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July 2024: About
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So, I am standing there in the Nile Theater in Mesa, Arizona in the early 1990s. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was 1994, I think, maybe 1995. Brainiac had just played and absolutely killed it, as usual, but I was even more excited about the next band. They had captured my attention in a major way in the previous few years and they were actually in my town.

They started their set. It was fucking incredible. “Incendiary” is a word that I want to use but, because of the circumstances, cannot bring myself to actually consider attaching any real feeling to at this moment. About six songs into their set, some idiot brought a fire extinguisher into the pit and started spraying it around.

Show over.

Six songs in and the band I had been wanting to see for a few solid years had to leave the stage. It was New York City’s Cop Shoot Cop and that was my only chance to see them. Fuck that stupid dude who thought the fire extinguisher would be fun. Fuck him right in the B.

How could you not be interested in a band called Cop Shoot Cop? As a punk rocker, you almost have to like them right off the bat. I have nothing against police officers, for the most part, but they represent a level of authority that, at best, can’t truly be trusted. I’m glad the good ones are there, and I’ve met a lot of good ones over the years, either professionally in my old violence prevention days or when I needed some help myself.

The name, though, catches your eye and attention.

Cop Shoot Cop put out four records, I believe, but I’m partial to their 1993 release, . I like all the others, but when I looked inward, this is the one I wanted to write about today. Maybe it is because I like the song “Room 429,” but that’s probably not it. As I type this, I realize that I could also just as easily be writing about the other records.

The cover of is striking. There is a young person with a gun to their head. I look at that image and it makes me want to help this young person. Why do they have the gun at their head? (This reminds me that I haven’t worked on the site in quite some time. I need to do that)

The music contained within the record (I have it on CD) is urgent and powerful and fits the cover really well. It is desperate, in a way, and while it is also apparent this is a band that wants to bust out of the underground a bit and be seen, they are struggling to maintain their identity as one of the “cool NY bands.” The tension this creates is palpable. It also gives birth to some excellent music.

There is no guitar on the record. I like that. Two bassists, percussion, samplers, and piano. Cop Shoot Cop would later add a guitar, but unlike some folks who hated it, I didn’t mind. Bands are allowed to evolve.

Ask Questions Later has all that tension and release because the band was evolving. Putting “Surprise, Surprise” as the first song was kind of brilliant, just as the line, “Surprise, surprise, the government lies” echoes a lot of my own feelings about our leaders. It’s a slap in the face right off the bat, with a tremendous outro part, and leads into “Room 429.”

Songs about scoring drugs will always make my skin crawl a bit. If you’ve ever been in the situation where you were waiting for someone to bring the drugs, you know what I mean. I’ve always interpreted this song as being about deciding whether or not to cop that next dose of something that makes you feel like you are all by yourself.

That’s what drugs do, really. They make you feel alone. I don’t know why, maybe it is something I knew about the band thirty years ago, but there are a lot of drug references in Cop Shoot Cop’s music. I think they probably struggled with addiction, but again, that’s just a hunch, and I digress.

“Nowhere” is big and swirling and removes a bit of residue that is left over from “Room 429.” Good call, here, to whoever decided on the song order. Tod Ashley, aka Tod A, comes from the same vocal neighborhood as the late Mark Sandman of Morphine. Not so much in how they sound, but how they deliver the lyrics in a song that moves a little quicker than they are used to doing. There is a cadence that reminds me of each of them in their songs.

“$10 Bill” is another song that is possibly about needing money for drugs that I really like. It moves really well, too, and I’ve put it on a lot of mixed tapes and CDs over the years. It’s like an old, comfortable friend that I can always come back to when I need them.

It’s odd to me that my two favorite songs off of are the two most popular in terms of the amount of plays they have on Spotify. This kind of bums me out, but also is gratifying in a way. I’m glad others dig these songs, too.

“Furnace” is another favorite. I love the bass sound on the whole album, with two it’s just huge, but “Furnace” is particularly powerful. As a gateway to the rest of the album, in a way, it sets a nice tone.

As wraps itself up, the noisiness and anger become more apparent across the last five or six tracks. This is why it is a record that you can’t really ignore as it goes on. It gets into your head and stays there.

It’ll be in my head for a while, I think.

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July 2024: Welcome
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Most of the time when bandmates get into an argument, everybody loses. Bands break up, key members leave, and the music invariably suffers. There are exceptions, of course, where addition by subtraction has had great results. I have been in a few of these situations, and without naming names, I have seen bands improve because someone decided to take their talents elsewhere.

I can’t say that Public Image Ltd (henceforth being referred to as PIL) benefitted from Keith Levene leaving the band in the early 80s, but one result of his parting was two excellent records. The short version of this, and it is really not my story to tell or surmise about the happenings, but Levene and John Lydon could not seem to agree about the band’s fourths studio LP and each of them submitted a version to Virgin Records.

There are significant differences in the records when you listen to them side-to-side, but most people probably wouldn’t do that. I love them both. I also feel it would be tough to talk about one without talking about the other.

For one thing, I got them in two different ways. Back in the day, it was easy to find on vinyl for cheap. I doubt it is the case today. I guess a lot of people were bummed with it, but I snagged my used copy at Zia for $2.99 and loved every minute of it.

I appreciate that PIL didn’t need to keep recreating the same record. They had the incredible limitation of John Lydon’s voice to keep the casual fan and all the non-fans saying that all PIL sounds kinda the same, but if you listen closely, the music is always fucking fantastic. This allows Lydon to stretch his limited range every which way he can (thank you, Clint Eastwood).

This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get (TIWYWTIWYG)starts out with a bang and drops “Bad Life” and “This Is Not a Love Song” back-to-back. Commercial Zone, which I got as a gift (thank you, A!), does the same, but the songs sound very different. These songs are the most instantly recognized of the songs from these sessions, and rightly so, but for me, they are just a jumping off point.

I love the funky, quirkiness of “Solitaire” on for example, and in some ways, it feels like the first song on the record after you start with a couple of flashy bonus tracks. It is re-titled on as “Young Brits” and while it is not as full sounding, it’s also great in this mix, too.

That’s the main difference for me (as a decidedly lo-fi, who gives a shit about production kind of guy) in the two albums. sounds like it is recorded to sound great in on a Walkman and is bigger and fuller. The vocals also sound very different, although I will say that Levene didn’t attempt to show up Lydon or make him sound bad. The recordings on mostly pre-date the ones used on and the vocal performances may have just not been nuanced as much. Who knows?

When I heard the B side of I was blown away, though. I listened to it over and over. “The Slab” is one of my favorite PIL songs, even though it is an instrumental. There is something so haunting about the riff. It’s just acoustic guitar and a synthesizer (I’m guessing on the latter as it could be a keyboard, too, I suppose). Simple and haunting and exceptionally beautiful, “The Slab” has stuck in my head for the last 30 years or so since I first heard it.

“Lou Reed Pt. 1” and “Lou Reed Pt. 2” are both also so refreshingly different. Again, I remember listening to these tracks for the first time and just having my head blown off. This was a side of PIL I didn’t know existed. For Lou Reed Pt. 2” is refashioned as “Where Are You,” but they may as well be completely different songs. Levene’s guitar work is so much more interesting in his version than that of the studio guitarist brought in for version

Another huge difference is the inclusion of another favorite of mine on called “Blue Water.” There is almost a kind of feeling as if PIL and Bauhaus joined forces on this one. I could see Bauhaus doing a really cool version of “Blue Water.” It’s dark and angsty and feels a bit dangerous, too. The piano really makes the song. It’s just there in the background reminding you that evil is always close by.

Event though the B sides of each record are very different, they are both super strong in my opinion. Where is kind of missing the really experimental sounds that does so well, the songs are just as compelling when you listen to each record on its own.

