Tuesday, October 18, 2016

WET SPOTS - Tape - 2013

This one is intended as a companion piece to this post

     Barker was starting to wind up WET SPOTS around the same time that our band together was winding down and it was maybe more his speed. While our band seemed to act more and more serious, WET SPOTS liked to joke the fuck around and write seriously catchy songs. Barker wrote the guitar riffs and sang while Oscar and Janelle rounded out the rhythm section on bass and drums respectively. The results are seven excellent songs that help you remember that Barker had an unfuckwithable ear for melody.
    I remember when they were going to record these songs, I ran into Barker and he was excited because Darin from SUPERCHARGER was turning the knobs for them. I was excited too and we privately geeked the fuck out about it for a minute because we were both garage rock nerds at different points in our lives. I didn't even know the guy was still around, but the tape sounds fuckin' great, so he still knows what he's doing.
   When WET SPOTS went to play a few shows in Hawaii, I got super jealous, because I've always wanted to play there. Upon their return, I asked Barker how it went and he played it a little too cool..."Ahhh, it was fine. We played a show or two. The people were pretty nice." I ran into Janelle later and she gushed about it. "It was fucking fun! We hung out in the ocean a ton. Barker jumped off of a cliff!" Then, she showed me a ton of photos and every one of them looked like the best time ever!
    Download this stuff and play it loud. Enjoy Janelle's pounding drums, Oscar's smooth ass bass lines and a voice that should sound raspier knowing the amount of whiskey that has passed by those vocal cords.


Barker in Hawaii. Photo by Janelle. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

THE URGENTS - Demo - Tape - 2013

Today's post is brought to you by Chloe.

Breaking the Clocks, Burning the Bridges: A hagiography of that fucking Hesh Paul The Urgents, Demo Tape, Recorded December 23rd, 2013, at the OMC 4th Floor on Lean 

  Heartbreak rose with the sun on Friday. Paul Woods has died, but he left us with his music. Music was the thing Paul cared about most. He could have done almost anything with his life but chose music. Most people don’t know this about Paul because he was such a goof ball, but he was really smart. Paul had a degree in Philosophy from UC Santa Cruz. Sometimes when I was worried about something or other, I would go lay on his bed, tell him about it. He would pull a book off his shelf: Foucault lectures on Psychiatry, books about DMT effects on the brain. Those books helped me through more than a few hard times. In fact one time when I was very nervous about my second date with a super-hot Marxist, I asked Paul for a book to bring on the picnic that would make me look smart. He handed me Les Chants de Maldoror packaged with an encouraging speech. I walked away feeling confident. He could make you feel really good.

   The Urgents was Argeniz on bass (Maquina Muerte), Ryan Texas on drums (Death Drive, Trenches), and Paul and I on guitar. Paul wrote all the songs before compiling the group. He even typed up the lyric sheets on his little typewriter, so I could sing along. We practiced together for a few months, played one show in front of a “Dump Yer Landlord” banner, and recorded these songs. This album was not destined to come out great, but when you listen to it you will notice that it is great. First, because it was all Paul, and this was his passion. Every piece of equipment was his, all the sound engineering and mastering was his doing, the riffs were his and the solos were also his. The Urgents was his ode to punk; a community that let him be him. The other reason it is great is because it is true. At the time of this album, Paul and I were co-defendants in a graffiti case deriving from a FTP march and were squatting at the infamous RCA/Hot Mess. The songs are all about our lived experiences, the love and heartbreak of those years. Watch The Smoke is about that moment where you go for it, hard, don’t look back even though you may lose it all, you pause to revel in the simple beauty of the smoke. The Urgents is about the real estate lawyer who evicted us from the RCA. His name was Bruce Reeves and one time in court Paul very calmly referred to him as Ruce Breeves without laughing. That kid was wearing a bolo tie and a ten gallon hat. The judge asked them to exchange emails and Mr. Breeves looked up at Paul and asked, “liveXfast at riseup.net: is that right?” His grinned a big grin to bear that gap of his missing front tooth (lost to a bite of crusty pizza) and replied, “Yes, that is right Your Honor.” It was glorious. Ruce Breeves had a stroke and shut down his office after handling that case. No doubt a product of being casual taunted by a long haired hesher in a cowboy hat. I Had a Future is about how Paul was going to be a Marine Biologist after high school and did a year of school for it, but dropped out because he just wanted to play music and hang out. “I had a future//man it was so bleak//had to run away.” He was really proud of this song because it captured how having a future just meant fucking people over. “Traded in my future//for a chance to live again.” Blurry Visions is about feeling alone: in your head and in an crowd.

