30 Dec 2010

How minimal can you get? #29

The Four Plugs – Wrong Treatment + Biking Girl 7" (1979)
“The Four Plugs – Biking Girl (Disposable Records UK 1979) The subtle charm of marginal culture: Truly marginal culture where 1000 singles were pressed more than 22 years ago. How many got lost? How many are never being played? How many are stored in a box in the attic? How many are being played repeatedly on turntables that cost ten times as much as the recording and pressing of this given 45? 'She used to be my biking partner ? she used to be my biking girl. We used to go for rides in the country side'. A true punk rock/diy statement issued by the Damaged Goods people, who knew their Chesterton and Thomas Browne.” Johan Kugelberg

The Four Plugs – Biking Girl
Get it here.

29 Dec 2010

Chalk Circle

Chalk Circle – Side By Side & Reflection (Live @ dc space, 1982)

“Chalk Circle played three out of our four shows at dc space, which was another really great place to see bands. It was a small artist-run performance space that had all sorts of music and art events, including shows like Sun Ra and Laurie Anderson and film screenings of underground and experimental movies. It had a very intimate, friendly, comfortable vibe, but I had to walk past the drug dealers, porn shops, and rats to get there. It was at 7th & E, NW, right around the corner from the original 9:30 Club. At that time the area was known as the red light district. But once you were inside dc space, you felt safe and welcomed, like you were in a friend’s living room. Almost every punk / hardcore band in DC in the 80s played there at one time or another. Chalk Circle never played outside of the DC area, unfortunately. It wasn’t like today where it’s easy to book shows in other cities. There was no infrastructure built up, no easy way to communicate other than by letter or phone (and remember this was before answering machines), no easy way to find out about places to play. And it was doubly hard for girls to tour. It was a big achievement for us to have played in the DC area, although I wish we’d been able to tour the US. When we played our first show at dc space in July 1981 (with Sally Berg of REM — later Egoslavia — borrowed on bass), we were the first all-female band to have played in DC since the 1940s!
   Sally worked for District Curators, which was the company run by Bill Warrell that owned dc space. Sally then worked at the 9:30 Club with Tamera, and that’s how we met Tamera and got her to be our bass player. Tamera was originally a guitarist. She didn’t play with us at that first show, but she played with us at our second show at dc space, which wasn’t until Feb 1982.” Sharon Cheslow

Chalk Circle at dc space: Sharon Cheslow and Mary Green (1982).

“Other than punk and the music that evolved out of that, Chalk Circle loved a lot of glam rock, folk rock, psychedelic music, soul, and funk — especially go-go. Go-go was a style of funk native to DC that was very percussive and rhythmic, with lots of repetitive call-and-response vocals, so people really got into a groove at shows. It had a lot in common with hip-hop. There was a great local funk scene in DC, with bands like Trouble Funk and Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers, and it became known as DC go-go.”  Sharon Cheslow

“The two songs on the Mixed Nuts comp, 'The Slap' and 'Subversive Pleasure', were taken from our second Inner Ear demo. Those two songs, plus most of the songs we released on WGNS cassettes, will be released on vinyl with digital download in early 2011. Mississippi Records and Post Present Medium will be doing a split-label release. The LP will be titled Reflection, which is the title of one of the songs from our first Inner Ear demo, and it will come with a 16-page booklet. The booklet includes liner notes by Don Fleming, photos, and some press clippings.” Sharon Cheslow

Chalk Circle Reflection LP out in February 2011.

Meanwhile, please visit Decomposition – Chalk Circle for more information.

* * *

Excerpts taken from an interview with Sharon Cheslow in November 2010.

26 Dec 2010

Earth Dies Burning

Earth Dies Burning – Another Six Year Old (Live @ New Wave Theatre, 1982)

Earth Dies Burning: relics from the valley of the bored teenager

12 Dec 2010

Shelley's Children

Originally posted December 13, 2008
“Shelley's Children are bright enough to make superb female harmonies over buzzsaw pop guitar protest songs with ace lyrics... and just dumb enough to be anarchists. Long time since our Billy wrote a song quite this good. Pull your socks up, lad.” Steven Wells – NME (30 March 1991)

Steph, Greg, Imogen, Neil, Coral (the final Shelley's Children lineup).

