It's A Living… But It's Not A Life #12.96
J Church/Honey Bear - Happy Kwanzaa! - End of 2004

 

THE EUROPEAN THEATER

Just got back today from Europe. Had a great time. Probably the most enjoyable tour we've had there. Great gigs on the continent, which is a real shocker. A few disappointments, of course. But overall, it was a great time. I wanna thank Ingo who set the whole thing up as well as our other drivers, Sasha and Eike for being so great. It's hard to do a tour like that for over five weeks with virtually no tension at all. The only real problems were at the beginning in the UK. We never did get our work papers sorted out and had to cancel gigs in Ireland and Northern Ireland as a result. The whole of the UK was sort of half-assed as far as the booking. Many people didn't even know we were over. We'll do better
next time.

 

MAILORDER ITEMS

I guess you probably know we have copies of the new CD on No Idea available. If you want to get a copy of Society Is A Carnivorous Flower directly from us, you can either send a cashier's check or money order made out to Lance Hahn or you can Pay Pal the money over to honeybearrecords@hotmail.com. It's $10 ppd.

Also, we've got copies of the new Japanese only CD on Snuffy Smiles. It's titled Seishun Zankoku Monogatari and it's 14 brand spankin' new songs. It won't be getting any North American distribution. So, the only easy way to get it at the moment is to order it directly from us. Same as the above and it's also $10 ppd.

We have a small amount of our tour shirt from Europe. The graphic is that of the original French graffiti that inspired the Society… album title. It's $12 ppd, but if you really want one you should e-mail me first as we only have a handful left.

 

LIVE RECORDINGS

Incidentally, I'm sort of tracking down any live recordings there might be out there of any of our past few tours. Whether it's an audience recording or a board recording, if you have a tape of one of our shows in the last two years, I would love to get a copy of it. Please get in touch. Video would be cool too…

 

JOHN PEEL (1939 - 2004)

It was a huge shock to hear that John Peel died. I don't know why it had such an impact. I think he was just one of those guys you kind of expect to always be around and he always sort of seemed to be about the same age. His death made me really think about what an impact he directly had on my life. I actually found myself crying while reading about his funeral service in the Guardian Unlimited.

If you don't know who he was, Peel was a disc jockey in London, the longest lasting one for Radio 1 where he started in the late `60s. Previous to that he had been a popular pirate radio DJ when they were literally "beaming waves from the sea" like the Clash sung about. Most people in punk know about Peel Sessions where he would have the BBC record a special set by a band he chose for airplay. Because of the quality of the BBC studios, for most punk bands this would always be their best recording.

A lot has been made about how he was ahead of his time and broke bands that wound up being seminal. He is credited as having been a major catalyst in the beginning of punk. In fact, at his funeral he had made arrangements that his favorite song of all time be played which turned out to be "Teenage Kicks" by the Undertones.

On the other hand, nobody has really talked about the effect he had on bands like J Church and other small nobodies that were afforded huge opportunities thanks to his support. He picked us out of nowhere and started playing us on Radio 1 all the time calling us "Yank sizzlers". This lead to us getting our first European tour (a year before we sorted out our first (American tour) based around our Peel Session.

Many doors opened for us because of his constant support including Steve Lamacq giving us regular airplay and eventually our appearing at the Reading Festival with Cornershop and Bis and loads more.We're not unique. John Peel helped out countless bands like us. I doubt anyone will be able to fill his shoes.

 

HONEY BEAR TURNS TEN

Honey Bear Records is officially 10 years old. A little older actually... But there really isn't one starting date. So I've been thinking that it might be time to do a compilation of music I've put out over the years. Bits and pieces of 7"s and things like that. I'm not totally sure who would be on it. I've still got master copies from most of the 7"s. I probably don't need to put any of the CD tracks on it. Anyway, it's something on the backburner…

 

LIVE LPS

I guess the Xmas rush has things backed up a little. But the second live LP should be on its way from New Zealand. This is the one titled "Culture Is The Opposite Of Life" and if you haven't already pre-ordered it, you are pretty much shit out of luck. However, if you are a subscriber to this newsletter, you can pre-order the third live LP. That one is titled "Trick Or Treat ­ Feedback And Distortion" and was recorded live at Pitzer on Halloween 1993. It is $15 ppd. like the previous ones.