    Say what you will about Paul because he wasn’t a saint (“God never takes the angels early”). But he was a warm and loyal friend. I will miss his hugs, the way he held you really tight in his thick crusty vest was the ultimate comfort. Paul was unlike most people in one key respect: you would never hear him say he hated somebody. He avoided all out character denunciations and looked for the good bits in the messes of all of us. He laughed with you about himself and his flaws or you and your flaws, a big loud laugh. The last couple years have been really hard. A lot of people came together and then fell apart. Every time we lose a Basil, or a Barker, or a Paul or a Chris Chitty, or a Monique I hope we can use it as a moment to reflect on the ways we treat each other while still living. The living times go by really fast unless we have each other to break the clocks. The black flag will be flying at half mast for a while. Goodnight you fucking Hesher Paul.

To contribute to his memorial fund, please click here.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


   This one has been a tough one to get around to writing and going into it right now, I'm not even exactly sure what I'm going to say. Our friend Barker Gee took his own life in Conway, Arkansas on June 21st this year and I'm still waiting for him to pop out of the bushes with that big dumb grin on his face and say "haw haw!! GOTCHA!"....and just walk off smoking a cigarette like nothing happened. To say that it's devastating to our community of friends is the understatement of the year. I hate it so much.
   I have too many stories to share about Barker. They're all darkness and light. Some of them are side splittingly funny. Others are so crushingly sad that if I think about them too much, I can't do anything but cry. He had a spark that is rare for the people you meet in this life. (I've now been sitting here staring at the screen for 20 minutes with my fingers on the keyboard thinking about everything....every interaction...and I just don't know what to say, still.)
   Once, our old band NEON PISS was driving up to Portland to play a show. I was driving and Barker was in the back seat asking if he could smoke in the car again (no). The mix tape I made was playing when "Tabletop Hop" by THE YOUNG MEN came on. Barker yelled "Whoa! You put this on your tape??!!? Hell yeah!" When the guitar solo - his guitar solo - came on, he yelled "Turn it all the way up!!" I did and he played air guitar to it. The whole thing was so ridiculous and endearing and we all just laughed like idiots.
   THE YOUNG MEN was Barker, Jamie, Ren and Skip. They started after BENT OUTTA SHAPE split up and (predictably) did not get the respect they deserved following the foot print that BENT left behind. Barker put this tape out years after the band split up and it's a bunch of stuff they never got around to releasing. The tape includes 10 songs from "The Chris Pierce Sessions", 3 songs I know very little about and their 4 song demo. "Alabam'" from the demo is easily my favorite song about my home state written by someone who never lived there.
   HUFF STUFF MAGAZINE was a short lived Oakland band featuring Barker on guitar and vocals, Stevo on bass and Brad on drums. One time, Barker called me and asked if I had ever listened to their demo tape. I said "Yeah....once." He said "Well, listen to it a few more times. We need you to play drums for us at Thrillhouse tonight." I did listen to it some more but  then I showed up too late and missed the entire show. I heard that they just grabbed someone from the audience to play. Regardless, through the repeated listening, I realized that the tape is excellent. You can still order their LP here. At a recent memorial for Barker, I noticed that almost every time I paid attention to what was on the stereo, it was the HUFF STUFF record.
    At some point while NP was still a band, Barker took off to New York to get clean. While he was there, he started playing some music with Aaron Cometbus and was supposed to get some dude from FUGAZI in the band too. I don't think that ever happened, but he sent me an email one day telling me about what he was up to on the East Coast. He sent me an mp3 of his new band and said "Don't ever let anyone hear this!!" Sorry Barker. Someone already put this song online anyway.
   I'm including the NEON PISS LP. 45. demo tape and weird "rarities" CD that we sold at our last show because I realized you can't download it for free on our Bandcamp page. I don't know how to log into that page anymore, so here's everything for free. Also included is the rough mix of "Siege Mentality" off of our LP. I threw this one in because Barker whispers "There is no God"during a break in the song towards the end. On the LP, it got mixed really far down, but on this mix, it's pretty prominent. It's one of my favorite things on the LP because it was an off the cuff thing that Barker decided to throw in without really talking to us about it. There's also a practice space recording of a later song that never got fully worked out that Barker wrote. (haha! I just remembered that this song is already included in the rarities CD. Ooops!)

