Les Olivensteins-Ep

December 2, 2011

Les Olivensteins



I must resist the need to be verbose here since there is not much to go on here. All I know is that Les Olivensteins recorded a fairly amazing ep in 1979. I know they are from France and that this ep seems like a sturdy bridge from the utterly brilliant 70s French rock comp Tetes Lourdes(which can be found on this site) to its punk rock cousin. All I know is both releases emanated from France and never fail to capture a sense of urgency and sloppiness that is lacking from music today. Totally catchy with a nasty streak a mile wide, Les Olivensteins is okay with me anytime. Both Tetes Lourdes and this ep give me hope there is some undiscovered golden age in 70s French music that will someday be discovered by your truly. Please school me if I am deaf, dumb and blind to something brilliant beyond Metal Urbain.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

The Good Son(Mute 1990)


I may be in the minority, but I never really bought Nick Cave as a primal, misanthropic entity attuned to the darkest impulses of mankind. Outside of the “Mercy Seat” which still gives me fucking chills, his solo work seemed most poetic when he spun heartfelt yarns about love and its inevitable absence. Sure. the Birthday Party were a singleminded bunch whose music was honestly unsettling and full of the kind of aggression that made you question whether it was mere persona or psychopath. However, he wisely chose a gentler vocabulary and pursued a subtler, but no less effective form of drama. Yeah, he occasionally fostered the occasional shitstorm worthy of the Birthday Party, but he really found his voice interpreting the songs of his heroes on Kicking at the Pricks. Now, that album really grabbed me because I never really saw him as much more than an artist that one listened to when in a pissed, morbid or oddball mood but there are moments of pristine beauty on it as he does what few pull off, which is to make a well-known standard entirely your own. I dunno…there was something tender, yet antagonistic about his take on the familiar that made it seem new. Its followup. Tender Prey, was pretty impressive, but I wanted him to slow things down and take his time with a song, so his subsequent release, The Good Son, was music to these biased ears.

By no means do I recommend The Good Son as a classic or even an entirely successful album since a few songs delve into superficial schtick instead of bloody-hearted pleading and frayed nerves. It’s sometimes hard to embrace a Nick Cave album in its entirety because his embrace of gospel and R&B is kind of ham-fisted as most European efforts tend to play out in their lovable, but shallow manner. Man, that sounds a bit harsh, but if I want clapping and gospel sing-a-longs, there are so many better outlets than Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in this wonderful world.

However, my passion for The Good Son possibly revolves around one single song. I think “Ship Song” is so fucking eloquent and symbolic of the tricky nature of loving someone who may ultimately burn you to the ground. In some ways, it may be one of my favorite metaphors in some ways. He portrays himself as an island while his lover is a ship who burns all bridges down in order to get sole access to her muse. The whole song is about how a love seems perfect in theory, but is destined to fail by their own hands. It is an ode to passion and the infantile decisions it sometimes inspires, but is also a paean to how alive these impulses make us feel. It is self-destructive, utterly romantic and a reflection of past mistakes that could possibly be made right in future relationships. For these reasons, this song is pure perfection as parable and song because it is universal just like the beloved standards he took the time to cover. He finally nailed the perfect blend of schmaltz, empathy, pain and composition required of a song that will stand the test of time.

The rest of The Good Son is no slouch either. Most of it is kind of boozy and drunken in a peculiarly restrain manner. He pursues a lovelorn and regretful mood throughout the album and the result is a pervasive theme of poor decision making and its consequences. It doesn’t hurt that the instrumentation allows the Bad Seeds to explore a more lush side of their musicianship. It’s a gorgeous album with just the right amount of occasional ugliness to make you wince as you slug it all down your gullet.

Dog Faced Hermans

Hum of Life (Konkurrel/Project A-Bomb 1993)


The embittered old codger in me whines that they just don’t make ’em like this anymore, but the realist in me wholeheartedly believes that the Dog Faced Hermans can never be properly copied or borrowed from in any meaningful way. Although they bore some resemblance to the agitated political punk of the Ex, the band’s scope peered far beyond any stylistic ghetto or singular influence. You were likely to hear strains of improv, 8 Eyed Spy and Ornette Coleman covers, feminist manifestos, wry commentary and rollicking trumpet blasts amidst a more familiar punk framework. Sure, lots of bands have deftly incorporated oodles of tasteful influences into their homebrew, but there was a passion, intelligence and political activism to their music that was alternately raucous, yet thoughtful.