 

OH, AND THIS…

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/england/2572205.stm

 

JAPAN TOUR 2003

Just to make things more complicated, I just finished typing up my tour diary from our Japanese tour from this time last year. Enjoy.

DECEMBER 15th - TOKYO (arrival)

I hate crossing borders. It's not just because the band has had problems in the past (with this one in particular). It just feels so humiliating that some total schlub who CHOSE this kind of work can decide whether or not you are free to travel where you please. Sometimes I think I hate immigration more than banks, lawyers and priests combined.

So here we are. We don't want any hassles, so we don't bring any gear and just walk through. After a lot of anxiety waiting in line, we just breeze on through. Boom. We are in Japan and that 14-hour flight was a cakewalk. I am so happy. It will be great to do a proper tour here. It's J Church's fourth time over and my fifth total.

Do to some miscommunication which was probably my fault (the Japanese are really that efficient. If there was a goof up, it was surely one of the Americans) I didn't realize that nobody would be there to meet us at Narita. We wait around, changing money and getting snacks for a long ass time before I decide to call our girl Kaori to find out what is up. Turns out we were supposed to meet Massa from the Urchin half an hour earlier at a train station. We run down to get the train (the placement of the airport makes it ridiculous to try to drive there) and get there just in time to find out that he is just taking us back across town to Shinjuku to catch a bus. I forgot to mention that the first gig is tomorrow in Fukuoka which is three islands away.

With a fair amount of scrambling, we make it in plenty of time to catch the bus. Kaori is there to meet us. Not only does she do all the talking, instructing the bus crew on what to do with us, but she has also made some snacks from home to eat on the way up. Veggie snacks are a real commodity in Japan. So it was great to have the little mushroom filled rice balls on the overnight bus ride to hell.

Actually, the bus ride was amazing. In true efficient Japanese style, the bus was divided by a complex series of curtains. Once the porter had them all set up, each passenger basically had their own private little sleep chamber. The seats folded back into one of the most comfortable beds I've ever slept in. I snored all the way.

DECEMBER 16th - FUKUOAKA (Keith Flack)

Early in the morning, the bus made a stop at the Japanese equivalent of a truck stop or a road services. The rest of the guys got their first dose of culture shock wandering around the brightly lit little market with it's smells both appealing and repellant. On returning to the bus, the porter had supplied all of the passengers with a breakfast Panetone and box of juice. This ain't no Greyhound.

We are all surprisingly refreshed as the bus rolls into Fukuoaka. We meet up with the guys from Practice who we will be doing part of the tour with. Their bass player is a little guy named Tosh who I first met when we toured with the Urchin in the UK a few years back. He was sitting in with them on bass at the time. He's a great guy and good laugh. We chilled out at his apartment for a few hours. Of course, Yoichi is there as well. He is one of my oldest friends and has been doing cool stuff forever. He runs the Snuffy Smiles label that has done most of the records we release in Japan and he has organized all of our tours. It's great to see him and with him along you can only have total confidence in the tour. Now I'm feeling like I have no responsibilities.

David experimented with the electric toilet seats that are so threatening here. When you sit down, you get an arm control full of buttons all labeled in Japanese. David pushed a few buttons getting the bidet going. But it started to get progressively hotter and hotter. He scrambled pushing every button until it stopped just before he scalded something important.

The show was a little rusty. We were a little dazed and confused having just traveled for two days. But the club and the crowd were great and turned out a lot better than our last show, one of the worst in the band's history at Emo's with From Ashes Rise, Bread and Water, and Garuda.

Lots of other great bands tonight. I don't remember the name of the first band, but they were cool Japanese tuneless thrash just the way it's supposed to be. Practice played their tight and efficient power pop ending in a minor disaster as the singer guitarist lost one of his contacts on the stage somewhere. After what seemed like the whole club searching for half an hour, he retrieved it. That's punk in Japan. You lose your contact at a big punk show in the states and it's gone forever. The amazing Pear of the West played featuring the fantastic vocals from Mami who's deep, baritone but feminine vocal style is very unusual and pleasant in this kind of music.

