IT'S A LIVING... BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #13.8
J Church and Honey Bear - Fuck, it's hot - Back of my neck feeling
dirty and shitty...

 

WE'RE BACK

We had a great time in Japan, though we're broke again and owe No Idea more money than I can really wrap my head around at the moment. So PLEASE, check out our new mail-order stuff. I'm not even really sure how we're gonna pay for t-shirts for this upcoming US tour…

 

MERCH

Okay, so here are some things I'm selling to help make ends meet. Lots and lots of stuff:

J Church - Society Is A Carnivorous Flower CD $12 ppd. This is our latest full length on No Idea Records. This includes the epic title track that is made up of six shorter songs. It was recorded with Lars who has also produced everyone from World Burns To Death to the Cardigans to Blondie.

J Church - Seishun Zankoku Monagatari CD $11 ppd. This is a full length CD of otherwise unreleased material recorded for Snuffy Smiles in Japan. It's only been released there and features 7 new originals and 7 cover songs including the Cars, Snuff, the Fall, Wire, Richard Hell, the Misfits and Crucifix.

V/A - The Bastards Can't Dance CD $11 ppd. This is a compilation tribute to Leatherface assembled by Japan's Snuffy Smiles. There's a lot of great stuff from the best of Japanese punk like I Excuse, Spraypaint, The Because, Navel, Drift Age, The Urchin and loads more.

The Urchin - Versus Brand New Equalizer CDEP $5 ppd. This is the new batch of amazing Japanese power pop from one of the band's we are closest to in Japan. We are hoping that they can make it over to the States later this year to do some touring with us. We've toured with them in England and now Japan. We would like to make it three continents. All four of these new songs are amazing pop gems that you won't find anywhere else.

Navel - Depend CD $11 ppd. Second full length from the brilliant melodic punk band from Nagoya. Mixing the personal with the political, they are one of the best and long-lasting band's in the Snuffy Smiles catalog. They are also one of the most sophisticated of the bands reminiscent of what was happening in the early `90s in the Bay Area.

I Excuse - Burn The Empty To The Ash CD $11 ppd.
I Excuse - ...Is Dead CD $11 ppd. They just keep getting better and better. We got to do a few shows with them on this tour and they are even more powerful than the last time. Touring everywhere, they're also known for their split record with Manifesto Jukebox who they have many similarities. The first CD includes a brilliant Articles of Faith cover.

Minority Blues Band - Grab The Fire Swinging In The Rain CD $11 ppd.
Minority Blues Band - Capitalized Suffering CD $11 ppd. Two amazing CDs by our favorite band from Japan. They are fast, catchy and powerful and epitomize a lot of what we love about Snuffy Smiles combining the personal with the political. The first disc includes a Newtown Neurotics cover and the second a Thatcher On Acid cover.

J Church - Cruel Story Of Youth t-shirt $12 ppd. Our latest Snuffy Smiles CD title was taken from a movie by Nagisa Oshima. This is our Japanese tour shirt with the English title of the movie. On navy blue, this shirt was especially made for the recent Japanese tour and we have a few left in Medium and Small. Actually, there are a couple of Larges, but write me first to make sure they're still here.

J Church - Societe Est Une Fleur Carnivore t-shirt $12 ppd. This is the European tour shirt. We've only got a couple left XL. But write if you're interested.

We've got a few other odds and ends like the latest issue of my zine Some Hope and Some Despair ($3 ppd) the Cringer live video ($10 ppd) and the Ex documentary. Let me know what you're looking for.

 

TOP TEN ANARCHO DEMOS

I'm back to writing top tens. I'll try to do a non-music one next. Here are my favorite demo recordings of anarcho bands.

Top Ten Anarcho Demo Tapes Worth Looking For

Anthrax ­ Best track on the second Bullshit Detector comp comes, not surprisingly, from the best demo tape of the lot. All The Wars is a brilliant song delivered with a real urgency that they never 100% recaptured on vinyl. Melodic as well, it was almost like the UK Subs' catchier moments. A really rocking demo that I wish Rugger Bugger was still planning to release on CD for all you sad souls who missed out.

Flowers In The Dustbin ­ Their one and only demo tape is as good as any of their vinyl records. This tape is a good example of how many bands viewed demos as seriously as they did vinyl. With a variety of different recordings, they capture a moment from one of their first gigs, the emotionally suffocating Aim For The Sky and one of their most beautiful songs Cowboys And Indians.

Chumbawamba ­ They did a lot of fucking demo tapes. But History Luddite that was released on 69 Tapes (an offshoot of 96 Tapes [an offshoot of All The Madmen]) is unbelievable. There are many songs that would eventually be reworked making up some of the material from the first two albums as well as the early singles and compilation cuts. Recorded live, it's the rawest form of these songs and the only solid document of them right at the cusp of adding more polished production values.

Youth In Asia ­ The Sex Object demo is a real anomaly in anarcho punk. With keyboards and soaring female vocals, they are more musically aligned with post-punk or even new wave. Power And The Glory is beautiful and Victim of Rape is harrowing. I doubt Bikini Kill or Sleater-Kinney were aware of Youth In Asia. But nevertheless, they are kindred spirits.