“1981,” for example, is one of those songs that only a true PIL fan will love. We are a pretty exclusive club, sometimes, but welcoming to new folks. You just have to love the deep tracks.

“The Order of Death” is “The Slab” from reworked with Lydon sing/chanting “This is what you want, this is what you get” over the instrumental track. It’s a powerful ending and a total earworm. I might prefer it as “The Slab,” but since I heard “The Order Of Death” about five years before “The Slab,” I do love them both and have a place in my heart for each.

The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong with either version of this record. If you want something kind of rare that will make that one record collector friend of yours ooh and ahh, grab a copy of off Discogs. It’ll set you back a few buckaroos, but you’ll have the bragging rights.

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July 2024: Welcome
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My favorite record that I have ever stolen, New Order’s introduced me to a song that has been among my favorites for almost forty years now. “Love Vigilantes” has been in what I would have to say is my top-ten songs since the first time I pushed play on my purloined cassette.

Something about the story in the song, which was panned by critics at the time, has always just touched me. When I step away from it as objectively as I can, there is really nothing particularly special about the song in comparison to many other songs I love. The music is mid-tempo and the vocals are not sung in a manner that is amazing by any standard, but the whole package has always been special to me.

The song is about a soldier dying, presumably in combat, and figuring it out when he gets home and sees that his “wife lay upon the floor, and with tears her eyes were sore.” He sees the “telegram that said I was a brave, brave man but that I was dead.” Maybe he doesn’t really die at all and it’s a mistake, but I’ve always figured he was a ghost.

It’s very different from almost every other New Order song. I could easily say this is why I like it so much, but that’s not the case. I love a lot of other New Order songs, too. In fact, the whole record is pretty great. It’s gotten me through some rough times like an old, comfy blanket.

“Love Vigilantes” is a great first song. At the point in which I slipped this cassette tape into the pocket of my shorts when walking through Tower Records, I probably hadn’t heard much of their music outside of the dance single, “Blue Monday” from 1983. It could very well be that “Love Vigilantes” is the first New Order song I heard on purpose.

(Side note on “Blue Monday”: It’s the first New Order vinyl I ever purchased. I wish I still had that 12”)

For years, I entertained the idea of covering “Love Vigilantes” but too many people have done bad versions of it and the novelty wore off. I love Duncan Sheik, but his version of “Love Vigilantes” is terrible, as is the Iron & Wine cover, too. Clearly it is a song that should be left alone.

“Perfect Kiss” is back to more of what makes New Order great. It’s a song that I enjoy quite a bit, too, although I would never call it a ‘favorite.’ There is something that New Order does a lot of the time that starts to sound a bit repetitive to me and that’s the single notes hit three or four times as an accent in songs. They started that whole thing in their more dance-y stuff, and it’s great, but I just start to numb out, mentally, when I hear it.

As mentioned, has been like comfort food for me. Often, I sing along with “Love Vigilantes” and then let the rest of the record play without really giving it much thought. Today is the deepest I’ve considered the other songs.

I do like “This Time of Night” a lot. I also enjoy “Sunrise” quite a bit. It’s probably my second favorite song on the record. I love how the song creeps in after the somber keyboard parts. Bernard Sumner’s guitar is pretty darn iconic, and it carries the song to really, at least for me, unexpected heights as the ‘sun’ ascends.

“Elegia” is really beautiful, too. Sumner leads the way again over with a beautiful riff over the synths. As far as instrumentals go, it’s just awesome. If you’re reading this and will have a hand in planning my funeral, please play this song at some point during the service. I want people to think about me while they listen.

“Sooner Than You Think” lightens the mood a bit on side B. It’s a little bit choppy and mildly forgettable, but it does pick things up a bit. I also do like the music that accompanies the verses. It’s probably the best part of the song.

I do enjoy “Sub-culture” a lot, too. It reminds me of when I was young and liked dancing to this kind of stuff. It’s really true that if you dance, you can get the girls. I’m not saying I was ever a good dancer. I was probably goofy as fuck, but when we would go to Tommy’s, if I got up there and danced, I would usually make some new friends of the female persuasion. “Sub-culture” reminds me of those days a lot.

Peter Hook’s bass in “Sub-culture” is pretty rad, too. I didn’t want to forget that. The guy has created some great bass lines over the years.

“Face Up” finishes things off. It’s neither unforgettable nor terrible at this point in my life. I do remember really liking it when I was a teenager. The chorus is pretty great, actually.

“Oh how I cannot bear the thought of you…”

Those maudlin Brits. Gotta love’em.

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July 2024: Welcome
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I have zero recollection of how Freedom Fighters came to my attention. It just seems that one day, I had this record. I’m guessing Shane told me about them since they were on AmRep. There is only one record and it’s called . It seems fitting that I should talk about them today as we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of our nation.

My Scientist Friends is a bit of an asskicker. It comes roaring right in and doesn’t let up for the entire nine songs contained within. It is available on Spotify, too, so don’t get twisted if you can’t find a copy of this CD anywhere. You won’t find it except on Discogs.

I also don’t know anything about the band. Any information I could share here would just be something I found on the internet and because it is a holiday, I’m not doing that. What I will do is just enjoy this record while I type about it.

About every seven or eight years I dust this off. It sits there in my stack of CDs near the Fudge Tunnels and Fugazis, and it remains ready. Vigilant, even. Heck, with a name like Freedom Fighters, this band better be ready.

My imagination tells me they were amazing live. There is a real urgency to the tunes on and I love that from a record or a band. The heavier/noisier bands that clearly came from the punk rock world are typically my favorites. I can’t imagine that the Freedom Fighter guys were anything but hardcore fans.

Probably the best song on the record is “Crows Nest.” The band does the quiet/loud thing really fucking well here and in the mix are some bits of static that have to be there just to fuck with the listener. I love that. They don’t mess up any of the really good parts with it, but it is there in the beginning, and it creates some wonderful tension for the listener.

I also really like the first two songs a lot. “Bad Back” and “Bob Dylan’s 119th Dream,” respectively, are both fantastic. As mentioned, “Bad Back” comes in and just grabs you from the get-go. Totally bad ass. The lyrics to “Bob Dylan’s 119th Dream” are great, too. Both in delivery and the choice of words, whoever sings this one is ruling it.

“C.E.O.” is some badass riffage, too. The band does this thing with the recordings a lot where it seems like things are fucking up on your stereo, but no. Just the band fucking with you. As the CD goes on, there are some riffs that seem like they are fucking up, but again, it’s just the way it is supposed to be.

Damn, I wish I knew more about Freedom Fighters. I bet they were funny as hell. You should listen to this record, especially if you like things heavy and noisy and little fucked up. Freedom Fighters deliver the goods on

“1 arm, 2 Legs” is excellent fun, too. I should really have just stopped and really thought about this write up before I started it, but hot damn, I want to blow some shit up.

Happy 4th!

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July 2024: Welcome
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“Ladies and gentlemen, live from the Peppermint Lounge, The Cramps.”

This was the first thing I heard when I bought my first Cramps’ record in 1985. I was dating a girl whose favorite band was The Cramps and she turned me onto what would become one of my all-time favorite bands as well. I had seen and heard them on , but I was probably so entranced by a few of the other bands in that film that I never really gave The Cramps much thought until I met that girl.

She made me a mix tape of their stuff and I wore it out. Then, one day I was at Zia Records and scored their EP used and I was on my way to being a fully devout fan. As much as I liked the stuff I had been listening to on the tape, hit all the right notes for me.