From John No's piece about this video in the memorial zine edited by Janelle Hessig: 
"Barker cracked an egg into the pan as the camera rolled and it had TWO YOLKS - Which is always freaky but of course it happens from time to time....then he cracked the second egg and it had two yolks AGAIN! This time, we were like "Holy shit!" and started laughing pretty hard so his cigarette fell into the pan. He left it in there, kept cooking the eggs and lit another cigarette and then put that one out into the pan. Barker ate most of it and promptly puked."

Barker at Kurt Cobain's house. Photo by me.

Alex Turner for finding the things I don't have.
Caitlin Kelly for repressing the YM tape for the memorial and being a perfect angel.
Barker Gee for being such a singular, weird, engaging and loving human freak in this world. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

WOTZIT - Demo - Tape - 2016

    Believe or not, sometimes I don't have a story or the reference points or the "members of" list or anything to go on. Every once in a while, I just get a tape that makes me stop what I'm doing and pay attention. This is that tape. Sometimes, I just think "What if Fred Frith played guitar in a punk band?" and this is what I think about. This is the band's second tape. They're from Tokyo.

Find other stuff by the band here 

Friday, September 23, 2016

MICHELLE HILL - Demo - CDR - 2006

   I used to live in a punk house in Chattanooga, TN where we had a house rule that the first person to wake up every day had to either play BLACK FLAG's "Nervous Breakdown" at top volume or EXCESSIVE DEFIANCE's classic EP "Yo Dicknose, Eat A Dick Straight Up, Yo" on the wrong speed. At the age of 23, this was (usually) kind of funny and not a bad way to start your day....whether it was 6 am or noon. Years later, I lived in a not-exactly-punk house in the Glen Park neighborhood of San Francisco and there was a period where my roommate Gaybob seemed like she had her own house rule of waking up every day and blasting this Michelle Hill CD in the kitchen while making coffee.  Sure, I liked these songs too, but by that time, I was 33 years old and really liked sleeping. I would get woken up by Michelle belting their voice into my head, usually accompanied by Bob's, and get SO annoyed. I have a hard time telling people how to live their lives, even when it impacts my own....so, I would lay there and just listen to it....and find that I really liked the songs a lot and the CD was pretty short....so I could usually just fall back to sleep. After a while, my other roommates were following suit and this was the usual soundtrack to our kitchen at any given time.
   Up until one week ago, that was the only times I had ever heard these songs, but I get to hear Michelle's voice pounded into my head all the fucking time now (albeit in a different context) because we're in a band together.
    Michelle recorded these songs at their house back in 2005 or 2006 and put it out on this CD-R in an edition of 30. Michelle apologizes for playing a banjo on one song. The songs are mostly led by an acoustic guitar and layers of their strong ass vocals. There are songs about loneliness and risque odes to inanimate objects. Two extra songs recorded in 2008 were sent over to be added to the download. "366 Days of Night" was written on a leap year and Michelle said that when they played it in a backyard in Olympia, WA, a dog howled along during the howling part. "Sexy Guitar Love Song" has to be heard to be believed and contains some of my favorite lines of all of these songs.