Naked ­ Another group with a brilliant track on the second Bullshit Detector, the group's second demo was released by Bluurg just previous to their 7". Not really "rock n roll" but more rockin' than most of the others, they had a sensibility that was clearly closer to the first generation punk bands than the new streams flowing from anarcho punk. It was like a breath of fresh air.

The Mob ­ If you know the Mob then you know about the Ching demo. Recorded on a boom box in their kitchen, it's pretty rough sound-wise. But it's a great document of a stripped down version of No Doves. It also shows how the band had evolved and would play their catalog live without the intimidation of the studio. For the Mob enthusiasts, it's the only place where the song White Niggers appears.

Omega Tribe ­ A lot of the better moments of this came out in the CD retrospective from a couple of years back. But it's still worth mentioning the power of it all. Nature Wonder still sounds better than the 7" version and Picture Now sounds great. A really versatile band, it's not really fair that some people compare them to the Faces.

Passion Killers ­ Titled Be Happy Despite It All, this tape is one of the poppiest things to come out of anarcho punk. Okay, not a lot of great poppy stuff in general from that scene. But you can easily see why Chumbawamba found a kindred spirit in the Passion Killers.

Faction ­ The Through The Window demo on 96 Tapes is really something. Catchy as hell, it's also fascinating to hear the band as visualized with a completely different vocalist as on the 7". Melodic and complex, they in some ways paved the way for groups like Dan, Joyce McKinney Experience, etc.

Kulturkampf ­ Never able to get anything on even a vinyl comp, Kulturkampf are one of those sad bands completely lost in the era. Complex and beautiful, The Corpse of Bureaucracy is better sounding than many of the albums of the time. Another demo, The Struggle, is equally engaging.

 

IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM

GORILLA ANGREB / LOKUM 7"

I got this in Japan of all places. No telling where or when you are ever gonna find Gorilla Angreb stuff, and I'm glad I spent the yen on this EP. By far their best recording, this is a great melodic song that is not so much like the Avengers like everyone claims. They're more like Red Scare (the old Bobbi Brat band, not the `90s group) without the metal tendancies.

Lokum are also a bit of a throwback. They've got a bit of a New Wave Theater vibe that is sort of funny and entertaining at the same time. It's cool. It's fun. But I guess there really isn't anything new under the sun.
(Hjernespind)

 

IT'S YOU - Iraq 7"

The new up and coming Crusty Crustofferson's of Japan are It's You. Heavily influenced by the old anarcho stuff from England, the band charge through songs about US foreign policy, religion and more. The funny thing is, the cover art almost looks like an Emo record, all black and white and Dischord like.

It's four solid little hardcore tracks with that weird, squeaky, over-compressed guitar sound that is so characteristic of many Japanese hardcore records. It used to drive me up the wall. Now I think it's cool that they've found something that is almost annoying and are sticking with it. You can't fuck with these lyrics:

Bash Bush
Cheap head
Cheap shit
You are cheaper than shit

I just randomly stumbled onto this record, so grab it if you get the chance.
(Too Circle Records)

 

STALIN, THE - Stalinism 7"

I'm so happy this record has been officially re-released. So many Stalin bootlegs out there are just so crappy sounding and poorly mastered, it's great to see this five song EP with a nice looking cover and great sound quality.

The Stalin are one of my all time favorite bands and while this record is really early for them (I think it came out just after the first album) I still like it a lot. It's got a lot of the more traditional catchy punk stuff that made up the first flexi along with more hardcore type songs that they would later be known for. The evolution of their sound had something to do with the addition of Tam on guitars who had previously played in the legendary Typhus, the band that would become Gauze.

Out on it's original indie label, Political, this record greatly captures this band right before the leap to the majors.
(Political, no address)

 

URCHIN, THE - Versus Brand New Equalizer CDEP

The Urchin are so totally amazing. They are incredible performers, which they never get enough credit for. This record best showcases their playing ability as well as the range of their songwriting. From the first blast of Propagandhi hardcore to the uncanny Rites of Spring riffs to the classic Dillinger 4 melodies, this is an unbelievable self-released EP. There are even moments that are like Gorilla Biscuits or The Crew-era 7 Seconds. Someone should really put this out as a 7" in the States. I was lucky enough to get to see them play each song every night for a week live, but this CD still blows me away.

(Urchin, 5-33-201 Kamikitazawa, Setagaya-ku Tokyo, 156-0057 Japan)

 

V/A - The Bastards Can't Dance CD

I don't know if you remember this, but a while back Snuffy Smiles used to do these cool little tribute 7"s to Snuff. Now Yoichi has assembled this tribute to Leatherface with the best of what Japan has to offer today.

I was really surprised that the bands chose to cover a variety of records. I guess I've always assumed that everyone thought that Mush was Leatherface's best album by a mile. Instead you've got really interesting reworkings from most of the group's catalog making me rethink the band's later stuff.

Real standouts include Spraypaint, I Excuse, The Because and Drift Age's interesting take on Baked Potato that merges in and out of Jawbreaker's Busy. This is a cool little fun project.
(Snuffy Smile, 4-1-16-201 Daita, Setagaya-ku Tokyo 155-0033 Japan)

 

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