“Like a slightly off-key Calamities or Gymslips, this band features female vocals set to very catchy tunes that sometimes cloy. Still, the better songs on the 45rpm side leave a solid impression. Pretty good.” Maximum Rock'n'Roll (Sept '90)

“And speaking of Shelley's Children, here they are with their own single. A comparison to Kirsty MacColl springs directly to mind, not simply because it's a girl singer, but the voice is not dissimilar and the songs are like Kirsty at her best. The top side is a clever piece of Folk-Pop from this big band whilst the flip includes Jack – which starts with a nursery rhyme introduction before crashing into an upbeat song – and Waiting For The Weekend, which is more of the same. Highly recommended.” Steve Smith – Spiral Scracth (May 1991)

Shelley's Children – Born Too Late

Shelley's Children – Elvis Says

Shelley's Children – Every Town
Get it here.

Shelley's Children Myspace

3 Dec 2010

Our record label could be your life #2

Subterranean Records
San Francisco's first hardcore label, the US's first industrial label.

“Subterranean Records for me is one of the best examples of what a good quality independent label is all about. Take a look at their catalog: Z'ev, Flipper, Nervous Gender, Minimal Man, Chrome, Leather Nun, Dead Kennedys, Code of Honor, Fried Abortions, Wilma, Monte Cazazza, Factrix... Quite an odd assortment wouldn't you say? The thing that separates Subterranean I think from most of the others is the chances they take by releasing unusual, unproven artists who are different from the norm. (And I'm talking within an underground context). Let's face it. Safe is boring and different music and new ideas is where it's at, folks.” Suburban Relapse #11

“We're much more interested in experimental kinds of things – closer to street level kind of music, the kind of music being made by hordes of kids just picking up guitars and synthesizers and making music. It's modern urban folk music. It reflects people's daily experiences and how they live and have to try and cope with life in a nitty-gritty world.” Mike Fox & Steve Tupper

“Everybody's trying to figure out what's cool. Right now what's cool is what's dead. I wish people would stop worrying about what's cool and start trying to do things that are so new and challenging that they can't be ignored.” Mike Fox & Steve Tupper

The first three releases were:

Factrix – Night to Forget

Nervous Gender – Miscarriage

More info: Subterranean Records – An Uncompromising Vision of Luxury since 1979.

30 Nov 2010

Kleenex Pt. III

LiLiPUT – Turk / Split live

How minimal can you get? #28

Precision Bearings – Precision Bearings EP (1981)
This was the first release by Fowl Records – the same record label that put out vinyls by Urban Assault, Verbal Abuse and the Fuck-Ups. Yes, it's hard to believe now but there was a time when Hardcore, avant garde and experimental music were hand in hand.

Precision Bearings – Don't Fall Down
Get it here.

Guerrilla gigs Pt. I: Live from a car park

Kilgore Trout – Cataract Jack / English Never Listen (Nottingham, 1987)

The Membranes – Shot By Own Gun (Nottingham, 1987)

Our record label could be your life #1

Ron Johnson Records
“Ron Johnson Records was an UK independent record label based in Long Eaton operating between 1983 and 1988. The label contributed five tracks to the NME's C86 compilation.Run by Dave Parsons, the label released records by artists such as Big Flame, The Shrubs, A Witness, The Great Leap Forward, Stump, The Mackenzies, Twang and The Ex. Despite the press attention and critical acclaim for the label's bands and releases, sales were insufficient to make the label profitable and financial difficulties brought it to an end in 1988.” Wikipedia

The first three releases were:

#1: Splat! – Yeah The Dum Dum 7" EP (1983)

#2: Splat! – Bloom 12" EP (1984)

#3: Big Flame – Rigour 7" EP (1985)

Splat! – Yeah… The Dum Dum

Splat! – A Foolish Crawl
Get it here.

Big Flame – Man Of Few Syllables (Live in Plymouth, 1985)

More info: Ron Johnson Records – An appreciation

9 Oct 2010

Jeri Cain Rossi (Your Funeral / Black Cat Bone / Dolly Dillon)

Originally posted March 16, 2008
Following the recent post about Frantix and Denver underground music scene, here it is this one dedicated to Jeri Cain Rossi, vocalist of the legendary band Your Funeral. It may sounds a little bit ridiculous to you, but I remember falling in love with this band the first time I saw its 7" sleeve, even before being able to listen to its music. I didn't notice that Jeri formed Black Cat Bone until I got Homework #10 – with their impressive song “Judas Tree” – and I realized that Jeri was, in fact, their singer.
   Since early 80s Jeri has been playing music, writing novels and doing films. She lives now in San Francisco. These two songs are from years 1985-86, when she was playing with Black Cat Bone and was living in Boston. It seems that BCB were quite popular on college radios back then, and I really can understand why: they were simply amazing.