Hum of Life is sadly out of print. It’s a shame that their wonderful, but inferior album on Alternative Tentacles is the only recording that is readily available. Hum of Life is their masterpiece since it encompasses all that I love about this band. I swear some of this reminds me of some bastard child of Klezmer, gypsy music and the Gang of Four/The Ex. Catchy anthems suddenly explode into free-jazz interludes only to see vocalist/trumpeter Marion Coutts take the reins and lead the band into some bizarro surf guitar riffs. I don’t know if I have heard such a stylistic hodgepodge ever sound so cohesive and unique. By all means. their high hopes should result in failure, but every spoken word section, spastic interlude and tender soliloquy reminds me why I obsess over albums that are so utterly transcendent.

There are two songs in particular that excite and haunt me 16 years after I first heard them. The first is “Jan 9” which is an almost sci-fi punk song about the dangers of creationism and fundamentalism as it details a society where science has been subverted by the government in order to establish a society where inquiry is sinful. I always loved the opening lines which describe a world where science is like a fly with its wings cut and left to wander the floor with the rest of us peons.

Jan 9 in future time/the day science clipped its wings/nobody flew/we all stood around/shaking hands on the ground/congratulating ourselves/we could only see the soles of their feet/we thought there were angels up ahead

“Hook and the Wire” is the other masterpiece as it attacks the pro-life movement and paints a picture of a patriarchal society where men carelessly impregnate women and send them off to deal with the hook and the wire. It details a society where abortion is no longer an option and sexual partners coldly banish their love to an alleyway to deal with it themselves. It is a somewhat ironic tale of a world where misogyny and the far right have overtaken our lives and males and enforce self-mutilation is an acceptable solution to a pregnancy. The sad part about both of these tunes is that they don’t seem too far-fetched these days.

Although Mississippi Records reissued a vinyl edition of their first album, the rest deserve your love and attention so some stalwart label can expose more folks to the beauty of their catalogue.

The Warmers-s/t

December 17, 2008


The Warmers

s/t (Dischord 1996)


It may not be the most glamorous album to write about here, but there is something primal and minimal about the Warmers that impels me to revisit it every few months. At first listen, it bears close resemblance to a more ramshackle Fugazi mixed with an even more messy Gang of Four, but there is a lot more going on here than implied by my lazy comparisons. Comprised of Alec Mackaye of Faith/Ignition, Amy Farina of the Evens/Lois and Juan Luis Carrera of the Slowdime label, the Warmers died out way before they should since their s/t debut is such a concise slice of compact riffs, tight drumming and simple, but effective shouts. Yes, these three components have fueled many a punk band, but the Warmers had it down to a science. There isn’t an ounce of fat or a bum note to be found, just the most economical path to getting to the punchline while batting you about the ears in the process. Where Fugazi and even the Gang of Four have worn out there welcome in this biased household, the Warmers’ imperfect masterpieces keep me reaching for this album more often than any other release on Dischord.  It is a damn shame that the band peetered out since there is something hypnotic about their tightly wound usage of repetitive riffs that pointed towards something even greater. Before you look for revelatory moments, remember it is definitely a grower, not a shower.

Killed by Death-Volume Ten

August 27, 2008

Various Artists

Killed by Death-Volume 10


I’ve been a bit lax with posting the series of Killed by Death comps. I am still missing volumes 11-14. If anyone could send me these to post, it would be an entirely wonderful act. Again, the quality dips slightly with each succeeding volume, but it still contains so many slabs of angst and rage. Personally, I like to go running and listen to these as a way to inspire hate towards the treadmills and roads on which I race.

Vomit Pigs-Useless Eater
Tragics-Laughing Lover
Desendants-Unnational Anthem
63 Monroe-Hijack Victim
Executives-Jet Set
Grim Clone Band-Heat’s Rising, Jehovah’s Witness
Cringe-Spit on Your Grave
Voodoo Idols-We Dig Nixon
Red Squares-Time Change

Gentlemen Of Horror-God Knows You By Name
Normals-Almost Ready
Discords-Dead Cubans
Trend-Band Aid
Count Vertigo-X-Patriots
Unnatural Axe-The Creeper
Skinnies-Out of Order
Sick & The Lame-Ate Days a Week

Various Artists

Killed by Death Vols 8.5 and 9

Vol. 8.5: http://www.mediafire.com/?kqjwy1xvjto

Vol 9: http://www.mediafire.com/?qjlzb059cky

The next two installments in the series of comps documenting the seedy underbelly of punk rock circa 1978-1982. Again, neither match the first three installments, but there are plenty of amazing tracks in the morass of sophomoric sentiments and sloppy seconds. Best heard at top volume, these comps are full of testosterone and ham-fisted abuse of instruments.

