Wednesday, January 4, 2017

SHITTY DARKNESS - Demo - CD-R - 2011

    These stupid little CD-R's are not built to last and I found this one rolling around in the bottom of a filing cabinet, all scratched up but still playing perfectly. SHITTY DARKNESS barely caused a blip during a brief tenure in their hometown of Athens, GA, serving as a pit stop between the bands CARRIE NATIONS and WADE BOGGS. Ian wrote these songs after (and during) the demise of CARRIE NATIONS and brought them to his new band PILLOWFORT, which maybe kinda morphed into SHITTY DARKNESS. They recorded this demo and then (I think) Ian broke the band up, only to have all (or most) of these songs reappear as WADE BOGGS songs a short time later.
   But if we get past hazy facts and just get into emotion, these songs are sooo catchy in their raw pop presentation. It reminds me of why I (and you) was up front at CARRIE NATIONS shows, screaming the words on the verge of tears. Put these songs on your stupid digital device, walk to the top of the tallest hill in your town while listening and see if you're not walking faster and feeling like a wet hundred dollar bill once "Senior Citizen" hits your ears. (If you don't have hills in your town, just walk downtown and glare at people until someone tells you to go away. If you don't have a downtown, walk into the field and scream these songs until your voice goes hoarse, even if you don't know the words). After all that, walk yourself over to Athens, GA and ask Ian what songs he's writing now. If he comes up empty handed, tell him the world needs his music now and always. (it's true, Ian.)

If you need more music by this guy (you do), he was also one of the responsible parties for WELCOME HOME, NEMO.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

PATSY - "Alrite Ladies and Bitches, It's..." - Demo - Tape - 2014

   There is a certain power in the simple punk riff when executed correctly, but it's up to the listener to decide what constitutes "correct", "simple" or even "punk". For me, I think of KLEENEX's "Hitch-Hike", DRILLER KILLERS "Malibu is Burning" or even BEAT HAPPENING's "Bewitched". Those are snapshots of my ideal of perfection. Simplicity. No overthinking. Direct and damaging, while maybe not intending it that way.
   PATSY, from New Orleans, gives me that same feeling when they hit the first notes of "Tuley 'Tude High". The tiny yelp just as the drums kick it clinch it for me. It's fun and fucked and dizzying, the way you (I) always want punk to be but so rarely is. I'm stoked on it, but not surprised since the same people responsible for these songs are also (partially) responsible for MYSTIC INANE, FOREIGN BODIES, DISPLEASURE, SPECIAL INTEREST and a lot more.
    Every song sounds like a total pogo bounce, fun-ass party. A great escape for these grim times.

They put out a couple of 7"s. They're really good too. 
Their Bandcamp page. (I truly did not know that they cover the above KLEENEX song until I found this link. Whoa....)

Monday, January 2, 2017

J CHURCH - "Four Track Demos" - Tape - 2011

    Years ago, I posted a link on the blog to this tape on another site, but now it's not available, so I'm reposting it here. This is a collection of Lance Hahn's (r.i.p.) four track demos for J CHURCH songs that he was making before he passed away. J CHURCH was probably one of the most prolific pop-punk bands of all time, Just a cursory glance at their Discogs page tells me that they might have released 18 albums and over 50 ep's. I can't even begin to explain the impact that Lance and J CHURCH made on the world of DIY punk that will last until the end of time. I only hung out with the guy a few times and I still think about him when I walk the streets of my neighborhood, where he lived in the 90's. Every single time it rains and I'm on Mission Street, I get "November" stuck in my head...for days. That is an impact.
    This tape has some fully formed songs, some sketches of ideas, some instrumentals and some misfires. I read somewhere that Lance treated his four track like a notebook; a place to write down his ideas as they came to him and that's how I approach this tape. It's perfect in its imperfection. If you've never heard J CHURCH, maybe you should start somewhere else, but this is also a warm, inviting place to be.

More information about this tape here
You can still order a physical copy of the tape here. .

Monday, December 5, 2016

THE TERRIBLES - "In Congrefs" - CD - 2008

   As a vague testament to how shitty 2016 has been, I've only posted three things in the past three months and they've all been about dead friends. This one is no different. (FYI: No one in THE TERRIBLES is dead).
    I'm sure you've already read the terrible news about the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. I don't know if I can offer anything that hasn't already been said, but the outpouring of support from people in our community has been incredible. Most of the media and local government continues to get it so, so wrong...incredibly, frustratingly wrong and insensitive. What We Do Is Secret, but that statement hasn't actually been true for at least 20 years now, but people still can't seem to understand what the fuck we're doing (and yes, a lot what we do still is secret, actually).
   If you'd like to read articles about what is happening here, I would suggest these following things, because they're all good and these people took more time than I did to collect their thoughts.

 From KQED
 From East Bay Express
 From Huffington Post
 From We Are Your Voice

   The article from KQED really hit home with me because this is a tragedy that could affect just about anyone who reads this blog. Let's do some quick math. There's been 550 posts on this blog. Let's say that's probably 500 different bands (estimate). Let's say that there's an estimated three to four people in each band and that equals roughly 2000 people. I'm willing to bet that nearly ALL of those 500 bands have played shows in venues (I use that term lightly) that are non-traditional and don't have the best exits or wiring. That's 2000 people who put themselves in danger just to have a good time or find their community or feel less alone in an increasingly harsh world. But also, many of these people put themselves in danger just by leaving the house every day. This danger exists because of expensive housing, shitty paychecks, no paychecks for seriously marginalized people, because some of us enjoy putting ourselves in danger and many other reasons.
   Ugh...I don't know what I'm trying to say. Fuck it. I hate it. I hate that this happened at all. I hate what the media is going to make it into and I hate what it's going to do to so many spaces across the globe that people hold so dear to their hearts. Our gathering spaces aren't equipped with fire exits, bouncers or good wiring. Our ideal spaces provide us with love, acceptance and open arms in a world that wishes that many of us would just go away.
   Take care of each other out there. It's not getting better right now.

This TERRIBLES CD is really good. I've written about them many times and you can go find it somewhere else on the blog. 
There's a phone number embedded in the 4th song  and it's one of my favorite songs by them. 

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 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, I would lay there and just listen to it....and find that I really liked the songs a lot and the CD was pretty 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, it's not, 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, I don't want a CD-r of your folk punk bedroom project...yeah, I've toured with, 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.