IT'S A LIVING
BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #14.9
J Church and Honey BearRecords n The High Grass
Better to die than to live a fucking lie...
ANYONE WANNA LEND ME $3000?
No? I didn't think so. I'm about to finish up my book and I just have
a couple of things to do. Unfortunately, that means finding a way of getting
back to London and possibly Spain for a couple of days. I'm broke, of
course, and will be even more so after this tour. So, I'm selling everything
I can to raise the dough.
Incidentally, if you do wanna lend me $3000 or any part of it, get in
touch. I've been trying to avoid groveling for loans. But I've done it
before and I suppose I could do it again.
Thanx to anyone who came out to the show the other night with the band
I tend to refer to as quasi-Filth. We played for the second time the other
night with Career Suicide and Limp Wrist and it was a blast. Sorry about
the technical problems. Don't know if and when we'll play again.
Grant McLennan (1958 2006)
The Go-Betweens were the kind of band that inspired the right people
to get involved in music. It may not have been their intention. But they
were an inspiration to those who would prefer artistic and intellectual
pursuits in music rather than entertainment and financial gain. Not that
they wouldn't have loved to have had a Top Ten hit. But commercial trends
never affected the band and they put out beautiful record after beautiful
record in the face of such adversity.
Starting off as a Velvet's meets Saints meets
not-really-like-that-at-all sort of band in the early `80s, Grant
McLennan and Robert Forster started the Go-Betweens while at college
in Brisbane, Australia (Security City to Saints fans). While punk may
have been their mode at the start, the main themes were much more
melodic and almost psychedelic in their pop sensibilities. Over that
unforgiving decade of largely unlistenable music, the group managed
six fantastic albums mining in many different areas of intelligent
pop. A Go-Betweens song can make the Smiths seem illiterate.
Despite the critical success and a hardcore cult following, the band
never did break through commercially and were done before the end of the
decade. The '90s saw McLennan still busy producing four great solo offerings
(one a double LP) as well as a one-off Go-Betweens reunion tour. Surely
that and his prolific nature led to the groups 2000 permanent reunion.
Four LPs were to follow. While they didn't quite pick up where 1988's
16 Lovers Lane left off, they were still very much so Go-Betweens
records and made sense in the overall catalog.
McLennan died early in May at home of a heart attack.
FESTIVUS 2005 J CHURCH / URCHIN TOUR #3 part 2
November 20th Gainesville, FL
McKee is heading home today, so I'm on my own. I make it over to the
Common Grounds for the day show featuring mostly lo-fi, singer-songwriter
stuff. I get to see Erin Tobey, which is really why I got up so early.
She has a cool guitar technique and I like her little voice. Plus, she
just writes such good songs. Before I even knew she made music, I was
checking out her zine. It's not a surprise that the music she makes is
so personal and unique.
There's a crazy house party going on with a bunch of bands I wanna
see. Lefty Lucy are a cool group that we met at a house party in
Milwaukee a little while back. They put on a good show with lots of
great pop songs. They sort of remind me of a much punkier Tiger Trap
or something. I don't know if that's what they're going for. But it
comes out nice.
Another member of Yusuke's band, Blotto, is over for the fest.
Recruiting Mole from the Urchin and Tomo on drums, they put together a
brief set of Blotto songs to play at the party. It's very cool to see
people willing to take such chances and go to such great lengths just
to play to the cool party people. It was all very much in the spirit
of the Fest.
We make it back for another big show with Dillinger Four opening.
They're not looking too good. They readily admit that they are way too
hung over to play. The result is that they seem to be really
concentrating. Even though it doesn't make for as fun of a show, it
sounds great. None More Black play after them and I'm not really into
it. I dunno. It's just rock music and I'd just as soon listen to BTO
or whatever. I'm talking with Bill Florio when somebody sneaks up
behind him and dumps are garbage can over his head. Turns out it was
one of the guys from Against Me. But he sneaks off before anyone can
do anything. Seems pretty cowardly but I don't really think much of
that band anyway. There's something really fake about them that I
can't put my finger on. The Soviettes are next. I like `em. I mostly
like Annie's songs. The crowd sucks as I think they've just been
waiting for the headliners.
Anyway, enough of the big rock club. I split and go check out the
hardcore show with Bury the Living who are amazing as always and our
fellow Austin-ites, Army Of Jesus. Oh, much more fun. A really great
atmosphere. Pretty much no stage in a small hall. Friendly pit. It's
like a really old style hardcore show.