Your Funeral: Karen, Cleo, and Jeri, 1982. Duane Davis
“I met Karen from hanging out at art gallery openings, gigs. She had spent time in London and was very cool & stylish and had big aspirations. We became friends to start a band, a British influenced Cure‑ish kinda band which became Your Funeral. I knew guitar from playing folk bars in college and she picked up bass. We met Cleo who was more into the Ramones. She was in an all girl band called The Guys.
   At the time my musical style was more rootsy and pop, case in point: I Want To Be You. Besides the Cure I was also influenced by Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, and especially The Gun Club (though you can’t tell by our music). The Gun Club had toured to Denver and Boulder in ’81 and that was the first time a performance changed my life. The other time was when my band opened for The Birthday Party in ’83. I wasn’t the same after either those shows.
   My lyrics were way depressing, dark. By the age of twenty four I had lost a boyfriend in an apartment fire and my father to depression. I took their deaths incredibly hard. Thus the name: Your Funeral. A little‑girl‑lost take on the impermanence of nature. Karen was way into it as well, but our dark, unsmiling broodiness drove Cleo crazy.” Jeri Cain Rossi

Your Funeral 7", Local Anesthetic, 1982
“After the initial all girl trio disbanded I reformed with Phil Teague and Michael Sidlow and that was the best formation of Your Funeral. We were loud and noisy and crazy great. I played bass. Phil played a noisy noisy rootsy style on his Fender Jaguar and Michael played drums. I threw out most of my songs except for a few and we added other songs that Phil wrote. By this time I was throwing out the gothy British thing and going for the Americana roots thing. We had volatile personalities and unfortunately we didn’t last long. The day we got the Birthday Party gig, was the day they both quit. I asked some friends to fill in and opened for the Birthday Party and it was great, but I always regret I didn’t beg Phil and Michael to let bygones be bygones and do the gig because it was truly one of the best bands I was ever in. I don’t even have a practice tape of us.” Jeri Cain Rossi

Black Cat Bone (Neal Sugarman and Jeri Rossi) @ Johnny D's, Boston, November 15, 1985. Tracy White
“The Boston scene in the 80s was incredibly inspiring with the Lyres and the Flies and later the Titantics. So many great bands. I moved out their with Michael from Your Funeral. We had patched things up and had done a punk folk duet called No Time For Flowers. Michael didn’t like Boston and moved back to Denver but I stayed and started Black Cat Bone. We had a bit of success and started getting great opening slots around town for bands such as Foetus and Sonic Youth. I had a few side bands also: Death House Pussy, Trashed Out Lez Boys, Hogtied… I can’t remember them all. After that I gave up music for a while, started writing fiction, went into the MFA program for filmmaking. When I got my MFA I moved to NYC for two years and worked in the film industry. No music.
    It wasn’t until I moved to New Orleans that my music was resurrected and I was in the greatest band of my life thus so far: Dolly Dillon. We were stripped down Americana and it was divine. The Dolly Dillon recordings are pretty much my favorite. I had finally come into my own as a songwriter and a singer and guitar player. And we went NOWHERE! After Dolly Dillon I solo’d a lot. Focused on my fiction writing, had two books published, had two plays produced.
    After Katrina I moved to San Francisco. The weather is nice. But I left my heart in New Orleans.
    By far Boston had the most bang for the buck as far as great music. But there’s something about New Orleans that lures me back again and again.” Jeri Cain Rossi

Jeri Cain Rossi, 1995. Jim Merrill

Black Cat Bone – I Need A Jerk Like You

Black Cat Bone – If Loving You Is Wrong

Dolly Dillon – Soldier Of Love (New Orleans, 1995)

Excerpts taken from an interview with Jeri in Summer 2010. My deepest gratitude, Jeri!

Update April 3, 2012
Perfect Sound Forever has published the whole interview, so now you can read it on screen – in case you want to do it in printed format, you also can order Making Waves #1.