That night, we were knackered and went to bed. But Yoichi and co partied with the Pear of the West folks for a few hours. In the morning, David went to put on his shoes only to find that Kenichiro from Pear of the West had drunkenly taken one of them by accident. For the rest of the tour, David would have to wear one of his and the other one (a leather Converse, much to David's vegan chagrin) left behind. I think that story sums up most of what you need to know about David. It certainly wasn't his fault. But he does have that aura of disaster surrounding him.

DECEMBER 17th - MATSUYAMA (Hoshizora ­ Jet)

Got up early to make the drive. We were split up into two little vans that made you really think about how ridiculous the United States is and how we must look to the whole world. It's not just the Middle East and Cuba and North Korea that think we are absurd. It's everyone. We are. The fact that American cars are like twice the size of anything else in the world speaks volumes. I guess living in Texas I've got it especially bad. There are so many fucking, big-ass, shitkicker trucks and SUVs in Austin that it really seems like an obnoxious joke. In San Francisco I don't think I knew anyone that even owned an SUV and I don't think I had ever stepped foot in one. But even American cars of all types seem ridiculously big when you spend some time out of the country. Japan just manages to magnify the differences.

The club itself was really cool. Just a little room with a bar and a lot of glitter and streamers, so it was nothing if not charming. The club has got something to do with Guitar Wolf. Like I think they shot some of their movie here. There was a Guitar Wolf plaque cemented into the outside wall in the middle of all the little xeroxed punker flyers. Looks like the 5.6.7.8.s are on tour right behind us. With "Kill Bill" just out here, they're about to go through something of a Renaissance. I remember them as one of the best bands to ever play at Epicenter Zone and me being one of the few staff members in attendance.

Anyway, we take a walk around one of the many outdoor malls that seem to make up so much of southern Japan's cities. I remember the biggest being in Osaka. But we're not going there. Scattered here and there are loads of tantalizing sites for culturally shocked Americans. The video arcades are amazing. But even more surreal are the Pachinko rooms. The sounds and the colors are all so strange. It's sort of sweet or melodic but it's also very industrial and synthetic. There seems to be a thin amount of distortion on everything here. Hit some record shops. All record shops are great here. Even if the shop doesn't have a single record you want, the records all look cool.

Drift Age play first and are great. It almost seems silly to say as 95% of the bands we have ever played with in Japan are great. It's just a matter of degrees and who is greater. Anyway, they're melodic punk is American, early `90s, Bay Area music made more efficient and concise. Practice play an especially good set making up for the confusion at the end of last night's performance. Tonight is our first night with Minority Blues Band who we will be doing the rest of the tour with. We did a split 7" with them sometime back. But this is our first time meeting them and seeing them play live. From the first note we are all blown away. If you don't know them, you must run out and get both of their CDs. They are both amazing mixtures of Jawbreaker, Leatherface and old '77 style punk. But it's all modern sounding as well. Singer guitarist, Spalding has a way with phrasing that makes them a lot more accessible to finicky American ears than most Asian punk bands. Live they are a power house with an incredible rhythm section. Bass player George looks great and rocks out leaving no dead air on stage. Drummer Yumi is brilliant. She yelps and kicks in the air all while bashing away perfectly at her kit.

We stay at Yumi's house after making a quick trip to the grocery store for some late night chow. I love going back to a world where people eat on the floor on mats. Reminds me of staying with my grandmother on my Dad's side. We would sit around on tatami mats eating super good homemade Japanese food.

DECEMBER 18th - TOKUSHIMA (Jitterbug)

Had to get up really early to catch a ferry. Ate the food we had leftover from the night before on the ride down. I grew up on this kind of food and you really need to play fast and loose with the veggie rules in Japan. So I was digging all the tempura and pickled veggies. I think Chris dug a lot of it too. Not too sure about David. Ben was sort of picking whatever since he eats meat and stuff and made a series of bad choices that especially wasn't working for him today. I think he got some sort of ice cold, greasy, clam tempura.

The ferry was actually really cool. You know, you can take a ferry anywhere in the world and it will be completely different. I would have thought that being out in the middle of a large body of water would be the same anywhere. But you can really sense the difference and I don't mean in terms of waves or wind. It's just a feel. No way would you ever confuse this feeling for Dover to Calais. I didn't get seasick which is always a 50/50 proposition with me and boats.