Afterwards I go with Mike from the Observers and Dave from Drunken Boat
(amongst other things) to a vegan café. Why does all the food at
the hippy vegan coffee shops have to have such stupid names? No wonder
I hate these places. I get the Indiana Jones and the TEMPEH of Doom and
a salad with a name so stupid I can't remember. Over greens and fermented
soy, we decide to do some recording together back in Austin. I guess they're
riding back with Toys That Kill and will be around for a few days. Time
to call Stan and see what his schedule is like. Perhaps a new band is
born at the Fest.
November 21st Atlanta, GA
The last time we were here we played a shameful, shameful show. It was
so bad. I don't know what the hell happened. There was a good crowd. It
was a nice club. I just couldn't get anything going. I couldn't sing that
night to save my life. Yeah, yeah, I can't really sing anyway. But that
night was especially bad. Yikes. After a string of great shows in Atlanta
we've had two or three stinkers in a row.
Man, there's just nothing to eat around here. It must be some sort of
holiday because everything is closed. We drive forever to eat some
pretty dire Chinese food. It really took the life out from under me.
We get back in time to see the amazing Black Cougar Shock Unit. I love
these guys and missed them at the Fest. Just too much shit all
happening at once. So I was really happy to find out that we were
playing with them in their hometown. They were as powerful live as you
would imagine. Two guitars really work for them. This bar is really
cool. The room where the bands play is nice and cozy.
It's Monday. It's not packed. But it's the best time we've had in Atlanta
in forever. I'm feeling a lot better about this place.
November 22nd Chattanooga, TN
I needed some alone time so while the rest of the entourage went to
a somewhat pricey café for breakfast, I snuck out to a pizza place.
A little privacy can go a long way and it was the cleanest bathroom of
the entire tour.
We still manage to get to Ziggy's hours and hours before we need to be
there. Nothing to do? We eat again. This place was great. After
walking around in the cold, looking at the old bridges, we find a cool
coffee shop diner. It's nice just to chill out and I get a chance to
really chat with Maya, Ben's significant other who we've picked up for
the rest of the trip.
There are two shows tonight and ours is the early one at the bar.
Well, it's not really at the bar. It's in this big, graffiti covered,
empty room behind the bar. It's crazy. Yoichi says he likes it because
it's like a European squat show. Yup. The show is total madness with
loads of people turning up.
Lots of great bands tonight including a great set from Sexy who are at
their best. They've had some drinks but they've got it together.
They're tight as hell and every song is a high-speed pop miracle. The
crowd goes equally nuts for the Urchin as this must be their best show
of the tour. Even we go down really great ending with our Misfits
cover and Mole on bass.
After our show ends, there's a house party with some of the other bands
from the Fest. I couldn't hang out for long in the basement because my
allergies were going crazy from the dust. So I don't know all the bands
that played. I wanna say Lefty Lucy, maybe Bent Outta Shape, the Modern
I'm sure others played too. It was a crazy scene and I
was really, really not up for the overnight drive that we had.
November 23rd Denton, TX
What the fuck are we doing? We're playing a college town right before
Thanksgiving. Nobody is here. Nobody we know is around. Oh well. The club
is really nice actually and the people working the show are really cool.
Hailey's? I spent a lot of time walking back and forth to the coffee shop.
I was starting to feel my legs get wobbly from the overnight drive and
just general fatigue. Shit, I had to make it back to Austin tonight as
The show isn't even half full, but it's fun anyway. I say my good-byes
to the Japanese crew and head to the Greyhound station. Fuck it. I need
to be home for work. I get the first bus outta there and wake up with
the Austin sun burning my eyes out. None of the buses are running so I
wind up walking half the way. Hours later I make it back home only to
find out I don't need to work after all. Fuck me.
IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM
CODE OF HONOR / SICK PLEASURE - split LP
I love hardcore bands doing split records. I love the Faith / Void split.
I love the Concrete Sox / Heresy split. I love this record so much. To
this day, both sides totally hold up. Okay, first there was Sick Pleasure.
Niki Siki and crew put out a great 7" and this side. Totally fucking
snotty punk that was the template for everyone from the Dwarves to Blatz.
I love that it's so violently anti-civic pride with, my favorite song
of theirs, Let's Kill The MUNI Driver.