3 Oct 2010

How minimal can you get? #27

Phonophobia – s/t 7"
“Phonophobia was a studio-band. Phonophobia never performed live. Phonophobia was located in Bremen, Germany.”

 The only pressphoto of Phonophobia.

“Phonophobia had three members: Bine Linden, she is not into music anymore. A.S. (who wants to remain unnamed), he became a christian some years ago, I think he is making music in church sometimes. He was our recording-man (cause he owned the studio in which we worked). Harald Falkenhagen, I am a visual artist, check out my website if you are interested in my work.”

“First recordings are dated late 1979, last recordings were made in 1983. In 1980 we released the only record, a single with three tracks, 1200 copies were made.” Harald Falkenhagen

Phonophobia – Der Hit
More info here.

2 Oct 2010

No trend, no scene, no movement: No Trend, the early years

Originally posted September 17, 2007
“No Trend fancied itself a sort of DC harDCore scene gadfly, razzing the scene from just outside the Beltway, pointing out its hypocrisy and conformity. In fact it was a fantastically creative and energetic scene, but it did bear some criticism, and No Trend felt it should provide that.” Michael Salkind

Michael Salkind, No Trend's first drummer, 1981. Lloyd Wolf

“No Trend's earliest conception, I think, was a briefly lived band called the Aborted. Jeff Mentges was the singer and Bob (I don't know his last name) the bass player, with 12-year-old guitar genius Brad Pumphrey the only person in the group who could play. It was my first gig drumming, and was well before I was able to play (perhaps that ability didn't come to me until at least after the contents of this CD, but if that's your opinion, keep it to yourself). We practiced in Bob's parents's basement in Maryland, perfecting such politically cutting material as 'Drive Fast, be an Ass' and 'Who's a Dick? Merv (Griffin).' We played one gig, at a party, with Government Issue, sometime during the summer of 1981. Our other two scheduled gigs were both canceled, and then I left for a year of college, at which point the Aborted probably ended.” Michael Salkind

Bob Strauser @ Lansburgh's, 1983. Jim Saah

“After college, which for me was about as much of a success as the Aborted, or less, I returned to DC and joined up with the burgeoning United Mutation, part of the Northern Virginia Hardcore Scene. I got kicked out in late 1982 for being unable to keep a tempo, something which United Mutation actually expected form a drummer, and was soon called by Jeff, who was now fronting a band called No Trend. They had a gig coming up, and had lost their drummer, and so I agreed to give it a go. It took the long lonely trip to Olney, Maryland, several times, tried out for the band, and then rehearsed several times. In the group was Jeff, still singing, and Bob (from the Aborted) still playing bass, and some guy named Frank who could torture a guitar like nobody's business. I think it was Frank who wrote all or most of No Trend's songs, and he's the guy who drew the cover of this CD (also the art work from No Trend's first EP, using the name Jim Jones; but Frank was quiet about his contributions.” Michael Salkind

Jeff Mentges @ Lansburgh's, 1983. Jim Saah

“No Trend was lucky (?) enough to have been picked up and brought under the wing of Steven Blush, an American University student who, as one half of what was to become Dog Bite Productions, produced many punk shows in the DC area. He became our manager, and we became an opening act mainstay for such bands as the Dead Kennedys and TSOL. We weren't very well liked by the more mainstream DC punk rockers, but developed a weird, fringe, suburban Maryland following, and even some support from the local rock critics (I was one of them, so that connection didn't hurt either). Still despite our rather rapid rise, the association with Steven Blush was one akin to selling ones soul to Beelzebub.” Michael Salkind

Steven Blush, DC, 1981. Steven Blush

“They hated everyone and everything; their grinding Flipper/PiL onslaught constituted a complete fuck-you to DC scene conformity. When I met 'em, they were shoving flyers that read 'No Trend, No Scene, No Movement' up all the Georgetown Coke machines frequented by Straight Edge types.” Steven Blush

“Mass Sterilization Caused By Venereal Disease by No Trend: that's the way anybody with any brains'd approach it if they still wanted to make really loud hard music in 1983. You had to do a Big Black or a Hose or a No Trend. You had to turn the music inside out, to the point where Hardcore kids were gonna hate it, so hopefully you'd find smarter people who still liked the dictates of aggressive music but weren't Hardcore.” Jack Rabid

“In March of 1983, we decided it was time to lay down some tracks, and we spent a fruitful day in Don Zientara's Inner Ear Studio, Arlington, Virginia, where all the hardcore bands recorded at the time. We recorded nine songs, three of which were destined to become No Trend's first record, simply entitled:

Skin-shedding “snake people”
the Man who gave birth
Humans with horns
Famed giants and dwarfs
The woman with 52 lb breast
Hideous cannibal rites
A 169 year old man
Siamese twins who married
The “leopard” family & much more!