I’m guessing what made so special to me right off the bat is the energy of the record. The Cramps are their own thing, you know? They weren’t really punk rock nor were they the rockabilly that I first heard, either. I had no idea about a band that was equal parts garage, rockabilly, punk, psych, surf, and B-movie blitz when I was 15 or 16.

Smell of Female has the element of punk, though, that I was definitely a big fan of at that point. It was the right Cramps’ record at the right moment. I have to think that Kid Congo Powers’ contribution played a roll in that, too. He added a certain sound to The Cramps that really drew me to them.

In conversation, though, and in his book, he talked about being pretty out of it when this was recorded due to drugs and alcohol and downplayed his role, but his sound is definitely there. I’m guessing, having gotten to know KC a little bit, that he wishes he would have been able to contribute more. This was the record that made me a fan of his, either way, so I’ll leave it there.

I tend to think of as an example of a band just firing on all the right cylinders. I’m not going to say it is The Cramps greatest moment because, well, there are many great moments by this band, but it is a moment I love. I can easily see Lux Interior prowling around the stage at the Peppermint Lounge, fully owning it like he did every stage. He is one of the greatest frontmen I have ever seen, and I definitely did not get to see him in his prime.

Poison Ivy would be standing there in her spot, too, owning that real estate and daring, with her eyes, anyone to fuck with her. I remember thinking that her guitar parts would be easy to learn when I was young and stupid about playing guitar. They are not and she is vastly underrated, I think. The songs on it its original six song format, are fucking great.

This is due, in a lot of ways, to Nick Knox as well. Another extremely underrated performer. His drums on are right exactly where they need to be as always. If you watch the old videos of them, he was a blast to watch play drums. For my money, the band didn’t really become The Cramps until he started playing with them. Listen to the excellent podcast, if you want to learn more about Cramps’ history. They do a great job with it.

As the record kicks off, The Cramps are absolutely ruling. “Thee Most Exalted Potentate of Love” is just a barn burner. From the opening guitar riff to the wall of fuzz that happens a few seconds in, I am transfixed. I still mangle the words when I try to sing along after almost forty years, but that’s okay. I mangle them with a smile on my face.

There is no bass on this record, but I could care less. The two-guitar version of The Cramps is just as powerful. I wish I would have gotten to see them play the songs from like this live. By the time I got to see them, they were touring with bass players.

“This one’s dedicated to all you Gucci bag carriers…it’s called ‘You Got Gooooooood Taste.”

Possibly my favorite Cramps’ song and moment of all-time. I have to believe that LSD inspired this song at least a little bit, but I could be wrong. The first line, though… “I’ve got this stuff on the tip of my tongue/chandeliers light up the pictures you hung”…that has to be about acid. From there, it is typically ambiguous like many of their songs, but that first line captured my attention as a young psychedelic enthusiast.

Even if the EP kind of fizzled after those first two songs, I would still love it, but it does the opposite. It just gets better and better. “The Call of the Wighat” is another one of those songs that just shows The Cramps being The Cramps. If I close my eyes, I can see Lux with a microphone in his mouth making these sounds as easily as if he was just relaxing in the park reading a book.

“Faster Pussycat” is a cover, but The Cramps make it their own. They had a habit of doing this during their career. Some of their most well-known songs are covers of other artists, but most listeners would never know it. That’s what they did. They took songs and made them their own and they were always better than the original.

“I Ain’t Nothin’ But A Gorehound” is another perfect example of what The Cramps do. The Misfits didn’t really know shit about what “horror punk” should have been. The Cramps, however, actually did it the best. “Gorehound” is so fun.

The last song on the EP is a cover of Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction.” Again, The Cramps just own it. The original is great, of course, but for me, this is the only version I would turn to in a time of need. The Cramps are like that, too. They are always there for you when you need them.

Big thanks to the cheerleader for turning me on them. It would have taken me a lot longer to find this record if it wasn’t for you.

July 2024: About
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Simon & Garfunkel seem like they have always just been there. A constant, really, and a group who have created music that will live throughout time. There is a quality to their music that reaches the highest level that music can reach, in my opinion. It’s something to strive for, I suppose.

You have to love Walmart for people watching, but I used to love it for the bargain bin of CDs, too. I’ve made some great scores from the $5 bin over the years, especially when it comes to a band or artist’s Greatest Hits collection. I know some folks out there are not in favor of these types of collections, but for me, sometimes I want to drive around, listen to the hints, and sing along.

On one such trip, I found a $5 copy of the Simon & Garfunkel’s greatest hits. As I mentioned, they have always been there throughout my life, but I didn’t own anything by them at that point. Why? Who knows. For a long time, I didn’t buy any records that I didn’t really want because my funds have always been somewhat limited for these types of purchases and I thought out each record quite a bit.

Either way, I got the CD at Walmart, and like many of my CD purchases from there, it lived in my CD player for a long time. The craftmanship of these songs, which has been written about for the last fifty years, is outstanding. I shared “The Boxer” the other day on a group text that keeps me sane every day and my brother, Brian, mentioned how he was hoping to keep things light that day.

An artist’s ability to add emotional weight to their music is a true measure of their greatness in my book. On the 1972 collection of their , Simon & Garfunkel gave us a master class in how to convey feeling through music. Even the simple and sappy “59th Street Bridge Song” (AKA “Feelin’ Groovy”) can’t help but put a smile on your face.

Of course, they follow it up with “Sounds of Silence” on and that one is a full-on emotional powerhouse. At a summer camp I used to work at, they would do a thing about empathy that was set to the song where a blind child is made fun of by some other kids. I always think about the feeling in the room when this was done when I hear “Sounds of Silence.”

The idea of being able to hear empathy is pretty darn powerful.

I wonder if Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel have ever sat back and thought about the profound impact their music has on the people of this planet every day. Seriously, as I write this, someone is sitting in their kitchen or bedroom or in a closet somewhere, probably weeping to a song like “Homeward Bound” or “Bookends.”

On the other hand, there is someone gleefully and powerfully singing along with “Mrs. Robinson” as well. I mean, I get a charge from singing along with that one on a regular basis. Sure, I liked the Lemonheads version, too. Everybody liked it because it is a great fucking song.

I’m also partial to “Cecelia” and “El Condor Pasa.” Both of them are so fun to sing along with and just admire, again, how well these songs are made. I wish I didn’t know as much as I do about why the two men who made these songs stopped making music together, because it does taint it a bit, but even then, what they made together is just beautiful, powerful stuff.

For me, the one that brings a tear to my eye, but also puts a little git in my gittyup is “Scarborough Fair/Canticle.” The harmony they created is mesmerizing in all the best ways. It’s maybe the most haunting pop music I’ve ever heard. I never get tired of it.

The best thing about by Simon & Garfunkel, though, remains that it is just jam packed with all kinds of feeling. I can listen to it in almost any mood and feel better. Music is medicine.

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July 2024: Welcome
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Austerity Measures is a damn fine EP. It was made by a guy I consider a friend even though we have never met face to face. I hope that someday this will change, but either way, the record that Brit Jones made with some buddies in a band called Austerity Measures in 2011 impacted my life tremendously.

Brit used to be married to an old friend of mine, Emily, who told me about this boy she loved many years ago who I would really like. We were sitting in front of another friend’s parents’ house, and I could tell how proud of him she was at that moment. I figured I needed to meet this guy.

I never made it to Austin, though. I have yet to make that pilgrimage and am hesitant, now, to do so because it’s not the Austin I used to need. It’s something different, like everything in life, and the music that drew me to it is long, long gone. I’m pretty sure Brit moved away, too, so there’s that.

I thought was long gone, too, as my CD is missing from its case, but thanks to Spotify (I know many of you hate it, but I use it), I have it again. Since I discovered it there, it has been in regular rotation again. Hopefully I can find that CD. It’s probably in the wrong case, sitting on the shelf, waiting to be found.

