Thursday, February 23, 2006

Lint (OpIvy/Rancid/Transplants) vs. Alk3

It's a reggae vs. goth battle! Hear the results.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Touring" w/ Drag the River

(from 2/17):
Day 1 of our planned 4-day DTR gorging was in San Jose @ the Blank Club. That joint was darkest bar I've ever been in. Seriously, I could barely see walking around there. Like some vampire club w/ just red lights.

Opener 1: The Mojo Apostles who also apparently drove down from Oakland like us. Doesn't mention him as an influence on their bio page, but the Apostles seemed like disciples of Mojo Nixon to me w/ maybe a little goofier Supersuckers and some Southern Culture on the Skids thrown in. I guess their highlight was the song about losing another good man to Christianity and his wife says they're sinners and for once that bitch is right. They were also the biggest draw of the night as it was supposed to be their CD release party and they were shooting a video.

Next up, also from the East Bay, was Dynamite 8. Um, the less I say about this band the better probably. I will say that this description "Some of the band's influences are The Descendents/All, Wretch Like Me, Pretty Girls Make Graves, The Bronx, Hot Water Music, and Jawbreaker. JoAnn's powerful voice rarely gets reference to other female vocalists, but some of her trademark inflections coincidentally bare resemblance to James Hetfield of Metallica and Glenn Danzig of the Misfits" from their online bio is total BS. I could have done w/o having to sit through them. Plus, after their set, the singer went from mildly obnoxious to full-on "that guy" (er, gal) obnoxious drunk.

And, finally, around midnight, Drag the River! I've seen them 3 or 4 times and I think this might have been my favorite show yet. They played for a long time; I don't think we got out of there until around 1:30. They played just about every (newer) song we wanted to hear. I couldn't even think of any I wanted to request (I thought of "Caleb's Grave" and "Away w/ Women" later, which I didn't end up requesting at any of the shows).

My wife wanted to hear them do "Hybrid Moments" and they didn't do that, but that was about it. She did get her favorite, "So Long Hoss" though. And I got to hear some of the newer ones I wanted to: "Lost Angel Saloon" and "Amazing Grace & Chuck Fasano" Plus one of my all-time favorite DTR songs, "Me and Joe."

They also played "Portland" and from a comment Chad made, I think they probably played most, if not all, of the new record too. And a really cool version of "Beautiful and Damned." Some older songs included "Medicine," "Mars Motors," "Embrace the Sound," "Columbus Stockade," "Tomorrow Morning," "Deminer," "Kelly Country," and probably bunch more I can't remember right now.

I didn't bring the video camera, but someone was taping their show. Maybe that'll show up somewhere sometime.

Great show!

(from 2/21):
So last night marked our 4th straight night in a row of Drag the River.

That was a blast every night. I don't know how often I'd drive all over NorCal to see the same band 4 nights in a row, but I'm sure glad we did. Each show was a unique experience and a great time. I was so beat last night though. I don't know how bands do it, driving all over hell and playing every night. And I wasn't even drinking and partying all night after every show.

I'd say the Santa Cruz show was our favorite overall. We showed up just in time for I Can Lick Any SOB in the House. We had shown up for the last half of their set at Bottom of the Hill in SF and we liked them ok that night, But, we really enjoyed them at The Attic in Santa Cruz. The San Jose show/set was probably our favorite DTR set, but we had the most fun overall in Santa Cruz. The Attic was a really nice venue. Someone was taping this show too (audio). I hope that shows up somewhere soon.

BOTH probably had the most people and that SF show was fun too. The crowd really fed those guys the alcohol that night. I don't know how those guys do all those Jager bombs and shots and still manage to sound so good. Of course by the time they were really trashed it started to show, but it was still awesome. People didn't want to let Chad off the stage but he had to laugh and say he was too drunk to keep playing. He did give us all a bonus performance of "Modern Drunkard," which as appropriate and awesome.

I think I had some nostalgic recollections going about Old Ironsides in Sacramento. It is a fine dive bar, but seeing a band there is claustophobic to say the least (low ceilings freak me out I guess...). And the band didn't even all fit on the stage.

That was the most "star-studded" affair of the 4 shows I noticed, as local stalwarts Groovie Ghoulies (aka The Haints) were in attendance. That night seemed a lot mellower set overall and they might have seemed a little on the tired side (I know we kinda were from all the driving and we weren't even drinking and playing every night!). We did get some requests in that night ("Lost Angel Saloon" and "Down this Road"--I think that is the name of that Steve Earle song, I felt kinda unsure when they didn't recognize what the hell I was asking for at first). The new guys (Spacey Casey in particular) did a pretty rad job of playing that song they'd never played on the fly.

