Sunday, April 29, 2012

MATTY LUV AND SARAH T - "Plastic Jesus" - Tape - 2002

   I've been staring at this screen for ten minutes now without knowing the first word to write. Ten minutes of staring at that drawing above, alternately laughing and feeling kinda bad. If you're reading this, you probably have a pretty good idea who Matty Luv is, you probably know that he passed on into another realm almost ten years ago and you're probably aware of the fact that he wrote a good chunk of music that changed the lives of countless numbers of people forever. I'm only just beginning to understand exactly how much music he recorded that has never seen and will probably never see the light of day. Recently, I was loaned a shoebox full of Matty's old four track tapes to sift through and try to find something usable for an upcoming art show / city project called STREETOPIA. Every tape just contained more and more stuff. It was all over the place and put me through a wide range of emotions. Some tapes were funny, like the one where Matty just looped a recording of a guy tuning his guitar while an audience applauded wildly (it continued for the entire tape). Some were noisy and experimental, like the one where each song is the same as the one before it, but each successive version has an extra layer of feedback or noise. Some of it consisted of contemplative instrumentals. Some of it was sad and it felt like I was trespassing through the secret journals of an incredibly depressed man. All of it was pretty interesting, but probably none of it will ever appear here because it just feels too personal and I don't feel like it's my place to bring that stuff into the world.
   So, why am I telling you all this? Well, I'm not exactly sure. I think what I'm trying to say is that the man was incredibly prolific and put a lot of work into his music, even the stuff that was not intended for the public at large which brings us to this tape.
   During the final few months (years, perhaps) of his life, Matty worked tirelessly at Mission Records during a period when it seemed like hardly anyone cared about the place. He worked the counter of the store during the day, took money at the door during punk shows and ran the sound for bands. In the case of my band, he even tuned the guitar since our guitarist hadn't yet learned to use a tuner. He put a lot of time and effort into the dump and rarely got (or expected, most likely) any thanks for it. I remember waking up in my subleased room in the attic daily and hearing him open the front gate of the store and putting on coffee. I would crawl down from the ceiling and join him somedays while he listened to music and opened the store. Lots of times, he seemed really depressed or out of it, but sometimes when Sarah T would walk in the door with two cups of cafe con canela, you could actually see his whole world light up. During those days, the two of them were inseparable. I often saw them walking down Mission Street together, drinking coffee, chain smoking and just enjoying the fuck out of each other's company. At night, in their room at the Hickey Hotel on 24th Street, Matty was teaching Sarah how to play guitar. "Plastic Jesus", played by the FLAMING LIPS (one of their favorites) among many others, was the first song that Sarah learned how to play and sing at the same time. Matty recorded the two of them playing it together and added many of his own touches. Sadly, it ended up being one of the last songs that he would commit to tape. A few short months later, Matty would leave us all on an incredibly prophetic night that is still just too sad and fucked up to talk about.

   If you actually do want to read more about the tragic parts, you can read the zine that was written and printed within a week of his passing at the Matty Luv site in the "memorial" section. 
   Thanks to Sarah T for loaning out this tape, supplying some info and for being a good friend for years now.

Friday, April 27, 2012

WAR TORN BABIES - Rough Mix Demo - Tape - 1999

   I moved to Asheville, NC for a short time back in 1999 and lived in a huge, dilapidated, musty, drafty, pink punk house on the edge of downtown. There was a library on the main floor, a screen printing set-up, couches for drunk crusties to sleep on, a couple of shacks in the backyard, 15 roommates, a show space in the basement and the landlord was one of the guys from CRASH WORSHIP. I was kind of obsessed with an old Asheville band called EXCESSIVE DEFIANCE and I usually listened to them every day when I woke up. Someone told me that I should listen to WAR TORN BABIES, which carried on the legacy of E.D.'s simple, noisy barrage of crust. I asked a couple of friends about them and soon found out that two of my roommates were in that band. Soon enough, they were playing a show in the basement.
   They started up with a distorted, fucked up bass tone and crashed haphazardly into their first song. I didn't get it. Everyone was dancing and singing along, but I felt out of place on the sidelines. Their drummer was possibly older than me, but played the same way that I did when I was 13. Each of their songs seemed to fall apart, but no one cared. Everyone just danced harder and sang louder. Then, it hit me. I began their set thinking that that they had no idea what they were doing, but then I realized that they knew exactly what they were doing. All of their songs were primal, plodding, visceral, simple and working towards an easily memorable chorus that you could sing along with the first time that you heard it. It dawned on me that this band was genius and by the end of their set, I was up front, fists in the air, singing along to "Dancing On The Ruins Of Multinational Corporations!!!"
   As far as I know, WAR TORN BABIES never released anything...I don't even think they ever got around to releasing this tape, but I could be wrong since I moved away from Asheville and lost touch. All I know is that they (probably) recorded this tape at UNCA in Asheville and then their guitarist, Ed left it in my room. Did it ever get mixed, mastered and released? Until we find out, here is this rough mix of their stuff at it's most primal and raw.
Both photos by Chrissie at the Pink House in Asheville.

