I love Arrested Development. It's so funny I can't even believe it. First off it's great to know that David Cross is still doing something that's pretty substantial. Secondly, it's nice to know that even Justine Bateman's brother can catch a break. And seriously, I've sort of had a thing for Portia De Rossi since Ally McBeal. She's my favorite prime time lesbian. I mean, I kind of like The West Wing and I sort of like Scrubs and I'm losing faith in The Gilmore Girls. So Arrested Development is my show.

Best Record
I didn't really like too many records last year. But I sure did love the Husbands album. Sarah Reed has one of those voices that just come around once a decade. I can't explain to you how blown away I was when I first heard this record. On the one hand it's a fast and loose garage record that brings to mind the more chaotically beautiful moments of Pussy Galore. But somewhere inside is this pure pop that hints at the same goals held by the Primitives or Jesus and Mary Chain. But it's those vocals… At times Sarah can really pass for Mary Weiss. Their hauntingly beautiful cover of Carol King's Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow makes me think they could do a wicked Remember (Walking In The Sand).

 

IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM

BITCHIN' / ONION FLAVORED RINGS - split 7"

I'm something of a fan of both of these bands with Bitchin' being my favorite thing on No Idea for the past few years and just generally enjoying anything Paul Curran puts his name on. Bitchin' do their thing which is big guitars, unusual vocal lines that are addictive plus an almost unusual energy that keeps it far from the indie quagmire. Over their three songs there are a lot of questions raised ("What's all this work and going to school?", "…are you all alone?") that are answered in the only way they know how ("Fuck your bourgeoisie!", "Not for nothing, leave your heart unguarded") and it all seems like pretty sound advice. The end result is strangely relaxing.

Onion Flavored Rings take the American punk aesthetics and accidentally transmute them with British indie sensibilities if inadvertently. In other words, there's a real early Wedding Present vibe going on here and I don't totally understand it ­ wish I knew how they did it ­ most importantly, I really love it. Like the album, these songs are great. That guitar sound is as honest as Big Lizard In My Backyard.
(www.noidearecords.com)

HUSBANDS, THE - Daniel / You Need Hands 7"

Two more great tracks that seem to be leftovers from their LP. Make no mistake, these ain't no throwaways. Solid stuff here and I don't know what the girls can do wrong at this point. I've said this before to many people, so I hope I don't get boring. But Sarah Reed has an incredible voice and I would venture to say I think she's the best female vocalist around these days. It's that same sexy, nasty but not contrived that cut the Shangri Las so close to my heart. I also think that the backing vocals sound like a choir of stiletto angels, which is also real appealing.

Garage music can be a lot of things and people tend to get caught up in the fashion and let the music devolve into rehashing the Ramones or the Kinks. That's well and good. But there are those who are taking the art form seriously. There's a lot you can still do with a couple of guitars, drums and a great voice. Besides, pretty and beautiful aren't always the same thing. This is the epitome of beautiful garage music and if you've never heard them, this record will make you crave the LP.
(bluebusrecordings.com)

THIS IS MY FIST! - I Don't Want To Startle You… 7"

Mike Thorn made me buy this record a while back and I'm really glad he did. Little Will has a new band and this one is fucking great. Four super punchy punker tunes that are catchy and fast and expand on a format that I thought was sort of dead: East Bay Punk. As a lifelong West Bayer, I've always been a little cynical of any scene that sprung up around either Gilman Street or that West Oakland Warehouse community. But despite my carefully developed prejudices (the East Bay does kind of suck) I do find that I like a lot of the bands from there and secret alliance often existed.

This Is My Fist is another example of a band that seemed silly until I finally listened to them. These songs are great. The band can play. They can write. That girl can really sing. I mean, it seems like it would be fun to be in this band. The melodies are infectious and the lyrics would make any Pinhead Gunpowder enthusiast sit up and take note. They should really be the next big thing in DIY punk. But the world sucks and probably the next big thing will involve a fucking MOOG or Pedal Steel or some other dated shit.
(Off The Dial, PO Box 3941, Oakland, CA 94609)

WINKS, THE - 7"

Debut four song EP from local girly-girls and it's even better than I was expecting. We played with them not too long ago and I really dug `em. Lots of energy. Catchy tunes. Attitude o' plenty. So, when a local band you like goes in to record for the first time, you always brace yourself for the worst. They don't know what they're doing so how can you expect them to reproduce what they do while high on adrenaline (and whatever)?

It's not a perfect record. But that's okay. They get a lot of that live energy in the proverbial bottle and there's some skill to not over-thinking a recording. I mean, it's not a practice tape. But it still sounds like a bunch of mics quickly thrown up in exactly the right spots in a small, intimate room.

But this record is a shooting star sailing through the night sky for only those of us who are lucky enough to know to look for it. A lot of people are going to miss out on this record and that's just the nature of this kind of music. It's fleeting which makes it more likely to leave an impression. I used to think that sounded sad. But in this age of bands taking way too much time to say very little, I think it's a lot more "real".
(www.supersecretrecords.com)

 

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