Volume 8.5

Toxin III-I Rock I Ran
Cosmetics-Twinkie Madness
Reactors-L.A. Sleaze
Haskels-Takin’ the City By Storm
Dow Jones & The Industrials-Can’t Stand the Midwest
Crucified-Let the Kids Play
Uncalled 4-Grind Her Up
Snuky Tate-Stage Speech

Public Disturbance-S & M
Vast Majority-I Wanna Be a Number
Styphnoids-Mom’s a Fake
Turnbuckles-Super Destroyer Mark II
Shit Dogs-Killer Cain
John Vomit & the Leather Scabs-Punk Rock Star
Latin Dogs-Killed In Jail
Insults-Population Zero
Matchheads-Pearl Harbor/Fat Bitch

Volume 9

Tapeworm-Break My Face
Tapeworm-Blues for an Insurance Salesman
Crap Detectors-Police State
Corpsicles-Big Doings
Panics-I Wanna Kill My Mom
Epicycle-You’re Not Gonna Get It
Accident-Kill the Bee Gees
Jetsons-Suicidal Tendencies

Hammer Damage-Laugh
Shirkers-Drunk & Disorderly
Vains-School Jerks
Gizmos-Amerika First
La Peste-Better Off Dead
Sado Nation-On Whom They Beat
X Blank X-You’re Full of Shit
Breakouts-In Vagueness Deal
Ice Nine-Revolting Mess

Various Artists-Killed by Death Vols. 6&7

Volume 6: http://www.mediafire.com/?9l9wynidr2b

Volume 7: http://www.mediafire.com/?9wn2wxe6myx

Man, there are fifteen volumes of this series to post and I’d like to return to fey daydreams of lanky gentlemen strumming their precious guitars. However, a promise is a promise, so I’m gonna start posting these in twos to speed up the process. To be honest, volume five is a bit of letdown, but six is almost as good as the first three volumes. Volume seven is good, not great. As I have stated before, the worst of this series is still light years beyond much of what was released between 1977-1982.

Volume Six
Kids-This is Rock ‘n Roll
Funeral Dress-Army Life
Dirt Shit-Exit
Insults-Just a Doper
Ed Nasty & The Dopeds-You Sucker
Hitler SS-Slave
Tampax-UFO Dictator
Revenge 88-Neon Lights

Screaming Urge-Homework
Frantix-My Dad’s a Fucking Alcoholic
Psykik Volts-Totally Useless
Fire Exit-Time Wall
Mark Truth & The Liars-Prisoners of Time
Se-Meilla Voisi Tunaau Olla Hauskaa

Volume 7
Village Pistols-Big Money
Fire Exit-Time Wall
Rude Norton-Tits on the Beach
Chain Gang-My Fly
Guilty Razors-I Don’t Wanna Be Rich
Ed Nasty & The Dopeds-I’m Gonna Be Everything
Absentees-Tryin’ to Mess With Me
Dot Vaeth Group-Armed Robbery

Cigarettes-They’re Back Again
Lost Kids-Cola Freaks
Fresh Color-The Source
Hated-Seize the Middle East
Maids-Back to Bataan
DDT-I’m Walking Down the Psychopath
Sperma-Zuri Punx (mislabeled-actually “Bomb” from the Zuri Punx 7″)
(not labeled)Ice 9-Out Out Out
MD-Manisch Depressiv

Various Artists

Killed by Death Vol. Five


Not compiled by the folks behind earlier volumes, the fifth installment in the Killed by Death series. It begins a slow decline in quality, but it’s 60% killer, the rest is sophomoric punk shits and giggles. Tags are a bit screwy, so here is the tracklisting.

Black Easter-What the Fuck
X-Terminators-Microwave Radiation
Molls-White Stains
Stalin-(title in Japanese)
Dieter Meier-Cry for Fame
Maggots-(Lets Get, Lets Get) Tammy Wynette
Cowboys-Teenage Life
Hubble Bubble-Look Around

Neo Punkz-If I Watch TV
RPA-Shoot the Pope
Teddy & the Frat Girls-Clubnite
Annonymous-Corporate Radio
Riot 303-Drugs
Cracked Actor-Nazi School
Stiphnoyds-Afraid of the Russians
Kids-No Monarchy
Hubble Bubble-Sweet Rot

Various Artists

Killed by Death Volume Four


Yet another installment in this classic documentation of the dirty underbelly of punk. Almost all of these artists couldn’t pull off a solid album if their lives depended on it. However, they were responsible for short bursts of aggression and attitude that will still rile your ass today. More extensive posts to begin tomorrow. I’ve been busy and have much more to share. Take this in the meantime.

Various Artists

Killed by Death Volume 3


This series falls off around volume five, but this is the last one to qualify as essential. The rest are very worth your while if you have a passing interest in punk since there are amazing tracks on all volumes. Most of this volume is great, but enjoy it while you can since each installment decreases in quality from here.