Right after that we began planning our first trans-continental tour, a little summer jaunt planned to promote the EP which, by the way, actually saw the light of day right after we returned; not a lot of good that did us. The tour took place in June of 1983. We rented a station wagon and drove, within the span of three weeks, some 8500 miles, the four band members, our manager, and all of the equipment in this one car.” Michael Salkind

 No Trend @ 1349 Ogden, Denver, June 15th, 1983

“Right after we got home, the EP finally saw the light of day, the song “Teen Love” becoming a minor indie hit, garnering some positive reviews as well as radio airplay in several cities including Boston and San Francisco. My departure from the band was an imminent and mutual decision, though I did manage to play one last gig, in July at a place called Oscar's Eye in DC. I received 25 copies of the EP as my divorce settlement, and went on to play in a variety of bands in and around the DC area. None of them ever attained the status of No Trend, nor did I ever lose as much money and dignity.” Michael Salkind

No Trend @ Oscar's Eye, July 25th, 1983

“No Trend – the anti-DC DC band, to a fault. Their sound had more in common with Flipper than anything from the East Coast. They probably picked that just to annoy people. I first met Jeff and Frank when they came up to me at Yesterday & Today – 'Do you hate John Stabb?' 'Well, no, not really.' 'Do you hate Ian MacKaye?' Just real grim, negative stuff. I said, 'Stay in touch and send a tape.' The tape had more humor to it, but a much more fatalistic view than most bands. Frank told me everybody in the world should stop having kids as a solution to overpopulation. I've heard Frank killed himslef. He saw the big piture too clearly but wasn't able to get pleasure out of fighting it.” Jello Biafra

No Trend – Hanging Out In Georgetown

No Trend – Purple Paisleys Make Me Happy

No Trend – Teen Love
No Trend circa 1983 in a Los Angeles studio. Featuring members: Jeff Mentges, Frank Price and Jack Anderson. Manager Steven Blush subs for AWOL drummer, Greg Miller. Shot by Al Flipside for Flipside Videos.

* * *

Excerpts taken from No Trend: The Early Months CD. Get it here.
More info here and here.

29 Sep 2010

Hate from ignorance: A critical view on Hardcore (in three songs)

Empty Rituals – Hardcore
Get it here.

Mr. Epp – Mohawk Man
Get it here.

Meat Joy – Proud To Be Stupid
Get it here.

18 Sep 2010

Occult Chemistry

Occult Chemistry – Fire (Destroy Create)

17 Sep 2010

Happy music doesn't have to be dumb!

Or the Story of The 49 Americans
“The 49 Americans were an experiment in the pursuit of happiness. We were playing because we wanted to play. Because we enjoyed being together and seeing what each other could do. Musicians and non-musicians surprising each other. We did not take ourselves seriously, but we were serious about that. In the increasingly global market place, there is less and less room for individuals at the top. So we celebrated, not being at the top, but simply being together. Like the Statue of Liberty we held up a shining torch of self-entertainment! Saying: Have fun! Play! Participate! Everyone should be allowed to be an American. Like it says on the dollars: E pluribus unum!” 

“All kinds of music are created equal. No music is more important than other music in a democracy. We believe in freedom. Freedom from everything, including lack of ability. In early American times, when there was a tradition of patchwork quilt making, the last piece of patchwork was always placed incorrectly in order to emphasise that man was not perfect. The 49 Americans have continued this traditional practice in their own music, accepting the subtle variance of the pieces they play through the medium of human error.”

“The 49 Americans were an experiment in the pursuit of happiness. Happy music doesn't have to be dumb.” The 49 Americans

The 49 Americans – It's time

Read the Incompleteable Story of The 49 Americans.

Jungle Nausea

Jungle Nausea – Live (1982?)