Jitterbug is more of a normal rock club with a proper backstage and a lot of room. There was a cool flyer that I think Chris took for a memorial concert for the guitar player from GISM. I liked GISM since I first heard of them when I was in High School and my sister had bought some weird glossy magazine with an article on punk in Japan. All the kids were wearing GISM shirts. They always seemed really funny to me. "Anarchy and Violence", "Endless Blockades for the Pussyfooters"… I really don't think these are bad translations. It think some of it is meant to be funny. But people take this shit really seriously these days.

Anyway, the show is packed which is a huge relief. This is all uncharted territory for us. We've never come too far south much less to another island. So it is really, really cool that all three shows turned out good. We sold quite a bit of stuff as well.

In addition to us, Minority Blues Band and Practice, we had Hushpuppy (who are a pretty new pop punk band from the area) and Hamk (more established and a lot like early Green Day). I could be wrong, but I think it was the singer guitar player for Hamk who pulled down his pants for half of the set. He had some long explanation. But I don't know Japanese. So I don't know if it was a statement or if it was meant to be funny. It was just another odd thing to see on the road.

Our set went down great as we were really starting to hit our stride. Got Tosh up on stage to play bass on "My Favorite Place" which was really cool. It was great to look over and for the first, and probably last, time see someone else in the band that was actually shorter than me.

That night we stayed at this cool house that was half normal where some kid lived with his folks. Across a little walkway was a separate free standing building where all the bands and kids gathered to drink and eat and smoke. Got to do more bonding with MBB and Practice.

DECEMBER 19th - KYOTO (East)

Alright! I woke up really up for it today. I've never been to Kyoto but have always wanted to. On all of these rides, David, Chris and Ben have been crammed in the back seat while I sit in the middle scrunched up with Yumi. I think there might have been a little jealousy as she is a very cute girl and all that is really wasted on me. Two days into the tour and I already miss Liberty. It's not like the old days where missing my girlfriend would paralyze me on tour. I have a lot of fun on the road and can enjoy myself. But when I get those few and far between moments when I am totally alone with my thoughts I miss my girl plenty.

So we get to Kyoto way early and are able to check out an amazing Buddhist temple up on a hilltop. It's a great spot to buy Xmas presents and whatnot as there are vendors lining the streets leading up to the temple. It would have been cool to buy a sword. But I settled for some freshly made donuts. When we got to the temple it was completely breathtaking. I can't even explain it. The pictures I took look great. But they really don't capture the size or richness in the few basic colors used. There was a hell of a lot of tourists. But what am I? It's not like I got sent here by National Geographic.

In addition to the touring party, we got to play with the amazing I Excuse. I had been really looking forward to seeing them ever since hearing their split with Manifesto Jukebox. They were blistering live. That singer has got such a great voice, it's so punk. Some people just have it. I never really have. Got to hang out with the drummer's girlfriend. I don't remember her name, which is really bad of me. But that's typical when you're on the road. I can't remember where she was from. But she spoke English and seemed happy to talk with other English-speakers.

We didn't stay in Kyoto, but instead did most of the drive that night. We crashed out with the guys from Navel who live just outside of Nagoya. It was great to see those guys again. I love that band. I wish they would do more. The house was lovely with heated carpets. Of course, Ben and I picked the one room without heat to sleep in. Even better, David went ahead and did a load of laundry before asking if they had a dryer. Nope. Nothing like wearing cold wet clothes just as the snow began to fall.

DECEMBER 20th - NAGOYA (KD Japon)

It's snowing outside. It's beautiful. I'm a dork, not a poet. I just like snow. I grew up in Hawaii. Frozen water cascading from the clouds is still an amazing phenomenon to me. Japan blanketed in a thin layer of snow was very sweet.

David, of course, if freezing. Not only is his clothes mostly still wet, but it looks like he lost his sweater somewhere as well.

Nagoya is punk city. The gigs are fun. The bands are great. Of course, Answer Records is here. It's the secret weapon of the punks. It just looks like a great punk shop when you walk in the door. There are records on tables, records on shelves, records in boxes on the floor, records piled up behind the counter. New and used, there is so much great stuff here I could have spent a day going through it all. It was quite overwhelming.

