Thursday, August 30, 2018

VARIOUS ARTISTS - "The Fucking Rice Harvester Compilation" - Tape - 1996

   Rice Harvester was a zine I made for 20 years. A zine is a bunch of paper that someone scribbled on, photocopied for free at a chain store, and then stapled together to hand out on the street so that someone might understand their feelings. For the fourth issue, I compiled a cassette of punk bands to go with the issue. A cassette is a piece of plastic that houses quarter-inch magnetic tape that somehow magically holds music onto it. You put these cassettes into an even bigger piece of plastic or metal with big clunky buttons. These bigger pieces of plastic or metal used to be found for almost nothing at thrift stores or on the street. Anyway, you push down one of those big, clunky buttons and, if everything is right with the world, actual music comes out...or whatever it is that someone recorded onto that cassette.
   SO, like I was saying, I put together a compilation tape that was given out for free with the free zine. I stole every last cassette from chain stores, sometimes just walking right out the front door with a few boxes of tapes in my arms because fuck capitalism and What Is Anything? The tape consists of some local favorites at the time (local at that time meant Huntsville, AL), bands that I wrote to for a song and some far-flung punk bands that were culled from my friend Joey's compilation LP that he never, ever intended to release. Imagine sending off your exclusive song with the intention of having it appear on this cool LP comp, but then it comes out on a free tape with some crappy zine from Alabama. Fuck yeah life!
   THE CRUMBS, from Miami, FL start it off. They were a RAMONES-loving punk band from Miami. They were all fun and everything, but we stopped setting up shows for them once our friend stopped playing drums for them and they said some sketchy shit about women.
  THE SLOBS, from Cincinnati were a weirdly underrated band from the mid-90's and they played sloppy basement punk. They put out a slew of shit, mostly in 1996 and this song, "Politician" did not appear on any of it, as far as I can tell. It's a funny concept for a song. "I don't wanna be a politician!!" Yeah, that's pretty easily avoidable, but a great thing to sing along to.
    JABBERJAW was a Huntsville punk band who always sounded better live than on tape. I saw these three teenagers play a bunch of different shows around town. They were always great, but could never really channel their enthusiasm onto the recording. I asked them to be on this comp and remember being impressed that they knew how to dub a plane crash sound onto their song. I still am. I can't do that shit....still. I love that this song is about being a dead pilot.
   FUN GIRLS FROM MT PILOT were from Nashville, TN and featured four guys who dressed in drag at their shows. The Huntsville scene really liked them, but I was kinda over them by this point. They were really fun and a good band...super bouncy punk and always a good live show, but I just wasn't too enamored like other folks were. What IS interesting is that they broke up and their singer, Cat went on to be a wrestling total WWF showman style, but on a DIY level. He wrote some articles in zines about it and seeing the similarities to DIY punk was really interesting. This song might be exclusive, but I'm not sure.
   PROPERTY is from Huntsville. They started in 1994(?) and they're still a band. I'm not sure if they've ever left the southeast US. At that time, their shows often included members of the band running headlong into other members of the band and knocking them across the room, completely ending the song. The 5 members of the band brought a lot of styles to the table, but mostly settled into hardcore and catchy punk. They were always great and fun to watch. I bet they still are. I love this song because the teenage singer's voice (Shane) is cracking and the song is just plain great.
  THE GRUMPIES have been discussed at length herehere and here so I will spare you. The two songs on this tape are from their original demo, which I loved so much that I jumped at the chance to be their drummer when the original one quit.
 SWEATER PUNKS were another Huntsville band and their inclusion here is a mystery to me. I don't remember ever seeing them when I lived in town, but their guitarist Seth was always a solid fixture in bands so I probably trusted this new band of his to be good. My friend Jack (also from AL) did some minor detective work (meaning he asked Seth) and came up with this info: The band only recorded once when Jack went over to try out for the band on drums. So, that's him on this recording. The rest of the band was Seth on guitar and vocals and Greg (not me) on bass. This recording never got vocals put onto it, but the song on here was intended as an instrumental. Later, Joey from the 3D's heard this song and asked Seth to join the band. They re-recorded this song as "Spontaneous Human Combustion". Thanks to Jack and Seth for the info!
    THE CRIMINALS were from Oakland / Berkeley and they recorded an exclusive version of their song at Gilman. That's all I'm gonna say because why do you need to know more info about posers?
   JOEY TAMPON AND THE TOXIC SHOCKS was my old band There is more info about the band here.
   WHITE TRASH SUPERMAN wrote the best punk song of the 90's and I asked if I could put it on this tape. They said yes. You can and should find more info about them here and here.
   THE RICKETS were from Olympia, WA and were maybe the only spikey drunk punk band at that point in the town's history. While everyone else was concentrating on twee pop, minimalist punk and feigning pre-teen innocence even though they were pushing 30, THE RICKETS sang about getting drunk, hating their job, destroying Olympia and getting drunk again. Here. they contribute a song about my friend Janelle because it was the 90's and that's what bands did for some dumb reason.
   CHICKENHEAD was a drunken, chaotic machine. This is the last song they ever recorded on the day they broke up. You can find more info about them here.
   That;s it. Enjoy or don't.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

DECATUR! - City Limit - EP - 1995

    Ever since receiving the excellent LP "I've Got the Bible Belt Around My Throat", I've been on a bit of a tear though music from my home state of Alabama. The record is a document of Alabama punk and it is an excellent collection of early punk and hardcore from all over the state. If you see it, definitely pick the record up. It had me going back through recordings by GNP, THE KNOCKABOUTS, THE JAWAS and so many more. One of the bands that never seemed to get any recognition at all anywhere, ever (except one other blog and now, here) was DECATUR! Decatur is a town in north Alabama that is barely a blip on the map and this band was from there, singing songs about their town and their friends. Their theme song has always been my favorite and is so bouncy and fun. I love it when bands sing about where they're from and name specific locations. With lines like "where Randy's mom runs cheap hotels, where all of my friends end up in jail, Decatur!!", you can't really lose. Once, I was listening to this at the punk house I lived at in Huntsville, AL. My roommate walked in during the line "Carl Stratman was our biggest fan, we owe him one because he let us use his guitar" and then my roommate said "Oh, hey, I bought that guitar off of Carl Stratman" and pointed out a beaten up guitar in the corner. My mind was kinda blown.
    This isn't going to mean a lot to a lot of people who download it, but I think it's definitely worth your time. It's a product of the 90's and there are some clear cut nods towards SUPERCHUNK and that era of pop-punk. Here's what Heath, their singer / guitarist had to say about the band (taken from the now-defunct blog Nostalgia Isn't What it Used to Be...
All four of us grew up in Decatur. Then, all four of us went to Auburn (not because of the band. just coincidentally.) When we formed the band, since we were all from Decatur, we thought it would be funny to name the band that. We put an exclamation mark on the name to differentiate ourselves from the town. :) But yeah, your assumptions were pretty much dead on. All of the songs were about Decatur, and more specifically, about the dynamic between the two high schools. Rob, Eric, and I went to Decatur High, and Lisa went to Austin (we had a song that most Decatur people would get called "I Don't Work at the Rockin' McDonalds and You Don't Hang Out at Morningside" talking about it). It was all supposed to be goofy, and we were definitely a part of the early Green Day, Jawbreaker, Superchunk-influenced bands. The 7" doesn't really give a good cross-section of our style or our sound really, but it is what it is. We were a band from Oct. '94 to Oct. 31,1995, when we played our last show ever at the 40 Watt in Athens, GA, opening for our friends from Auburn, Man or Astroman.