6 Sep 2010

Nuclear Crayons

Originally posted August 23, 2009
This post tries to be a little homage to an utterly amazing band that deserves a lot more recognition than they have nowadays. The Nuclear Crayons made, in my opinion, truly amazing top notch noise, and Laura Lynch was such a terrific singer/performer it's hard to describe. Don't forget she created Outside Records as well, the record label that released the legendary Mixed Nuts Don't Crack compilation.

“The Nuclear Crayons were formed in 1981 by Lynch LaVoison (Laura Lynch) and Darin Drake, quickly adding in Bernie Wandel and Kendal Church by 1982. They played the Washington DC Metropolitan area underground music venues from approximately 1982 through 1984. Places such as the 9:30 club, Marble Bar (MD), Gay Pride day, Lost & Found, and various sundry joints.”

Nuclear Crayons (Darin Drake, Bernie Wandel, Kendall Church, and Laura Lynch). Laura Lynch

“Lynch was unable to gain support for the Nuclear Crayons through the now burgeoning Dischord Records, the sound wasn't right & the Nuclear Crayons weren't officially part of the 'Georgetown Punk' group and so didn't fit the bill. But Lynch was impressed with the 'do it yourself' attitude of Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson so she started up a Label called Outside Records. It was this label that the Nuclear Crayons, in 1982, released their first 7" vinyl 3 song EP with 'Outsider', 'Teenage Suicide' and 'Political Punk'. This record was sent to Jello Biafra who reviewed it in Maximum Rock & Roll giving the band a label of 'disturbing' to the sound. Folks took this as a good review and the small supply of approximately 250 vinyl EP's were sold out within a few short months.”

 Laura Lynch at TGYA, 1982. Leslie Clague

“in 1980 i went to the closeout sale of a big store like Kmart called Korvettes and in the sale (for $5) i purchased a 6 foot long blue crayola crayon which was my inspiration for the name 'Nuclear Crayons'.  I then started going to these 'progressive' rock shows (later called punk) at a club in DC called the 9:30 Club. there i saw this hideous creature recoilled in a corner and after several shows i finally got up the nerve to approach her and speak to her.  i told her i was a guitarist and wanted to dabble in this new punk medium genre and would she like to do some vocals (not knowing or caring if she could sing or not!) WELL..i gave her my phone number three times and on the fourth time i saw her i asked her why she hadn't called and she confessed she thought i was just trying to pick her up...hahaha so i told her nononono dear, I AM GAY and you are really not my type!!!  well after that she promptly showed up on my door step the next day (scaring the bejesus out of my neighbors and my roomates) and we promptly wrote like five songs that first day.  we wrote, 'outsider'  'political punk' 'what's wrong with us' and two more i don't remember the titles of right off hand.  it was her singing and me whaming away on my acoustic ovation guitar and she said Oh you have to get an electric guitar.  so i went out and bought for $99 on of those mini stratocasters (released and designed by ZZTop's lead guitarist...but they don't make them anymore...mine was stolen in san fran....sad) and a Black widow Peavy 500 watt amp...so she comes over the next day and i plug in and slam my first chord and knocked the pictures off the wall in the house.  needless to say she loved it and from then on we were 'electric'.  i then named us and she put out some ads for a bass player and this kid justin answered  and he played with us for the first year both recording and doing some live shows.  then he left to go away to college and we got bernie and kendall and the rest you know. jello biafra came to see us at the 18th street studios and all i could hear during the entire show was him yelling Turn it Up!” Darin Drake
“Like all bands, we all had shortages of places to play, so we had to be creative about it. Our guitar player, Darin Drake, who was gay, got us jobs a lot of places bands usually wouldn't play. The first show the Nuclear Crayons played was a song writing contest at a drag queen show. The Nuclear Crayons took second place under somebody doing Diana Ross. We also played Gay Pride Day and were written up by the Washington Blade who said, 'The festival went wonderfully after a false start by a band who gave punk rock a bad name.' Most interesting was when we played Edith Massey's birthday party at the Marble Bar in Baltimore, where all kinds of local Baltimore color showed up for the event. The whole event took on a carnival-like air. The hardest thing was trying to hold the audience's attention. There's a guy at the bar yelling, 'Shut up! I can sing better than that… you call that singing?!!!' The bartender broke a bottle over the guy's head. The whole night was so bizarre. The act before we went on was a fire eater. How do you follow a fuckin' fire eater?!!” Kendall Church

“The only Nuclear Crayons show I played sober was at Gay Pride Day and that's because the beer was on the other side of P Street Beach and I was still on my crutches and I couldn't make it all the way down there.” Bernie Wandel

Nuclear Crayons at 18th Street Studio. Jim Witlaw

“Totally weird & psychotic DC punk, the bass is mixed real loud, the female singer is real scary, and the music is just unexplainable. Sick!” Burkhard Jaerisch, Flex! Book #2

 Jeff Bale (from Maximum Rocknroll #10, December 1983)

Nuclear Crayons – Nuclear Crayons
Get it here or here.