The club is a cool little space underneath the train station. Hey, that's a good coincidence. David forgot his backpack with everything including his passport back at Answer. Everyone knows he can't negotiate his way back there through a Japanese city, so it looks like its George's job to go back and get it. David feels really bad about it as you can imagine. But there's not much else that can be done. Unfortunately, I think George is also the most hung-over out of everyone.

I get to reunite with a lot of old friends here. My friend Eiko was there. I think she's been at every Nagoya show we've ever played. We're one of her bands along with Superchunk and a couple of others. Taylow from the Genbaku Onanies was also there. I love that band. I don't think they've ever put out a bad record. He brought me a copy of the new records; one studio, one live. They're both totally powerful. I really love the family tree included. Looks great. I guess Ken from High Standard is playing second guitar for them now. That's cool. He's a good guy and a great player. It will probably do him some good to get back to basics.

The show tonight is tight with Practice, Minority Blues Band, I Excuse and Navel all also playing. It's pretty mad. It's our last night with Practice and I Excuse and it's such a rare thing to see Navel that this night feels really special to me. The club is rammed by the time we play with no room to move. When David breaks a string I get caught up in the energy of the show and spontaneously start playing Parkas And Flags which is the first song on the last CD we did for Yoichi. Without having practiced the song ever, we pulled it off and the crowd where mad for it. It was just one of those rare and magic moments when everything was falling into place. By far, this was the best show of the tour so far.

To beat the snow and to take advantage of lack of tollbooths operating at night, we decide to head for Tokyo after the gig. It was great to play with Navel again and I'm gonna miss the guys from Practice and I Excuse.

DECEMBER 21st - SHINJUKU, TOKYO (Red Cloth)

We stay with some friends of Yoichi's in the `burbs outside of Tokyo. When we arrive, they're wasted having been drinking all night and are listening to old `70s disco records. The one guy told me that he got so drunk because he was nervous that we were coming over and was nervous about meeting us. When somebody says that to you, it should immediately set off your bullshit detector. But they were all nice enough and I got a shower and just enough sleep.

Shinjuku is my favorite part of Tokyo. Loads of great shops and record stores and places to eat… The venues here are great. I know it's supposed to be the band neighborhood or whatever. But it seems pretty nice to me. The first few times I came here, it was a little seedier with a lot more porn and shops that sold things like worn school girl uniforms with snapshots of the school girls who wore them not to mention used panties for sale. Everything is built vertical here, so you would have to walk through two floors of that before you got to the record shop on the fourth floor. But I like seedy. I may not like what it entails. But I like anything that feels underground and subterranean.

It really feels like a mixture of "Blade Runner" and Epcot Center walking around this part of town. There are 50' TV screens on the sides of building playing technologically beautiful commercials with amazing resolution. There are crazy lights everywhere and mobs of people in the streets. It's a brilliant place just to walk around at night. Everyone was looking for fancy shoes for some reason. I just wanted records. I wound up buying a couple of books, oddly enough. One was a photo book on early Stalin. The other was a photo book by MCR on the new crust punks. I also got an issue of Gothik Lolita which is a glossy Japanese magazine for goth girls. I kept thinking I could find someone to give it to back in the States. I'll probably still have in a stack somewhere in five years.

Tonight's gig features Kaori's new band, The Happening. They have a great CD. She has been in so many bands, all great, I really hope this one sticks. This band has the most sophisticated songwriting and probably the best rhythm section. It was really cool to see them live. The Urchin also played tonight which was really cool as it doesn't seem like they play that often. This will be the third continent where J Church and the Urchin have played together. A couple of years ago, we played in San Francisco together. A year before that we toured the UK with them. They're such an underrated band. Now that I think about it, this is also the third bass player I've seen them with!

We played pretty well tonight. But it was all about the crowd. They were up for it and there's nothing like a crazed capacity audience. People were freaking out and we did several encores that we felt we actually deserved (I assure you, sometimes you really don't feel like you deserve it). This one has got to be somewhere in the top ten J Church gigs ever. It's certainly the best one this line-up has ever played.

Afterwards I do an interview for a fanzine run by these non-crusty anarcho types that are working on sorting out an Epicenter type place in Tokyo. It's cool and we talking drink for a while. Kaori helps with the translation. I end up crashing at her place since we wind up being the last people left behind. A couch is a couch and I got to do a little interview for her zine until my eyes just refused to stay open.