Once Niki Siki split, the band regrouped with a new singer under the
name Code Of Honor. They had some other stuff, but nothing as good as
this recording. Skater dudes from the time of Action Now, they went political
and everything went haywire. It's a little confused but amazing all the
same. Their theme song has some of the best phrasing in all punk rock.
"Your self-determination is more important than your life!"
Fuck yeah! (Subterranean
FREE SPIRITS - Out Of Sight And Sound LP
What the fuck is this record all about? I dunno. But I love it. I guess
when people say "jazz rock" you expect the most mundane form
of fusion. I mean, there's good fusion
I guess. But there's a lot
of not good fusion. Right? So what the fuck is this?
Imagine if the jazz and rock interface happened before acid rock or the
`70s guitardation of the western world. In fact, this could have more
to do with jazz meeting pop music culture more so than rock. If it weren't
for the amazing performances, the imaginative arrangements and the fascinating
instrumentation (sitars, sax, flutes as well as the usual suspects)...
If you strip away all that stuff, you get something almost like the Association
But you juxtapose those things and you get something wholly different.
Don't Look Now is a fantastic pop song that is totally subverted
by the wild sax. Sunday Telephone is the same with its great quasi
or proto-psych pop. This is like a '60s pop record for brainiacs. (ABC
RAINCOATS - s/t LP
I bought this record solely based on a quote from John Lydon saying that
all music was rubbish except for the Raincoats. I still love the record
cover. It's self-conscious quasi-naiveté. It's perfect for this
beautiful teetering color field of sound.
No Side To Fall In is still the greatest way to start a pop record
ever. I love it. From that first screech of the violin to the humbly sweet
harmonized vocals, it's a perfect post-modern pop song. Ditto for Black
And White as well as their totally classic deconstruction of Lola.
From there the album never lets up. There's quirky arrangements by a
self-taught band pushing their own limits with wonderful vocals holding
it all together. I don't know how to explain this kind of music. Imagine
a lo-fi Trout Mask Replica coming from a pop or reggae background
rather than the blues. Does that make sense? (Rough
ROLLING STONES, THE - "untitled" LP
In 1972, the Stones were meant to release a movie and a live LP. The
movie is the notorious Cocksucker Blues which to this day is one
of my favorite rockumentaries. It's a fucked document that manages to
turn a glamorous rock-n-roll tour into a Kenneth Anger descent into maelstrom.
The live album was recorded for Decca and was never released. It got
as far as the editing stage and now boots are everywhere. The band are
as loose as in the flick, but it's cool to hear them roll through live
versions of Rocks Off, Brown Sugar, Heartbreaker,
All Down The Line, Gimme Shelter, Happy, Tumbling
Dice, Love In Vain, Sweet Virginia, You Can't Always Get What You Want,
Midnight Rambler, Bitch, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Street
Fighting Man, and Rip This Joint. Mick Taylor was never totally represented
But live he was really in a groove and at this point he seemed to be
the most confident.
I fucking love bootlegs from this period. I loved them as a kid and to
hear something that was properly recorded for legitimate release is exciting
and satisfying. (Decca)
STINKY TOYS - s/t LP
Weren't you curious too? Come on! I was a kid and I would read everything
I could about the punk explosion. I read accounts of the punk festival
at the 100 Club and was totally thrilled. The Clash, The Damned, The Pistols,
Siouxsie and the Banshees, Subway Sect and some French band called the
Stinky Toys. The other bands all fell into place for me as I began collecting
the records. But even the live reviews had back then had a real ambivalence
towards the Stinky Toys like they were clearly not invited to the party.
Ever since then I've been curious as hell. I didn't feel totally
compelled to track down an expensive French import LP. I would see it
around but it was pretty low on my list what with the Stones possibly
putting together another half-assed compilation package.
This record isn't really what I expected. I thought it would either be
arty-farty stuff that was the French being French and that got
confused as punk. Either that or I thought they would just be a rock
or pop group with no real connection to punk at all.
But the Stinky Toys were a punk band and not too bad at all. Thing is,
they've clearly got much more of a New York influence. With the exception
of the fast rocking Driver Blues, this record has a lot more in
common with the first Patti Smith Group or even someone goofy like the
Tuff Darts. There are even some Quine like guitar runs. The girl can sort
of sing. But she can yell too and mixes it up pretty well like a young
Vi Subversa. Imagine if Patti Smith wasn't a poet but that it was all
just a bad translation from French. You get the idea. It's cool. (Polydor)
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