Brit and I traded some music and used to chat pretty often on ol’ Facebook. It’s been way too long since I checked in with him but I’m guessing he’s doing all right. I hope he’s making music again.

I hope this mainly because Brit is one of the best lyricists out there for my money. Emily was right and me liking him, too. I feel like I got to know Brit through the excellent lyrics on

He also crafted some tunes that just got me going in all the good ways. They are catchy as hell, just enough fuzz to satisfy the cravings I like to engage, and recorded in a way that sounds fucking great to my ears. I know Brit and I have a lot of common likes in the music world, but it is also super refreshing to hear these songs brought to life in a way that I would never have thought of doing.

When I first heard I wanted to go to Austin and jam with Brit so badly. I figured he could show me the way to craft a song that had the blend of punk/cow-punk/fuzz that I love so much. The EP has a taste of Americana to it, as well, that gives it a vibe I would never be able to create on my own, but love.

“Captain Ahab’s Trips Festival” is a driver that takes you on a great journey through how life actually feels most of the time. “God might take away all of your sins, but the house always wins” is a line that gets me every fucking time. There is a killer guitar line in the bridge part of the song, too, that is spectacular. If I had the CD in front of me, I could give proper credit, I’m sure…but it is Phoenix, and I am in Maine.

There is a poetry to these songs that doesn’t seem or feel forced. The words are given the room to just be a compliment to the music. “The Firemen Are In The Pipes” is so damn good. “I’m not the hero kind and it drives me out of my mind” is another amazing line.

The songs are all on the shorter side, but they leave you wanting more. I remember thinking, “Is that it?” when I first played the EP. I wanted more. I still want more now. “Queen of Roses,” for example, is nice and short but packs a total punch.

“We rub mud on our eyes/Desolation in disguise.”

I’m just going to leave that one right there. I can’t recommend this EP enough. is one of those records that people need to hear. I may be blinded because of this feeling of friendship that I feel, but even thirteen years later, I still love this music.

“You don’t talk to strangers for a damn good reason around here.”

Poet. A motherfucking poet.

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July 2024: Welcome
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I love a good compilation for obvious reasons. Without intending to repeat myself (but I am sure I am), I have to point out that a good compilation gives you access to a few (or a lot of) good bands in one place. As someone who watched his music dollars closely for the vast majority of my life, a good compilation was excellent bang for the buck.

This one was a bit of a score when I found the cassette of it, then later the CD, and even later, thanks to my friend, Jason, the vinyl. I have the triumvirate which makes me cooler than most (not really) and allowed me to feel a sense of musical completion (doesn’t exist). I’m talking about , of course, a compilation featuring six noisy bands.

Led by the Butthole Surfers and Big Black, features the same six bands on each side. Scratch Acid, Happy Flowers, Killdozer, and Hose join the fun, too. Touch & Go Records put this out in 1986 and knowing that chaps my hide a bit. I could have been enjoying this a lot sooner than I did.

Two songs each from each of these bands and the order is reversed on the “God” side and the “Dog” side, so the Surfers start the fun on the “God” side and end it on the “Dog.” On the CD, you get Big Black back-to-back with two songs that, I believe, were not released anywhere else and that’s never terrible.

As a former Butthole Surfers completist, I had to have this comp because it featured my favorite band. The two Surfers’ songs are great, too. “Eindhoven Chicken Masque” and “The Legless Eye” are both excellent and at that time, weren’t available anywhere else. I’m curious is Touch & Go still own these tracks or if the Surfers got them back when their catalog was released.

Either way, I wasn’t disappointed at all in my purchase. “Eindhoven Chicken Masque” was a treat to my ears when I first heard it and then the comp stays strong through the “God” side. The weakest moment is Happy Flowers’ “Colors In the Rain” and that isn’t a jab at them at all. By itself, it is a fun bit of noisiness but compared to the other tracks, it doesn’t have a whole lot to offer.

Hose’s rendition of “Down By The River” is fun and the Scratch Acid offering, “The Final Kiss” is typically amazing. I really love Scratch Acid a lot. It’s short and to the point, but “The Final Kiss” packs a punch.

Killdozer offers “Sweet Home Alabama” which is great fun, too. Those guys knew their way around doing awesome covers and making them their own. The last song is Big Black’s “Every Man For Himself.” Hot damn, it’s one of the best songs of theirs in my book. Dave Riley’s bass line is fucking killer.

The “Dog” side, as mentioned, starts with Big Black slogging through “Crack Up.” This one is not as much of a barn burner as “Every Man For Himself,” but it’s still very good and you can’t hear it anywhere else on vinyl or CD.

Speaking of the CD, I can’t find a listing for the CD on Discogs, but I have one. Could it be a bootleg of some kind, I wonder? If it is a bootleg, they did a great job.

Happy Flowers are back for another noisy one then Hose does a Led Zeppelin cover, “How Many More Times.” It’s okay, I suppose. I think both of these bands are pretty darn forgettable. Rick Rubin, yes, that Rick Rubin, was a member of Hose. That’s their claim to fame.

Luckily, the “Dog” side ends super strong with “Holes” by Scratch Acid, “Sonnet” by Killdozer, and “The Legless Eye” by the Butthole Surfers. The Scratch Acid track just cements the greatness of Rey Washam’s drums. David Yow is his usual self, too. Super good and tasty, for sure.

“Sonnet” is a really wonderful Killdozer effort. I particularly like the riff a lot. The lyrics are quite visual, too. Michael Gerald can really paint a picture, too. Also, I was today years old when I learned that Butch Vig recorded this track for them. Go figure…but it makes sense.

“The Legless Eye” is another great Surfers’ song. It kind of reminds me of songs from or . It’s creepy and super haunting with all kinds of weird noises that are meant to make you feel a bit uneasy, especially if you were on some kind of hallucinogen at the time. Headphones in the dark would be the way to go.

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July 2024: Welcome
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One of my favorite things is when I hear someone mention a band in casual conversation that I don’t know anything about. It immediately makes me prick up my ears a bit and pay closer attention. Such a thing turned me on to Black Box Recorder several years ago.

My cousin, Ben, was talking about scoring their record on vinyl and I was unfamiliar, so he sent me a song to listen to on my own. Needless to say, I loved it. The record is pricey if you can find one, but I’ve been a frequent streamer ever since.

I don’t know if it has been purposely, but I haven’t really learned much about the band. I know they are a British supergroup of sorts, but other than them being members of Jesus & Mary Chain and The Auteurs, that’s the extent of my knowledge. I do like the riffs and the woman who sings lead has a great voice.

England Made Me from 1998 is the record I have listened to the most. The title track is a really wonderful song. If you like the moodier English stuff, you’ll dig it. The lyrics are a really sharp yet subtle dig at being English, which a lot of the lyrics seem to be in the vein of throughout. The chorus is great.

I think one of the coolest things about this record is that it is really charming in its subtlety. The riffs are there, and they are super solid, but they aren’t flashy at all. Simple melodies with some nimble instrumentation, but nothing that fans of big, over-the-top kind of stuff are going to be impressed by.

“It’s Only The End of the World” reminds me of a song that would have been on the soundtrack of a 1960s Peter Sellers’ movie. The way the vocalist sings it is right out of the type of female vocal style that he seemed to have in all those old movies. Clearly, I like this style, too.

The guitar work on “It’s Only The End of the World” is really nice, too. Again, totally subtle, but the riff is great. There is also some synth made to sound like a theremin or there is some actual theremin in there that I really like. “Where is the love?” Great little chorus-y bit.