DECEMBER 22 - SENDAI (Birdland)

I am an idiot. I meant to grab a copy of Deeds Not Words' demo tonight after the gig and I totally forgot. I am a moron. Great female fronted melodic punk. I guess you could say that they were in the style of Cigaretteman. Maybe… Maybe more like Tilt meets the Avengers but a lot younger.

The crowd went crazy in this little club. I can't remember what records they put out, but some kids run a record label called My Favorite Place Records or something like that. It's very flattering. We don't get many tattoos or things like that. But we've got something like three or four DIY record labels named after J Church songs.

So the crowd goes off. We go off. Everything is building and burning and heading to some apex and then -POW!- the front of the stage explodes, the mike stand flies and I get my front teeth chipped. I spent the rest of the set feeling little bits of broken tooth in my mouth with my tongue. Still, that's par for the course when you're on a roll.

DECEMBER 23rd - YOKOHAMA (Club 24 West)

It is our last show of the tour and we pull into town early enough to buy Yoichi and Minority Blues Band a thank you meal. We find an Italian restaurant somewhere and it's great. Well, it's great for everyone except for David. Somehow his food arrives swimming in butter with little shrimp floating around. He and Chris are both vegan, so Japan isn't the easiest place in the world food-wise. But I love it. This is the second time I've had a great Italian meal in Japan of all places.

The venue is cool and not too far from some pretty decent record shops where I got a last minute Stalin 12" I didn't have. Back at the venue, Graham who used to drum for Broccoli is there. I forget that he got married to a Japanese girl and had been living in Tokyo. We had a great time. It's funny because he was always the quiet one in the band. Now he's super talkative. I think he was just busting to talk to someone else who's first language is English.

Zerofast, Raise Mind and the incredible Three Minute Movie (all three CDs are great) played with us tonight. It was another totally packed out gig. I don't know if we've ever had a tour this successful. Not a single show was a dud. I mean, on a normal tour, you expect that one show a week MINIMUM is gonna be a total disaster with nobody showing up. But this whole tour has been perfect. This final show is a perfect way to end. The club is packed and most of our friends are here.

When we are done doing our thing, everyone hangs out ordering beers and food. Tray after tray of fried food keeps popping up. They bring a mini-keg for us right to the table. At one point I try a local favorite that is part beer and part tomato juice. Not bad. Not good. Just another in a series of very strange experiences here in Japan.

The tour is over and I think we all wish it were a little longer. Felt like we were just hitting our stride. It felt like we were just beginning to figure out what was going on…

 

IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM

ART BRUT - Formed A Band / Bad Weekend 7"

This is a hilarious record. It's almost like Vomit Launch's Life Sucks. The band rocks out a guitar driven post-punk rhythm that owes a bit to old Modern Lovers. The main vocal is a deadpan voice stating that "Look at us… Formed a band." But then later he informs us that the vocals are serious and not ironic through the lyrics making them doubly ironic.

Bad Weekend is also petty funny. Sort of another alienated look at pop culture. Another pretty powerful sounding song too. I guess the whole thing could just be some student-y piss take. But I guess that's okay. When someone with no personal agenda steps up and just tells it like it is (in this case the over importance of people in bands) there might be more of an impact than the same old thing again and again.

But this is probably already over-thinking it. It probably took 5 minutes for the whole concept. If that's true, they got really lucky with this classic.

Of course, the title is misleading. These people are not outsider artists. Their music is very competent. But it's still raw as hell. I wonder what exactly goes on at Rough Trade's AOR department?
(Rough Trade)

 

COXON, GRAHAM - Freakin' Out / All Over Me 7"

Graham Coxon was the best part of Blur, I don't think anyone would argue that. So I'm always intrigued when he has a new solo release out. This two song 7" might be the record I've been hoping he would make.

He certainly wears his influences on his sleeve. Both titles sound so much like Dino Jr. songs. In that tradition, Freakin' Out is a great power pop song driven by a huge guitar riff as good as anything you would have expected from the Descendents. It's a really exciting song and his disaffected vocals draw you in more than the over emoting of the next closest American pop punk record.