Michelle currently sings for SILENT ERA and has also played in TULSA, HONKY HORN & BAD MOUTH, SLEEPWALK and THE SLITS (touring guitarist)...and is also one of my best friends.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


   This is not the first appearance of YOUR HEART BREAKS on the blog. For more info, you could look here or here or even here (kind of). This was my first introduction to the band though and I would blast it through my headphones while walking around in the cold of the small Midwestern college town where I used to live in 2004. I didn't know Clyde (the main songwriter and core member) that well then, but I agreed to quit my job and roadie for his other band for a month anyway. Sometimes I look back on that trip as a mistake, but most of the time I know that it wasn't because it solidified our friendship in many ways that might not have happened otherwise.
   On the tour, I would sit behind the merch table while oogles talked to me about their dog or people handed me a beer or a college student would hand me a check for a few hundred dollars. I would sell their band's music and sometimes people would pick up this YHB CD. I'd sit there and try to sell them on it while they looked at me skeptically. "Yeah, it's this broken hearted queer pop music...no, it's not folk-punk...no, it's not on Plan-It-X records....yeah, I know that Rymodee from THIS BIKE IS A PIPEBOMB is listed as a member but he only plays the harmonica on one song for about 45 seconds...but, anyway, YOUR HEART BREAKS is this really cool...huh? Yeah, I know Rymodee and his band..yeah, they're really nice....no...I, I don't want a CD-r of your folk punk bedroom project...yeah, I've toured with them.....so, anyway, this CD is like this cool pop band and....oh, yeah, there's a beer store right down the street. No, I don't have any extra beer for you but a tall can is only like $1.50 over there...okay, thanks, bye."
    Most of the time, kids would buy this YHB CD after seeing that Rymodee played harmonica on it and after I explained that he only played for a minimal amount of time. I would sit there and hope that they would get past that. I liked to imagine that we were coming into some of these small towns like Goldsboro, NC (where the band was asked to not use "curse words" at their show)  and passing along this nugget of queerness into a deeply religious military town. Like, maybe they listened to the words and discovered some new shit about themselves and didn't feel so alone. Maybe they started their own queer pop band and helped marines come out to each other while realizing that it's not really a bad thing to be gay around a bunch of really fit men. Maybe it helped them realize that they needed to get the fuck out of that town and never look back. Or maybe they just filed it away in a pile and never listened to it again.
   I like these songs a lot. I'm pretty sure it's the only time anyone has sang anything about the band NEW BAD THINGS.

YOUR HEART BREAKS is still a very active band and only gets better. 
Clyde made an amazing movie called Torrey Pines and he'll be touring the US with it this fall and winter. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

IT GETS WEIRDER - Tape - Compilation - 2015

   Olympia, Washington. Love it or hate it. For whatever reason, it's a small town that brings up a lot of different emotions for people, but I've rarely met anyone who feels indifferent about the place. I myself have been on both sides of the wall at different points in my life. Once, I went there for a week just to lay on a couch while it rained.
    It's gotten a lot of attention in the past because of K Records or BIKINI KILL or whatever-the-fuck and now they're maybe getting a lot of attention because of G.L.O.S.S. or K Records or whatever the fuck. I've come around to liking the place again (and I have for years now) but I'm not about to pack my bags and move on up. I think it gets a bad rap, but imagine fighting to live your life in new and interesting ways while being somewhere small enough to see real, actual results. I'm not saying it's easy by any stretch of the imagination. I'm mostly telling you this convoluted shit to bring light to the fact of all of the hard work that my friend Meg and a lot of other hard workers do in Olympia. They helped to open the Interfaith Works Overnight Emergency Shelter, which is a shelter for people living on the streets of Olympia. I can't get into the details of the whole thing because I don't really know them. What I can tell you is that I went to a party at the shelter while a hardcore fest was happening 2 blocks away and all of the interactions I had there were so genuine, real and positive that I had to walk around the corner at least 5 times and just fucking cry. I know it's not like that all the time and I know it's a lot of hard work and I just wanted to point that out. Going back over to the fest felt like a step down, even though I would literally kill someone to relive that CCTV/BIG ZIT/VEXX show again.
   Also, I like eating tater tots at the Reef...a diner downtown that has burned down like 2 or 3 times.