The album is stacked up as short song/long song for the first two-thirds, too. I’m curious if that was by design or just happened that way. I’m always a bit curious about how bands come up with song orders and such. There needs to be a flow of energy, I know, but how do they do it. Do other people wonder this? Am I weird?

“Child Psychology” was the song that hooked me first. It’s got one of the greatest yet darkest lyrical turns of any song I can think of within it. “Life is unfair/kill yourself or get over it/life is unfair/kill yourself or get over it.” This is surrounded by some rather engaging spoken word and a killer backing track. The music is perfectly complimentary and allows the great dynamics of the words to really shine. Not for the weak at heart, though.

“Uptown Top Ranking” is kind of trippy and cool. I like it a lot. There is not a lot going on there for the person who likes a ‘busy’ song, but that’s what makes it great. The way the music is looped in and out is very cool.

“Swinging” is another one that sort of sneaks up on you with an ethereal beauty. Like the rest of the album, it’s very simple, but the vocals are so damn charming. “Kidnapping An Heiress” is another super catchy one, too.

“Kidnapping an Heiress” has some more nimble guitar work. I like the way this song is mixed, too. Everything has its place, and the place doesn’t overstep and cover up the other instruments. Everything has proper space.

“Wonderful Life” and “Hated Sunday” are both really good, too. Like many of the records I’ve written about this year so far, there are no wasted moments or weak songs. Every note matters. Every. Single. One.

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July 2024: Welcome
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I was lucky enough to see Die Kreuzen in 1986, I believe, at Prisms. I’m thinking it was ’86 because of who I was dating at the time. She made appearances in my life in 1987, too, but that was usually to fuck things up, but I digress. Die Kreuzen is a good memory, and they made an impression on me.

At the time, I don’t know if I had seen a band that made such an impression on me yet also kind of baffled me. They were not like the other bands I was into, and it took a little bit of time for them to really marinate in my mind. It kind of went like this…

Me, in 1986 out loud: “I really like that Die Kreuzen band.” While inwardly, I was wondering, “What the fuck are they doing and what are they about?” In those days, I didn’t know how to articulate being blown away by a band but also being super confused by how fucking good they were.

I didn’t pick up a copy of the for at least another decade, if not 13 years or so. I wasn’t until after meeting one of the dudes, and forgive me for not remembering his name, when he did sound for us at Headline Records in LA in 1999 when Hillbilly did an instore appearance there. Small world, I suppose.

We were talking with him after we played and he was super cool and complimentary to us, then he dropped that he had played in a band called Die Kreuzen. I was floored. I think Shane was floored, too, and Steve was like, “Who?”

So, I picked up and that was that.

This 7” is powerful. It’s also less than seven and half minutes long. It will take you about the same time to read this as you would to listen to the EP. I suggest queuing it up on YouTube now.

“Hate Me” goes into “Pain” and then “Enemies” on side one. “Hate Me” is just a blast of punk rock fury. The opening riff is just straight up bad ass, too. I love this side of punk music. If you can’t say what you need to say in 45 seconds, you must have a lot to say.

I’ve never been in a band that could really master the short song and it is a regret of mine. Listening to the just taunts me. I always wanted to do something like this but never really got to do it.

“Pain” is a little over a minute, but it seems like longer and by that, I mean that it doesn’t seem like there is anything missing. It’s perfect, just the way it is, as is “Enemies.” There is something about the last song on side one that is so great. These Millwaukee dudes were pissed off and I love it.

“In School” starts off side two and it is another barn burner. I realize that I’m using all the euphemisms here, but damn, this 7” rules. I should listen to it every day. Maybe I will.

If it wasn’t for the copious amounts of swearing, I would make my students listen to it, too, but that would be the end of my teaching career. “In School,” in particular, probably would get me fired for the profanity alone.

“Think For Me” is fucking brutal. I love it. Same for “Don’t Say Please.” is a perfect punk rock record. It should be shot into space so that aliens know better than to ever come here and fuck with us like they always seem to do in the movies.

Cows and Beer could save lives. I mean it.

July 2024: About
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We are traveling back to the summer of 1985 today, kiddies. After my punk rock show cherry was burst earlier that year, it was time for me to go to shows every chance I got. I happened to be staying with my mom in the summer of 1985 and working at Taco Bell to earn a few bucks here and there. It was a glorious time for me in many ways.

On July 27, 1985, I walked up to the Mason Jar on East Indian School Road in Phoenix and went to see Youth Brigade, SNFU, and (apparently) the Asexuals by myself. I don’t remember that particular set by the Asexuals, but I do remember seeing them another time when they played for Ben and I and their roadies during the minor show.

This show was incredible, and the energy was high. I left there a full-on fan of both Youth Brigade and SNFU. I immediately went out and spent Taco Bell money on their records.

Sound and Fury became an immediate favorite of mine (as did SNFU’s And No Else Wanted to Play, but that’s another story and I am just realizing that I will have to come up with another story to start that blurb, but I have other SNFU stories). My punk record collection expanded greatly thanks to Taco Bell, if I remember correctly, and I probably drove my mom crazy that summer with all my new records. I’m not going to apologize here, though.

One of the things that drew me to Youth Brigade was their positivity. I’ve always liked to have a nice balance of the dark and the light in my life. I enjoy the angry and evil side of punk, for sure, but I also like a lot of the bands that were looking at things from the standpoint of let’s create something instead of destroying it. Youth Brigade seemed to be doing a lot of creating.

They also ripped in those days. The stuff on is fucking good. When I saw them a few years ago at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas, they played a ton of stuff off this record, and it brought me back to the place where I was a big fan of theirs. I don’t know what happened, but at some point, I kind of forgot about .

In fact, in 1987 or 1988, I sold it to Zia for money to go to Rocky Point. I probably got $2 for it. Dumb move because I bought it again a few years ago for about $25. I had a few of those weak moments in those days. Money for cheap Corona. Yay.

The Stern brothers, Shawn (vocals, guitar), Adam (bass), and Mark (drums) could really play punk rock extremely well. They wrote a bunch of super catchy songs for and while every song isn’t instantly memorable, most of them are and that’s what matters. There are some really good bass lines on this record.

You also have to hand it to them for getting their act in gear and putting out not only their own music, but a lot of other great music on Better Youth Organization. Maybe they were kind of striving to be the West Coast version of Dischord, but I’m guessing they were doing their own thing. I respect that they had a lot of things going for them.

Back to the record, though.

Sound and Fury has a number of my early favorite songs on it. “Sink With California” kicks things off nicely. I liked it a lot when I heard it live and was stoked to have it kick off the record.

“Men in Blue (part 1)” was another early favorite of mine and how could it not be? It takes on the cops about as well as any punk song ever has, in my opinion. It was also one of the first punk/rap crossover songs. If you don’t believe me, just listen to it.

“I would understand if I committed a crime/they could’ve locked me up, I would have done my time/well I didn’t do nothin’ no man had said/so he jacked me up and he cracked my head” has always stuck with me. I used to be able to recite the whole thing verbatim, no problem, but age, I guess, and literally thousands upon thousands of other lyrics have joined the fun.

“Fight to Unite” is one that has a lot of spunk and spirit. “Jump Back” has a great drum and bassline, as well. The whole Robin Hood thing as applied to Ronald Reagan is pretty darn clever. Catchy, too.

“Live Life” was an early favorite of mine, too. Good riff and a good message. Still gets me going a bit, too, and leads right into the stellar, “What Are You Fighting For.” It’s a bit Ramones=y, sure, but that’s okay. I don’t mind a few “Whoa-ohs” here and there.

“Did you Wanna Die” and “You Don’t Understand” are both fucking great, too. Just good, solid, punk rock. They are kind of buried on side two, but that’s okay. Youth Brigade did a good job of spacing out the record nicely.