    Some might think that a band might not want their unmixed recording out there for people to consume, but I asked their singer Mikki if it was okay and she said "DO IT!!" Speaking of Mikki, she now runs a bar called the Get Down, that is  the best place to play shows in Asheville these days. They are going through some rough financial times at the moment, so if you want to donate money to them, it would be very appreciated. It's run by some great people, they have an awesome sound system and their politics are rock solid. You can find more info about them here or you can make a donation straight to them on their Paypal page.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

LEFTY LOOSIE - Demo - Tape - 2006

   As you can see by the cover above, this tape has a title, but it is so confusing to me that I didn't type it out. Well, you can read it for yourself right there.
   I went to the Mauled By Tigers fest in Chicago a few years ago and the only bands I wanted to see, besides the ones that my good friends were in, was the POTENTIAL JOHNS and LEFTY LOOSIE. Lucky for me, they were playing back to back at the same venue. I wasted a lot of time before going to the show by drinking on a rooftop, talking about RUDIMENTARY PENI at Southern Records and listening to stories about King Buzzo wanting to stay in the same room (the one I would be sleeping in for the weekend) every time he comes to Chicago. By the time I dragged my ass out of the house to bike 20 blocks to the show, I was running late. I rode like the wind, but still found myself drinking outside of the show when I got there. I heard the last notes of a band finishing their set and asked" Who's playing right now?" Someone said "Oh, I don't know...some band called LEFTY LOOSIE or something." I slammed the last dregs of my cheap, flat beer and ran for the front door. The overzealous security guards searched me and came up with a bottle of whiskey. We got in an argument and they almost kicked me out before I even got in. It took so long that I even missed the first POTENTIAL JOHNS song. Bleh!
   I still kick myself for missing LEFTY LOOSIE because their songs were (still are) so good. You can tell that they grew up on crappy pop-punk, but also supplemented that with some quality music like the SHANGRI-LA'S, THE MUFFS and the FASTBACKS. Their singer/guitarist Addie has a voice that exhibits a total fucking knack for pop hooks that she took on to her next band, BORED GAMES (also great great great....and also broken up). These songs are so good that I can look past the fact that I don't like songs about crushes and love anymore. I was too cheap (and probably drunk) to buy their LP at the show and I feel like an idiot for not owning it now. The whole weekend was a failure for me in many ways, but let's just not talk about that. Let's just listen to this tape and get on with our lives, shall we?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

THE BANANAS - Live At Mission Records 8-4-01 - Tape - 2001

   As of this year, THE BANANAS have been a band for twenty goddamn years! That's longer than DEAD MOON and SHOTWELL. Their band is older than many of their fans. That shit is weird. It's been said before, but one reason for their longevity is that the band is probably just too lazy to break up. Sometimes, they even seem too lazy to play a show, as evidenced by the fact that lately, they usually play no more than 3 or 4 times a year. When they do manage to drag their asses to a show, it can either be gloriously life-affirming, a drunken chaotic trainwreck or a gloriously life-affirming, drunken, chaotic trainwreck. I've seen them countless times now; from raging, super-tight basement shows to long, drawn out, 3 am wasted slop-fests. One thing remains consistent though. They've always been entertaining and I've never once walked out before their set was finished. Even when they are bad, they are usually better and have more hooks than every other band on the show.
   This tape finds the band at a show back in 2001, teetering on the edge of being a little too drunk to play, but they manage to shambolically plow through their set and keep people entertained. There is the prerequisite 2-5 minute break between each song where Mike and Scott trade jabs with the audience and each other...which makes for a 45 minute set consisting of only 12 three minute songs. I'm not saying it's bad, because it isn't. I'm just warning you what you're in for.
   "This next song is about biting people in the butt! It's pretty good! It's a political song!" - Mike
   "...Political in the traditional sense..." - Scott

This tape is loaned out by Sarah T.
The quality isn't the best, but it's the thought that counts.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