Nuclear Crayons – Political Punk
Get it here.

Nuclear Crayons – What's Wrong With Us
Get it here.

Nuclear Crayons – Teenage Suicide (Live)

Nuclear Crayons – Anarchy Poseurs (Live)

Catwalk – Live at DC (1983)

You can also see the “official“ Catwalk video here, although it's quite bad quality. Anyway, it's really worth it! Love Laura Lynch's voice so much.

Catwalk – Official video
Pro­du­ced, fil­med & di­rec­ted by Mitch Par­ker. The Nu­clear Cra­yons fil­med a Mu­sic Vi­deo of their song 'Cat­walk'. The ma­jo­rity of it was shot in and on­top of the ori­gi­nal 9:30 Club in Wa­sh. DC. VHS to AVI. Copy­right Nu­clear Cra­yons 1983.

More info here and here. And last but not least, endless thanks to Darin, Kendall, and Laura for getting in touch!

5 Sep 2010

How minimal can you get? #26

V/A – Little Bands 7" EP
Once again, summer is over. So, what better way to say goodbye to summer than with this minimal jewel?

The Take – Summer
Get it here.

12 Jul 2010


Neonates are a new band from Los Ángeles, consisting of Mary, Gwendolyn and Max. They play refreshing and catchy songs, and have just released a split tape with Pussy Patrol on Clan Destine Records.

Neonates – Gridlock
Order a copy here, and more info here.

Endless thanks to Mary for sending me the tape!

Mr Epp & The Calculations

…or the worst band in the world.

Mr Epp & The Calculations – Live @ the Langston Hughes Cultural Center (1983)
More info here.

18 Jun 2010

How minimal can you get? #25

The Door and the Window – Detailed Twang LP
“Initially inspired by the first wave of industrial bands and the ethos of DIY pioneers like the Desperate Bicycles and Scritti Politti, Nag and Bendle played their first gig and recorded their first single sometime before they bothered to rehearse. Playing with an ever-changing lineup TDATW became first gradually rhythmic and then melodic. Mark Perry became a third permanent member. Unhappy to remain in one musical ghetto, they inhabited several – playing gigs with post punks and ska bands, playing free tours with idealist hippies and gradually becoming deeply involved with the London Musicians Collective. They co-produced a magazine about the politics of record production, hosted the seminal “Jazz Punk Bonanza” festivals of 1980, ’82 and ’86 and ran the weirdly eclectic sprouts conspiracy Cabaret Club. Nag and Bendle also played in The 49 Americans and The Liberated Sound Octet, Nag played with Mark Perry and Karl Blake in The Reflections and Bendle with The Casual Labourers and The Late Music Group.”

Nag, The Door & Bendle, The Window

“Having faithfully followed D.I.Y.'s minimum prescriptions for musicianship (none, initially: they learnt as they went), production values (ditto), and packaging (blank labels with stickers, hand-folded sleeves, thank-you credits listing just themselves), Nag and Bendle took it all one step further by abandoning all pretext of melody. (Their lyrics remained enjoyable but conventionally witty/Marxist/anti-rockist.) After two resolutely unhummable EPs on their NB label (for 'Nag & Bendle'), The Door and the Window's glorious din had annoyed and enraged much the press and large segments of the DIY 'establishment' as well… but it was pure aural catnip for anti-pop icon Mark Perry (Sniffin Glue/ATV) who promptly recorded two similarly tune-free 45s for NB –and modestly accepted a position as The Door and the Window's drummer. This line-up recorded TDATW's landmark LP, Detailed Twang.” Chuck Warner (Hyped to Death)

The Door and the Window – Part Time Punks
Get it here, here or here.