The last track, “What Will the Revolution Change” is another favorite of mine. I think the way the song builds is something that takes me right back to that feeling I had in 1985 when I was first discovering them. It is an authentic, or at least it seems authentic, question that matches the theme of what the Stern brothers were trying to get across.

Some people thought Youth Brigade was too preachy, but I disagree. They were just dudes who were saying, “Take a look around and do something positive if you want to complain.” That’s admirable in my book.

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July 2024: Welcome
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What brought me to by Warren Zevon is the song “Werewolves In London.” I saw a copy of the vinyl for cheap about seven or eight years ago and figured it would be a good one to spin when we DJ’d. Then I listened to the record.

Zevon was an amazing songwriter. I’ve heard that he lived a complicated life. That doesn’t surprise me. You just have to listen to his words to realize the man was very smart and very bitter about the world around him. He shared his views, though, in a beautiful, haunting, and often humorous way.

“Werewolves of London” is probably the best song on the record, but only by a small margin. The way Zevon would deliver a line and then put in a little aside at the end was brilliant. “I’d like to meet his tailor,” for example, is one of those small things that just sinks into the back of your head like the wonderful ear worm that it is.

When I was younger, I guess I always assumed there was some connection between the song and the film, , but if anything, the film title was inspired by the song as it came out a few years before the movie. Either way, though, it’s a great song and I never get tired of it. Whenever I spun it, people seemed to be very happy to hear it, too. It’s a rock and roll classic and deservedly so.

I was not disappointed, though, by any of the other tracks on the album. “Johnny Strikes Up The Band” sounds a bit like a Dire Straits song in a way, but that’s not terrible. I love Dire Straits, too. This is a genre that my son, Liam, says is country, but he’s a teenager and doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

The crew that Zevon was hanging around in these days, Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne, to name a few, were making the quintessential late 70s rock records. It was definitely country tinged as all these people were influenced by the Byrds. It makes sense that the boy hears Zevon and thinks country, but this is not country music.

“Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner” is quite the story. It reminds me of a lot of my favorite music from the time it came out. It’s a bit like a Gordon Lightfoot song, although Zevon goes way darker than Lightfoot ever did. Any song that mentions the CIA wanting to rub someone out is good by me.

“Excitable Boy” is probably my second favorite song on the record. It’s got that little piano hook that makes it so damn catchy. You can’t help but sing along with it, too. “Excitable boy, they all said.”

The chorus of “Accidentally Like a Martyr” is sofa king, too. “Accidentally, like a martyr, the hurt gets worse, and the heart gets harder.”I think this one lost Liam the other day when we were listening to it, but someday, sadly, he’ll get it. That line about the hurt getting “worse” and the heart getting “harder” is a glimpse, I think, at the way Zevon viewed the world.

I’m curious if there needed to be a song with a slightly disco beat to make the record company happy. Nothing against “Nighttime in the Switching Yard,” but it kind of sticks out like a sore thumb.

“Lawyers, Guns, and Money,” is another song that is pretty darn memorable. I like the searing guitar work on it quite a bit, but like all the songs, it is the words that make Zevon’s work interesting. If you took his vocals out of the equation, you’d have background music for scenes from movies set in the late 70s.

Well worth the time, though.

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July 2024: Welcome
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As a fan of LSD, it was not hard for me to shell out the dough for RKL’s record in 1989. The cover is all sheets of acid. I guess it makes sense for a bad called Rich Kids on LSD.

I had seen them in Chandler at Prisms in 1986 and holy hell, what a great show. We endured a ride out there in a car that was so packed that people were sitting on the laps of people who were sitting on laps.

Punk rock shows like RKL in 1986, though, were worth a little discomfort.

I used to have this on both CD and vinyl, but like my Eyehategod CD, someone decided that I didn’t need this one anymore. I’m pretty sure I know who it was, and my CD probably lives in Portland now, but it is okay. I hope it brings you joy (person not named Steve. Steve probably had his own. It was another person all together).

I hope that made sense. I am, in no way, blaming my friend and constant reader, for the disappearance of my RKL CD sometime in the early 2000s. It could not possibly have been my friend, Steve. Different letter in the alphabet completely.

Okay, I’m done being an idiot.

But maybe not because one of the things that RKL celebrated as well as anyone was getting fucked up and acting in an idiotic way. The show they recorded was in Germany and it was bad ass. I saw them a couple of times back in those days and they absolutely ripped. Just recently, they played in Las Vegas for Punk Rock Bowling and I heard it was excellent.

RKL was fast and furious back in the day. One of the things that is amazing about this record is how ferociously they sped through their songs and played them seemingly perfectly. The guitar leads and bass runs throughout the record are bad ass.

They were on top of their game at this point. I don’t know how long they had been in Europe, but they were definitely firing on all cylinders and the energy stays up throughout the recording. “Lies” and “Hangover” start things off with a goddamn bang.

If you aren’t already interested, though, I have to insist that you put the record on right now. My stupid words don’t really do this thing justice.

A couple of standouts for me back then were “Pothead,” of course, and “Drink Positive.”The latter, of course, was originally known as “Think Positive.” It’s a ripper, like most of their songs, and is one of the great all-time Nardcore songs.

“Pothead” shines on this record, too. This would also be extended to “Feelings of Hate.” The opening bass line is pretty fine indeed. I’m a fan of the way they mixed this one, too. It really shows how tight the band was at the time.

“Sargasm” is another favorite….but goddamn, I can’t do this right now. I’m going to listen to this record and just enjoy the hell out of it. Punk rock saved my life and this record saved me back in the early 90s. I listened to it a LOT. You should, too.

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July 2024: Welcome
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Getting high on my own supply part 4, I suppose.

In 1998, Hillbilly Devilspeak imploded. The Great Ciarlino wasn’t having fun anymore and Mr. Smith (aka Trent) was busy doing other things, namely starting the excellent band, Burn Victim. EJ and I soldiered on for the band’s first out of town shows opening for the infamous Fang with Casey Brooks on guitar.

EJ decided he wanted to do something else, as well, so we played a Halloween show at Hollywood Alley in 1998 and after that, Casey quit, too. EJ and I got really drunk as I was going to be his last show and we were not very good at all. Casey wasn’t down with that, even though we had EJ’s replacement lined up already.

Shane Ocell, who just had a birthday, was set to join the band on drums and we were going to proceed as a three-piece with Casey, but alas, we only had one jam with that lineup. Enter Steve “PaPaPill” Landos into the picture.

The three of us hit it off pretty well. Steve brought a huge amount of guitar talent and backing vocals to the band and Shane was fired up to be in a band. What he lacked in skill, he made up for in enthusiasm and always being up for shows. I don’t think we missed much of a beat and in some ways, our music got more accessible to the average punk rock audience.

We played a lot of shows and worked on a new set of songs for those first few years. We all wanted to do a CD with the lineup and started planning it out around our frequent trips to California for shows. We had a ton of fun together, too.

Steve knew a guy that worked in a studio in Phoenix over by 24th Street and Thomas. I don’t remember his name, and that’s probably a good thing, because for whatever reason, he grew to dislike me strongly over time. I’m not sure what I ever did to the guy, but that’s neither here nor there. I don’t have anything nice to say, I suppose.

We started tracking songs with him, though, and got the drums done, if I remember correctly at a couple of different studios Steve’s buddy worked at during that time. I may have tracked some bass, too, but we also did a lot of recording for what became at Steve’s house.

Steve fancied himself to be something of a recording engineer. He knew more than me, but looking back, we probably should have just waited until we had the money to do a really proper recording somewhere. Piecing it together was a bad idea, but we were impatient.