BLACK LUNG BRASS BAND - Vol II - Tape - 2003

   My band played a show with the BLACK LUNG BRASS BAND back in 2003 in Chattanooga. I wasn't sure what to expect. I wasn't even sure if they were a brass band. What if they were just one of those annoying ironic bands like BLACK LADIES...a band that does not have that literal element in their band?Well, it turns out that they were a brass band and they were also my friends from Asheville. Luckily, none of them had black lung. They all piled out (all 11 or 12 of them, clown-car style) of a truck and started pulling all of their instruments out of a tangled mess in their trailer. When they took the stage (well, the room actually...there was no stage), they were a loud, blasting force to be reckoned with. They sounded like a loud-ass, multidisciplinary brass band. I mean, what else can I tell you? You either like this kind of stuff or you don't.
   A year later, I convinced my friend, Sarah Monster to drive down to Louisville, KY to see them play in a park. I was sure that there would be a million people there and it would be really cool. There was more like 10 people there and the show was awkward and weird, but the BLACK LUNG BRASS BAND was great. I found out that they had 3 days off before they needed to be in Chicago, so I convinced them to come stay at my house and play a show in Bloomington. We all left separately that night and made plans to meet up at my house in Indiana. Twenty minutes into the drive, Sarah and I noticed that the weather was beginning to look insanely ominous...dark clouds, high winds, a high-pitched whine. I knew from my years of growing up in the deep south that we needed to get into a ditch or risk being sucked up into a tornado. Oddly, we were driving through the town of Floyd's Knob and Sarah exclaimed, "I have family here!" To make a long story short, we made it to her relative's house and got to see some trees being blown over. It was the pre-cell phone days for most of us still, so I was worried about the brass band. I found out later that they pulled over at a motel, got free rooms from the family who lived there and rescued a stray dog from the storm.
    Let me get to the point. I bought their tape and it was great. I was listening to it while screening shirts and getting ready for tour. I let side two keep running after the music was done because I was busy. After a few minutes of silence, I heard the beautiful strains of a solo piano and got excited. A hidden track! The next few minutes were spent in awe. I must have rewound the tape and listened to that song 5 times in a row while the ink for my shirts was drying in the screen. I laid on the floor and smiled. Seriously, even if you don't give a fuck about this kind of music, I highly recommend that you download this for the last song. It's one of my favorite things ever.
   As far as the track listing goes, it's all over the place. When I put this in to digitize it, the tape broke!! I realized that Crab Jackson had put this on a tape for me years ago, so I digitized that one...but the song titles don't match up's a long story. Don't worry about the titles. I think this is a great band..beautiful people. True freaks.

Download ye olde Brass Band
Updated Jan 2014

Friday, April 13, 2012

HARLEQUIN - Tape - 2006

   This tape has been sitting untouched on my shelf for years; sad, lonely and dusty. It had a case of mistaken identity and was banished to a dark corner with all of the other tapes that have been unloved for varying amounts of time. You see, I saw HARLEQUIN years ago in Indiana at a little art gallery and I thought they were great. The band had a moody, dark atmosphere about them and they reminded me of some of the arty punk that I had so desperately been missing while living in that little town. Also, I wasn't sure if I had ever seen a band that consisted of just two violas and drums that made me wanna freak out this hard....or if I'd ever seen a band like that, period. Needless to say, I bought their tape and was excited to listen to it. I'm not sure what happened in my brain when I pressed "play" all those years ago, but it must have said something close to "No! Turn this off now! This is terrible and nothing like the band sounded live! Don't ever listen to this again!!"
    Fast forward to the present. I decided to take this tape down off the shelf and I was taken back to their dark, angular moodiness all over again. My 2006 brain was completely wrong and this tape has not enjoyed the full life that it deserves. Through ten songs, HARLEQUIN weaves in and out of hardcore, punk, wild times, somber reflections and weird artiness....and all without vocals. I love it. Maybe you will too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

THE GRUMPIES - Aborted Demo - Tape - 1996

   Longtime readers of this blog may ask "Haven't you already uploaded this demo?" The answer would be "Yes...sort of". I have a confession to make. I lied to all of you. The GRUMPIES Demo that I posted back in June of 2011 was not the actual tape I got in the mail from my friend, Angie in 1996. That post was the second or third thing I ever did on this blog and I was pretty sure no one would ever read or pay attention to anything I ever said on here. Now, I realize that there are quite a few people who read this thing and my need for truth and accountability has become weirdly overwhelming. The tape that Angie sent me was the one that is now contained in this download.
   Back in early 1996, THE GRUMPIES formed in Starkville, MS out of the ashes of the legendary (to me and a few others, anyway) WHITE TRASH SUPERMAN to play some hyperfast, manic pop-punk that went beyond that simple genre description and attempted to define their own way of being. Maybe it was growing up in Mississippi. Maybe it was massive doses of early FLAMING LIPS records and seeing hair metal bands in barns. Maybe it was drugs. I don't know. What I do know is that THE GRUMPIES were doing something that was different and all their own. They managed to wear their influences firmly on their sleeves without sounding like any of them. I love them and when their drummer quit, I jumped at the chance of being in the band...partly because of this tape.
   THE GRUMPIES playing at the gazebo in Huntsville,AL 1996.

