Sunday, January 30, 2011

So Here's the First Two

Punk rock is an island. Right? The whole idea behind it, (whether successful or not) was to try to be as "original" (i.e. offensive) and "naked" (powerful) as possible. Unlike most genres, they wanted to isolate themselves from the rest of the music community. They wanted to do it themselves. Punk rock was tribal, no? Very inclusive and protective of its own. It's true. Because everybody has there own idea of what "punk" is. Is it a genre? Or it is just a radical way of conducting a business (i.e. record stores, music labels, and publishers). Everyones got their own opinion, and thats why they stick together.

Me? I think it's solid, concise, and lean albums. There's up to 16 songs that are all perfect (5 songs being the least amount (done by The Velvet Underground with "White Light/White Heat") and 16 being the most (done by the Germs with "GI.")). What do all your favorite and the most (if this means anything) "critically acclaimed" and "influential" ones all have in common. They're all grimy and perfectly tight, powerful LPs.

A series is in order, then. Starting today and for the next couple posts, I'll select two punk albums that illustrate this and tell ya why I think they're perfect.

So here's the first two.

The Germs - GI

This band is legendary. Seriously. This album--and Darby Crash--could possibly be the best two embodiments of the of punk virtue. The guitar is right up front. It's got one of the most tangible tones I've ever heard--and it's nasty. The vocals and lyrics are screamed proudly, but angry groans and just enough rhythm give it an illusion of deep melody. The bass clanks and shoves. The drums and scratchy yet deep. To me it lacks nothing. Each song is s beautifully self-contained, but the are common-enough elements which enables the able to never loose steam between second or less track breaks. It is the snottiest, with a (as common with most great punk) hint of sarcastic enthusiasm. And it's accessible and rhythmic enough, but still contains frustrated bits of self-loathing. So dig it. And while yr at it check out some live footage and an interview on The Decline of Western Civilization.

Jay Reatard - Blood Visions

No, you cynical bastard, it's not just because he died last year. Personally, I rate Jay Reatard very high among some of his older, more acclaimed peers. Why? It's because he, in a way, did exactly what they did. They (punk bands of the 70s) starting playing punk because they heard the Stooges and challenged, with "Hey dude, I could do that." Similarly, Jay Reatard listened to Devo, Gang of Four, the Fall and said "Hey I could do that." While they both may have missed the mark of copying their heros, they both created vastly original and powerful works for which they'll be remembered for their own merit. There are shades of mission of Burma guitar scratches and steady drumbeats. It's melodic while not subtracting from it's abrupt forcefulness. Give it a shot, then listen to this interview from a couple of years ago.

By the way, both great album covers. And, yeah the interviewers a turd.


  1. Germs:

    Jay Reatard:

  2. Lexicon devil all the way, go L.A.! I like this post idea a lot man.