I thought was clever, but we messed up the art, too. I kind of rushed Jeff to put something together but the colors ended up being weird. That was also on us. The cover of the CD didn’t end up with a brown star, per se, but more of a baby shit/mustard-ish color. Ther was a cool insert, though, and the back looked great.

The songs were solid, too, even if the recording didn’t do them a lot of favors. It’s more like a demo than a proper record compared to the other Hillbilly releases. More than once, I have thought about re-recording it.

“Blend Right In’ kicks things off and it is still the shortest Hillbilly song ever. We play it in our set, too. It’s a proper punk rock song about the shooting at Columbine.

“So much for reason, I can’t talk, I just get pissed/I wear a trench coat so act like I don’t exist/Branded a loser by self-righteous yuppie scum/can’t get no attention ‘til I go and kill someone.”

After the chorus of “How many people must die? And, oh how the people will cry/What’s wrong with the children today? What’s wrong with the children, what’s wrong with the children today?” comes verse two:

“Would life be better if I could blend right in/be just like you and try to fit in again/Maybe it’s worth it to be the forgotten son/The war with myself is not over, it’s just begun.”

There is another chorus, too, where I switch the word “children” with the word “People” and that’s that. 58 seconds of punk rock fury.

After that, you get “Courtney” which is kind of an open letter to Courtney Love about how she killed Kurt Cobain. This song brought us some attention from people. I guess it was deservedly so, too. It was a fun song to play and one that Steve and I collaborated on.

He put a really funny little clip of her talking at the beginning and end of the song that made the recording turn out to be pretty cool. We had a guy who told us he played the song for Madonna and she wanted to sign us to Hollywood Records, but nothing ever came of that. It’s fun to look back and laugh at, though.

We still play the next song, “Paparrazi Smashi” live, too. It’s one of my all-time favorites. Just heavy and fun. It’s about Princess Diana’s car crash and how Prince, errr, King Charles probably orchestrated it because he is the anti-Christ. David Yow commented on it when we played with the Jesus Lizard once, too, so I put that in the lyrics at the end.

After “Paparazzi” we re-recorded “Revenge of the Micronauts.” It’s a decent version, for sure, but maybe it was unnecessary. I think the logic was that it was not available on CD and people like that song. We didn’t change it too much.

“Farrah’s Nipples” comes next. It is pretty self-explanatory. It was one of the holdover songs from the previous era that we did live a lot. It’s very simple and I have the line, “the hardest working nipples in show business” in there.

“Packaged For The Public” was kind of about the lamp factory where we practiced the most during our time as a band. My ex-wife’s parents were kind enough to let me use their showroom to practice in for several years. There are lyrical nods to it in the song, but it’s mostly about conformity.

“Second Time Around” is about domestic violence and abuse. I worked for Casa during the years the record was created, so it was only natural that I would sing about my work. “Shelley Winters” is about the problem of obesity in the United States. I once had to talk two very large boys out of killing me in the back of Hollywood Alley. They thought I was making fun of them.

I suppose I was, but I managed to come out of that without a scratch. It it a really heavy song and when we came up with the riff, I think we were calling it the “heavy” one. Sometimes I just need a little push and the lyrics come right out.

“Shed” is about a news story I read in the paper where a woman burned her children alive, killing herself and her daughter, but her son survived. It happened near where my mom used to live in Central Phoenix, so it stuck with me. It’s another really heavy and serious one.

After a New Times showcase we played, a young woman came up to me and told me she was the nurse of the boy and that he knew about the song and loved it. That was one of the coolest things to happen with that batch of songs.

The last song is “Tug of War” and we just dusted that one off when we played with CNTS in June. It’s a fun one to play about how my dad taught me to “never start fights” but to “finish them” instead. I make a little fun of this notion because fighting is just dumb.

When the record came out, it got some decent reviews. We bought way too many of them and I’ve probably thrown away a few hundred over the years and still have a lot left. I’ve gotten some nice feedback about it but in my head, it is not what it could have been. If I have any regrets about music I’ve put out there, it’s one of the two or three biggest ones.

Kiss The Brown Star could have been a lot better if we had just known what I know now. Isn’t that the case with a lot of things, though?

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July 2024: Welcome
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There is probably no other record that reminds me as much of the first few years of my marriage to my wife, Rhondi, than Wincing the Night Away by The Shins. It puts such a smile on my face when I hear it. The reason being it reminds me how fiercely I loved her in those days. I was starving for the type of love that she offered me, and I didn’t know how to handle it.

I’m guessing that James Mercer, the main man from The Shins, can empathize with that feeling.

Wincing the Night Away is an emotional record. It seems to yearn for its own wants and needs, as well. Tuneful, catchy, and just enough Smiths in there to please any sad faced music fan. Mercer has a great voice and his deftness with a melody is hard to top.

When we saw this tour in Phoenix at Celebrity Theater, the band was amazing. They played most of the record, if not all of it, and every person in the building was hanging on every word and bopping along with every beat. It’s easy to do so.

This is another record where there really isn’t a weak spot on it at all. At the time it came out, we listened to it a lot. I remember thinking quite often that this was the direction that I needed to go musically, although I don’t have much acumen for playing this kind of thing. Ultimately, even if I tried, I would end up making it sound harder and meaner.

Wincing the Night Away starts off strong and just keeps it up. “Australia” is probably the most well-known song off the record, but it’s just a spoke on the wheel. I love “Phantom Limb” equally.

“Sea Legs” kind of reminds me of Robert Smith’s work. I wonder why I have never made the connection before now. The Shins could be a Cure side project, in a way. Now that I have had this thought, I don’t know if I will be able to shake it.

We listened to this record so much that I think we wore it out for a time. I am realizing, as I listen now (aside from the Cure reference above), I have not visited this record in its entirety for over a decade or more. One reason for this is that the last time I went to listen to it, the CD was gone.

Everybody in our house was a fan, I think, at one point or another. This is the type of record, too, that people will find for years and years and fall in love with it. I love this aspect of music as much as anything. Music is always new to someone.

“Split Needles” is a really beautiful song, too. It’s kind of slower in tempo than some of the others, but the percussion is really cool. There is some sort of reverse effect (or at least that is what it is called on my effectron II. I think it is a type of reverb effect. Either way, and I could be talking out of my ass here, I like it.

The guitar on “Girl Sailor” is super nifty. As much as some of the songs on are kind of sad sounding, this one has some hope to it. Being the penultimate song, that’s probably a good thing. It also sets up the ending really nicely.

“A Comet Appears” caps things off really well. Mercer made a masterpiece here. I wonder what he is up to right now. I’m sure he’s still making great stuff, but admittedly, I’ve never really followed him that closely. This is one of those times where the one record is so good that I don’t want to risk being disappointed and that is just me being dumb.

Sentimentality rarely wins any races.

July 2024: About




Don’t tell her, but when my wife hips me to music that I end up falling in love with, it makes me love the music just a little bit more. Such is the case with Courtney Barnett. I don’t know how you can listen to “Pedestrian At Best” from and not completely fall in love with it.

This is one of those songs that is so damn good that even if the rest of the album were utter crap, I would still feel like I got my money’s worth. Luckily, it’s just one of the many good songs on this ridiculously long name for a record. I’m stoked that I can just hit the paste button and I don’t have to keep typing out

Barnett writes incredible hooks and her “I don’t give a fuck” delivery is just infectious. When we got to see her a few years back at the Van Buren in Phoenix, it was an excellent show. There were so many songs that I just loved that I would have gone back and watched the same exact show the next night without question.

“Give me your money and I’ll make some origami, honey” is such a great line.

“An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York)” follows up “Pedestrian At Best” so well. It has a different feel, but there is no momentum loss on this excellent record. I’ve read a little bit about Barnett over the years and it awesome that she sort of wears her heart on her sleeve in her songs.