    So, the tape...They recorded this demo at their house in Starkville on a four track and then played a couple of shows in Mississippi and Birmingham (where my friend Angie picked it up). After those shows, they decided that they could probably do a better job, re-recorded every song on the demo (same house and same four track as far as I know), added some samples and voila, that is the demo that is more well known and widely available. This one is a lot more rough and rudimentary, but I always liked it a lot too, especially this slower version of "Weather Girl" and Vince's back-up vocals on "In My Past".  If you've never heard this band before, I suggest you follow the link above for the "official" demo and try that one. If you're already a fan, this will be interesting for you.

Monday, April 9, 2012

CICATRIZ AMALAYA - "Live on WRCT" - Tape - 2009

   If you were to ask me anything about the origins and ideas behind Cumbia music, I would tell you to ask someone else, because I know next to nothing about it. For example, when I moved back to the Bay Area in 2008, I got a job at a screen printing shop in the East Bay and spent most of my shifts listening to KALX, the Berkeley student radio station. Lots of times, they played punk, but there was a show where the DJ often spoke highly of cumbia and bands influenced by that style of music. If I were to base my definition of cumbia solely on the musical choices of that DJ, I would believe that it is a style of music played by hip, white SoCal dudes who's main goal is to be written up on Pitchfork and open up for OZOMATLI at Coachella. I now know that, for the most part, that definition is wrong. If you want to know what it is, you can look it up on the internet for yourself. Like I said, I'm not the cumbia guy.

   This tape was thrown in with my order of records from Trd Wrd and I was pleasantly surprised by it. It helped me to realize that cumbia was not only the playground of the upwardly mobile, adult contemporary, auto-tuned burner-dude with a funny hat, but it could also be sorta raw, organic and wild...kinda like punk...although cumbia predates punk by roughly 100 years. According to the insert of this tape, "CICATRIZ AMALAYA is a seed of a band of novice instrumentalists attempting to play some kind of cumbia music inspired by the Discos Fuentes compilation released by Domino Sound. An obsession with that tape, coupled with a chance meeting of two Mexican traveling kids and six Pittsburghers initiated this friendship and this recording. The songs on this tape were written and interpreted over the course of a month and a half in the summer of 2009 in Pittsburgh, PA. what a great time!" (...and here it is in Spanish).
 It sounds like a great time. Listen for yourself.

WARNING: The first five seconds sound like garbage because the tape's a little messed up, but the rest of it is fine, I swear.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


   Ever since I met Jason (wild haired drummer guy in this band) back in 1995 (96?), he has been playing his style of no-slow-all-go hardcore relentlessly in bands like TRES KIDS and NINE SHOCKS TERROR. When one of his bands breaks up, he seems to already be working on the first demo for the next one. If we're thinking chronologically, I believe AMERICAN CHEESEBURGER was born not too long after the demise of NO and finds the band fronted by James, one of my favorite hardcore singers of all time...who you may remember from DIVORCEGOAT SHANTY and HALFULA. Those two teamed up with Jon, formerly of CARRIE NATIONS and Steve from ...uh...I'm sure he played in some good band but I don't know what it was. Anyway, they all got together and churned out this fucking 6 song, raging demo that kicked off their 5 (?) years as a band, pulling influences from C.O.C., Japanese thrash and a bunch of other crazy shit. Go for it, freezer eagle.


Live photos taken in Cincinnati by Jon Douds.