The b-side is almost like a Parklife-era demo at times. But then it keeps pace and if anything is almost a little Pink Floyd-ish. It's a Hammond organ away from psych. It's great too.

Crazy packaging, but I guess he's got the money to burn. Super thick gatefold with two sided color poster makes this a real steal.
(Transcopic Records)

 

LES GEORGES LENINGRAD - Supa Doopa / Nebraska's Valentine 7"

It seems like Les Georges Leningrad may be the French Canadian answer to proto/post-No Wave God Is My Co-Pilot. Remember them? I heard the guy was a dick. But you can't beat some of those singles.

Whatever. This record takes the band a little further along, fussing around with tempo. But really, they just need to freak out and live within the terror of those dissonant chords and everyone will be happy. Who am I kidding? Most of their fans just wanna see the girls prance around. But I think the music is really great. Their vocal approach is the antithesis of rock `n' roll and there is really something to be said for that.

These bands are the true Buddhist experience. They're not meant to last. Their music isn't really meant to last. It's a spontaneous expression of rhythm and emotion coupled with musical challenges and experiments. They don't play for a rock and roll audience. You can't possibly expect that in a band like this. It's great.

The a-side is from the band's second album, which just came out a couple of months ago. I wonder how far this band will go. Do they think someday they will be the new Erase Errata? What does ambition mean to a group like Les Georges Leningrad?
(For Us Records)

 

GORILLA ANGREB - Astma 7" EP

Denmark is the latest capital of punk despite the death of Paragraf 119 and their spiritual leadership. Gorilla Angreb have become my favorite new jack Danish band. With all the talk about them being like the Avengers or X, I had been wanting to get my hands on this record for a while.

When I did finally find it in Alborg (thanx Peter!), it wasn't at all what I thought it would be. It's something much more punk and much more unique. In fact, the singer sounds more like Beki Bondage than Exene or Penelope. It's great. They aren't really a thrash outfit and are at times more along the lines of Rock N Roll Massacre which is one of my favorite Vice Squad numbers.

The tunes are all memorable and the production is a great attempt at `80s rawness. In it's attempt, it sounds like something else. But it's good and full of fuzz and hiss. Brilliant looking sleeve as well. Can't wait to hear what they do next.
(Kick N' Punch Records)

 

UNIFORM APPROACH - A Pledge To The Edge

Wow, this is awesome. If you ever had any interest in the great era of British hardcore that included bands like Heresy and Ripcord, you need this. If you ever thought you loved the energy of straight edge but couldn't get behind the dogma. Even better, if you thought most straight edge was hilarious. Those are all pretty obvious reasons to need to track down this record.

Recorded back in the day. This record was sort of a joke side project for the guys from Heresy and spoofs early American straight edge hardcore. Sounding like the first Youth of Today 7", this grainy recording is a perfect document of that time. The front cover almost looks like a Brian Wallsby.

The thing that gets me about records like this is that, yeah, it was done in fun. But I do actually like this kind of stuff. It is very fast and at times sounds like it could be on Face Up To It or something. In fact, from what I remember of that record, it's very similar sound quality. I think there are only a few hundred of these in the world, so you better track one down while you've got the heads up.
(Shortfuse Records)

 

UP, ARI - True Warrior / I'm Allergic 7"

Holy shit, this single out of nowhere is fucking amazing. She sings and it is totally unmistakable. Side one mixes her later Slits type work with well organized backing tracks that are equal parts soul and new wave. It is so hard to explain her vocal delivery. On the one hand, it's almost like she's ranking and rapping on parts of the song. But there is just this very real quality to her voice that you can't mistake. I think there are more parallels between Ari Up and Patti Smith than people have ever thought. There is something metaphysical about this kind of singing. It's trance inducing. But the tone and range is especially unique as well.

The b-side starts with a New Age Steppers sort of rhythm but quickly charges into a straight up rocker that is the closest thing to "rock music" as she has ever come in her career.

Look, I've never known exactly what she's been on about. She's not the person you can just get. She is unique and therefore doesn't have a support group saying "yeah, I know just how she feels". But it's the people that just get it. It's that something that is in her voice. You have to trust it. I really love this record as much as almost anything else she's done.
(For Us Records)