   Oh yeah, there's music here. This tape was compiled by Sadie (G.L.O.S.S./DYKE DRAMA) and Joey (a true genius/madman who is responsible for most of the sick recordings you like from Oly) to showcase the myriad of punk shit coming out of the basements and dives of this small town. I love that this tape is truly all over the map of punk...it's not just hardcore or pop-punk, but those things are there too. I think my favorite discovery from this tape is DEFACEMAN, who I'd never heard before...just true fucked, chaotic, messy, brilliant beauty. I want to hear everything by them now. Other heavy hitters featured here are VEXX, GAG, G.L.O.S.S., BROKEN WATER, CC DUST and NASTI. The entire tape is worth your time though and provides a perfect glimpse at all the new shit going on there...or at least what was happening in 2015. Some of these bands have broken up already. Get into it.

I don't think this tape is available anymore. 
I took a long break from the blog for many reasons and one of them was archiving makes me feel weird now. That's all I'm gonna say about it, but I'll keep doing it for the time being.
If anyone in the Bay Area wants to give or sell me a functional cassette console, please get in touch. I had 4 break in one week.
Thanks to Alex Turner for digitizing this one. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

MUGWORT - Demo - Tape - 2011

    Mugwort, the plant, is said to further one's psychic abilities, enhance your dreams and repel negative energies. If used in excess, it can prove to be toxic...so toxic that it has been used in herbal abortions. MUGWORT, the band, could probably also enhance your dreams and repel a lot of negative energy in your mind. I can't comment on their psychic energies or fetus-destroying abilities.
   I was at a basement show in Oakland last week where 2/3rd's of MUGWORT were playing in a new band (their name escaped me) that built off of the player's long histories in other bands like SHITSTORM and THE GOOD GOOD...bands that never seemed to fully get the recognition they deserved (whatever the fuck "recognition" means in your mind...they didn't get it), but succeeded in throwing out loads of incredible music and playing shows that will always stick with me.
   MUGWORT enjoyed a brief stint in the Bay Area queer punk scene, playing tons of shows in their SF house near 21st and Capp. I'm sure they played other places too, but I only ever saw them there. Wu banged out insistent lines on their bass while Sara worked around the melodies and just invented her own cool style. Peter drums in a way that is so inspiring to me...somehow effortlessly playing this wild style that is "missed" notes, propulsive cymbals and almost intentionally playing off the rhythms but still holding it all together. They all sing. It's an incredible tape. It's been by my stereo for years now.

They also have a Bandcamp, but it's missing two songs from the tape. I don't know why.
You can also enjoy some of their songs set to video too. 
Maybe I'll remember the name of that new band so I can go see them more. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