14 Jun 2010

How minimal can you get? #24

The Tom & Marty Band – Afraid to go to sleep CS
“The largest concentrations of experimental bands (on vinyl, at least) in the U.S. centered in greater Los Angeles, and along a narrow strip running from Baltimore to Richmond, Virginia: arty electronic, experimental or just "difficult" music found an unusual level of acceptance in the southern Mid-Atlantic. The Artifacts label scene in Richmond, Virginia tended to be more jazzy/classical and "serious," while the northern end of the scene (which sometimes unselfconsciously referred to itself as "Balto-weird") tended to be more clever and artwavy. The Tom & Marty Band was a studio-only gig by two central figures in the Richmond scene: Tom Compagnoli and Marty McCavitt. They produced a ton of stuff on Artifact, and Marty played in Idio Savant, Trans-Idio, Glad Corp and House of Freaks, as well as on much of LaDonna Smith's more high-brow stuff.” Chuck Warner, Hyped to Death

Tom in the recording studio, 1981

“The Tom & Marty Band is composed of Tom Campagnoli & Martin McCavitt. These two met many years ago while they were both in high school in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Tom and Marty have been involved in many artistic endeavors over the years, but Marty is the real musician of the group while Tom writes most of the lyrics. Inspired by space, science, myth, love, nature, their children, their childhoods, and the world and sounds around them, The Tom & Marty Band doesn't take itself too seriously and do appreciate a good (or bad) joke now and then.”

Marty in the recording studio, 1981

“Formed in 1980 the Tom & Marty Band was known for its unusual instrumentation and unique lyrics – often being referred to as "Electronic Folk Music." The Band played into the early 1980s when the Band took a hiatus only to reappear in the year 2001 with new instruments and new songs. They were known as the Band that would not go away, and true to form they are back. Only time will tell what really will happen.”

The Tom & Marty Band: The Band That Wouldn't Go Away!

“We heard Chrome and Throbbing Gristle and thought they were pop bands...” Marty

The Tom & Marty Band – Havin' A Canipshun
Get it here and visit their website here.

How minimal can you get? #23

Ut – Ut EP
“Notes and chords collide as if the instruments were all talking at once, creating one unvarying tone. They sound undisciplined, yet they are bound together in taut concentration. Daring to experiment, they occasionally grope about clumsily. They are a promising, sometimes awkward, Punkish debutant band, ready to blossom.” Doris Keily, New York Rocker

 UT, No Wave's über-non-conformists. 
From left to right: Sally Young, Jacqui Ham and Nina Canal.

“None of us had been programmed in rock licks or the correct way of doing things… so we didn't think or act with any sense of restraint. Weird tunings, weird positions – everything was permissible with us. We didn't have to make this leap because we didn't see the walls.” Jacqui Ham

“We decided right away to not stick to a single instrument each, which meant changing [between songs]. We got a lot of flak about how impractical it was. But it kept us in the mode of constantly experimenting without getting into ruts on any one instrument.” Sally Young

“We weren't easy to place – we fucked around too much for the art scene, we were too raw and dissonant for the post Punk norm, and we didn't conform to anything they could conceive of.” Jacqui Ham

UT – New colour
Get it here.

Excerpts taken from the No Wave book.

6 Jun 2010

How minimal can you get? #22

OH-OK – Wow Mini Album EP
Jason Gross: What kind of band did you want Oh OK to be?
Linda Hopper: No guitars. When we were talking about it originally, I was going to play guitar but then it just came to be bass, drums and singing. We actually did things like play on bent saws and baby toys and things like that. It was noisy, it was very pop. But at the same time, it was very weird. I don't think we said 'let's make it weird.' Maybe it had something to do with being in art school. In that first term, ideas just hatch and grow and you try. We did tons of different things. I remember that was when Casio (keyboards) first came out. We were always trying to make a song with a Casio but we never did.

 From left to right: Lynda Stipe, Linda Hopper and David Pierce

Jason Gross: In the original band you had, there was no guitar. That was pretty unique.
Lynda Stipe: Hopper was going to play around with it but it was working out fine without it. Actually, even now all my bands tend to be a little bottom-heavy. Now, I'm on cello and then there's the bass. Double basses were always really cool. We really didn't care much (about not having a guitar) but we got a lot of slack from soundmen. First, we were girls and I played the bass like a girl, barely hitting the thing. (laughs) So they were like 'Where's the guitar? That's it, huh?' Oh well.

Read the Linda Hopper and Lynda Stipe interviews here and here.

OH-OK – Lilting