Since we saw all those shows, we didn't have too many requests cuz we heard pretty much every song we wanted to hear. I guess they're not playing "Hybrid Moments" anymore, though. Some people asked for that and got denied. I'd seen them do it a few times, but my wife wanted to hear that one since this was her first DTR experience. There seemed to be some running joke about "Southbound Train" too.

All-n-all, awesome 4 days of shows...

Screeching Weasel--Kill the Musicians (Remastered Reissue)

The last of the Asian Man Screeching Weasel reissues (although 2 Riverdales reissues still to come this year). I have to say these last two reissues (Enemies & KTMM) have been pretty ...(ahem) lackluster...efforts.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any rarities/b-side compilations that are recommendable to anyone but the most hardcore fans, and this one isn't much different. Being one of those hardcore fans of Weasel, of course I own or have owned most of the original pressings and was pleased to get the CD when it was released in 1994. There are a few great tracks on here (I prefer the version of "Hey Suburbia" included here to the Boogadax3 version, for example, and "Radio Blast," "Around on You," and "Mary Was An Anarchist" are worth a listen, as are the live-from-Gilman tracks "Veronica Hates Me," "I Can See Clearly Now," "Supermarket Fantasy," and "Science of Myth".

If you have all the other pre-Emo albums and can't get enough of the band, I'd suggest picking this up next. Only the most hardcore of hardcore fans probably need the second collection, the 2xCD Thank You Very Little (the 2nd disc does feature a nice live set from 1993). The set isn't as cool as the There's a Screaming Otter in My Pants bootleg, though, which captured a great show of the band at their peak. And I wouldn't recommend Emo or Teen Punks in Heat to anyone.

The KTM reissue cover art and titles do look sharper and I do prefer the new CD "art." The arguably termed "brand new" artwork consists of a few new color photos along with some of the original photos now in color. The original CD artwork and a couple old photos included in Ben's original liner notes (one was of All Night Garage Sale, Ben and Jughead's pre-Weasel band) are no longer included.

As these tracks were already remastered in 1994, sound quality is not so much a concern when deciding whether to buy this version or track down the out-of-print Lookout! CD, which really shouldn't be too hard if you apply yourself.

Ben's in-depth History of Screeching Weasel essay has been replaced with a rather uninspiring lecture on how the bad old days aren't really worth commenting on. Short notes from Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio) and Matt Smith (Strike Anywhere) are also included, as well as a lenghty, sentimental essay from Mass Giorgini who eulogizes his late, cancer-stricken father in the context of his working relationship with Screeching Weasel over the years. While this is a nice essay with some interesting tidbits (the story about Ben's original vocals for "Kathy's on the Roof" was amusing--think about it: "Kathy's on the roofagin"), it's not especially informative and not nearly as interesting as Ben's original liner notes, which Ben derides as "voluminous, rambling, and nonsensical." In fact, Mass's liner notes would have made much more sense had they been included in the barren Enemies reissue packaging.

Now I don't know about you, but I'd kinda like the guy putting out the records to know what he's talking about, so when Mike Park (Asian Man)'s liner notes talk about how much he loves rarities collections and how this collects a lot of great stuff, blah blah, and how it would be nice to "have the original CDs in your collection, but that's what eBay is for," it irks my fact-checker that none of the KTM tracks appeared on CD before the original release of KTM (as far as I know the tracks that were released were on various 7" releases and 10" or 12" vinyl compilations). Sure it's obvious he meant the original vinyl pressings, but, c'mon. Is a little attention to detail too much to ask?

Perhaps most unforgiving however, is the lack of a list of which tracks came from which releases. Originally that information could at least be gleaned from the liner notes (or, from the discography that was included in the original pressing of Enemies--also deleted from the reissue packaging). The recently relaunched has an incomplete discography at the moment.

Some armchair QB'ing suggestions on what might have made this a more intersting reissue package (I'm just spitballing here):

Maybe original cover art from all the EPs and compilations would have made some nice, "brand new artwork" for the packaging.