“Small Poppies” goes super bluesy for the next song before “Depreston” and both of them show off Barnett’s ability to take things down a notch yet remain extremely listenable. The gal is fucking prolific and it shows on her records. She can do a little bit of everything.

“Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party” is a fun one. Barnett’s wordplay (including a line where she freely admits to wearing her heart on her sleeve…guess I know where I stole that notion from) is top notch and hits the feeling we have all had so many times. Who hasn’t wanted to go out but really wanted to stay home? I know I have, and it gets more like that every damn day.

One of the coolest things about this record is how it kind of straddles the line of garage rock in a way that reminds me of Paul Westerberg’s work. Barnett is a nimble songwriter, and like Westerberg, she knows how to write a guitar part that could go really big if she wanted it to, but she can also reign them in and keep things a little on the twee side.

“Debbie Downer” is such a song and by “twee” that is not a diss. I like a lot of music that fits the ‘twee’ thing. It takes a songwriter with some confidence and guts to do this well. Barnett has both, at least it seems that way to me.

It doesn’t get much more powerful, either, than “Kim Caravan.” Such a slow burn, but Barnett builds the song up to a crescendo of scratchy noise that is fucking great. She’s no slouch on the guitar, that’s for sure.

I can’t imagine that hanging out with Courtney Barnett would be anything other than a blast. Someday it will happen. I know it…and I don’t mean that in a stalker kind of way.

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July 2024: Welcome




Sometimes you find these records in the strangest ways. Love’s was one of those strange discoveries for me. It’s kind of a schizophrenic record in a lot of ways and I think that is why I dig it.

From the first to the second song, for example, there is a total mood change.

“Stephanie Knows Who” is this wild little psychedelic romp and then “Orange Skies” is this weird flute jam. Both have their place and I’m sure people who were playing around with different drugs in the late 1960s were like, “Wow, man. That’s groovy.”

I would love to fire up the time machine and go see a Love show circa 1967. I bet they were amazing. A group of interesting personalities, from what I’ve learned, and listening to this record, I have to think that Arthur Lee was kind of a mad genius.

“Que Vida” is another really interesting song. It is totally pop music, but it has this Latin thing going on, as well. It’s the longest song on the first side, too, but its most striking feature is the way that Lee sang it. His voice seems like he was putting on some kind of airs, although which ones, I have no idea. It’s very feminine, though, compared to the sound of the next song.

One of the two reasons I bought was the song, “Seven and Seven Is.” When I first heard it, I thought it was so cool. I wanted to do a cover of it, but I have never gotten around to it. The song rocks, though, and is definitely an outlier on this record. These guys must have been able to blast through a great garage set.

“The Castle” is another psychedelic jaunt, complete with harpsichord. Lurch would have been proud. The instrument is actually pretty prominent on a lot of the recording. Not a lot of people were rockin’ the harpsichord back then or even now.

“She Comes in Colors” is the other reason I bought this record. I don’t remember where I heard it first, but I’ve always had an affinity for it. I never get tired of it.

I also never get tired of “Revelation” which makes up the entirety of side 2. It’s just a jam, but it is pretty rad. It’s another reason why I would have loved to have been able to see this band back in the day. I can imagine that they would occasionally just go off on long, psychedelic jams. I love those.

The musicianship on is pretty fantastic. Beyond Arthur Lee, I don’t really know much about the band, and I don’t even really know much about him. He was just always kind of the guy that came up when Love was brought up.

I know the guys in the Damned obviously enjoy Love. They certainly have aped some of their style from time to time. I can see why and I’m glad that they did. The Damned are a much more interesting band thanks to Love, so I am indebted to them, too.

Da Capo is well worth the investment if you can find a copy. About the cheapest I have seen it is $25, but you won’t regret spending that for even a slightly beat up copy. Good stuff. Good stuff right here.

“All the time.”

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July 2024: Welcome
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There are two stories I need to tell when it relates to Logical Nonsense and their record, . Before I jump into those, though, I need to say that this record is one that I pop in at least once a year and rock the fuck out to when I do. It rules. Go listen to it now if you like the heavy, angry side of power violence/hardcore.

One night, Terry, EJ, and I were down at the practice room doing our Hillbilly thing. This was in 1994 or 1995, probably. I’m not sure exactly when, to be honest, but it had to be kind of early on in the time of the band.

We had made friends with the band across the hall from us. They were called Funnelneck and they were an interesting and cool bunch of dudes. It was a Friday or Saturday night, and they came over to our room and asked if we wanted to join them at a party on the West side. There were two bands I’d never heard playing it, Schlong and Logical Nonsense, so I figured, ‘why not?’

They gave us directions and EJ, Terry, and I finished up our practice and headed out. It was somewhere around 67th Avenue and McDowell, if I remember correctly, but maybe not that far south. It was a house and there were a lot of crusty punk types there.

This was not my usual crowd, but I liked the music, just the same. Schlong was set up and playing when we got there. The music was being played in the kitchen under some old fluorescent lights, so it looked suitably bizarre. They were suitably bizarre, too.

As I’m writing this, though, I’m almost sure that this was a different show, and my brain is just combining them because they were at the same house. Either way…bizarre.

I was definitely there to see Logical Nonsense set up their gear in the kitchen and they looked like a bunch of crazy dudes. All crusty and dreads and ready to fuck shit up. I was a bit intimidated by this, but I played it off as best I could. I was sober at the time and parties like this were difficult for me because in my younger days, I would have been figuring out who had the best drugs and getting some of those to experience it properly.

Boy was I dumb when I was younger.

When the band finally got going, they launched into his heavy, crazy, amazing music with tons of moving parts. I was mesmerized. I was blown away. I left there a huge fan of this wild band from New Mexico. I will argue with anyone that they are the best band to ever come from New Mexico and that is including the Shins.

Logical Nonsense was heavy and serious and played at blazing speeds. They were definitely not fucking around when it came to playing, but after the set, we were talking to them, and they were cool as fuck. I went from being intimidated to having total respect for these guys. The next several Hillbilly practices were definitely spirited after seeing this show.

Expand the Hive is a great representation of what Logical Nonsense did live. It starts off with some crazy distorted vocals giving a speech that aims to scare the shit out of someone and then just blasts the fuck off. All killer and no filler, Expand the Hive is fucking great.

One night, about six or seven years after seeing them live, some friends and I were partying and decided to take some X. Now, I’m not proud of this and would not do it again if given the chance, but in those days, my ex-wife and I were a little curious about it and experimented for a bit. Nothing good came from those experiments, either.

Anyway, though. We decided to do some X over at a townhouse where a friend of my ex’s lived at. Brian and I went to grab some beers and such and went to meet them there. As the drugs started to kick in, I put on

It was the first time I had heard the record with an expanded consciousness, and it was fucking crazy. Brian had never heard it before, and it certainly set a mood for the evening. We discussed it afterwards and decided it probably wasn’t the best choice I could have made for such a suggestive drug.

Lesson learned.

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July 2024: Welcome
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Hello! Welcome to my unique blog where I share with you life’s unpredictable ebbs and flows. Ergonomic Mischief has added such value to my life, and I love having the opportunity to share my experiences and insights with my readers.

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July 2024: Welcome




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I believe that being candid and authentic are key to thriving in today’s virtual world. My blog is a place where celebrating one’s personality, sense of humor, and heart are at the core of my site’s mission. Connecting with the world is what brought me to start Ergonomic Mischief.

Ever since I launched this project, the blog has been thriving and has quickly gained a loyal following. To see what I’ve been up to, browse my site, learn more about what makes me tick and find out what excites and interests you, as well.

July 2024: About
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