Friday, April 6, 2012

THRASH - "Total Anarchy" - Tape - 1990

   Since the beginning of this blog, I've been dusting off many tapes from my shelves and digitizing piles upon piles of forgotten music from over the years. I love many of the things I've posted on here, but I understand that some of this stuff might be embarrassing for some of the people who played the music on those tapes. I can almost hear them thinking, "Thanks for digitizing that band that I was in for 5 seconds who put out that one awful tape that sounds like shit. Big contribution to the world of punk there. Where's your stupid, embarrassing bullshit tape?" Well, here I am to level the playing field.
    I grew up in a town called Pleasant Grove, which is only notable for being completely wiped out by a tornado last year (to be clear, I'm not meaning to be flippant about it. If you can offer any help or support, that would be great, As Hurricane Katrina and this tornado has proven, the US does not care too much about poor southern people). My parents and I split the cost of a drumset ($100) when I was 12 and we bought it from my cousin, who played in a DEF LEPPARD lip sync band...meaning that they were not a cover band, but were a band who dressed up like DEF LEPPARD and acted like they were playing their songs while dancing to pre-recorded karaoke with too much planning. Anyhow, I got the drums and just hit them haphazardly in my basement for months on end. I did not understand how to make a beat at all. My favorite bands at the time were THE CURE, METALLICA, VIOLENT FEMMES and DREAD ZEPPELIN but I didn't know how to make a drum set sound like any of those things.
   I tried to start a band called WASTED YOUTH (I was already taken) with my friends in 6th grade, but it never got further than coming up with that badass name. Later, we started D.O.P.E., which stood for DEATH OF PREPS EVERYWHERE, but I'm not sure if we ever recorded anything or learned how to play a real chord. Then, at the ripe age of 13, my friends and I decided to start a "thrash band" called THRASH. It was gonna be the raddest band ever. We were going to play at our school and fucking kill people. We were gonna have the coolest songs with lightning fast tempos...if we could only figure out what you had to do to actually write a song. It seemed really hard and confusing.
   Ward played bass and sang. Mike played guitar and also sang. I played the drums. Those two guys were a few of the only people in my school who even came close to resembling punks. We set up my boombox in the basement of my parents house and unleashed song after fucking song of unbridled teenage brutality. We were completely untouchable and at the top of our game. I pressed "play" on the boombox to listen to what we had done and....what the fuck? What was this dumb shit that we burdened the world with? Mozart was 5 years old when he composed his own music and performed it in front of European royalty. One of the guys from OLD SKULL was 9 when they put out an LP on Restless Records. We were teenagers and we couldn't even write a legible song with a chorus or even any noticeable "parts". Basically, we sucked....bad. I was embarrassed of our band before the tape was even finished.
   Opening up with the now-classic (to someone somewhere...maybe just me) "Suck My Dick You Fucking Prick" (gimme a break. we were 13), it sets the tone for the rest of the tape. It's amazing how fucked up some of this sounds. It reminds me of shit that noise artists are striving for. One perfect example of that is "Bad Taste". It's no wonder that I quit within a couple of months and started a noise band that only played on the streets. I dare you to download this and listen to it all the way through. Lucky for you, I cut out over half of the tape because I still have some shreds of self-respect buried somewhere deep within me.
   After this tape came out, I quit THRASH. They soldiered on without me. Mike moved to drums.  They got our friend, Andy to sing and found some hot-shit stoner guitarist named Josh to round out the lineup. The four of them delved into the devil's weed and actually tried (unsuccessfully) to write real songs (sell-outs). I appeared briefly on their second tape, aptly titled "Weed", but my days with the band were done. They were trying to be serious and I wanted no part of that
   Lo and behold, THRASH did play at our high school, but did not end up killing anyone...or even giving a wedgie to the principal. I think they got in trouble for saying "fuck" a lot. I'm not sure. My joke band, THE SMEGMAGICIANS opened up for them and we were too busy changing out of our bathrobes, boots and fencing masks to notice....but that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

MODERN MACHINES - "Huberty" - Tape - 2002

    The Modern Machines were a revelation to many and a thorn in the side to many more. I count myself in the population of the latter, but I am including them here because what would the early 00's have been without them? What other band would have shown up at a show in Pittsburgh unannounced (after they had a previous show 24 hours earlier in Denver), jumped onto the show already in progress, played for 45 minutes (including 2-3 later REPLACEMENTS songs) and then kept you up all night drinking and playing even more REPLACEMENTS songs on the porch? I mean, besides BENT OUTTA SHAPE? As much as I didn't like their band and as much as they purposefully annoyed people, I have to hand it to the MOMACS for being total fucking troopers. In the face of adversity and straight-up hostility from audience members at times, they appeared oblivious and impervious to outside forces. They toured relentlessly in a beat up, little minivan, often bringing along their drunk friends from Milwaukee, even though they didn't have room for them. They covered hundreds and hundreds of miles in a single day and stepped out of the van, ready to play their hearts out to 10 unenthusiastic kids in the middle of nowhere and act like they were selling out fucking Shea Stadium every night. None of this changes how I feel about their band, but I can say now that I respect them and I think they are good people. Sometimes, it doesn't matter what your band sounds like when your intentions are this direct. (Also, does my opinion matter? Many people loved this band.)
   This tape is from 2002 and is a little confusing to me. According to the insert, all of this is first take stuff....there is even a LEMONHEADS cover. Here's the MODERN MACHINES to tell you about it in their own way:
From the collection of Erick Lyle.