SEXY - Demo - Tape - 2001

    Tapes like these are the reason I started the blog. Trying to track down these nearly ephemeral documents of a scream in dark warehouses and shitty basements is what this thing is about. I don't own this tape, but I thought that trying to get a copy of it would be a task that could be easily accomplished in a few days. Nope. The first post of this blog is dated June 23rd, 2011 and now it's nearly 5 years later. I asked the people who played the music, the people who loved the band, the people who hated the band, the punks who lived with them and I scoured Bay Area yard sales, free boxes and record stores (and their free boxes). Nothing.
    Baby Ian (we can just call him Ian now, right?) pulled a box of old stuff out of storage and came up with his copy of the demo...and here we are. I haven't heard this thing since 2001 or so and I forgot how goofy it is. If you're just hearing SEXY for the first time (and I'm sorry if you're just now hearing them) I would suggest starting with their first album (it's right here) because it's a completely perfect snapshot in time of an insane band at their absolute best. It contains all of the drunken abandon, the hooks and the trainwreck-style tempos. This first demo shows the band still trying to find their footing and swimming in drunken goofiness. A few of the songs that were later re-recorded for the LP are downright sllloooooowwww (check out "Purple Mini Van"). Half of the songs on here just got fucking dropped and were never heard from again. Maybe you'll enjoy it.

Technical notes: I'm sure you've come to expect a fair amount of tape hiss on this blog and I will tell you that there is a FAIR AMOUNT of tape hiss on this download. Ian sent over the tracks and I tried to mess with them to lower the hiss and it just sounded worse...so here we are....warts and all. You can even hear some of the tape it was recorded over. History isn't pretty and that's why we all need to keep moving forward. 
Thanks Ian. 
Thanks SEXY.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

INTREPID HEARTS - Demo - Tape - 2016

    Recently, a personal mission landed me in Minneapolis for a few days and I arrived with high hopes and too many plans. As someone who desperately needs a vacation, this was a stupid idea and I should've just sat in Powderhorn Park for 4 days straight. Instead, I fruitlessly tried to track down some long lost friends and rope unsuspecting fools into my dumbass ideas. Some old friends had time for porch hangs and others kindly offered up comfy sleeping spaces, but largely I was on my own to try and remember how to relax. I never really did. I walked all over the goddamn city until my legs ached. I saw the PRINCE memorial at 1st Ave N, went to the library, became familiar with the Greyhound station, went to karaoke at the Seward, looked at the old Medusa club, walked out to Extreme Noise, saw a gigantic rideable cock in a sex shop and read for hours in Hard Times.
   Then, I drove across the country with one of my best friends. When I got home, I found this tape in my mailbox and looking at the return address, I realized that I walked by this band's house (or one of them) at least twice in the past week. I could've just picked it up while waltzing by. It also would've been nice to have these songs blasting in my head while walking down the streets that inspired them, but I was happy with the S MPLS weirdo tapes I got instead (more on that in the future).
    I think I only know one member of this band and she (Britt) has appeared a few times on the blog in the bands B ARTHUR and BABE QUEST. Even though the BABE QUEST song "The Wait" can not be trifled with in any capacity, INTREPID HEARTS may be my favorite band that Britt has ever been in. I keep having a lot of thoughts about the songs and everything I think feels like a backhanded compliment, but it's genuine in my head!! Like, this band has cool "hot licks"!! Ya'll listen to metal, right? I truly like POISON (I know that's not metal) and I wanna say that the members of INTREPID HEARTS like POISON. Maybe they like THIN LIZZY. What the fuck ever. I don't know what they like. It's hook filled melodic punk that is truly tight as fuck. The vocals have the perfect amount of bite and rasp. I'm gonna go ahead and compare them to my ex-bandmate/current roommate Ivy (ALLERGIC TO BULLSHIT / MIAMI / BLACK RAINBOW) because Ivy's voice is great and Britt knows that because I once heard her tell Ivy that. There is no cowering in the shadows though because we're all just people doing our thing out there in the world and Britt has been doing her thing for a long time and it shows. This band sounds like they've been doing their thing for a long time too, but this is their first tape, as far as I know. It's a truly great tape. You should write to them and try to get one off of them because it has a lyric sheet and a lot more plastic than an ephemeral download.

Thanks to Cobs for mailing me a tape. I'll knock on the door next time.
Oh, the other thing that felt backhanded is that the verse part of the first song sounds like it was ripped off from "The Descent" by BOB MOULD, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with that and I'm sure it was unintentional and, like, Bob Mould doesn't own the rights to those chords or anything.