The 4 songs from the Weasel Ramones cover LP now seem superflous now that the whole LP has been released on CD, and it would have been ok w/ me if they had deleted those 4 tracks to make room to include some other songs (maybe even the Formula 27 bonus tracks off the Ramones CD, even though they're not from the era represented on this collection). Perhaps "My Friends Are Getting Famous" or "Disgusteen," or the 7" EP tracks left off originally because as Ben said in the original liner notes: "they blow."

"My Friends Are Getting Famous" is off 1994's Punk USA compilation, compiled by Ben, which featured exclusive-at-the-time tracks from Screeching Weasel, Jawbreaker, face to face, the Queers, the Vindictives, Rattail Grenaider (Mass Giorgini's pre-Squirtgun band; basically Squirtgun w/ a different singer), and more (an unlisted Garden Variety track is also on the CD--apparently, they drew the ire of Mr. Weasel by including the song on their album that came out shortly before the compilation's release; it was too late to cut them from the CD, but not too late to cut them from the packaging. Of the bigger names on the record, the Weasel, Queers, and face to face songs still seem to be exclusive. Hard to imagine that over 10 years later this comp still sells enough copies to justify keeping tracks on it exclusive, so why not add "My Friends Are Getting Famous" to KTM?

"Disgusteen" was the title song to a really bad, super low-budget gay-vampire flick Ben wrote and directed that I'm sure he would love to forget ever happened (not sure how he feels about his appearnce in Bruce LaBruce's gay porn film, Super 8 1/2). Ben recorded "Disgusteen" with Chicago's 8-Bark as his backing band. So, it's not Screeching Weasel, true, but from what I remember of the nth-generation VHS copy I used to have, the soundtrack wasn't terrible. Including the 7" version of "I Wanna Be a Homosexual" with Bruce LaBruce's intro would've been good, too.

Another possible inclusion of an out-of-print Weasel-related project was The Shotdowns, who released a 7" on Lookout Records. Ben did some A&R work for Lookout and "found" them an old school hardcore act from Maine. Lookout bit on it and put out the 7". Turned out later it was actually Ben, Jughead, and Jersey Beat's Jim Testa.

Wouldn't have been good for Weasel purists maybe, but would've been some nice added value.

Original Release: 8/10
Reissue: 5/10

Monday, February 20, 2006

2005 Year-in-Review


against me (searching for a former clarity)

See review.

clutch (robot hive/exodus)

The follow-up to last year's Blast Tyrant, Robot Hive/Exodus picks up right where BT left off. Why don't more people jock these guys? I was thoroughly bummed I missed them play live (again). And this time we even had tickets but were sick.

sleater-kinney (the woods)

See brief reviewlette.

heavy trash

I do still enjoy the Blues Explosion's records, but last time I saw them live, their schtick seemed really tired and they didn't really seem all that into it. They've gone from being one of the best live shows I've ever seen to this day (saw them twice in 1993 on the Extra Width tour and a couple times after that to just being kinda boring. But, when I saw Heavy Trash live they were a blast and it looked like Jon was actually having fun again. So, I wouldn't mind if he retired JSBX and started this full-time (and maybe he has, as the JSBX website seems to be gone). This is a fun album and band that sounds basically like JSBX crossed w/ the more rockabilly-tinged Speedball Baby (Matt Verta-Ray's main outfit).

screeching weasel (reissues)

See all but one review here. KTM review here.

lillingtons (technically unsound boxset)

See review.

shook ones (sixteen)

See review.

propagandhi (potemkin city limits)

I still have a soft spot for the John K. Samson lineup's dynamic, with the harder edged punk riffs of Chris Hannah vs. the melodic stylings of John-John (now putting out shoegazer anthems with The Weakerthans. These days, you've got ex-I Spy bassist Todd Kowalski's hardcore thrash vs. Chris Hannah's thrash metal. Even so, I like this album way more than Today's Empires, Tomorrows Ashes and it's hard to argue that this isn't their best album musicianship-wise. They totally shred, bro, no matter how grumpy they are.

western addiction (cognicide)

Kind of an honorable mention since I know the singer/guitarist, but I actually do like their album. 80s-style hardcore. That lumberjack guy singin' and strummin' seems to a lot different than the J. Crew dude I went to college with though.

(live highlights of 2005)

against me / smoke or fire / soviettes live (slim's SF)

gossip live (bottom of the hill SF)


crash (2005)

batman begins

wedding crashers

walk the line

wal-mart: the high cost of low price

war of the worlds



sin city

prozac nation

reading list (best-of)

harry potter & the half-blood prince

the road to the dark tower

dark tower concordance volume ii

the colorado kid

fast food nation